Go/Why should I learn to play Go?

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The first and most significant reason why one should decide to play Go is the same as that of any other game, sport, or hobby. Playing Go is an activity to focus on and enjoy doing, it's fun. While possible, it is extremely difficult to make money playing or teaching Go in a professional context, and the game should be seen for its value as a game before anything else. Although most games are of this nature, Go offers many other reasons for playing it which make it stand out from the crowd of hundreds of other strategy games.

Go vs. Chess[edit | edit source]

One thought that passes through the heads of many considering Go is "Why shouldn't I just stick with Chess?" While both games have some similarities on the surface, they are vastly different in nature and both have completely different things to offer, which should be considered in relation to each other before reaching a decision on which to play (Why not both?). Both games use black and white pieces, but the similarities stop there. In Go, the pieces are placed on intersections on the board and black plays first. Even simple differences such as these exemplify the striking differences between the two famous mind sports.

Although Go is much less popular in the West, there is a growing community of Go players, particularly in Europe and the United States. The game is seen somewhat as an alternative to Chess, and the Go community has grown into its own distinct subculture, with groups such as online Internet Go Servers and local AGA chapters.

Benefits of the Mind[edit | edit source]

Go provides not only opportunities for creating and strengthening friendships but also strengthening the mind. Like Chess, Go is seen as a prime example of a mental strategy game. The tenet of the strategy game is "easy to learn, difficult to master," and Go exemplifies this perfectly, even more so than Chess. Nearly an infinite number of unique games can be played on a goban (Go board), yet the game only involves one type of piece and a handful of rules that can be learned in minutes. These simple rules blossom into extremely complicated strategies that are somehow both intuitive and analytical. Unlike Chess, there is rarely one "right" move that has to be learned, and it is not necessary that you learn hundreds of openings through rote memory to become a strong player, unlike Chess. Many enjoy learning Go over Chess because it rewards creativity and does not require constant memorization and brute-force analysis of every possible position and continuation.

Other Benefits of Playing Go[edit | edit source]

  • Mind games which do not involve any luck, such as Go, are known to exercise both halves of the brain. This has been found to be helpful in avoiding degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimers.
  • Go teaches mental skills such as patience, discipline, and open-mindedness. Go also encourages methods of thinking that are not easily learned in other ways. For these and other reasons it is often taught to young children to help mental development early in life.
  • Many consider skills learned in Go to be applicable in other areas of life. The underlying concepts behind the strategies and concepts of Go often relate to philosophy concerning everyday life and nature (see following page). Go is often tied to Taoism and other East Asian philosophy. Go was considered one of the Four Scholarly Arts of Ancient China.
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