Why Did You Start Go

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How did you become interested in Go?

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

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Table of contents

0rlando

How did you become interested in Go?

I discovered Go through the Xbox Internet Forums. This website was the first website I visited while trying to learn more about the game. I also watched the entire series of Hikaru No Go on YouTube? and loved it!

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I love the challenge!

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I instantly became fascinated with Go, much like a Love At First Sight.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I didn't expect to become so attached to Go. It's a part of my life now.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

We must continue to introduce the game to our friends. The continued adaptation of Go to new technology like Smart Phones, Tablets and Gaming Consoles will lead to increased popularity.

___

Tas

How did you become interested in Go?

My friend was given a cheap plastic set, with rules. We played each other. Usually it was just huge fights starting from one end. One day I suddenly started placing a few stones scattered around in one end of the board. Winning by a large amount, even though my friend had killed many more stones than me. Dicovering the power of moyo's and influence based moves. We tried playing a few games on the internet and got beaten severely, and we couldn't understand how they did.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

While writing my bachelors thesis, I slacked surfing the internet. I found a blog about computing and complexity of games, talking of go, which renewed my interest. I searched for more about the game, and found SL. Then I spend hours of slack time reading here and, lacking others to play, took up internet go. Later I learned that I lived right next to Copenhagen Go Club, and started to come there.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Played it before I heard of it.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

N/A

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

I am trying hard.


Pawel Koziol

[1] -How did you become interested in Go?

I have caught a first glimpse of Go on a server where I used to play chess. At high school I have been totally in love with chess (playing in the local tournaments, buying Russian books about theory and even getting to to semi-final tournament of the u-16 Polish chess championship in 1994), at my peak I have been able to beat 2100 Elo chess players, but after I entered the University I simply didn't have time to improve. Moreover, the chess monthly I used to buy, became completely unintelligible, containing more and more database information. So I wanted to try something for a change.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I tried to learn from the computer programs - TurboGo and alike, but I quickly noticed that almost all of them get stuck after the opening in Tengen. Then I decided to visit a Go club. In my first couple of games I had no orientation whatsoever, so precisely for that reason I decided that Go is a perfect replacement of chess.

The experience from chess helped me to win in a couple of tournament games (not because of knowledge, but because of attitude), so I get hooked.

After 10 months I am a 10k player with limited orientation in fuseki (I can beat a 9k with black, but I get smashed when I try to play an even game with White).

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

The gap between hearing and trying out was too narrow to make this question meaningful.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Yes - a perfect game of skill, not suffocated by databases.

Pawel Koziol


TakeNGive

[2] TakeNGive (10k): I first heard of Go in a novel (Shibumi) when I was about 15. Go seemed interesting, appealing to my juvenile elitism (a very bad novel, in retrospect, but I liked it then), but I found no more information on Go for years. When I was 18 or 19, in a cafe where go players congregated, I did not recognize the game. I found the players standoffish and rude, and the noise of the stones distracting. A few years later, a chance encounter with a bored mathematician finally taught me the rules of go. I found it instantly fascinating, of course, and read the books I could find, and played with everyone I could (back in that cafe; now one of the noisy, though perhaps not so standoffish).

Go turned out to be much as descibed in Shibumi: wood, shell, slate; engrossing, beautiful; deep, subtle, easily misunderstood. It also is different: playing Go in no way indicates superiority as a person.

What puzzles me are the many who don't fall in love with Go when they are shown it. When I work on life & death problems in a cafe, people often inquire; but it seems only those who already have heard of the game and already want to learn will sit and listen to me explain about liberties etc. (BigNose reports the same phenomenon, below.)

What to do about it (enticing more go players) -- well, the movies A Beautiful Mind and Pi have helped a lot. I get many more glances of recognition and willing learners now than a few years ago. So a tentative suggestion -- infiltrate mass media with more (and more intriguing) images of go? I have no idea how to do that, since I'm not a Hollywood scriptwriter... Meanwhile, i'll be at the cafe looking glamorous, and teaching the rules to kids at the local school.
-- TakeNGive


IronChefSakai

[3] About a year ago when I was 14, I found a Go set my brother had bought. He had never really played it but it cam with an instruction booket and I read it, following along by playing peices on the board. Soon I took to the computer.

Discovering that Yahoo had Java Go, I started to learn the points I didn't understand. It was really hard because the instruction booklet was vague and there aren't many helpful players on Yahoo. Eventually I found someone willing to spend time teaching me the finer points of the game. I slowly learned all of the rules and some very basic technique.

Soon I taught all of my friends and I got way into Go. I started looking for clubs in my area and I was lucky enough to find one meeting at the university which was not far from my house. I started play people there from about 12 kyu to 3 dan and got a little bit better. It took a long time to get in the hang of it. I also got friends to join me at the Go club, and we still play a lot.

Now that I have started playing better players, I have become very interested in Go, and it is one of my biggest hobbies.

-- IronChefSakai


Dieter Verhofstadt

[4] Dieter Verhofstadt: Just like TakeNGive, my life as a Go player started with the novel Shibumi by Trevanian. All credit goes to Stefan Verstraeten however, who gave me the book, taught me the game and asked me if I wanted to marry his sister. (One of these is not true).

  • oh well, you can always borrow the book from the library ;-) -kokiri

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?
I never found any other game like that. Chess was too much a door to unlock with care, other games were too dull or too imaginative. The only game I ever pursued with comparable interest is the game of diplomacy.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?
My uncle lend me a game set when I was about 11. I didn't understand the rules. Somehow I regret not having pursued back then.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?
I continue to be amazed by the richness of the game. On the other hand, I'm not always satisfied with the activity of playing board games indoors, and I haven't been able to keep the same spirit as back in the discovery days, when two good friends sat accross the battlefield table.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?
Shift to Bangneki.


MtnViewMark

[5] MtnViewMark: When I was about 11 or 12 a friend of my parents had a Go set in his living room. He taught me some and we played a few games now and then. Later, when I was 13 I found some Go books and a set in a study at a house where I was baby-sitting. I would play through games when the kids went to bed. I then asked my parents for a Go set as a present. My mom tells this funny story of her trudging through Chinatown in New York trying to buy a Go set. I still have it.


Bignose

[6] Bignose: My chronology goes roughly as follows:

  • become involved with computers and bulletin-board sites (that's right kids, before the Internet was available to regular schmucks)
  • encounter scattered references to Go as being an interesting board game
  • play an early version of GNU Go without reading instructions, get beaten, don't understand why
  • get first glimpse of the real thing in the fascinating movie "Pi" by Darren Aronofsky, become intrigued by mystique of this cool-looking game
  • during slack period at work, research the game on the Web
  • encounter rules of "Go Moku" and realise this is just some silly five-in-a-row game
  • during fortunate extension of slack period at work, continue research and discover that Go Moku is not Go
  • print out The Way To Go and am finally hooked
  • seek out local club, discover it meets within a five-minute drive of my place
  • finally play my first game in August 1999 at the Melbourne Go Club
  • switch jobs to work with a lot of other geeky people
  • take a couple of Go sets to work, play through games and problems at work to get people to approach me if interested
  • teach about a dozen people to play before leaving 18 months later

Lessons learned:

  • It seems to take a lot of preparation for someone to take to Go as a permanent occupation. In my case I'd heard about the game as background noise for many years; most people I speak to who are enthusiastic about the game have encountered references to it many years before they first started playing.
  • It can be difficult to get information to people in the right context and in the right light. Past a certain age people, on the whole, are very reluctant to learn new things, and there is a definite stigma in many Western cultures about pursuits that appear to be "smart". People would much prefer passive entertainment, it seems.
  • The difficulty and challenge of the game must be framed precisely. Of course one of the major attractions that keep people enthusiastic about the game is that there is so much to know, and you never stop learning. However, this works strongly against the game when teaching it to adults - they want reassurance that they will be able to feel rewarded almost immediately, just like with a computer game. Go too far with this, though, and you risk people discarding the game because they "see" that there isn't much to the game (like five-in-a-row).
  • 9 out of 10 people will make two comments, in order: "Wow, they look like mints, can you eat them, ha ha ha ha"; "Is this like Othello?". The ones who make neither of these comments are often those who've seen the game before and will be much more receptive.

