Go Game Online

Learning to Play Go

Learning Go – Pandanet
An extremely simple explanation of the basic rules of Go. This site takes you step by step in a brief introduction to the game.

The Interactive Way To Go
A very good introduction to the basic mechanics of game play. Not only are the basic rules explained, but some of the most simple and most common fighting techniques are outlined. There are even interactive portions for the student to play through extremely simple Go problems.

Learn to Play Go: A Master’s Guide to the Ultimate Game (Amazon book)
This is the best Go teaching series I’ve found. The first volume teaches everything a beginner could wish to know; theory, mechanics, techniques, etc., all made easy to understand. It also has a large number of sample life-and-death problems with the answers in the back of the book. Think of it as a Go teacher in book form.

Go Game online

Playing Go

Pandanet Internet Go Server
IGS offers the chance to match yourself with real opponents around the world, real-time. Make sure you have an hour and a half or so for a real game if you choose to play this! Also be warned that IGS begins rankings at 30 kyu instead of 50 kyu, so that other ‘beginner’ you are playing may have played every day for the last year and actually be far more advanced than you are. (That can still be a wonderful learning experience). Still, playing live can immerse you into the flow of the game, helping you to understand movement, timing, and the give-and-take balance of a proper Go game.

IGS also gives updates on Go tournaments and top professional Go players (yes, those exist), and allows you the opportunity to observe other members of IGS play go games. For beginners, it might be more enlightening to watch a 25 or 20 kyu game just at first, instead of watching the amazingly advanced players.

playing Go in Japan

OGS Online Go Server
OGS offers the chance to match yourself with real opponents around the world, one move at a time. You and your opponent will each occasionally log in, look at the board, and play…anywhere from a several times a day to once every three days. It is helpful for those who simply don’t have an hour or more of uninterrupted time. OGS saves your board and your game, and allows you to challenge and play many different opponents at a time. The server will start you with a 30 kyu ranking, but after a few lost games it will drop you as far as 50 kyu, so the ranking of anyone who has played more than 6 games is fairly accurate.

OGS also gives you the option (above the listed games when you click ‘join open games’) of playing one of the OGS bots. These are go-playing computer programs. While computer programs can’t provide a satisfying game to an advanced player, they can be an extremely helpful learning tool for lower level players.

Go club in ancient China

Go Clubs

For play with an actual board and an opponent you can see face-to-face, try a local go club. Searching the internet for “go club” and the name of your state or some local towns and cities is your best bet.
American Go Association and Sensei’s Library  list a number of clubs.

-Anne Beardsley


Aikido and Go – part 1

Aikido and Go – Part 3

by Anne Beardsley

Aikido and Go – Part 2

Greed is another cardinal sin. As the old Go proverb states, “He who tries to take everything will end with nothing.” You must allow your opponent to take some ground…quite a bit of ground, unless the difference in you respective strengths is truly massive. Not only must you allow your opponent to take some ground, you ought to give him what he tries hardest to get. Another proverb advises: “Give the opponent what he wants.” Does he want the northwest corner? Let him have the northwest corner, and wall him into it, or engulf an entire side while he takes his corner.

Aftermath of a battleAftermath of a battle

You must allow him to have whatever he wants most, and turn that to be his downfall. In Aikido, too, we move where the opponent wishes to go…at least initially. A famous Aikido quote says “Always give the attacker what he wants, with a little bit more.  Does uke want the hand? Then give him the hand; that is his battlefield.  Let him have his battle field–now you move the Earth.” I think that every beginning Go player in the world should be taught that quote. Although it was written about Aikido, it contains much of the essence of the game of Go.

For this reason Go players are also taught, “Do not attach when attacking.” In Aikido we would say, “Do not reach out and grab your opponent.” In both disciplines, such an attack gives your opponent resources to work with. Instead, avoiding direct points of conflict and shaping your opponent’s play is much more powerful.

Go centers on the principles of going where your opponent is not, undercutting his support, causing him to run himself against barriers or collapse under his own weight. Good Go shapes are described as light, fluid, flexible, balanced, and as having lots of liberties. Go players concentrate on finding a balance between needless and destructive clashes of power and simple submission. Those who become too passive in play are reminded that Go is the martial art of the mind and that a focused “warrior spirit” is necessary for victory. Those who become overly aggressive are reminded that in Go, softness is strength and that greed for the win takes the win away. It is a game where ultimately influence matters more than strength.

Two monks playing Go - KoreaTwo monks playing Go – Korea

Last of all, but never least, Go and Aikido are both spiritual disciplines. Enthusiasts of both will insist that they study not only to become a better player or martial artist, but to become a better person. Go is considered, like chess, a high intellectual pursuit; but it is more. Go was one of the four great courtly arts of China and Japan, along with poetry, painting, and calligraphy, and it is still considered an art form by those who love it. Players speak of the grace or intrinsic beauty of moves. An experienced observer can see not only the logic but the ascetics of every move, and a poorly played stone jars the heart like a clashing loud note in a symphony. When played by two experienced players, a game of Go is a window into the soul.

My study of each of the two martial arts, Aikido and Go, has enriched my experience of the other. Perhaps the twentieth century’s greatest player, Go Seigen, said it best: “Go is aiki”.

-Anne Beardsley

Learn to play Go online – resources

Find an Aikido dojo in Utah

Aikido and Go – Part 2

by Anne Beardsley

Aikido and Go – Part 1

Maai is a word that is common in both disciplines; and for the same reasons. In Go as in Aikido, one should confront the adversary from a safe distance – close enough to act and react, but out of the metaphorical kicking distance. In Go one learns to intuitively sense the proper opening distance for each situation. I’m sure if I continue to work at it, one day I will be able to sense the right maai in Aikido, too.

Two skilled Go playersTwo skilled players

A very old Go proverb states, “The enemy’s key point is also yours”, and it is true in Aikido as well. The opponent’s point of balance is very often where the Aikidoka wishes to be, moving uke into an uncomfortable position.

A graceful deflection of an attackA graceful deflection of an attack

Timing is essential. (I recognize that “speed” of play, which has nothing to do with the time a player spends considering a move, will not be very comprehensible to anyone who is not a Go player, but it is important and should be included.) It is a good thing to be slightly swifter than your opponent, but you should never attempt to leave him behind altogether. The word for such behavior is “pride”, and in Go as in life, pride is a fatal flaw. You must match your opponent’s speed, attempting to shape the flow of his play. In chess, it is possible for one player to separate himself from his opponent somewhat and act upon him. In Go almost all actions will be completed together. No matter how fierce the combat, both players must be aware of and merging with the opposing play at all times.

Samurai tying his shoe on an up-turned Go boardSamurai tying his shoe on an up-turned Go board

Go is a battlefield, but like Aikido, many games look to an observer more like a dance as the two opponents slide around and through the other’s positions, responding immediately to changes in direction, thickness, speed, or intent. A Go player must learn to focus on his opponent at all times, but not loose himself in a single problem, a single knot of stones. He must see the entire board at all times or risk winning the battle only to lose the war. Aikidoka also are taught to be aware of the entire situation, not merely the point of conflict nearest their face.

Continued—Aikido and Go – part 3