Daniel Goldman



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:


3 Comments on “Go”

  1. Hi Daniel,
    A few comments:
    1/ I think you should not blame yourself for not having “innate talent” for the game. As you stated it, it’s mostly a matter of starting early.
    2/ I’m not sure I’m totally into the “fighting aspect” of the game. Of course, I cannot deny it’s a competitive game and fight can be fierce but I don’t feel the urge to crush my opponent or to kill/capture stones. Rather than “fight”, I would highlight the concepts of “balance” and “efficiency”. You want to make your moves matters and you want to advance on solid ground. Besides, I really don’t think of go as a opposing game where I need to beat others… For me, it’s mostly about competing about myself and raising my own level.
    Maybe there is also a matter of playing style…
    3/ Yes, there are a lot of dimensions in the game which are as many ways to get better. I find this aspect of understand your weaknesses and working upon them a very interesting element of the game but also a very challenging one… Especially as you raise in strength and it gets more and more difficult/time consuming to improve.



    P.S. I cannot agree more on the international community of players… ;^)

  2. Thanks for your comments, Guillaume.

    It’s true that there is a more optimal time than middle age for starting go, but that’s independent of talent. Even if had I started seriously as a kid, I think that there are aspects of the game such as visualizing sequences or just being patient under pressure that don’t come naturally to me, and I’ve had to work hard to improve such skills.

    I like your emphasis on the more elegant aspects of the game, and to be sure, there are aspects of the game which are more akin to a dance than a fight, but as beautiful as a game might be, this beauty always involves a struggle by both players to keep the balance in their favor, and it’s thrilling when the balance shifts. I enjoy that.

  3. I love you whether you win or lose at Go
    whether your paintings are lovely or frightful
    your writings cloudy or insightful.

    Outside the land of judgment
    the joy that is you patiently awaits your return.

    The softest thing in the World
    Overcomes the hardest thing in the World.
    That which is without substance can enter even where there is no space.
    Therefore I know the value of non-action.
    Teaching without words
    And benefit without actions
    There are few in the World who can grasp it.

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