Great Quotes

    Keywords: Culture & History

I always wanted a page of great go quotes, so now I've started one. Please add as you see fit. Thanks to [ext] Kiseido who have a [ext] nice collection; hopefully ours will soon be bigger.

Table of contents

See also

There are a lot of good quotes in the Old Mottos collection.

Maybe you will also like Fun Go Facts, or Great Moments in KGS Chat

Wikiquote has a [ext] page of sourced quotations about Go, and the [ext] corresponding talk page has many more unsourced quotations.

Best of the Best

  • . . {it is} something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.
    - Emanuel Lasker, chess world champion[1]
  • The rules of go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go.
    - Edward Lasker[2]
  • The board is a mirror of the mind of the players as the moments pass. When a master studies the record of a game he can tell at what point greed overtook the pupil, when he became tired, when he fell into stupidity, and when the maid came by with tea.
    - ChessPlayer? [3]

Other Greats

  • A few moments to learn, a lifetime to master.
    - Ancient Proverb
  • Zhang Yunqi lists the qualities required to excel at weiqi, "the tactic of the soldier, the exactness of the mathematician, the imagination of the artist, the inspiration of the poet, the calm of the philosopher, and the greatest intelligence."
    - Zhang Yunqi, Weiqi de faxian (Discovering weiqi), Beijing, Internal document of the Chinese Weiqi Institute 1991, p. 2.[4]
  • The difference between a stone played on one intersection rather than on an adjacent neighbor is insignificant to the uninitiated. The master of Go, though, sees it as all the difference between a flower and a cinder block.
    - From The Challenge of Go: Esoteric Granddaddy of Board Games, by Dave Lowry
  • Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts -- line and circle, wood and stone, black and white -- combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.
    - Iwamoto Kaoru, 9-dan professional Go player and former Honinbo title holder

Pretty Good Quotes

  • There are Oriental folk tales reminiscent of Rip Van Winkle in which people have been stopped by an old man one of the Immortals, played a game of Go, and upon getting up from the board have found a hundred years have gone by. This purely mental aspect of the game is in its intellectual dynamic. These Chinese had seen it as encompassing the principles of nature and the universe and of human life, as the diversion of the immortals, a game of abundant spiritual powers.
    - From The Game of Go, by Robert Buss
  • The subtleties of this game are beyond the reach of the lazy, its triumph is too exquisite for the vulgar and materialistic man...
    - Herbert A. Giles, Wei-chi, or the Chinese game of war, in Temple Bar, England, Vol. 49, n� 194, 1877, p. 45. [5]
  • Go is science, art and game. Those chosen few may enter the Eternal Hall of Fame only, who combine the scientific precision, the artistic improvisation and the spiritual joy of the game in themselves.
    - Kajiwara Takeo at the European Go Congress in Budapest, 1986 interviewed by Gabaux.
  • The board is a window to the human mind. Whether we want to or not it draws a picture of our thoughts and reveals what is inside us.
    - Goban craftsman, The Surrounding Game documentary.
  • Go is not about winning through brilliant moves, it is about losing through bad moves.
    - Sakata Eio (source: Harleqin on GoDiscussions) also Motto of the day for 2006-12-11, see Old Mottos
  • When a monkey falls out of a tree, it is still a monkey. But when a meijin loses his title, he becomes just another go player.
    -Nakayama Noriyuki in The Treasure Chest Enigma. ("Even a monkey falls from a tree" is a Japanese proverb saying that even experts can fail.)
  • Studying go is a wonderful way to develop both the creative as well as the logical abilities of children because to play it both sides of the brain are necessary.
    - Cho Chikun, among the world's strongest players and one of the three great prodigies in Go history
  • A nation which plays this game is to be reckoned with!
    - Executive of a large Chicago company upon learning the true depth of the game as quoted in Go and Go-moku, c. 1934
  • The aim of go is relative advantage; the game is played all over the board, and the objective is to increase one's options and reduce those of the adversary. The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress.
    - Dr. Henry Kissinger, quoted in Newsweek, 11/8/04

