I grew up playing chess
. Chess is a classic game, the game of kings
, as they say. But recently, I have picked up go
, and I can't see how I would go back.
The comparisons fall neatly in line, hinting at differences between East and West:
In chess there is a victor. Always, and clearly. At the end of the game, one player has been devastated, and the other has not. In go, there is always a victor, but these seems almost secondary to the beauty of the board created. I have heard go described as a conversation, or a sketch -- you begin by drawing rough outlines, until a certain area must be worked out in detail. Like eyes in a portrait, are the corners, in go. At the end you have a picture of organic complexity -- if you have ever played with Conway's game of life, you might expect certain games to slither off into infinity.
Chess styles involve momentum, guts, and one-upping -- heaping more and more power on a spot until the pressure bursts and someone wins or dies. If this happens in go, someone has miscalculated. In professional games, groups of more than one or two stones are very rarely captured. A great go master once gave the advice to beginners: "Never attack; never defend."
Chess begins with a full board, and pieces are removed as the game goes on. The force of opposition between the two players is channeled into destruction. In go, the board begins empty, and life is added. The force of opposition is a dynamism which creates.