Goran Siska

[7] Goran Siska

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I found the rules in an old book that had rules to various games (card games, board games, tricks, outdoor games etc..), so I got only the most basic information on the game (the one game that was shown was on an 11x11 board featuring two beginners playing next to random moves, so that wasn't much of a help :) )

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I made myself a set (no you cannot buy a go set in Slovenia, even if your life depended on it!) out of Meccano set (nuts&bolts for w&b) and a printed diagram (on an old printer paper with perforations on sides :) ). Played a game with myself and fell in love.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Some 7-8 years passed till I became a student and got access to the internet. I stopped playing chess and other board games and was on a lookout for a go club. I knew the game was something special but I couldn't find anyone with more information. The second time I logged on to the internet I found a unix version of The Many Faces of Go (with no restrictions on board size :) ) and the IGS server. But before I had the nerve to log on to IGS I trained with MF and so you could say my first real teacher was MF-sensei :). In our fourth or fifth game MF made a bamboo joint connection - looked kinda weird so I started thinking about it till I realised it was a great move (I'm still fond of bamboo's :) ). I realised that in this game, you can play beautiful shapes and there's meaning behind them and that I will never stop playing it.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

No. It turned out to be better :)

Goran (playing for almost 10 years now and still learning, still losing and still loving every minute...)


JanDeWit

[8] JanDeWit: I bumped into Go when I was about 15, tried to read 'Go for beginners' in Dutch by Iwamoto Kaoru, failed at doing that.

Fastforward to the near present (10 years later): when I was forced to be at home due to a broken ankle, I happened across some Go links. The rest, as they say, is history... I'm not a serious player (anymore?) in any case but I like to burn a few spare brain cycles on Go.

Most of my Go experiences come from playing the computer programs IgoWin, TurboGo and after a longish period of inactivity my own creation HaGo.


Scartol

[9] Scartol - My neighbors down the street had a Go set stashed in with their other board games (Sorry, Risk, etc), and when we gathered there growing up, I was interested, but never cared enough to pursue it. Then, this autumn, I decided I was going to learn how to play, for crying out loud. The simple mystery of the game really appealed to me, and I decided I'd at least find out how it worked.

Well, from the first few pages, I was hooked. I think that like anything, Go has be to presented in an enticing way, with neophytes given just enough at first to whet their appetites, and drawn in more and more with time.


Regyt

[10] My father used to be the president of his college Go club, and had several boards lying around the house. So when I was very small, he taught me the rules and tried to interest me in the game. I loved the concept of the game while growing up, but for many years I was more interested in other things (mainly books), and did not have time to actually learn the game. Also, I had no one around to play but my father, who never in his life let anyone win at anything. It's hard to retain ongoing interest in a game where you always lose. So as a kid, I played until I knew early in the game that I was going to lose and why, and then I stopped.

Only several months ago, last August, did I finally make an IGS account and start playing seriously. A month later, returning to school, I joined our Go club. Since doing all that, I've fallen in love with the game all over again.

It turned out better than I expected, too. I've barely started actually playing, and there's still this moment in each game where I realize that I can actually focus all my attention on it and submerge myself in it, and I fall into the patterns unfolding. I'm well on my way to forming a life-long obsession.

Actually, I've found it easier to convince people to begin playing after they've seen a few episodes of the anime HikaruNoGo, nowadays. And the main difficulty I've had in teaching new people is that there is no beginner mode.. and they, like I did as a child, become frustrated easily. The idea of teaching two people at once definitely sounds like a clever one.

People who know me know that I play, and would be delighted to teach. And every time the Go club on campus has a demonstration, they ask to learn. Every time they go to the Sakura Matsuri and see the Go table, they ask to learn. Every time there is a reference in the media (eg. in Pi, on one episode of Andromeda, in anime, etc.), they ask to learn. Sometimes even when I tell a really bad Go joke, they ask to learn.

I recently went home for Spring Break, and played three games with my father. I won all three times, by over 30 moku in two of the games, and by resignation after forty or so moves in the third.

Since I started playing because of a need to beat him at his own game, I felt this was worth mentioning here.

This leads me to wonder - subjectively, how does it feel to improve at Go?

-- Regyt


Jasonred

[11] Jasonred Amazing... am I the only person here who was influenced by reading Hikaru No Go?

unkx80: Of course not. See Hikaru no Go Junkie.

Jasonred No... but in my case, I had never heard of Go before (shogi yes, from Ranma...), but it wasn't until I read like 12 and a half volumes that I decided to look up what the rules of the game actually were. One of my friends was asking me whether Go players start reading Hikaru, or Hikaru readers start playing Go. According to figures from Japan, it's the latter. ;)


Alex Weldon

[12] Alex Weldon:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I'd known of the game for a long time, but had never tried it, despite being a lover of games of all kinds. When I came to Korea to teach English, it seemed an ideal moment to start.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I was getting bored of studying the Korean language, since I'd hit a kind of plateau, and started working on improving my Go skills instead.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I thought it sounded interesting, but no more so than any other abstract strategy game. It looked cool when I watched them play it on TV, but although I understood the rules, I still didn't understand what was going on.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Not really. It wasn't until I started playing that I understood the concept of tenuki. I couldn't figure out why people on TV were abandoning local situations and playing somewhere else before the fight was (in my mind) finished.

Also, maybe from playing chess and other similar games, I had the common misconception that capture was the primary concept of the game... that is, that capturing more of your opponents pieces than he did of yours would result in you having more territory at the end.


Chris Hayashida

[13] My father had a go set, but he never learned how to play. Instead, we used it to play go moku (five-in-a-row.) I had never seen a real go game. When a local bookstore had a going-out-of-business sale, I found Charles Matthews' Teach Yourself Go for $6. This started my go career.

However, what made me want to play the most was the San Francisco Go Club. They had a free "beginner's night" where you could drop in and learn from one of the members. Guy made learning the game fun and easy, without adding any pressure.

When I returned home to Los Angeles, I had to find people to play with. The Internet wasn't promising. The players on IGS were too strong, and it was hard to get a game. Getting a good game on Yahoo was hard because the quality of play was too varied.

The Santa Monica Go Club was perfect. I like the atmosphere, and I am now a regular there. I played in a few tournaments, and found that a lot of players my level were playing on the Internet on KGS. When I'm not playing at the club, I play online on KGS. I like playing there for the same reasons; KGS has a friendly atmosphere, and there are helpful stronger players.

After playing a bit and being crushed by my opponents, I realized there was far more to this game than I first realized. Curiosity (and maybe a thirst for vengeance :) made me want to get better.

Since it was essentially what got me started, I help teach a beginner's night at the Santa Monica Go Club. I hope that someday, someone will post that our beginner's night was the reason that they started to play go.

Chris Hayashida


MikeNoGo

[14] MikeNoGo: Jasonred, you are not alone. I was really excited in 1999 when I found a store that sold Weekly Shounen Jump, the Japanese manga magazine that I knew Dragon Ball ran in. I bought an issue to broaden my horizon and to use in my Japanese study. One manga in this first issue I bought was Hikaru No Go. The art caught my eye, but at this time, my Japanese was so poor that I had no idea what was going on, no idea what Go was, and no idea why this glasses-kid and this red-haired kid were putting stones on a piece of wood. The game didn't catch my curiosity quite yet, as I was more passionate about learning Japanese at the time.

A year and a half later, my Japanese had improved, and I was helping my friend AK out with translating, scanning, and editing some chapters of Rurouni Kenshin for the website we were getting ready to launch. He had been getting Jump too since mid-2000, when Toriyama Akira started a new series. Two of the series we both really enjoyed (though I could hardly understand at the time) were Naruto and Hikaru No Go. He was kind enough to send me the first two HikaGo volumes that Christmas, which renewed my interest in the manga, and got me thinking about the game itself (since Hikaru was a beginner too back then). So once I noticed that they had Go on Yahoo, I looked up the rules and got AK to try to play a game with me. I had no idea what was going on, but I enjoyed it. As weeks passed, I kept having to give more and more stones to AK, though I never really played seriously or often.

In spring 01, more passionate about Go than ever, I told AK "we're doing HikaGo." His response, essentially: "You mean I am. You say we but I'm the one who has to do all the work." But in any case, Toriyama's World ended up putting out HikaGo, and attracting total beginners and people who already knew about Go alike. I found out about IGS from visitors mentioning it, and in fall 01, I signed up for IGS and started getting slightly more serious. And at my horribly slow rate of progress, over a year later I'm still only 10k KGS.

Velobici: MikeNoGo Thank you very much for doing HikaGo. The manga of Hikaru No Go were/are instramental in getting my son hooked on the game. It has had a wonderful effect on him. Here is an intellectual pursuit that matters to him, requires effort, concentration and discipline, and rewards those efforts with increased skill. Happened a very important time in his life (13-14 years old). From this, he has learned that goals are attainable through sustained effort. He has a new skill that places him on an equal level (1D AGA) with many adults and far above others. Thank you very much!

