Go: The Game That Has Captivated Minds for Millennia

Go Game
Go Game
Professional Go Players: Ayumi Suzuki and Kanketsu Rin. Photo source

Welcome to the world of Go, an ancient game that’s as simple as it is profound. 🌟 Played by emperors, philosophers and war commanders in the past, Go continues to engage and captivate modern intellectuals today. More than just a game — Go is a masterclass in efficient thinking, sharpening your mind with every play. 🧐

“Go” comes from the Japanese 囲碁 (Igo), and is also known as 圍棋 (wéiqí) in China and 바둑 (baduk) in Korea.

Cool Facts about Go

Originating in China, Go has a history of over 3000 years

Simple rules, but over 10171 possible variations, making it the most complex board game ever

Top professional Go players earn up to $1.3M annually

Great Minds Fascinated by Go

Emanuel Lasker
Albert Einstein
Sergey Brin

Left And Right Brain Unite to Play Go

Left Hemisphere

Strategic Planning
Logical Reasoning
Analytical Thinking
Mathematical Skills

Right Hemisphere

Creativity and Innovation
Pattern Recognition
Spatial Intelligence
Intuition and Insight

Playing Go does wonders for your brain! 🧠 It not only boosts your memory and helps you focus better, but it also makes you a great problem solver. Plus, it’s great for keeping your emotions in check and keeping your mind sharp and flexible. All these benefits might even help in slowing down the aging process of the brain, reducing the risk of dementia. 🧙‍♂️

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Charming Simplicity of the Rules

Think you can’t play Go without knowing the rules? Let’s put that to the test!

Pretty straightforward, right? You’ve just learned a key part of the Go rules. 🤯

In Go, players take turns placing black and white stones at the line intersections.

The Objective 🏹

Outscore your opponent by controlling more territory and capturing their stones.

Capturing Stones ⚫⚪

You capture stones by completely surrounding them. Each captured stone adds a point to your score. This is a fundamental aspect of tactical gameplay.

Controlling Territories 🤝

Capturing stones is just one part of Go. Equally, if not more, important is controlling as much of the board as you can. The more territory you secure, the more points you gain. This brings a deep strategic layer to the game.

Go Game Video Tutorial

You can learn to play Go by taking a short interactive course that covers Go rules and fundamentals. It consists of bite-sized video lessons and quizzes to test your new skills. 🐾 Check out the first lesson from the course:

Chess vs Go: A Quick Comparison

While the Baroque rules of Chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe they almost certainly play Go
— Edward Lasker, International Chess Master

Origin~1,500 years ago in India~3,000 years ago in China
Board Size8×8 grid19×19 grid
Game Pieces6 types of pieces per colorBlack and white stones
Ease of EntrySimple objective; detailed piece-specific rulesSimple rules; complex strategic objective
Average Game Length~80 moves~200 moves
Game Complexity~1044 possible positions~10171 possible positions
AI Surpasses Human Level1997, IBM’s DeepBlue2016, Google’s AlphaGo
Player Population~500 million worldwide~25 million worldwide
Professional Players~1700 worldwide~2000 worldwide

If a single grain represented every possible chess position, Go complexity would be comparable to the entire Sahara Desert.

Why Isn’t Go as Popular as Chess? 🤔

It’s a historical curiosity why Go isn’t as widely played as chess, especially considering its rich strategic depth. Chess got a head start in the West, becoming a staple in culture and education. Go, hailing from East Asia, only garnered Western attention over the last 100 years. But times are changing! With movies, anime, and epic AI battles, Go is rapidly gaining global popularity.

The AI Milestone: AlphaGo


The 2016 match where Google’s AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol was a watershed moment, showcasing the incredible potential of artificial intelligence. 🤖 That was the beginning of the widespread use of neural networks.