Misc Tag Lines

  • They have that game of theirs, go, which is all feverish activity, all turning of flanks, and encirclements, ...
    - Norman Mailer
  • Its sort of a mental game. - ddgtech
  • Go thinking seems to be more lateral than linear, less dependent on logical deduction, and more reliant on a "feel" for the game, a "sense" of form, a gestalt of significant patterns.
    - Slate and Shell
  • Go is a game of chance, in which strong players are luckier than weaker ones :-)
    - French Proverb
  • All you are is the go you play.
    - Hotta Yumi
  • He played two games, winning one, losing the other. He was continually himself, totally involved in each game, unmoved by the outcome of either. What's the nature of his teaching? For one thing: devotion (practice gives evidence of it). For another: not just playing half the game but playing all of it (having a view that includes that of the opponent.)
    - J. Cage
  • God does not play dice with the universe, he plays Go.
    - W. Taylor
  • Go proverbs do not apply to white!
    - Tero Sand
  • Semi-eyes win semeais
    - Bill Taylor
  • GO, man, GO
    - hipster
  • Genetically we are all more than 99.9% identical; the only remaining issues for future humanity seem premised upon how well they play Go.
    - Jumangi
  • Sandbaggers will be drawn and quartered!
    - Cotsen Open
  • Don't just place each stone like a doll. Try to feel the flow of my moves. - Fujiwara no Sai Hikaru no Go
  • Go "IS about the order of moves".
    - Rin Kaiho [7]
  • Think of what a kyu would play, and play one point to the left...
    - shivadave1
  • The teacher is as a needle, the disciple is as thread.
    - Miyamoto Musashi
  • Groups aren't killed, they die because they aren't defended.
    - James Kerwin
  • ... a scrappy affair involving two groups and three eyes ...
    - Janice Kim
  • White will achieve one of the two aims.
    - Nie Weiping
  • The best offense is a good defense
    - Yang Yilun
  • Your move is probably sente if you hope your opponent doesn't respond.
    - Jesse
  • Sente is a move which keeps sente.
    - DaveW
  • Some moves are merely KYUte, but others are truly DANgerous!
    - W. Taylor
  • Like most go and shogi pros he found that marriage was like joseki: keeps you in a corner and makes you a couple of handicap notches weaker, ...
    - J. Fairbairn
  • The developed structures at each point in the game are the past, and the possibilities existing in that situation are the future. Together they constitute the present. Properly understanding the past and future in this sense is the essence of good timing.
    - W. Cobb
  • 子曰: "飽食終日、無所用心、難矣哉、不有博弈者乎、為之猶賢 乎已。"
    (Translation of the above) The Master said, 'It is no easy matter for a man who always has a full stomach to put his mind to some use. Are there not such things as po and yi? Even playing these games is better than being idle.'
    - Confucius
  • The player who holds a stone in his hand and is indecisive as where to play, will not win the game...
    - Wei Da Fu
  • In high handicap games the black stones have a tendency to suddenly and spontaneously die, but they shouldn't.
    - P. Mioch
  • Walls may have ears, but they don't have eyes.
    - Olawi
  • To answer without thinking leads to many defeats.
    - Shi Ding'an
  • Amateurs can improve by 5 or 6 stones, but we professionals don't have so much room for improvement...
    - Go Seigen
  • And becoming one stone stronger is the supreme enjoyment.
    - Go Seigen
  • The only thing worse than knowing that it didn't work is not knowing that it did work.
    - some video game player
  • If all you see are black and white stones (on the board?), then you do not know Go. -some dude, cannot remember or find source. [6]
    • Phelan: This one was added by an anonymous editor, but I don't feel it deserves a place among Best of the Best. At least not without other players' recommendation.
  • By playing Go we become good friends. - Takagawa Shukaku Meijin, In a calligraphy gift to the SF Go Club. [7]


  • tderz(to be edited: similar to the one who ends with ... to double-accounting (where is it?): [ "Go appeals to warriors and philosophers while Chess is favored by merchants and amateurs." ]

"Go is to chess what philosophy is to double-entry accounting" is from a book by Robert Trevanyan (Eiger Sanction) called Shibumi. It's well worth your time, and incidentally it's the book which sparked my interest in learning the game. - SgtSunshine?

Second quote under "Other greats" --Herman Hiddema

[1] tderz: I would like to know for once, what Lasker really has said. I quoted him as well several times, however never directly. Who has the oldest and/or most reliable source?

I also would very much like a solid source and the full quote!

anonymous: I think this is in Edward Lasker's autobiographical book, or maybe in his Go and Go Moku

[2] This quote is very similar to Emanuel Lasker's quote. I am having a very difficult time finding source information on both of them, yet they are too good not to include. Currently, my humble uneducated opinion limited to Google and some German websites is that most likely it is from Emanuel Lasker and not Edward Lasker. If anyone has any information, please let us know!

aceofspades: It's much more likely (IMHsurf-basedO) that Edward Lasker said this. Edward Lasker was less high up in chess (IM), and spent more time with Go, actually writing a book. Emanuel Lasker, his cousin, did some of both as well but actually became Chess World Champion, only hearing about Go later and playing for a while. I just don't think Emanuel Lasker was involved enough in Go, compared to Edward, to have been the one to have said it.

Phat: Edward Lasker was not related to Emanuel Lasker (Who was world champion for 27 years), he said this several times and also wrote so in a letter, and in his book "Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood". They were very good friends though.

Sandra: It actually turned out later that they were relatives but they didnt know that when they wrote that letter.

[3] BenjaminGeiger: Was this Nolan Bushnell?

Wikipedia has an article about [ext] Nolan Bushnell. He is the founder of the Atari video game company.

Patrick Traill (2019-01-23): I beg to dissent on this quote; to some it may be a permissibly flamboyant exaggeration, but to me it sounds like unnecessary mystification to overawe gullible admirers.

Patrick Traill (2022-01-09): This is listed as unsourced on the [ext] Wikiquote talk page.

[4] pulled from a [ext] mindzone article by Elisabeth Papineau

[5] pulled from a [ext] mindzone article by Elisabeth Papineaus the nature of his teaching? For one thing: devotion (practice gives evidence of it). For another: not just playing half the game but playing all of it (having a view that includes that of the opponent.)Like most go and shogi pros he found that marriage was like joseki: keeps you in a corner and makes you a couple of handicap notches weaker, ...


  • At which point is it more important to study Go than to play it?
    - Nie Weiping
  • The best offense is a good defense
    - Yang Yilun

[6] Archaic: Hi, Phelan. Is it possible it's because of your unfamiliarity with the game and what this quote represents? It probably doesn't deserve to be on the Best of the Best, but I don't think it deserves to be named only a miscellaneous tag line. I could be wrong though, and it's up to you. Personally, I think that the quote contains a direct punchline, but it may also be not too extraordinary . Consider that this quote isn't miscellaneous:

A nation which plays this game is to be reckoned with! - Executive of a large Chicago company upon learning the true depth of the game as quoted in Go and Go-moku, c. 1934

"If you want to gouge an eye you have to grab him by the head"

[7] hnishy: Rin's expression (碁は手順なり Go wa tejun nari) is a Japanese Go proverb, not his invention. And Takagawa's one is most probably Use Go to Meet Friends (以棋会友), an old Chinese saying.

Great Quotes last edited by PJTraill on January 9, 2022 - 18:43
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