A few years ago a series called Hikaru no Go revived interest in the game of Go among the Japanese youth. I must admit I learned Go because of how it was shown – as a challenging and elegant game with infinite variations. Go is a deeply complex strategic game of territory between two players, and is often compared to the Western game of chess. The only things you need to play are a go board, a set of black and white go stones in their respective bowls, and a few hours of free time. After you learn the basics, you’re sure to want to keep playing for hours.
These are the rules to this game:
- Two players, black and white, will take turns placing a stone on the intersections of a board grid. Black always moves first.
- Stones must have liberties to remain on the board. Placing your stone adjacent to one of your own creates a group, and share their liberties. Once a stone or a group of stones surrounded (has no remaining liberties) it is captured and removed from the board. These stones are counted against your territory at the end of your game.
- There would be times when your stone would capture your opponent’s stone, but in doing so you leave your own stone vulnerable to a capture in return. This position is called ko, and it can repeat , they created a rule that after the first capture, the next stone cannot be played at the point of ko.
Though these are the only rules to the game, they open up a world of possibilities limited only by the players’ imagination. At the end of the game all of the free liberties surrounded by one player’s stones are counted as their territory. Their captured stones are counted against that, and whoever has the most territory wins.
I’ve fallen in love with this game since the first time I laid a stone on a go board. Try it, and you just might fall in love with it too.