Interested in the full story? Check out the documentary “AlphaGo”. It’s a fascinating look at this historic AI-human showdown. Here it is, watch it now or save it for later. 👇

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Go in Movies and Anime

Did you see Go in “A Beautiful Mind” or “Pi”? It’s also sneaked into scenes in “Tetris” and “Knives Out.” 👀 But where Go really scores big is in the anime world. Enter “Hikaru no Go” — it’s this awesome series about a kid, Hikaru, who stumbles upon a Go board, but there’s a twist: it’s haunted by a Go master’s spirit from the past. Even though the anime is more than 20 years old, it’s still a hit, boasting an 8.2 on IMDB. 🍿

Want more movies centered about Go? Check out the whole list of them! 📺

Ready to Make Your First Move?

Jumpstart your Go adventure with Go Magic! Our platform makes learning Go a breeze with Interactive Courses and a structured Skill Tree. 🌴 Start your journey with the first course of our Go fundamentals trilogy, covering the rules and basics on 9×9 and then keep progressing to greater challenges in the art of Go.

Learning Go has never been more fun and accessible! ✨

Questions & Answers

Is Go a difficult game?

Go is easy to learn but hard to master. The basic rules can be learned in a few minutes, making it accessible to beginners. However, the game has a profound depth that offers endless possibilities for strategic development.

As you study and practice at Go Magic, you’ll find that understanding the nuances and advanced strategies of Go can be a lifelong journey. By approaching the game step by step, anyone can improve their skills and enjoy the rich complexity Go has to offer.

Is it something like chess? I don’t really like chess, should I avoid Go?

While both Go and chess are strategic board games, they have distinct differences that might make Go more appealing to you, even if you don’t enjoy chess. For example, in Go, you don’t need to learn how different pieces move. You place stones on the intersections of a grid, and they remain stationary. This simplicity allows you to focus more on strategy and less on memorizing complex movements.

Unlike chess, where capturing and destroying your opponent’s pieces is a central part of the game, Go often allows you to win by building and controlling more territory. This aspect of the game can feel less aggressive and more constructive. Sometimes you can even win a game without taking your opponent’s pieces! Additionally, Go offers more space for creativity. The vast board and numerous possible moves at any given time allow for a wide range of strategies and styles. Players can express themselves through their gameplay, making each game unique and personalized.

Many Go players were once chess players who found a new passion in Go. However, even more people who play Go never knew how to play chess at all. This suggests that enjoyment of Go is not dependent on a background in chess.

Give Go a try; you might discover a new favorite game!

Is Go a Korean or Japanese game? Where can I learn more about Go history?

Go originated in China over 4,000 years ago and later spread to Korea and Japan, where it became deeply integrated into their cultures. Today, it is enjoyed worldwide with significant communities in East Asia.

To learn more about the rich history of Go, check out our detailed article History of Go or watch our video Why Do They Call Go a Japanese Game.

How long does a game take?

The duration of a Go game can vary greatly depending on the board size, players’ skill levels, and time settings used. A game on a 9×9 board typically takes about 5 minutes. Casual games on a 19×19 board might last from 30 minutes to an hour, while more serious matches, especially in tournaments, can last several hours. Professional games with no time limits can extend over multiple sessions and last for several days.

The number of moves in a game also varies, typically ranging from 150 to 250 moves in an average game on a 19×19 board. However, more complex games can have significantly more moves, adding to the overall duration.

There are different board sizes in Go. How do they affect the game?

Yes, Go can be played on boards of different sizes, known as Goban, which can significantly affect the gameplay experience. The standard board size is 19×19, providing a deep and complex game with ample strategic possibilities. However, smaller boards like 9×9 and 13×13 are also popular, especially for beginners. These smaller boards offer quicker games and help new players learn the basic rules and strategies without being overwhelmed by the complexity of the larger board. As players gain experience, they often transition to the standard 19×19 board to explore the full depth of Go.

The game pace differs between board sizes, but most of the basic principles apply to all. Some people prefer smaller boards due to time constraints. Even professional players enjoy a game or two on a 9×9 board once in a while. The choice is yours!

Is Go a solved game?

No, Go is not a solved game. Unlike simpler games like Tic-Tac-Toe or even more complex ones like chess, Go has an incredibly vast number of possible board configurations due to its large 19×19 grid and the simple rule set. This makes it computationally infeasible to solve with current technology. While artificial intelligence has made significant strides in playing Go at a high level, the game remains unsolved.

Are there tournaments for Go? Is Go considered a sport?