AlexYoshi

[15] AlexYoshi:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I remember hearing about it a long time ago, but I never learned to play. When I went to RIT in fall of 2001, I met some guys teaching people how to play, and watched for a while.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Uhm, after playing for a while, it just kind of hooked me. When I started watching Hikaru no Go, it encouraged me to learn more.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I thought that the first person to play should always win, because the other player would have to bend his stones around yours, making a big arc the ultimate shape.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Nope. Its been much better. I even met my first girlfriend when she randomly stopped by the club and learned how to play.


HadouKen

[16] HadouKen:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

My dad always had a couple of cheap Go sets lying around, and even an absolutely ancient Go book explaining some of the basics. He had found the game in a shop in high school, but of course, he had no one to play against. When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I picked the book up, determined to learn how to play. After all, it was Japanese, I had heard some people refer to it as having a great deal of Oriental philosophy built right in, and I was into that kind of stuff then.

I gave it up after about two months. I just didn't have the attention span to stay with it, especially because I did not know any sites to play it over the Internet. Over time, I came back to it a couple times, including once at age sixteen, when my main opponent was a (very weak) program called Aigo for the Palm Pilot. About two or three months ago, I took it up again, and I'm not showing any signs of stopping, this time.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

'Cause I'm a nerd.That's the kind of thing I like to do: studying obscure subjects, playing little-known games, and just generally screwing around with really weird stuff that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Go has a few distinct advantages over all the other stuff, though. It's a nearly perfect fusion of intuition and logic, for one, which appeals to my nerdly sensibilities. It's fun. It has so many possibilities that I can't possibly get bored with it. And I'll say it one more time: it's fun.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I thought it looked pretty boring. Heck, I was only four or five when I first heard about it. It was just a boring grid and some boring black and white circles. I was much more interested in chess, with its knights, castles, foot soldiers, and all the trappings of a medieval battle. Besides, in Go, it took at least four moves just to capture one piece. You got the same gratification with only one move in chess.

So I played a little chess, instead.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I only started a few months ago, so every time I get stronger and see a new aspect of the game, my perspective tilts and I can read even more into the mysterious stone patterns. It gets deeper and deeper, more subtle and more exciting, every single time.

Every time, the view is a more panoramic, more connected, and nothing like I expected. It's always better.


Jurgen

[17] Jurgen:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

After watching 24 hours of Hikaru no Go in 4 days. At first I had serious doubts about the series. How can a series about a board game be any good or fun ? I knew the moment I started watching episode 1... and I've been hooked ever since

Besides the Go Go Igo scenes after each episode are worth gold as they actually explained what was happening in the anime.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

See the previous question. I think it's haunting me now. I'm craving for information about Go. How to play, how to improve, ... It makes me sad I haven't discovered this game sooner.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I only knew the the word Go from crossword puzzles. I never had the faintest clue what it was about. But as I don't like checkers and chess I did have my doubts about 'yet another board game'. I hereby humbly apologize to all players worldwide. ^_^

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Well since I only started playing last week, and I've only seen a real goban the day before I'm not yet disappointed. But I'll let you know later on once I'm able to play a 9x9 board without a handicap. After one week I made it to 2 stones and I keep losing at one. I have a very long way to go.... (but I'm enjoying every bit of the way so far) =D

Stefan: Welcome to SL and to go, J�rgen. Make sure you use every available [ext] source of information. :-)

Jurgen: Thank you Stefan, and I will. =D I just know what to do with my Monday evenings now ^_-

Dieter: Yet another deshi from the amazing [ext] Gents Go Genootschap


Tim Brent

[18] I happened to get a copy of Lasker's book Go and Go-Moku. Also, I was bored with other games. As to making it popular in the West, how is it meant? Soccer is at a level popular in the USA, but with so many other choices it will never achieve the level of baseball, football, etc. Go will be more popular, but I doubt it will ever achieve the level of poularity of Chess, Backgammon, etc. The only way is if children are exposed to Go by Go-playing parents and in schools. -- Tim Brent


Zarlan

[19] Zarlan:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

The first time I heard of Go, was when my brother mentioned a game that a friend of his liked. It had very simple rules, yet it was very challenging. I considered that to be very good, but I didn't really pay it any mind, whilst my brother was checking the rules (he didn't do any more than that though).

Later I read a book (Games of the World) in which there are a bunch of games. Including Go. It mentioned some of Emanuel Lasker's (or maybe it was Edward Lasker who said it. The book says Emanuel) comments about Go compared with chess and a bit about its high status in the East. I always wanted to be good at chess, although I didn't play much (hardly ever at all really), wasn't all that good and didn't really like the complexity of it all. Mostly because it was a mindgame. A game were you must be smart and where, if you play well, you are smart. Now I was presented with a game that didn't have chess's bad side but did have the good side and more (acording to Lasker's comments). I got interested and I looked around on the net. I think I found some Go-servers but then you had to have a client and all. I didn't want that. I did find [ext] TurboGo and that you could play on Yahoo. I started playing and although I didn't get any help (except Turbo Go's hint function, if that counts) and didn't check any sites like this one and although I was in hell I did improve a bit. By the way, I sometimes, so that I wouldn't have to wait so much, played on two boards at the same time. I never played 19x19 because I wasn't that good and after a while I either got crushed by stronger players or played against players that hardly knew the rules, if they knew that much, I would hardly ever have gotten the confidence to play on 19x19. It is hardly suprising that I played less and less until I basically never played.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Hikaru no Go.

I first heard of HikaGo on a forum I'm on. It was apparently very good and most of those who liked it were reading the manga from [ext] toriyamaworld. An anime with Go? Well apparently it was good. I didn't pay it much mind though ("again"). Sometime later the manga/anime-magazine (or whatever) of the manga club I'm in, contained an article about Hikaru no Go and one about Go. This (the mere articles) renewed me interest in Go and got me reading Hikaru no Go. I started playing again and I look for some info on the internet. Since my harddrive was rather full at the moment, getting the Hikaru no Go anime wasn't realy an option (luckly), so I read the manga.

A very important thing was that I found a bunch of pages about Go.
Playing in hell was of course a pain, so I thought that I'd start playing on one of the Go-Servers that I had on the above mentioned pages. That way maybe I'd get some equal, or correcty handicapped, games. At first I was going to start at IGS because it had many users and I would then get an opponent of desirable rank quickly. At a anime-convention (or almost convention) I met a few people who where playing Go with real board and stones. One of them told me to play on KGS and well... Sure. heck, why not? I am glad I did that.

I checked pages about Go, I was finally able to play a lot of "enjoyable" games and even get them commented by stronger players. HikaGo also helped as I got more entusiastic about Go.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Excellent.
Simple rules, yet very hard. That is how a lot of things should be!
Of course I didn't realise how complex it is (I assume that I still don't).

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Yes. A lot better than expected, but otherwise it is what I thought it was: An excellent and challenging game although it has simple rules.


MacNala?

[20] MacNala?

I first encountered Go in 1967 having been given a Japan Airlines brochure. I made myself a small board which used coloured drawing pins as stones and pestered my work colleagues to play during the lunch break.

I then forgot about it until I read about Go in 1999 and thought it might be interesting to see how it really was played.

I was approaching retirement and was looking for something non-physical but mind challenging to do. I have improved by meeting other players at my local club and then on KGS. I found IGS too intimidating for a beginner.

Needless to say I am still learning but get very tired after about an hour of playing and so make silly mistakes. However I have got up to 11 kyu in competitions in the UK.

I would like to get into single digits but may never make it. It does keep the little grey cells active though.


Jenny Radcliffe

[21] Jenny Radcliffe:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

Accidentally. My boyf had started to play. I went to meet him one evening after I'd been at a meeting when he was playing Go, and the President bullied me into playing, and I got hooked.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I didn't ever decide to as such. It just sort of happened.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I hadn't heard about it in any detail. I was only very vaguely aware of its existance - shocking, for a person with a maths degree!

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I had no expectations. ;) I am in fact an example of someone who got involved purely because I didn't want to be a Go Widow.

However, I heard a more interesting story yesterday. I was talking to a British-born Chinese man who's about my strength, around 15kyu. Very, very British in accent and apparent outlook, he obviously has only relatively recently taken up Go. So I wondered why. He explained that he'd played occasionally against his father when he was very young, but stopped again. Then he was searching for the Go airline and accidentally found a Go website, and decided to be a bit nostalgic and try playing again. I think that's a lovely way to take it up. :)

Oh, and what can we do to encourage play in the West? Targeted marketing and word-of-mouth-(or-electronic-equivalent). When you find a geek, teach him Go!


