The fascinating game of Go in Japanese culture

Go is a very popular board game in Japan. For centuries, the Japanese have been playing games for the purpose of having fun, improving their tactical and strategic skills, improving the mental functions of the elderly, and bringing people together.

In addition, numerous championships are held every year and the number of professional players is also considerably large. Your original name is Renju - [囲碁] and it's a simple game where the objective is to dominate territories.

The game is not only played in Japan, as in other countries, such as China and Korea, Go is popular and has other names: Weiqi and Baduk, respectively. The game is believed to be over 2000 years old.

information about GO

Go (碁) originated in China about 5,000 years ago, it is a simple and strategic game where two people place stones of opposite colors in order to conquer territories. In the game, zones that are surrounded by stones of a certain color are considered as territory. In other words, each player must occupy as many intersections as possible.

on a board Go there are 19 horizontal lines and 19 vertical lines. At the Go Crossing the lines is used to play. There are 361 intersections. The size of the board varies according to its use. There are several variations of this game, some with smaller boards, some Brazilian versions, you probably have already played this game or something similar.

a game of Go it can last from 5 minutes or even more than 3 hours, it will depend on the strategy and the players, the game's complexity is very low but the strategic level is very high, and the game has no influence of luck, just your intelligence and observation .

Go - traditional Japanese game

GO in Anime

Interestingly, several anime have already addressed Go in their plots. It is possible to see a game similar to Go being player by character Meruem during the Hunter x Hunter anime. Such a game, called gungi, is fictional and was created by the author of the manga combining features of Go and Shogi.

In addition to Hunter, the anime Hikaru no Go (ヒカルの碁) also helped to further popularize the game in modern times.
The rules of Go can be scary at first, but they're not as complicated as they seem.

Despite its international reach, anime and manga have contributed to the spread of Go across the world. Some of Nippon Kiin's young professionals started playing Go because they watched the anime or read works about the game.

The fascinating game of go in Japanese culture

How do you play Go?

The objective of the game is to conquer more territory than the enemy on the board. The Goban (碁盤), as the Go board is called, starts out empty and players alternate their moves. White stones usually start with a score advantage, this one varying between 5.5 and 7 points.

Go, unlike Shôgi and Western Chess, does not aim to capture the King and does not allow the movement of pieces on the board. Go stones (black or white) are placed in the Goban and once placed cannot be moved.

Another interesting factor in the game is the possibility of placing the stones anywhere on the board (at the beginning of the game) and capturing an enemy piece restricting their “freedoms” (intersection points). This is another peculiar feature of this fascinating game, the stones must be placed only at the intersections.

Japanese culture is closely linked to Go and numerous cultural rules are present during a match. For example: before starting a new duel, players must speak Please (お願いします) and should also sit in the Seiza position (with knees bent over the legs).

Go - traditional Japanese game

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GO Rules 碁

The rule allows that if players have different skill levels, the game starts with a certain number of pieces already placed for the less experienced player. This makes the game more balanced.

The Go board has its squares positioned at the intersection between the lines that form the squares, not on the squares themselves.

During the game, the pieces are not moved. They are only placed on the board, one player at a time. However, there is a certain “notion” of movement, since the stones are eventually placed “in line” to increase a player's dominance over a certain region of the board.

The pieces can be captured, if they are completely surrounded by the opponent's pieces, so the game must be done in order to obtain the maximum territory for itself, and at the same time position itself in order to defend itself (preventing it from being captured).

The fascinating game of go in Japanese culture

Go Game Terms in Japanese

Below we list some terms related to Go:

  • 囲碁 (いご) = Go (A board game based on conquering territory);
  • 碁 (ご) = Go;
  • 碁石 (ごいし) = Go Stones;
  • 碁盤 (ごばん) = Go board;
  • 碁笥 (ごけ) = Cumbucas where the Go stones are. Also called ごす;
  • コミ = Komi's Rule. Extra score given to a beginner's white stones. It is usually 6.5 or 5.5.
  • こみだし = Komi's Rule. Extra score given to a beginner's white stones. It is usually 6.5 or 5.5.
  • 神の一手 (かみのいって) = God's move;
  • 先手 (せんて) = Initiative (It is the act of maintaining initiative in the game without having to respond to an enemy attack;
  • 後手 (ごて) = According to Lance, it is the act of not maintaining the initiative. The opponent does not need to respond to a move;
  • ヒカルの碁 (ひかるのご) = Anime that further popularized the game of Go in modernity;
The fascinating game of go in Japanese culture

Where to buy a Go board?

I want to end this article by recommending some original Go boards that can be found for sale on Amazon Brazil, in addition to some game-related products. Some of the products have free shipping for members of Amazon Prime.

Different types of Go

In addition to traditional Go, there are many different ways to play with the black and white Go board or pieces, as well as modified boards and modified rules. See below for different ways to play Go:

Gomoku [五目] - also known as Gobang, is a strategic board game on a slightly modified Go board (15×15 intersections). However, unlike go, once the pieces are placed they cannot be moved or removed from the board.

Renju [連珠] – Similar to Gomoku, the difference is in the rules that weaken the advantages for the first player (Black) by adding special restrictions for those with black pieces.

Irensei -囲連星

Using the GO board the object of the game is to place seven stones in a row of their color. In addition, they can capture and eliminate enemy stones in the same way as in Go.

  • The win condition is to have seven tiles in a row, vertically, diagonally, or horizontally, only if all those tiles are inside the central 15×15 square and not 19×19.
  • To maintain balance, the starting player (black) cannot place 8 stones in a row, otherwise they lose.
  • Capturing diagonally is considered a victory.

Renju or Gomoku- 連珠

Renju or Gomoku is a game that uses the GO board and had its origins lost in the Heian period.

The full name of the game would be "Gomoku Narabe", which would mean something like "put five in a row". Despite sounding the same, "Go" from the game Go and "Go" from Gomoku are written in Japanese with different ideograms. If in the first "Go" is the name of the game, in the second it means "5". The name Renju refers to a more professional version where people dedicated themselves to the game.

The board should only use 15×15. The objective is not the conquest of territories, as in Go, but the simple formation of a “string of pearls”, that is, the placement of 5 pieces in lines.

Ninuki-renju is another version of Renju but you must join the pieces vertically and the game starts with white pieces.

Where can I play?

I hope that you enjoyed. The GO Board and pieces opens up opportunities for different strategies and different game styles, also use your imagination and create your own versions of the game.

I wrote an article about Japanese games that is available on another site that I author,click here to read.

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