Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html

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THESE are my people

In an article at the Chessbase website, written by chess GM Peter Heine Nielsen, Grandmasters at the Shogi Forum (part 2), one finds, “The tradition of the best Japanese board game players, to be interested in a game other than their ”main” one is known from Nobel Prize winner Kawabata’s masterpiece “The Master of Go”.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grandmasters-at-the-shogi-forum-2-2)

The title of Tiger Hillarp’s post, dated March 9, 2015, is, Virtual ascent to 1 dan. Tiger, a Chess GM, has become a dan Go player! Congratulations are in order for the Tiger! World chess champion Emanuel Lasker, who said, “. . . [it is] something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go,” (http://www.kiseido.com/) would be proud of Tiger’s accomplishment. He writes, “After a rather long struggle to get up to 1 dan on KGS I finally managed the other day. It might seem like a rather small step for mankind, but it felt quite big to me and merited a rather bouncy and ungraceful dance around the livingroom. As a chess coach I always recommend my students to annotate their games and I do – of course – follow my own advice as I try to improve my go skills. Here are two examples that I have tried to make less go-diary-like.” (http://tiger.bagofcats.net/)

Tiger not only annotates two of his Go games, but also annotates the 39:th Kisei titel match, game 1, in his post dated February 18, 2015. (http://tiger.bagofcats.net/go/39th-kisei-titel-match-game-1/)

As many of you know I have spent time attempting to learn Go the past few years. From a crossword puzzle study at Georgia Tech, for which I was paid, under the supervision of graduate student, now Ph.D. Zach Hambrick, I learned Seniors who had worked crossword puzzles for a long time did not show the changes that those for whom, like me, it was a new experience. Current thinking is that the brain needs new stimulation as one ages. I do not want anyone, like the nattering nabobs of negativism who post on the USCF forum, to misconstrue my words as they have previously done so often. I do not know if the time I devote to chess is helpful or not. I do it because of the joy it brings. I do, though, know the time spent studying Go is beneficial for my brain, not to mention the fact that it, too, brings me immense joy. Having playing chess most of my adult life, Go is like entering a portal into a completely new and different universe. Whether it be chess, Shogi, Go, or even backgammon, it is all a game which we play. After all, we game players are all kindred spirits. One of my favorite stories comes from a wonderful woman involved with the Emory Castle Chess Camp (http://www.castlechess.org/dnn/). She said, “The very first year his mother brought him he was a tiny little thing, very serious, didn’t have many friends at school. She had been trying to help him by telling him he just needed to find the right people to make friends with. When they walked into the ballroom at Emory for Castle orientation and there were kids all over the floor playing blitz and bughouse, and his face lit up and he turned to her and said with a huge smile, “Mom…. I’ve found them, THESE are my people.”

Chess & Go Tourney

“The tradition of the best Japanese board game players, to be interested in a game other than their ”main” one is known from Nobel Prize winner Kawabata’s masterpiece “The Master of Go”.”

This can be found at the Chessbase website in part two of “Grandmasters at the Shogi Forum,” by Chess Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grandmasters-at-the-shogi-forum-2-2)
It has been my experience that some chess players resent the fact that any chess player would consider playing any game other than chess. This is strange considering World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker said, “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.”

“The Master of Go” is a magnificent book. It is de rigeur reading for any board game player.

An article by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, “Wonciewicz Tops Chess & Go Tourney,” can be found on the American Go E-Journal. “Ten children played go and 15 chess in a four round Swiss-McMahon tournament, at Taborspace, in Portland, OR, Jan. 18th, reports organizer Peter Freedman. “All the children were in the chess and Go clubs at Irvington, Richmond and Beverly Cleary schools. Sam Wonciewicz, of Irvington, took first place in go with a perfect record of 4-0. Tied at 3-1, Grant McFeeters-Krone and Luke Helprin, both from Irvington, had a play-off match to determine 2nd and 3rd place. Grant won in a tightly contested game that featured a possible seki which would have led to the death of a neighboring group, and his defeat. Four children finished with 2-2 records, two with 1-3 records, and 1 with a 0-4 record,” said Freedman.
Leo Frankunas, Irvington, topped the chess tournament with a 4-0 record, followed in second place by Mason Buchanan, Irvington at 3 ½, and third place, Benjamin Cicilian, Richmond, at 3-1. Trophies were award for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for both chess and go.”
(http://www.usgo.org/news/2015/01/wonciewicz-tops-chess-go-tourney/)