Bob McGuigan

[22] Bob McGuigan:

I learned the rules in the mid 1950's when my uncle, who worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey and played go there, sent me a set of plastic stones and a copy of Arthur Smith's book. I made my own board to go with the stones but I couldn't find anyone to play with. Besides I was a teenager hooked on chess at that time and wasn't interested in getting into another game. The seed planted by my uncle germinated twenty five years later when a friend asked me if I knew how to play go. I still remembered the rules and we began playing. I found a local shodan player and we began playing nine stone games regularly. I also found the book Basic Techniques of Go and won my sixth game with the shodan. I was down to six stones within a few months and moved to Washington, DC, for a year where, at the Greater Washington Go Club, I found many go friends and progressed to 4k. From then on I was truly devoted to the game.

As for how to promote the game, I think there needs to be some sort of hook to get people interested initially. Hikaru no Go seems to do that for children in Japan now and for anime and manga fans elsewhere. But I think that more is needed to make people stay with the game. If it is just a prop for fantasy, interest in the game won't last or develop. Almost everyone I know who plays go, though, got to it through another game like chess or through an interest in some aspect of Asian culture, which led them to Go.


Benjamin Geiger

[23] Benjamin Geiger:

I had seen go a few times, in various settings. Mostly I had been told about this 'really cool game' that was 'so much better than chess'. I looked at it, but not enough to really see what the game was about, and ended up dropping it after a couple of days.

Then I watched A Beautiful Mind. I was intrigued by go then, but again didn't pick it up. My biggest concern was that no one else played go. Nobody played chess, for that matter.

As the cliche goes, the third time's a charm. About two months ago (mid-February 2003) I was talking with someone in irc.freenode.net #pyddr, and he mentioned that he was going to come here to SL to study ladders. At that point, I basically demanded that he explain to me the basics of go. He did, and pointed me here.

I was hooked.

I got myself a cheap set from a Korean grocery, made accounts on all three major real-time servers, and haven't stopped since.

By the way, I got hooked on Hikaru no Go after I started playing.


Richard Matheson

[24] Richard Matheson?:

I first heard of Go in the movie Pi when I saw it around 2001. I got a beginner's book (The Game of Go) with a beginner's set, and my wife and I played a couple dozen Atari Go games, and then would start a 19x19 game but never finish it, and then restart at a later date. I got a nice agathis folding board with glass stones as well and another book. My wife became disinterested in the game, and I could not find anyone to play with, so my interest waned.

In the last month (april 2003) I discovered KGS and started playing online and reading Go books again. My wife and I still play a bit, but she gets frustrated due to our difference in skill levels. I'm enjoying playing online quite a bit and my name is myndreach on KGS.

EDIT 2008 - I ended up playing about two weeks in 2003.


Frs

[25] Frs:

My first Go experience was the GnuGo software. I tried to convince other people to try out Go. But in a town with 70,000 residents I failed to find opponents, who share my strong interest in Go. I started to search the internet for Go opponents and arrived at the Dragon Go Server.


HikaruFan

[26] HikaruFan

I first knew about the game of Go last year, when my friend introduced me to Hikaru No Go and taught me the rules of the game. That got me interested in Go, so I started to play a little, and I'm currently in the Go club in my school.


Velobici

[27] Velobici

My father, an Electrical Engineer, who worked at the Federal Aviation Administration and played a significant role in the creation of the US air traffic control system prior to his retirement from the civil service in 1980, was introduced to the game at work by several other engineers. He then introduced me to the game.
I dont believe that I have started to pursue it seriously yet. I do some life and death problems, play some games, go to club, but have not yet started to devote the hour a day that I believe is needed in order to be serious about my play.
Go has turned out to be much harder than I expected. The multiple senses of balance (influence vs territory, safe vs fast play, etc) make the game much more challenging than I had ever imagined.


Remillard

[28] Remillard

  • How did you become interested in Go?

A while back (probably 1994) a distant friend of mine said he was playing it on the net, but not knowing what it was, and being more interested in getting married, I sort of just filed it away. Plus it sounded a lot like chess and I wasn't really into chess.

Several years later (probably 2000 or so) there was a newspaper article in the Rocky Mountain News about Go. It might have been right after Pi came out, but I don't know since I've never seen the movie. It looked interesting and so I looked around to find more information. I stumbled upon Go and Go-Moku by Edward Lasker and read it for a bit. It was really interesting and for my birthday, my wife got me an inexpensive small Go set. I got distracted from the book, and couldn't quite figure it all out, so it got dropped.

In July 2002, there was an article on Slashdot about the struggle of creating a computer program that could actaully play Go reasonably well (or the lack thereof). In the comments section, someone mentioned KGS. I created a KGS account and was subsequently hooked. I'm not sure there's a 'why' or a 'how' in there. It was mostly the confluence of events.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

How could you not pursue it more seriously? ;-) Oh right, my other distractions. I'm not sure. As I mentioned at the time and place, my brain was prepared for finding the game fascinating.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Rather dry.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Yes and no. There are moments that are rather dry. There are points in games and/or lessons that are exquisite moments of Eureka! that can only be compared to certain crystal palace structures in mathematics and possibly sex ;-).

  • Since many of us would like Go to have more status and more followers in the West, the question to ask is: What can we do about it?

Well also being in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), I've taken to enjoying reading and studying the history of the game. Fortunately it's certainly old enough to qualify for the time period adopted by the SCA. Unfortunately, most of the really interesting stuff happened in the Edo period which is just AFTER the time period adopted by the SCA. Still, it's a period game, and I've made the attempt to teach it to anyone who will come by and let me rattle on about it. I've not swayed any adults as of yet, but several children have enjoyed playing. I'm going to try to adopt some of the ideas presented in Go as Communication by Yasutoshi Yasuda and see how that goes. His focus is more on large groups of kids and adults rather than one-on-one, but there's a lot in there about the simple joy of placing a stone that I think needs to be emphasized.


Deebster

[29] Deebster:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I came across Go while studying AI. I'd just finished reading about how Deep Blue had beaten Kasparov at chess, and I felt that it had "cheated", as it was brute force, not tactics that had let Deep Blue win. I then read that computers still had no chance of seriously competing at Go. I quickly had a look on the net; it seemed an interesting game, and one I'd enjoy more than chess. Unfortunately, I was too busy at the time to follow further.

Some months later, I happened to stumble across a reference to Go, and this time I had the spare time to learn the game.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I want to play. Nothing more.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Yeah, exactly - the amazing depth of such a simple game, the elegance of a clever tactic, and I still am enthralled by the patterns :)


Phelan

[30] Phelan:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I had played chess for quite a while, but it never quite thrilled me. Then I was reading a Sci-Fi novel (Starborne, by Robert Silverberg) that has some passages about Go. The only territory based game I had played before was Risk...So I became interested, but didn't actively seek information about it. Then, I found a pc game called [ext] Splotch. I found it while I was searching for completely unrelated software. I liked the game, although I lost a lot of games before I started to understand how to win. As you can imagine, Splotch is inspired on Go, although it doesn't mention its name. The next time I remember seeing anything Go-related, was Hiroki Mori's Interactive Way to Go, and this was where I learned the game from. I still recommend it to everyone who seems interested. :) From that to actual play, was still quite a bit, maybe a year or so. I wasn't able then to get past some of interactive problems, and so wasn't even a 30k yet...

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I lost interest soon afterwards, and I only got interested in it again, when I showed a class mate about the game, and we started to play a few games on yahoo, against each other. Having someone I knew to play the game with, I got more interested in it, finally making it to 30k, and shortly afterwards, finding the wonderful world of KGS. :)

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I had never played any board game that focused on territory before I saw Splotch(excluding Risk), so I thought it was a very interesting concept. When I was properly exposed to Go, I still found it a more interesting board game than the ones I had been playing (mostly Chess, and an interesting egipcian game I found on [ext] Zillions, can't remember its name now).

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

It turned out much, much better than I expected. So much that only after two years after finding the game, I already have a go set, 4 go books, 4 friends I taught the game to, I've seen almost all the fanssubed episodes of HikaruNoGo, am a 17k and rising, and have become obsessed about Go, an obsession that will surely last for my lifetime... :)

Curiously, I only found out that Portugal had a [ext] Go club long after I started to play...Go is not very known around here, but we're trying to fix that. :)


Floris

[31] Floris:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

At the time i loved anime and manga and whenever I found something I liked I talked about it with my friend who has a broadband connection. As such I got to watching the HNG anime. Soon my friend found the manga for it as well, and we both got addicted. Soon i started playing go as well and quickly it became my daily occupation.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

After a while ^_^

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

It sound fun and the sight of a go board in HNG strangely always gave me a tinkley feeling. Now the same is IRL.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

No, better.


HolIgor

[32] HolIgor/How I started go


repp

[33] repp (11k):

  • How did you become interested in Go?

My first exposure to Go was while attending a Mathematics/Computer Science party being held at a professor's home. I did play, but with no real understanding of what I was doing. A friend of mine engaged the game more than I did, and for years I thought nothing more of it.

