If there is one lesson to learn from playing Go, it is that elegance does not equal simplicity. Go’s deceptively simple rules create deep strategy and elegance, but are by no means simple in their implementation.
What does it mean to “get good” at Go?
One way to evaluate it would be reading ability. Reading sequences longer than about ten stones is still tricky for me, and I often have to check and recheck my predictions. When you play Go, you’re not playing only the game in front of you, you’re simultaneously playing hundreds of possible games.
While I surely want to become a better player in the competitive, ranked sense, I prefer the more aesthetic evaluation of strong play: to be good at Go is to play a beautiful game. If the players are well matched, you can expect the point differential to be minimal. The real beauty of Go comes from the interplay of strategy and tactics, or what we game designers like to call emergent gameplay: the final expression of a starting strategy come to fruition, the success of a risky gambit, the impeccable defense, or the voracious invasion. The real fun in Go isn’t the outcome of the game, it’s realizing the deep meaning invested in each stone placed on the seemingly meaningless, abstract grid of the goban. It’s the courageous placing of stones on the board, the “tak” of the stone as you signal to your opponent: “Here is my challenge to you.”
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