The 3,000 year old strategy game that changed the world, one stone at a time
Introduction to GO
GO, also known as Weiqi (围棋) in Chinese, is an intellectually stimulating, strategy-based board game that has turned into a professional sport in recent times. With a history of over 3,000 years, it is the oldest game that has remained unchanged and has been enjoyed by royalties and scholars of ancient China, Japan and Korea.
Although GO has a few and simple rules, it is considered one of the most difficult and challenging games in comparison to other strategy-based games. Up till today, there is no computer program that can win any top amateur player in a fair match.
GO also promotes the study of economics. Economics research is the science of optimally allocating limited and scarce resources to fulfil a particular need in the most efficient manner. GO conveys this through the allocation of stones. Each player must strategically place each stone to control a wider territory on the board with the least amount of resources required.
Today, GO is played worldwide by over 40 million players. Professional players can earn up to S$1.9 million annually solely from playing in tournaments.
Other than playing GO competitively, it can also be used as an educational tool to help enhance academic and thinking skills of young children especially in China and Korea. Korea’s Myongji University is the first university in the world to offer GO as a degree.
Benefits of GO
GO helps Children in Academic Excellence:
GO is the world’s oldest mental & strategic board game survived over few thousand years, practiced and proven by intellectuals from generations after generation. The strongest computer program made for GO has yet to defeat any strong GO players. Indeed, the ancient invention mirrors very well the enormous power of our brain. Today, it has been adopted as an educational tool to train children’s thinking power and character in Schools in Singapore. There are currently a great number of GO schools and academies in Japan, China and Korea, and even a University degree dedicated to the studies of GO and GO education.
It is essential for children to train their brain to the full potential as early as possible as their brain undergo immense development until the age of 12. Apparently, GO offers an effective way to achieve this. Children would immerse in great fun in the game while developing their thinking power in the natural process of playing.
Multiple Thinking Power
GO requires the employment of both left and right brain hemispheres – analytical and perception of spatial patterns and strategic maneuver. Hence, both left brain (logic / reasoning analysis) and right brain (spatial visualization/intuitive analysis) functions are stretched holistically.
Problem Solving Ability
A large part of GO lies in problem solving, to comprehend situation speedily and come with a solution, yet keep a bigger picture of the game. A GO player is constantly challenging their brain to exceed expectations. It is stimulated and trained by enormous number of possible configuration play, estimated in the order of 10 to 174th power. By acquiring good skills in GO, the child would have attained a higher order of thinking capacity, able to control his own thinking processes, to select and use the right strategies to approach a problem confidently.
Children who are constantly training their minds would find it easier to master the ever demanding math subject in school and be more confident in studying it. Hence, it is no surprise to learn that strong GO players are also good in mathematics; as the thinking skills acquired in GO are so relevant to the mathematical thinking required for solving the challenging word-problems.
GO Ranking System
In GO all players start with a rank of 30kyu. As they improve their level move to 29kyu then 28kyu and all the way to 1kyu. After 1kyu players will be promoted to 1dan. Dan level is equivalent to a black belt in martial arts. The highest dan level in Singapore is 6dan. Student with 1dan will be able to apply for Direct School Admission (DSA) to schools such as Hwa Chong Institution.
Tan Jia Cheng
SEA GAMES GO Event Gold Medallist
Learning GO has been a great learning adventure for me. One move can make or break a game! This challenges the brain to think of the best move possible. Patience is required to sense opportunity and seize them. During competitions, not only we improve our mental capabilities, we also grow up by learning to accept losses.
Brian Lee Jun Siang
2014 World Youth GO Championship Singapore Representative
Essentially, playing GO has helped Brian to improve his analytical skills and to become more focused and patient. He has developed a more flexible mindset from having to face the constant changes throughout the game. During classes, he was imparted useful concepts such as 'exchange‘ (akin to give-and-take), and the importance of not losing sight of the big picture throughout the game.
Prof. Jeong Soo Hyun (Myongji University)
Professional 9 Dan
Kids in elementary schools learn the game of GO to develop intelligence, emotion and personality. Since GO is a mind sport, it helps users strengthen and preserve their mental functions in many respects. In this context, adult players practice GO to keep their brains active and to relieve their stress from work and social constraints.
Amateur 2 Dan / NUS Global Merit Scholar / 8 A-level distinctions
Go is one of the most intellectually stimulating games to be derived out of a simple set of rules and very little playing equipment. One particular skill Go unexpectedly helped me hone is the ability to imagine and visualise multiple possibilities in my head without playing it out physically. In Go, imagination, lateral thinking and an aptitude for sensing and evaluating possibilities are core skills that are developed while studying the game. These elements are often lacking in the conventional academic system, but are skills highly prized in today’s world. The best Go players are highly innovative, while possessing the discipline and drive to succeed.