Until one day, I sat down to play this friend a game of Chess. After I offered Chess, he said "No... but how about a game of Go?" I accepted, and was hooked.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I started playing the game at a critical point in my life, where I was feeling a need to branch out and learn, yet I was frustrated with my immediate situation. Go provided a kind of lifeline to engage myself with.

The game was lots of fun to play; however, I was very weak. I began seeking resources (primarily in the form of SL) and playing online. The simplicity of the rules and the complexity of the play drew me in. It seems that no matter how strong I have ever been, there has always been something new and exciting that I can learn.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I never really did hear about it before playing Go... the first time I played, it was "here's Go, want to play?" In the two years or so between first playing it and playing it again, it was somewhat mysterious. I still remember looking at the full size goban for the first time, with nothing but the star points standing out. The star points were so intriguing -- why those points? Why there? The initial spark of curiosity lay dormant, but eventually ignited my current passion.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

No, absolutely not. I thought Go would be kind of like Chess, interesting, fun, but ultimately a waste of time.

Go is not a waste of time. Over the last several years Go has provided a net for my life. In my most desperate and dark moments, I could open KGS and just play. It provided almost a reassurance that here was a skill, pointless yet discrete, and I was not a tragic failure at it. Learning (and teaching) Go has been a journey of discovery of myself and of others. In many ways Go has become a reflection of life itself.


Quicksilvre

[38] Quicksilvre

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I've always been interested in games and game theory. Since I've been about six years old I've been making new games and analyzing the ones I could.

I think I was first exposed to go when I was eight. My babysittter had a big book of games, and Go was one of them, stuck somewhere in the middle. I remember a photograph from a tournament or club, with a gymnasium thick wall-to-wall with players and gobans. I didn't start playing then; I thought it looked interesting, but didn't play any games. I little later, I saw it (in the 9x9 version) in Klutz's Big Book of Classic Games.

But I never hit my go consciousness until a year ago. I downloaded Igowin, joined Dragon, and the rest is history :)

  • Why did you decide to persue it more seriously?

It sucked me in and hasn't let go yet.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Not much, either good or bad. It looked interesting, but I never played a real game until a year ago.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Not at all. I'm not too interested in Chess, but I absolutely adore this game. Not to mention that go is so much more artful.

Quicksilvre on DGS, DBW913 on KGS


Malweth

[34] Malweth:

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I became interested in Go when I found a reference online and decided to check it out again. I originally found out about go in High School. The Go engine "Nemesis" was on a number of the older DOS-only computers (this is the 1995/1996 time frame). I knew nothing about the game (or Bruce Wilcox :) but decided to play it. I have to admit that I copied it to disk and took it home, but I didn't realize it was a pay-for program (ok... in HS I probably would have done it anyway ;).

Once I could beat Nemesis (I didn't bother with handicap stones), I had no other venue to play the game and no internet access. I didn't find the game all that hard, so I just gave up and turned my attention to more challanging games (Minesweeper). :D

Flashing forward to 2003, I didn't have a lot to do in the summer, I was getting married in the Fall, and I came across Go online. (IGS then KGS or vice versa... I did experiment with Yahoo/MSN Go in college - since I was an "expert," but I didn't like it and didn't meet anyone nice there so I quit again).

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Because it's the game of the Gods - impossible to master and infamously addicting! I also found Hikaru no Go manga and anime, which served to fuel my interest.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I covered that under the first bullet, but I thought the game was too easy (having played vs. the Computer circa 1991). It did give me the basics, so I started around 23 kyu and jumped to 18 kyu rather quickly.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Go online did... I never liked Yahoo/MSN because of the mean people there. Resultantly, I go to Y!/MSN every so often to try and get people to move to KGS/IGS. KGS is now my haunt because of the friendly atmosphere (and beginner atmosphere). I expect I'll play more on IGS after I've reached shodan (KGS).

The game itself transformed in my mind from a game on par with othello (hard, but not impossible) to a life persuit, impossible to master and a source of constant improvement.


DrStraw

[35] DrStraw I might have one of the more interesting stories. When I first went to university, in 1970, I was an avid bridge player. Pretty soon I was playing duplicate bridge 4 or 5 nights week and becoming equivalent of about 4 or 5 dan. All the time my tutor Brian Philp (advisor in American parlance), who was about a 4k Go player at the time and is now 1d, kept on trying to get me to start playing the game, but my consistent response was "it's just another board game - bound to be as boring as chess". For 3 years he kept on trying to pursuade me, with no luck. Then one day, in late 1973, during my first year as a graduate student, the university chess captain and I were playing our regular game of 4-dimensional tic-tac-toe. He said he was thinking about trying the Go club and asked me to go with him. Needless to say I said no. But as it happens, my regular bridge partner could not play that night so I decided to strike a deal: I would go to the go club if he would be my partner that evening at the bridge club. It seemed like a good way to satisfy my bridge addiction and I figured it could do no harm to go the Go club for one night - at least I could tell my former tutor that I had tried it and hated it.

Well, the rest is history, as they say. He never went back to the Go club. I never missed a single meeting in my remaining time at university and rarely missed a meeting in the following 15 years when there was a club where I lived. Within a couple of years, around the time I was getting close to shodan, I gave up serious bridge. I've played duplicate bridge only occasionally since (usually winning) and have not play a single hand of bridge now in about 15 years. But until the last couple of years I had not lived anywhere where there were dan players in about 15 years. Last even game tournament I played was in 1990 when I played in the US Congress as a 5 dan (I actually won the 5/6d lightning section but did awful in the main tournament).


Het

[36] Het(KGS,DGS)

  • How did you become interested in Go?

I was specializing in AI while student in CS. We had to dig state of the art in Chess playing programs, unsurprisingly I came across references to Go as an unsolved AI problem.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

A couple of years later (having given up on AI and switched to networks/telecoms) i was idling on the net and searching a fun RTS game under Linux. I was disapointed by mouse-skill games like Warcraft where strategy is not really relevant (actually it is hardcoded an you have to find it out once), i wanted a game where i could "program" actions, Go tourned out to be that game.

I started to play aganst GnuGo then on NNGS where stronger players helped me to improve, then KGS and DGS. Amusingly i have trouble when playng on a real goban because of perspective and stones not being perfectly aligned, i have analized some of my mistakes and found that i played these moves relaying on unconscious(and wrong) analysis of shapes ie i believed a stones being placed differently that the acually were.

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

For me Go was an obscure game played in asian countries.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Go tourned out to be a whole universe i didn't expect to exist. At every new game i play or look, i discover new unexpected things about Go.


kokiri

[41] kokiri

  • How did you become interested in Go?

After uni I went to tokyo as a postgrad and language student. After a while I was faced with two problems - where to practice speaking japanese and what to do with my spare time. Go turned out to be the answer to both.

My teacher thought it was a very funny thing to want to do but found me a local club and i roped in a mate and we went up one day in Jan 2000 and asked to be taught how to play.

After their surprise wore off the people in the club were very welcoming and a bit proud to have a couple of foreigners turning up once a week and i carried on lessons there for over a year until i returned to the uk.

  • Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

It wasn't a decision - it just grew in importance to fill the available space. I can't really remember what i did with the time that now is spent playing Go

  • Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

My dad has played since before i was born, so it was always in the house. However i never really showed an interest and he never tried to teach me and i really didn't know anything about it.

  • Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

it never fails to surprise me. There are aspects of the game that i simply didn't understand six months ago and others I am only now beginning to understand.


ChadMiller

[37] ChadMiller:

How did you become interested in Go?

Several factors came together at once.

I saw it in various media, but paid it no mind. It was visually interesting, but that was all.

I learned Pente in elementary school, in an unusual class. I loved it and played off and on for years. Since Pente's creator bought the licensing back from Parker Brothers (or whoever), it was impossible to find a replacement board when I wanted one. With the internet, I discovered that a game with the wierd name of "Go" used the same board, so I ordered a vinyl roll-up board. It arrived with a list of AGA clubs. One was within 10 miles.

I discovered Sensei's Library from peeking around about "Go". Since I'm a fan of wikis, I decided that any community that builds a wiki around a game must be cooler than I had supposed.

I decided to visit the club one Monday evening.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Its beauty of trade-offs and balance appealed to me.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

It was just another obscure game that a small population of people play. I had little interest. I would have rather learned bridge or backgammon first, if I was looking to learn a new game.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

With my interest piqued from reading some blurbs about it on the internet, my expectations were changed a bit. Even after that, it was a bit of a surprise that the games lasted 10 times longer than Pente games.

Still, Go is never what I expect. I always learn something new.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Play in public often. Learn not to scare away people that ask about Go.


Bildstein

[39] Bildstein:

How did you become interested in Go?

I found it by accident in a book called "Ainslie's Complete Hoyle", a book of many games, which must be about 30 years old. It had only the most cursory introduction, and occasional technical and tactical mistakes. This was about 4 years ago, when I was about 19, and at University. I later went on to do my honours project on a Genetic Algorithm / Neural Network approach to Go AI.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I didn't. It just happened, like this:

  • I downloaded IgoWin, and played literally thousands of games against it. I knew it well enough that I could often play dozens of games in a row against it at dan level. And if anyone wants to tell me they can see evidence of this in my playing style now, I'll laugh in their faces.
  • I played some games on Yahoo, and realised I had no idea how to play on a 19x19 board.
  • I kept playing on Yahoo until I found I had enough money to buy The Many Faces of Go. MFGO was good because it had different playing strengths and you could set the handicap. I was slightly disappointed, though, because it didn't have that addictive automatic handicapping system of IgoWin.
  • Eventually I found the option to play on IGS in MFGO. I signed up, and started of at about 24 kyu. From there I advanced regularly and quickly to about 13 kyu. This progression I do attribute to IgoWin (or at least I consider it the best explanation).
  • I enjoyed making progress. I went on to get Graded Go Problems for Beginners Volume 3 for my birthday one year, and at the time I could solve about a third of the problems, each with a lot of thought. I later found the money to buy most of the Elemetary Go Series. Unfortunately Handicap Go was out of print, but I did get a copy out from my library once and read it.
  • There is still no club in Tasmania, and I am yet to find anyone around here who is anywhere near as serious about Go as myself. If you're ever in Tasmania, get in contact with me, and we'll have a game. Have no doubt I'll make you feel very welcome :)

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I had no idea. There was no-one around to give me any idea what to think about it.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I had no expectations, but I had hope. And it did actually turn out like I hoped - it was much more strategic than Chess, and I think that's all I really wanted. If there's anyone out there reading this who would say that moving one of your two middle pawns first is a strategic decision, I would say you haven't played enough Go.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

On a large scale, I don't know. But on a small scale... Leave hints in lots of places in your life that prompt people to approach you, so that you're not forcing it on anyone. My MSN display picture is of the end of a 9x9 game played between two masters. It's a good conversation starter. Make your e-mail address wei-chi@your-provider.com or something, etc. I think if you become zealous about preaching Go, you'll get a reputation as a fanatic and no-one will want to listen to you. If someone asks you about the game, explain only the simple concepts until they ask for more: "It's about surrounding territory by placing stones on the board, one at a time."


Jared

[40] Jared: see Jared Beck/Why Did I Start Go


George Caplan

[42] George Caplan

When I was 12, my Aunt took my brother and me to California for a week. We were already avid game-players - wargames, chess etc. We stayed with a Japanese family for a few days. My Aunt had taught overseas with the lady of the house, and I remember her father vividly, strolling in his beautiful garden. In my time tempered memory, he looked like Kawabata later in life, lanky with white hair. Turns out that he taught Michael Redmond's father how to play.

However, Go never came up.

Seven wasted years later, like most in my generation, I saw some folks at College playing, and learned from them. Once life and resources allowed me to get serious, I immediately did. I loved the game from the first moment I saw it. And it has been everything I hoped it to be and more. What makes this game better than any other is the inescapable reality that the more I understand this game, the more I realize there is to learn.

What we need in the West is for Stephen Spielberg to make a movie about a cute, but socially inept middle schooler who one day, while hiding from some bullies, happens upon a Japanese Garden where two men are playing Go. He learns how to play, and learns various lessons that he applies to his personal life, defeating the bullies, saving his parent's marriage and winning the heart of the next Hilary Duff. In the buildup to the premiere of "The Kikashi Kid" 9x9 sets are given out in Happy Meals.


ZeroKun

[43] ZeroKun: Well I used to be on Direct Connect a lot trading anime and such, one of my friends told me about HnG which I read the info page on Animenfo, by nature I brushed it off as a stupid anime. Then one of my OP friends in his hub told me about it again and said it was really good, after that I watched it and liked it. Me and him played some games on Yahoo then IGS, and after not liking them that much I found KGS.


norml

[44] norml:

How did you become interested in Go?

I've known about the game for years and even played a few 9x9 games almost a decade ago, but despite my obsession with other games, I resisted playing Go. There seemed to be too much to learn to achieve a basic proficiency in the game and I had already invested so much of my life learning chess. About a year ago (Feb 2004) a good friend and rival at my old chess club started to relentlessly pester me to play Go - he was very elloquent and persistent about this game, and I respected his judgement as a fine chess player, so I eventually gave in. I remained unimpressed after a few initial games but eventually the light began to flicker.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I'm not sure. The more I played the more interesting the game became. At some point in the last few months, it replaced chess as my primary recreational obsession. I still haven't studied the game very seriously however, besides a few of the Elementary Go Series and tsumego books.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I had the vague impression initially that it was some kind of war game, where little armies were moved around the board, but quickly equated it with chess or checkers.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Not really. These days I don't think the "Go-as-military-engagement" analogy is very apt. A game of Go seems much more personal than that, perhaps like a fencing match or debate. Also, I was unprepared for the complexity of the game, but pleased by it. I also found the initial learning curve to be much greater than I anticipated - I still feel I'll be struggling with basic fundamentals for years to come.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Most ideas on this page are pretty good. An idea I had: someone should convince the monsters at Microsoft to include something like igowin in the next version of Windows. That might raise the profile of Go a little bit among a fairly large slice of society.


Michael Jay

How did you become interested in Go?

I visited China -- I wanted to have something I could use in social situations.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Well, I really didn't. I think the game is pretty -- and I like to watch and think about game theory -- but, my goals are purely social. I'm better at it than anyone who plays with me (my brother, and a friend who loves all games)... so study is currently counter productive for my goals.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I did not know WHAT to think. Until I saw it played, I didn't realize it was a different game from go-muku. (I didn't hear about it before I saw it.)

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Yes and no -- I had no expectations.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

I mailed some Chinese stones to some friends in the US who might be interested... Now I play here as often as I did in Asia... I play badly, but it is a fun way to spend time with friends.

If you could get a retail chain or toystore to cary stones, it might help.

---

Henric Fr�berg

[45] [Henric Fr�berg]

 - How did you become interested in Go?

A friend of mine brought it to school, late autumn of2003. I played some games with him, and realized the complexity of it. Because of that, I stopped playing. But in november, 2004, a signed in on KGS and started up again.

 - Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I don't know, really. During my period of not playing, I solved some problems on goproblems and such. I also read a bit here on Senseis. So it might be that I felt I could cope with the game for once.

 - Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I didn't think anything special. My friend said it was a wonderful game, but I didnot realize it until i first played it. Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

 - What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

As I read on a page here, we have to change the minds of the people. Go is not only a game, it's personal mental development as well. The people of today, are not interested in that and so we will have a hard time making it popular.


Calvin

[46] Calvin Go came into my life slowly and insidiously. It just kept cropping up. My first exposure to Go was in 1994, when I worked at a company that did some software internationalization work and Japanese translations. Some co-workers were exposed to go that way.

Eventually I read Kawabata's Master of Go, which is a great novel, and I liked it a lot.

Later on, I ran into some people playing turned-based go servers, but they warned me that I don't want to start playing because it's addictive. So I ignored it for a few years.

I ran across O. Korschelt's book The Theory and Practice of Go and got quickly frustrated with the problems that were written out in coordinates. So I put it aside again for a while.

In the meantime, Go showed up in places such as the book A Beautiful Mind and the movie Pi, and in books about the history of mathematics. I got a copy of TurboGo registered for an IGS account but got confused by the obscure commands and random challenges for super-fast games, got discouraged again, and forgot about it.

It wasn't until I moved to an area with a lot of local Go players and clubs that it really started to stick. But I still read way too much and don't get in enough games, so progress is slow.


halo5

[47] halo5

One day at work, during a seemingly random moment, a friend of mine mentioned Go. Our discussion started with me expressing interest in strategy games, particularly Warcraft2, in far more detail then my friend was interested in.. Warcraft2 had been around for 6 or 8 years already and very few people actually played it anymore and I was looking for something similar. In one sense, the computer game was like chess in that you had a dozen or so different types of units and the player was left to make the best strategy on how to collect resources and build armies. I like this game over the more recent and complex strategy games because it felt like there was more skill involved since it was so simple to learn. We moved on to comparing it to chess which he and I both liked and played but never really spent too much time with. Out of the blue, he says, "if you liked chess, you would love Go. Go is like Chess on crack". Within moments I was on the web investigating this game of Go. This was almost exactly 2 years ago to the day and I've spent hundreds of hours learning and playing Go since then and I don't expect to stop anytime soon.

