My interest in weiqi is primarily esoteric. So tournament play, the professional world, etc. don't interest me nearly as much as the inward experiences that make weiqi as much an art or practice as it is a game.
In The Empty Board #27, William Cobb wrote:
- This 'simple game' turns out to be surprisingly powerful. It's not just that we become addicted to it; it makes us better people, too. If more people played go, the world would surely be a better place. I still clearly remember how impressed I was when I discovered that the people at the Nihon Kiin are, in all seriousness, promoting go around the world as a way to bring about global peace.
That's why I play and teach weiqi, and I'm interested in history, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality related to that sort of vision.
Weiqi vs. Go
It's not a big deal, but I prefer calling weiqi by its Chinese name for a number of reasons:
- Weiqi originated in China.
- "Weiqi" is obviously not an English word, and so it's less likely to be misunderstood as a command to leave or as "goat," "goad," etc. when passers-by ask, "What's that you're playing?"
- "Go" is useless as a search term.
- I like Chinese Scoring.
- "Weiqi" sounds exotic and mysterious and rhymes with "tai chi," calling to mind another ancient Chinese art.
Winning and Losing
The page on Ancient Chinese Rules and Philosophy notes that "Ancient Chinese people liked a tied game." I like tied games, too, and think that too much emphasis is often placed on winning and losing.
In his essay "Go and the 'Three Games'", William Pinckard writes:
- Things are different now, but in earlier times, when go was so much admired by painters and poets, generals and monks, the point of the game was not so much for one player to overcome another but for both to engage in a kind of cooperative dialogue (`hand conversation', they used to call it) with the aim of overcoming a common enemy. The common enemy was, of course, as it always is, human weaknesses: greed, anger and stupidity.
He points out that while chess is indeed a struggle between the two players, weiqi is a struggle between each player and the self. William Cobb says similar things in many of his essays, referring to the two players as partners rather than opponents, and explaining that the point of the handicap system is that everyone should win about 50% of the time, regardless of their level (see, for example, The Empty Board #15).
So maybe playing weiqi is like playing catch. Setting the handicap is like figuring out how far apart to stand, how hard to throw, etc. and then both participants seek to do their best and keep improving, without any need for a winner to be declared.
As Takemiya Masaki noted in his lecture at the 2008 US Go Congress:
- When you sit down to play a game is your aim to win the game or to become stronger? You probably think you can do both...but these are quite different projects.