06/01/2020 No. 156
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True Meaning of Go
By Kabe Chin Translator Ching-Sung Chin
May 1, 2012

A cloud of apprehension hangs overhead. A bead of sweat falls from the brow of the head general. Outside, a leaf from a nearby maple tree falls ever so gently as soldiers of the famous Hei army wait in anticipation for the command to begin battle against the Bai army. Clad in armor as dark as slate, the black army stands proud and mighty. On the opposing side, the Bai army is dressed in white jade. Prestige, honor, and riches are at stake. As both sides are unwilling to back down from this chance for victory, an inevitable battle is about to take place. Formalities are exchanged between the adversaries through clenched jaws. With scowls, they assume position. Several pregnant minutes pass . . . a rumble of thunder . . .




The battle has begun. The Hei army made the first attack. The Bai army responds quickly and accurately as he attempts to slice the Hei soldier through the stomach with a brilliant jade sword. The Hei soldier counterattacks and cuts off an arm. Unfazed, the Bai soldier sacrifices the soldier and launches an assault on another front.




Inside a quiet room are a young boy and an old man. The one window that provides light in the room is half blocked by cheap drapes. There are cobwebs on every corner of the wall and adjacent well-worn floors of the dusty room. However, the pair does not seem to mind; they are too focused on the mixture of black and white stones that seemed to be scattered carelessly on a grid of nineteen by nineteen.




Light rain from overhead bathe the two sides. Both armies are out for blood. Wind from the resounding echoes of the clashing swords and armor fills the air. Although the battle appears to be a tie, both sides continue to strike with deadly precision. The Hei army reformulates its plans and counters yet again. A flock of crows sense the blood thirst and land on a nearby tree. The wind picks up speed and with another crash of thunder and flash of lightning the battle is in full form. The battle is fought on multiple fronts with neither side making any fatal mistakes.




A brilliant move by the Hei army shattered the Bai army’s position. The situation was now hopeless and Bai was forced to resign. Victorious, the head general of the Hei army allows himself a small smile. At the same time, the old man shook his head while the young boy grinned.


The act of playing games is one of our oldest pastimes. With countless pieces of evidence such as the game boards on Egyptian drawings, the dice discovered at Sumer, and the delicately carved chess pieces, one can conclude that there is probably significant value in these games. As one of the most primitive forms of expression and show of sophistication, games require the ability to think abstractly in a given situation in logical terms. Among these games is Go; it is arguably the most intriguing, with its freedom from complicated rules and focus on the balance of shape and emptiness, it comes close to representing the basic process of thinking.


Having played this game since elementary school, I have come to understand some of the intricacies presented in this game. The true meaning of the game, however, will perhaps elude me for years to come.

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Kabe Chin (player at right in the photo) started to learn Go from his dad in elementary school. Since then, he has continued to foster his interest by volunteering his time into teaching others and pursuing new levels of understanding of the game. Go has been much a part of his life along with eating and sleeping. He has founded a Go club at his school and continues to enter tournaments on his own accord. He also has a place in the American Go Association and American Go Honor Society.
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