Learning to Play and Lose at Go

Go is Hard!

This may sound obvious to experienced players, but it’s difficulty caught me by surprise.. I’m talking NES hard. I was visiting some good friends in Boston a two weeks ago when I was introduced to the game. I challenged my friend to a game of chess and scoffed at the idea that some of them didn’t even know how to play. From my handmade pedestal I laughed as he told me that chess couldn’t compare to Go, an ancient Chinese board game with only 2 or 3 rules. Intrigued, I had him teach me this seemingly simple game, and planned to beat him before the nights end. On move 3 of my 4th or 5th game with him, he said the words I’d heard 100 times in one night.

“Bad move!”

He mopped the floor with me, over and over and over. After he finally went to bed, I watched videos and read some articles, and in the morning I was rewarded with a new phrase.

 “Oh, that was good… but still a bad move.”

 I then lost again. Since then I’ve been playing SmartGo on my iPhone, practicing and reading, and still losing. I’ve yet to win a single game, even on the simple 9×9 board (the full board in 19×19). So if you’re looking to sink your teeth into a real challenge without a lot of commitment, pick up the game of Go. It has kept me busy for at least 2 weeks, and it looks like I have a long way to go before I’ve even scrapped the surface of the content available on it.

But, among the frustrations (very vocal frustration at that) I have learned a lot in the last two weeks:

  • I’m impatient
  • I don’t know how to build a proper architecture for long-lasting growth
  • I’m easily enticed by quick wins (often at the detriment of the long game).

But I’m working on those!