I’ve been playing go now since 2007. I started with the idea that it would be good for my mind to delve into an activity that pressed on the borders of my mental limits. Like a muscle, the brain wants exercise in order not to atrophy. I realized quickly that I possessed little innate talent for the game in which prodigies typically start in their childhood. The path to improvement looked steep, but not unattractive. I like to learn, and go offered not only a wealth of information online, but also a small but thriving international community of players interested in exchanging thoughts and ideas, and helping newcomers get their footing. And it offered something I had no idea that I was even interested in: the opportunity to fight. The word “game” does not do it justice. Alone with their wits, two players face each other summoning all of their strength and ability to beat their opponent. To beat them, crush them, cause them pain.
One might think that a weak player such as myself would simply lose and lose, and indeed, there is a saying that one should lose one’s first 100 games as quickly as possible, because there is simply so much that you don’t know, understand or recognize, and you flail about helplessly as your opponents tear your positions to pieces. But gradually, you learn to fight back, and soon you find yourself on equal footing with your opponent, which of course makes you both fight even harder. In the beginning, I found some games so utterly exhausting that at times I would resign in the middle of a game because I simply did not have the strength to continue to think.
It’s a nice feeling to get stronger, but the skills involved range widely, from visualizing sequences to controlling one’s emotions, and every game is a challenge to overcome one’s personal weaknesses, be they impatience, greed, carelessness or a score of other potential Achilles heels. A moment’s lapse and a fatal blow is struck. It hurts to lose, and it’s satisfying to win and it feels good to fight.
Here is a game I played in the ASR League: