I’ve been playing the game or Go more or less once each week with my friend Vox and we’ve been doing this for some 30 years. We have had quite a fierce competition over the years, and the more I play, the more I realize how little I know about the game.
Recently I’ve watched some commentary around professional Go games on YouTube. I’m fascinated with how edgy their play is. Go is a game of few rules and maddening complexity. Playing efficiently is so important. You don’t want to take more time than necessary establishing a group. However, if you fail to take the time to make it secure, it is open to violent destruction.
I thought it would be fun and interesting to really study some high level professional games, and to play them through on a go board, considering what I would do for each move and trying to figure out the reasoning for what the pros actually did. To this end, I ordered up a book put together by the folks who run the Go Game Guru website, called Relentless.
The first part of the book examines in great detail a 10 game match (called a jubango) played between Lee Sedol and Gu Li throughout 2014, each game in a different city. These are two of the top players in the world, slugging it out over the board. The second part of the book provides shorter reviews and game records of every other game these twos players have played up to the end of 2015. It is a mammoth volume in which the authors use analysis of the games to illustrate principles and ideas about the game.
My plan is to take this one game at a time. First I’ll try playing out the game over the board without reading the commentary, then I’ll do it again, this time considering the commentary and looking at variations. I think it’s going to be an illuminating project, and maybe it will even help me strengthen my own weakling game.