Since I started learning Go, I haven't played any computer games except for an occassional round of Tiger Woods golf on the PS2. Go is the ultimate game for me because it seems like the purest strategy game ever.

As I look back in time I do remember seeing the scenes of Go in the movie "Pi" but I was far too involved in computer gaming (namely Everquest) to really understand the significance. I wish I had started this game earlier, and I'm happy it found me!

Intetsu

[48] Intetsu I learned about Go from Hikaru No Go. I remember reading a preview for HiKaGo in the november 2002 issue of shonen jump, but i didnt think much of it. A couple of months later i found out about Toriyama world and read hikago. after that i started playing Go in May 2003. I just thought it was the best board game i ever played :). Definetly more fun then chess.

XCMeijin

[49] XCMeijin

I think i may have had my first exposure to Go when i was about 10. I remember placing stones on a board, but i cannot remember if it was Go i was playing.

Then, yes, i rediscovered Go through Hikaru no Go.

Being chinese by descent, i've had a whiff of this game here and there, but only when i found the manga did i realise what kind of a game Go was.

After reading the whole series, i thought: "hmm, doesn't look to hard. It's just a manga". I joined KGS and proceeded to get my butt kicked for the first few weeks.

I've decided to take the game more seriously now. Having played for about 6-7 months (today is Sept. 12, 2005), the game has become deeply embedded into my mind. I print Kifu and put them on the folder i take to school. I bring a little cardboard Go set to school every day, just in case i can find someone to play with (tho not many people play Go in Australia T.T). I've managed to memorise the Sai-Toya Meijin game in HikaGo (Rin Kaiho vs Yoda Norimoto in real life). Even when im not on the computer, playing on KGS (right now is my exam period :P) i keep re-reading the go books and articles i have.

I've got 14 years before i turn 30. Maybe i can go to Japan and take the pro test as an outsider before then :P. Wish me luck.

XCMeijin

tderz

[50] tderz How did you become interested in Go? I read an advertisement in a house-to-house newspaper and went to the smallest (5-8 regular players) Go club of Berlin at that time.
Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously? I was just hooked on about 6 months later, when I participated in my first tournament and experienced that there were/are many more players and clubs.
Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?
I did not know anything about it.
Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to? N.A.
What could we do to make Go more popular in the West? Play Go and tell people about it. ("there is nothing good until you do it")

Mirsha

[51] Mirsha

How did you become interested in Go?

Oddly enough through university. Not because we had a Go club, but as a student of Artificial Intelligence it was mentioned a few times that the problem of solving Chess was pretty much going out of fashion due to the fact it could be simply attacked by a brute force AI (such as Deep Blue) and something called Go had much more depth which defeated many AI writers. Doing investigation on my own I ended up playing go in the yahoo room which I quickly got bored of since it was just full of people who leave.

After this brief stint my Go desire lay dormant for many years until someone told me about this anime about Go which I watched. After watching the series I decided I should start looking into Go again and ended up here.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I'm a very theological head case type person. I had also been recently looking into Zen Buddhism and many of the aspect clicked and Go seems in one sense a kind of natural mirror of Go, especially the masters who seem to disregard popular thinking in order to pursue their own Fuseki awaking paths.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I knew that there we more possible combinations on the board than there are atoms in the universe (or something), it seemed like such a stupid obviously wrong claim that it drew me further into it's miai web before catching me in a net.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Until I bumped into my first player who was playing it not for fun. To begin with I think the game had a kind fo simplistic cause and effect type of play but my first few games against people who understood the concepts of the masters before us was a wide and rude awakening to the fact I was not as good as I thought I was.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

I honestly don't think we can apart from simply making the knowledge available and looking for the odd curious mind to expand into our realm. The cross culture border which expands daily due to the influence of the internet is one of few hopes. Maybe in time Go will subsume Chess in it's place as 'the intellectual' board game but I can't see it happening any time soon.

---

meh

[52] meh

How did you become interested in Go? I first heard of go talking to an uncle who plays the game. Unfortunately, as about 2000km separated us at the time, he couldn't teach me. Still, it stayed with me for the next 9 years before I finally came across a link to KGS.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously? I never really made a conscious decision to pursue it more seriously. It just sort of happened. I bought an intro book, read it, and found the link to KGS, where I played a few games and was hooked.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it? I thought it would be neat to try, and I knew my uncle liked it, and he thought I would like it.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to? Honestly, no. I figured it would be sort of like chess - something I would dabble in, but not be passionate about. After the first week of playing, I was already hooked, and my love for the game has only gotten stronger.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West? I think getting the word out more is the main trouble. Hikaru no Go did a good thing for publicizing the game, but there's still not very much out there. Maybe in areas where there is a go club, they should participate in festivals and events - put up a booth about it at a fair or something. See if you can get it mentioned in mainstream newspaper articles or something.


topazg - Graham Philips

[53] topazg

 - How did you become interested in Go?

I read an article on [ext] Chessbase where there was a quote from one of the old World Champions (Steinitz?) saying that Go was the most complicated game he had ever seen and that it was Go, not Chess, that would convince aliens that human life was intelligent. I had to give it a go!

 - Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I was in the middle of starting a programming project to write an .asp / SQL driven Connect4 / 4-in-a-row game when I read the above quote, and thought I'd try a Go one instead. I still haven't started really pursuing it seriously, as most of my Go time is spent developing OGS - I have somehow managed to break 15 kyu in the process though.

 - Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I approached it with an open mind, having seen a master of a mind game give it so much respect.

 - Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I started out playing on OGS, and because the site had only just been created, I was the best player on there despite having only gone through a tutorial with friends. After a few weeks a 10 kyu came on the site and consistently destroyed me in game after game. Before long there were a number of stronger players to play against and as I began to grasp how deep the game was, I totally fell in love with it. 6 months after first playing I started attending Cambridge (UK) Go club informally and much prefer playing on a RL board when I can!

 - What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Most people seem more receptive to Go than Chess that I have spoken to in this country, and I've found I can sit down in a local pub with a Go board and my brother-in-law as an opponent and we normally have at least 1 or 2 people wanting to know more about the game.

I think more people getting involved in inviting friends to local clubs and trying to get people into at least giving the game a go online will make a huge difference to the popularity. Having said that, perhaps wider distribution of HnG will have the best effect on popularising the game.


Quacki

[54] Quacki

 - How did you become interested in Go?

I friend of mine back in 2003 did drag me with him to a go course at our university in Bremen, Germany. This friend is a real board game maniac, at the time he owned at least 200 board games. So, I got interested by playing and listening to dark rumors that good Go players are able to do magic (at least this is what I picked up back then).

 - Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

It is basically two reasons. First, after a long abstinence, I started buying issues of various manga, and very quick stumbled upon Hikaru No Go (what else). I thought I'd give the game another try, and voila! For two months I am playing now without any sign of bore. I changed my approach a bit, though, I bought the book 1001 L&D, and it helps me a great deal. Second, a guy who attended the course but startet after me and basically had to take stones from me turned out to be at least five stones stronger than me after I visited our local Go club after my abstinence. So, I made him my Akira Tohya ;) This is why at the moment I am pursuing the game more seriously.

 - Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I never heard of it, but in the beginning Go was very mysterious for me. It did take a long time until I lost that deep awe I had for Go, because I think taking it too serious the wrong way is very bad for your play (it was for mine).

 - Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

No, now I did get a better understanding of the game after that pause (I hope I have!), it is not anymore that dark mysterious game of magic it used to be for me after I started playing.

 - What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Because Go has virtually no media coverage and no idols here, I think it is had work and takes personal effort to make Go more popular in the west. At the current number of Go players, every single effort counts. So I try at various times to persuade people to join a game with me. But rarely do I succeed. I think Go is a challenge for the mind, and very many people are lazy thinkers, so they are reluctant to give it a try (you might see I am a bit disheartened and disgruntled at my lack of success). Another friend of mine is just in awe of my skills (I play roughly as 9. kyu) and does not dare a game, because he fears losing. So, apart from effort from anyone interested in spreading Go, it takes quite a tolerance to frustration. But then in the long run I think it is possible to spread Go in the western world.


enigm4

[55] enigm4

 - How did you become interested in Go?

I discovered Go when I saw the "[ext] π" film ([ext] "π" trailer, [ext] "π" Go episode).

 - What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Making more good films like "π" could do that :)


damien

How did you become interested in Go?

When I was in high school, I was a rather deep, philosophical kid. Questioning my upbringing as a southern Baptist Christian, I pored through my school library learning about many world religions. The eastern religions caught my attention, and I read a lot about Zen and Buddhism.

In one dusty tome (it "really was" dusty and old, the cover was just calligraphy for zen, I remember it clearly.), I came across mention of Go. I was interested, and wandered to the games section of the library to research more. I found a general description of rules in a book titled "Games of the World". Reading the few pages on Go that it had, I was definitely interested.

