GO- The National Game of Japan
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GO- The National Game of Japan

GO is a game of strategy originating in ancient China; it is thought to have existed centuries before recorded historical references, in the 4th century BC. Known as Weiqi in Chinese, simplified to Igo or Go in Japanese, this game made a long journey from the tables of Emperors in China to become the national game of Japan. The world knows this game by its Japanese name because it is through Japan that the world was introduced to it. This game is one of the foremost strategic board games in the world, requiring tactical skill and strategic thought in placing black and white stones on a 19x19 board. Like chess, two players playing Go requires intense concentration to figure out the next best move. The objective of the game is to capture a larger part of the board than your opponent. This is achieved by strategically placing your stones in such a manner that it becomes impossible for your opponent to infiltrate any further in that area of the board.

Players alternately place black and white stones on empty spaces of the 19x 19 board, in such as way that they cannot be captured by the opponent player. A stone or a collection of stones is captured by the opponent and removed from the board, if they are surrounded by the opposing colored stones, and there are no adjacent empty positions next to the stones. Placing the same color stones together helps game play as your opponent cannot easily enter an area where your stones dominate. Capturing lone stones is easier, as surrounding a single stone requires less effort. Clustering your stones together to keep them safe has its disadvantages as well. This means that your stones occupy a lesser portion of the board than they would if they are spread out as much as possible. This is where strategy comes to play, because only by moving stones to cover greater areas of the board, even if there is the fear of capture, ensures that you will occupy the larger portion of the board, standing a chance to win.

The player with the black stones makes the first move; there may be different rules for how many squares the first stone can move. After placing a stone, it cannot be shifted to a new position; it stays there for the entire duration of the game. This is why it is very important to chalk out a game plan, a strategy, before making random moves. Since you cannot change the position of your previously placed stones at any point of time in the game, how cleverly you place them is of vital importance. A vacant space next to a stone is called a liberty for that stone. Orthogonally adjacent same colored stones comprise a chain or a group that have their own properties and liberties. These groups cannot be subdivided, but can move as a single large stone. Using large chains to capture larger parts of the board forms an effective strategy, and this is combined with positioning of stones in such a manner so as to capture the opponent stones.
May 27, 2008, 12:55 pm

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