Go – The History of the Game

Go is one of the oldest board games in the world. Because of how far it goes back, no-one is completely certain of its exact history, although one thing is for certain – it originated in China between 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The origin of the game is shrouded in mystery… some people even believing that the legendary Emperor Yao invented the game to enlighten his son.

This game spread beyond the borders of China and entered Japan and Korea where it has been played at top level for well over 1,000 years. There was no stopping the game from then on, and eventually it came over to Europe towards the end of the nineteenth century. It arrived on Britain’s shores in the early twentieth century. Towards the end middle of the century it became more organised in Europe, Britain and America. It is now catching up with Japan, China and Korea in terms of popularity.

About twenty years ago, the idea of formal games between Go masters from different countries wasn’t even heard of. However, in the last decade we have seen the rise of international championships, where the best Go brains from around the world go head to head to prove their credentials. This is a game that has gone global.

Go Clubs

There are nearly 100 clubs around Britain that you can join, should you wish to start playing the game with others and take your Go journey to the next level. These clubs cater for everyone and are on lots of different days of the weeks, so you should be able to find a club to suit your area and your timetable. The clubs are well represented in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England.

Should you join one of these 96 clubs then you will become part of the British Go Association, which comes with lots of benefits. Not only will you be able to play the game with a number of like-minded people and pick up their tips and strategies, but you will also be able to join in with their tournaments and go head to head with other players around the country.

Other benefits of becoming a member of a club and of the British Go Association are:

  • You can develop your game with access to workshops and seminars around the country.
  • You can be part of the on-line league, join UK tournaments and be a representative for the UK in international events.
  • You get a subscription to the British Go Journal quarterly.
  • You benefit from discounts on Go books, equipment and services.
  • Free entry into the DDK (Double Digit Kyu) Grand Prix.
  • Dan certification and more…

Go Tournaments

If your game is up to scratch, then there are many tournaments and events held around the UK. You could take part in almost sixty tournaments held throughout the year. Many of these tournaments are more localised to county events, although there are some national tournaments held throughout the year, including:

  • British Championships which begins in April. This is for the title of the British Go Champion. The eight best players earn qualifying points for the World Amateur
  • Go Championship. This incorporates different events throughout the year.
  • The British Open is another tournament that is in April. This is a 6-round McMahon tournament with time limits of 60 minutes each plus overtime.
  • The British Open Lightning is in April also. It is a fast play tournament held at the British Congress.
  • British Pair Go is held in June – it is the British Championship of Pair Go for mixed doubles.
  • British Pair Go Handicap is held at the same time and is for the Handicap group.
  • DDK Grand Prix is the Annual Grand Prix for players 10 kyu and below.
  • London International Teams is a team match held in October.
    With so many tournaments in which to participate, you’ll be stuck for choice.

Playing Go
Go Rules

The game starts with an empty board. Each player has an unlimited supply of pieces (stones). One player takes the black stones and the other player takes the white. The main objective is to use your stones to form territories by surrounding empty areas of the board. You can also capture your opponent’s stones by surrounding them.

Players take turns in placing a stone on an empty point, with the black stones starting. Stones are placed on the intersections of the lines as opposed to in the squares. Once played, the stones will not move, but they can be captured and removed from the board.

At the end of the game the player gets one point for every vacant point inside their own territory and a point for every stone they capture. The player with the larger territory and most prisoners is the winner.

Play Go Online

There are two ways to play Go online – real-time and correspondence. On a real-time server, both contenders are logged in at the same time with time limits. With correspondence play, you don’t need to be logged in at the same time, the moves can be sent at any time. The most common way to play is using a real-time Go server. So what sites are the best to play on?

  • Go Quest is great for beginners
  • KGS has a review facility not often found in other servers.
  • Pandanet is one of the oldest Go servers with a global membership of players from all nationalities and all abilities.
  • OGS is relatively new but it gives teachers the ability to create instant problems and provides tournament.
    There are so many ways to get your fix of Go online, it’s just a matter of finding the way that suits your lifestyle best.

Card Strategy Games

Not every strategy game is on a board. If you are a fan of Go, then chances are you will be good at some of the top strategy card games as well. Sometimes, playing other strategy games can improve your play as it trains your brain in other ways. Here are our top three great strategy card games that fans of Go can get their teeth into also.

  • Poker: Poker is a family of card games that is a combination of gambling, strategy and skill. This is a game that is intrinsically linked with gambling, but can be practiced without the need to part with money. There are different types of poker to get your game into gear…
  1. Straight Poker: a complete hand is dealt to each player. Players then bet in one round with raising and re-raising being allowed. This is the oldest game in the poker family. The very root of the game was Primero which eventually evolved into three-card brag. Here, straight hands of five cards can be used in the final showdown. It is more common nowadays to be played as it is more complex to allow for more skill and strategy.
  2. Stud Poker Cards are dealt in a prearranged combination of face down and face up rounds, with a round of betting following each. The most popular variant today is seven card stud where each player is dealt an extra 2 cards – 3 face down and 4 face up and they must make the best 5 card combination.
  3. Draw Poker: A complete hand is dealt to every player, face-down. After betting, players can change their hands to improve it by getting rid of unwanted cards and being dealt new cards. This is the most famous variation.
  4. Community Card Poker: This is also known as ‘flop poker’ and is a variation of stud poker. Each player is dealt an incomplete hand of cards face down and then a number of face up community cards are dealt to the centre of the table. Each of these can be used by players to make a 5-card hand.

Just like Go, this game involves thinking forward and trying to work out what other players are going to do. It is a good strategy game to get the brain working.

  • Hearts: This is another strategy game that will help you develop your thinking and skills which could help you in other strategy games such as Go. This is an ‘evasion type’ trick-taking card game for between 3 to 6 players. This game originated with a family of games called Reversis and became popular in the 1700s. In this game, a penalty point is awarded for each trick won with additional points being awarded for capturing a jack or queen. There have been several variations to this game since, such as Four Jacks and Black Maria.
  • Rummy 500: This is another strategy game that is great for Go players and people who want to start improving their strategy skills. This game is very similar to straight Rummy, but players may draw more than just the up card from the discard pile. This means that the level of strategy and complexity involved in playing the game is significantly increased.

There are many card strategy games to choose from, each one with its own distinct personality and skill set. Practising your strategy skills is important for the brain as it can make is quicker and more flexible, which is prefect of you want to improve your skills in other strategy games such as Go.