This led me to go online to find flash tutorials of the rules. Feeling armed with knowledge and a rather formidable skill of chess (it can't be that different, right?), I created my own goban from wood and cheap glass gems from the supermarket. I taught my friend Chaz, and we played many 9x9 games during lunch at school. They were mainly pointless scuffles that wandered around the board.

Winning every match against Chaz, I boldly walked into the yahoo Go server. Once there, I did one of two things: won by a landslide against other beginners, often having to teach them the rules before playing; or losing by a landslide against other slightly skilled beginners, who were cold and refusing to teach.

I continued my affair with Go for a few months, but finding no local opponents, I eventually gave up.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

Three months ago, my parents moved halfway across the country, leaving me with large amounts of spare time and loneliness. Remembering Go, I remembered hearing about Hikaru no Go during Go discussions online, and watched the entire series online, over about a week. Re-sparking my interest in Go, I wandered back online and found KGS. KGS, being a friendly atmosphere, was full of people willing to help and play me and I was hooked, this time seriously.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

Being a rather skilled chess player, I focused too much on captures, and didn't really understand the concept until roughly my tenth game or so.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I expected it to be a strategy game, and in that it turned out better than I could have ever thought it would have. But even more it turned into an obsession and hobby that makes my life better than it was before.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

I spread the Go gospel by publicly playing out old games or doing problems. I usually get people around my age to stop by and ask what I'm playing. I then explain Go, my first question for me being if they have seen A Beautiful Mind, and explaining it was that game they played in the park. However, I'm edging away from that approach because it makes Go seem like something only geniuses play. Out of every 10 people I explain it to, I can usually get one to learn the rules, and out of 10 of those who learn, only about 1 stick around and keep playing.

I thought the above idea to convince Microsoft to add Go to their games that come with the OS was excellent, perhaps Apple would be receptive to the idea as well.

The ignorance of Go in the west is astounding. I'm appalled such a beautiful and essentially perfect game can go unnoticed by everyone. I've often been tempted to run around the city at night with a can of spray paint, writing PLAY GO! in highly visible areas, but being the only serious player in my zip code, I'm sure the cops would track me down rather quickly.


sh

How did you become interested in Go?

I have always had some interest in strategy board games, such as chess, checkers/daughts, chinese checkers, nine man's morris etc. In the 80s some new games appeared with the emergence of computers. On my Amiga I played reversi/othello and since I had started to learn programming on the computer it was the first time that I thought about creating my own board game engines. I wondered about whethere there are other interesting games out there, including some strange game with two letters that often appeared in my grand-aunt's crossword puzzle - go. But since there was nobody to ask about it, I forgot about it. In the mean time I learned more programming and created some engines, among others a strong reversi engine and a very weak chess engine. After I went online in 1996 I checked again, learned the very basic rules of go, just to satisfy my curiosity. Around 2002 I downloaded some go engines with the intention to get them play against each other. I had done so with chess engines and for chess there was a great UI that could be used to run programs against each other. There was nothing comparable for go, so I forgot about the game again, but not before having tried out some 9x9 games against IgoWin. Of course I got creamed.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

After I had found out that go was the last stronghold of human intelligence against the sheer calculation power of computers, I thought about creating my own go engine, but I knew that I would have to become reasonably good at the game itself in order to be able to test the engine. Reasonably good meant to become a stronger than all available engines. That's why I started to get into the game more seriously on July 1st, 2008. I am not sure whether I can ever win that race: In the mean time programs are getting stronger, and some MC based programs are about to get into the dan ranks (at least for short time controls). I haven't started yet to write a go engine since I got hooked on the game itself.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I thought it would be a game that no one knows in the Western world. At that time there was no internet yet, so I didn't waste too many thoughts on that.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

Since I had no expectation I cannot say that it turned out (not) to be like I expected to. I just accepted that it was simply a cool game.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

A broad mass of the population should get interested in the game, so my main thought is to spread the basic rules among the general population, especially among those who still have some leisure time to play: students and pupils or attendants to game exhibitions. For that a very inexpensive basic go set for around EUR 1 / USD 1.50 would be necessary. Such a set could include a card board, some plastic disks as stones (such as those of a tiddlywinks game) and a 20-30 page booklet with basic information about the game. These sets could be distributed in schools, universities and at exhibitions.


Marc

i became interestedf in go because of the seris of books called Wheel of Time. in the seris they play a game called stones which is the same thing as go

i started to pursue it more seriouly after making my own board and pieces. after that i downloaded this website and have been absorbing everything i can.


KoKs

[58] KoKs

How did you become interested in Go?

- I became to know about Go when I watched some Chinese martial arts films in which Go was depicted briefly. Then my cousin showed me how to play the game(around 2002) but I didn't really pay any interest into it. Not until I picked up the series Hikaru no Go that I started taking a liking to it and began to study it.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

- I started to develop a number of Japanese hobbies, eg, kendo, origami, bonsai, haiku, etc in my high school. Apparently go was the center interest of all of those ones. I found a local go club and several classmates to play with. I think it was my friends who pulled me deeper into the game.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

- I thought it was a no-one-know-or-play game of chess and was special for nerds...It's cool it turned out I was totally wrong.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

- What I am about to say is not totally relevant to the question but Go is not that popular to the rest of Asian Countries outside of those so-called 3 countries and their neighbours, i.e, HongKong?, Taiwan. I am Vietnamese and how much people know about Go in Vietnam is not that much different from how much they do in Western Countries if not worse, we don't even have our own Go Association yet - Go is still a branch under Chess Association.

Most of Go Enthusiasts in Vietnam are now trying to rebuild the Go website forum in an attempt to popularize Go to the youth further more. We are also trying to build several effective go offline events.

Cherry: I had actually been going through a major depression for about six months. My high school teachers were pretty sympathetic about how little I was learning in high school so they gave me puzzles to do during class (because my grades were never gonna drop below 4.0). My statistics teacher gave me a Goban. When I discovered the ladder I decided to name it after myself (after years of searching for an unnamed chess opening). Amazing how arrogant high schooler kids are.

I began to take it seriously when I was volunteering with Nat Geo in Tanzania and then South Africa. South Africa has an extensive Go Association, and I reached 8k KGS after about four months of studying. I'll continue it during college no doubt.

If it was more popular in the West I never would've taken up chess. Not to say chess is inferior, but it was too rigid for me.

In all Go pulled me up out of my depression and helped me find myself. It saved helped save my life.

nadoss (Noah ~8k)

How did you become interested in Go?

The first time I ever saw anything about the game of Go, it was on one of the very first episodes of a television show called "Criminal Minds." The slim, fact-spouting character with whom I am often compared noted the games complexity and mentioned that, due to the way the game requires a combination of logical thought and creative, artistic expression, Go often displays the player's personality on the board. They continue to conclude that the two players whose game they have found are one intense aggressor, and one timid submissive personality. They then find that the board rotates and erroneously find that the game is being played by a single person with a split personality. Despite the hilariously odd conclusions made in the show from this game of Go, it piqued my interest, especially considering psychology and the duality of human decision making.

Why did you decide to start pursuing it more seriously?

I played and studied the game on and off for many years. Until college I had made little progress, and it actually seemed like I became better in the times I never even looked at a board than the times I was trying to get better. My last year of college I started attending a Go Club in the area, where I would frequently be beating by at least 30 or 40 points in a 9 handicap game. Still, I worked hard to soak up knowledge from other players, including a young 4 dan who was incredibly advanced, considering that he had started playing only a few years before.

Before you started playing Go, having only heard about it, what did you think about it?

I loved it. It seemed to me much more beautiful than any game I had ever played, especially in the fact that I could not be explained in a formulaic way so as to make computers instantly capable of beating experienced players.

Did it turn out to be anything like you expected it to?

I don't think I'll ever get to the point of understanding of this remarkably deep game to comment on how it turns out. At least I hope I never do. I enjoy regarding the game with a sense of mystery. Whereas everything else nowadays can easily be condensed into a series of strategies, techniques, and efficient actions, Go seems to be the only game capable of eternally evading the grasp of those who would solve games, rather than play them.

What could we do to make Go more popular in the West?

Everyone has some interest or thought process that will welcome a new passion. For me it was the thought of balancing the personality of any player, and the thought that everyone's game becomes something extremely personal. Some will only find interest in the game from a computer science stance, whereas others will dive head first from a historical and cultural stance. Some prefer the pop culture route of Hikaru No Go, and others will find their way to the game simply through noting the physical beauty of a game in progress or finished. To make more people love the game, we must first know what makes people love anything.

___


Why Did You Start Go last edited by 50.23.115.116 on January 27, 2015 - 05:16
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