Yes, there are numerous tournaments for Go at various levels, from local club competitions to international championships. Go is considered a sport in many countries, with professional players, organized leagues, and prestigious tournaments. Countries like China, Japan, and Korea have professional Go associations that host major events, while international tournaments bring together top players from around the world to compete.There are Go associations in Europe and the USA too. They organize tournaments and promote the game. The strategic depth and competitive nature of Go make it a respected and exciting sport for both players and spectators.

Is playing Go useful for my brain?

Yes, playing Go is perfect for your brain! It enhances cognitive functions such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, and memory. The game requires players to plan ahead, recognize patterns, and adapt to changing situations, which can improve mental agility and concentration. Studies have shown that engaging in complex board games like Go can also help delay cognitive decline and improve overall brain health. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, Go offers a stimulating and rewarding mental workout.

Where can I buy a Go board and stones?

You can purchase Go boards and stones from various online retailers, board game stores, and even some general e-commerce platforms. Unless you live in Asia, your best bet would be online shopping. Websites like Amazon, eBay, and dedicated Go shops offer a range of options from beginner sets to high-quality, traditional boards and stones. Additionally, local game and hobby stores may carry Go equipment.

How do I know if Go is suitable for me?

The best way to know if Go is suitable for you is to try it out. Go is a game for everyone, regardless of age or background. If you enjoy games that challenge your problem-solving skills, require long-term planning, and offer deep strategic depth, Go might be a great fit. The game is known for its simplicity in rules but complexity in gameplay, providing endless learning opportunities. 

Trying out a few games on a smaller board like 9×9 can give you a feel for the game without overwhelming you. And if you don’t know the rules yet, we offer a free article that explains them. For those who prefer watching, we have a free basics course. In both cases, you will be able to play your first game in less than 20 minutes.

I think I’m too old for this

Not at all! You can learn and enjoy playing Go at any age, even if you’re 70! Go can help keep your brain young and sharp. Many players begin later in life and still reach high levels of proficiency. The cognitive benefits of playing Go, such as improved memory and strategic thinking, make it a valuable pursuit regardless of your age.

I’m new to Go. Where can I start learning Go?

Right here, at Go Magic, without any cost. Our platform offers a variety of resources perfect for beginners. Start with our Beginner’s Guide to learn the basics of Go. You can also join our free course The Rules of Go for a structured learning experience.

Where to play Go online?

We’ve got this question covered in detail in our article about Online Go Servers. It will help you find the best platforms to play Go online, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player.

How do I meet other Go players?

Meeting other Go players can open up a whole new world of excitement and growth in your Go journey. You can often find fellow enthusiasts at local Go clubs, which are great places to play and learn in person. However, if you don’t have a Go club nearby, our Discord server, where all users of our platform gather, is the perfect alternative. 

Our Discord server is a vibrant hub where Go players of all levels come together, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, you’ll find plenty of people to chat with, learn from, and play against. To join our Discord server, simply click here and become part of our growing Go community. See you there!

What is the best way to learn to play Go?

The best way to learn to play Go is to follow a structured plan rather than just watching YouTube videos or reading random books. We’ve got that plan covered in our Study Plan

Additionally, visiting a local Go club can provide valuable in-person instruction and the opportunity to play with others. Engaging with experienced players and participating in club activities can accelerate learning and make the experience more enjoyable.

What is Go Magic?

That’s where you are right now. 😊

Go Magic is an online platform dedicated to teaching and promoting the game of Go. We offer a variety of resources for players of all levels, including comprehensive guides, free courses, and interactive tutorials. Whether you are a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced player aiming to improve your skills, Go Magic provides the tools and community support to help you on your Go journey.

I just want to start playing right now. How do I do that?

To start playing Go quickly:

  1. Learn the basics: Understand how to place stones, capture stones, and the objective of controlling territory. Our interactive tutorial is a perfect place to start! 
  2. Play online: Websites like Online Go Server (OGS) and apps like “Go Quest” offer platforms to play against other players or AI. However, if you want to start playing right away and are unsure where to begin, you can use OGS or check out our article on the top 7 servers to play Go.

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