Go looks so simple, so elegant - almost calligraphic. It's intriguing, yet also looks easy enough that anyone could figure it out and be good at it...

If you can play checkers or even tic-tac-toe, then you can play Go. The rules are very simple. The basic rule: surround to capture! Even a kindergartener can learn this basic idea in less than 10 minutes.

Once you start, though, you will notice that the game can get as complex as the two players can make it, and that it is as much art as it is technique. Each player will soon develop their own style: do you like to attack, to sacrifice a few stones for your greater good? Do you like to slap the stones down dramatically, unsettling your opponent with a loud “clack”? Do you prefer some patterns over others? Do you avoid certain situations because you are scared of them? Do you enjoy watching your opponent, figuring out what makes him tick?

Go is a martial art for your mind. As you play it, you will experience many shifts in your ways of thinking:

You will realize that you can never win them all, and that if some of your stones are lost, you need to let them go. You will learn to consider not only the stones, but also the empty space between them. You will begin to think around corners – often it is better to make the second or third move before the obvious first one. You will improve your ability to count, to make estimates, to recognize spatial relationships.

Last but not least, when you play Go, you will find that although you could theoretically cheat, you won’t want to! The sense of fair play among Go players is so strong that cheating is virtually nonexistent. Why would you devalue your struggle by dishonesty? After all, you don’t lose like you do in chess – your side is not destroyed, you just end up with a smaller share. In fact, players often remember their lost games more fondly than their wins.

These are some of the reasons why we think Go is the greatest of the “Big 3” archetypal boardgames (the other two being backgammon and chess). It has been played virtually unchanged for anywhere between 2,500 and over 4,000 years. When the ancient Roman Empire was young, you could have sat down with the great philosopher Confucius, and played a game of Go with him – we know from his works that he regarded it highly.

If you'd like to learn more about Go, check out the AGA's Introduction and Top Ten Reasons to Play Go.

If you'd like to start learning to play, you can try this interactive tutorial, or come to any of our meetings - we're always happy to help new folks get started!