Thursday, October 9, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 12

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday October 9th, 2008. Today we will be talking about a Japanese game.

There are few games out there that are popular in Japan and many people think come from Japan. Today I want to talk about one of them: igo. Igo is also known as simply "go." The rules to go are very simple, but the game it self is very deep and complex.

Well, first thing is first. Go is not originally from Japan. It came from China (like so much in Japanese culture) and has been doing well for itself in Japan since the 7th century AD. Must people found out about Go from anime or manga so they think that Go is from Japan. I know it was that way for me.

Let's get into the board and the rules. The board is a 19 by 19 grid. The thing that sets Go apart from other grid based games is the fact that the pieces (stones) are played on the places where the lines intersect, not in the squares the the grid forms. You can see a game in progress below.

Put simply Go is a battle to get the most area on the game board while loosing as few of your own stones as possible. You loose your stones when they are completely surrounded by the stones of your enemy. When that happens your enemy gets to take your stones and use them against you at the end of the game. That's basically it. Simple, right?

It is simple, but it can be extremely deep. To win the game you don't count the number of stones that you have down on the board you count the amount of area under the control of your stones. This means that you have to gain a lot of area by putting down only a few stones. On top of that you have to make sure the enemy can not sneak into your area and steal it from under your nose.

When both of the players can put down no further stones without either doing something illegal or making their area smaller the game goes into the end phase. In this phase you take the stones that you took from your enemy and fill in their area with them. They also do the same for your area. After all the stones are put down everyone counts how much area they have. The person with the most area is the winner. Below is a video that shows the whole process though quickly.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 囲碁(いご). It is pronounced igo and means Go. Way back when I used to be into Go, but I was never very good at it. I do like the feel of of slamming a stone down onto the game board though.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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