The Protracted Game/ Discussion

Sub-page of TheProtractedGame

Review: I bought the book in the early 70s. It seemed lame to me. --Bill

Coconuts: I think that you could apply Go to anything relating to a conflict with two sides, whether it takes place in Eastern Asia or you just want to add some flair...Everywhere you go in America you hear lame comparisons to "a chess match" between two people competing with their minds, regardless of how like chess the competition is or isn't.

Bill: Well, I don't think it's that lame. Witness the quote by Chairman Mao. But all the guy really had was a metaphor, it seemed to me.

Coconuts: I was probably too harsh there... A revolutionary war can be a Go match if you want it to be, it doesn't seem terribly profound to me to extend the metaphor. The chess extension is overused, and it seems like Go is getting applied to everything now... Maybe Go is just cool like that =)

DJ: Compared to chess, with its hierarchy of pieces, go can be seen as more similar to guerrilla than to classical warfare.
This is maybe the reason why this book has been a big boost to the diffusion of Go in Europe (at least in France) among the generation of '68. The very first time I heard about go was in 1976, when my swim trainer told me (textual): "What??!? You still play chess??!? You ought to play go, the "red" chess!!!

Hiker: I just finished this book. I had to get it through inter-library loan since it's a bit hard to find these days. I think it's a quite impressive work. The author has much more than a metaphor. It's a lot more complicated than just calling any conflict a "game of chess" or "go" in this case. He constucts a robust analogic model ... quite a social scientific feat. The number of analogues between Mao's struggles and Go are quite fastinating. For example, if the center of a go board corresponds to urban/political/social elites ... then the go strategy of playing the margins (corner and edges first) corresponds to the Red Chinese strategy of mobilizing the rural population as a prelude for further operations. I also think that he points out a vital difference between chess and go and how it relates to conflict. In Chess and in Western military thinking, the goal is the concentration of overwhelming force at a key point. In Go, by contrast, the goal differs greatly. Also in Go, victory is relative, not absolute.

I'm impressed, especially given that he wrote this as an undergraduate ... what did you do during college? ;-)

Analyst?: Scott Boorman was born in Bejing into a Foreign Service Officers' Family; this immersion into the Language and Culture of Mother Asia was a Significant Source of Inspiration. During the IndoChina? WarGames? 1965-1975 Boormans' Model was programmed in SIMCRIPT II.5 for the Institute for Defense Analysis. The Joint Chiefs disbelieved the MilSim? and the rest is History. Viz: Samuel A Adams'book "War of Numbers".

The Protracted Game/ Discussion last edited by on January 17, 2006 - 03:50
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