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Monday, February 20, 2006

Baduk and Community

Go is a competitive game, a zero-sum game; if one player wins, her opponent must lose. Total war exists on the goban, and only the best survive. Those with the highest ability, the deeper concentration, and the strongest will to power win. Essentially, as Nietzsche puts it:

“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension.”

--The Will to Power, s.636, Walter Kaufmann translation.

What utter fucking rubbish, and yet held so true and high in the go world.

Time and time again, in tournament after tournament, go is treated simply as a game between two players, one winner, and nothing else. Probably been this way since the days of the Sun Emperor. Go players across the globe revel in total victory, and this is reflected in both go's internal hierarchy (the ranking system) and in tournaments. In the struggle to be the best, to win, the best of go is overlooked or never even considered.

Go is a social act in a community setting, and, so, is laced with all the ethics and morality that goes with any act in a community. When a player sits down, he sits not alone but with many others. He is a part of his community (local club, for example), he comes with knowledge, grace (hopefully), and the investment of every player he has encountered before, and he participates in social interaction with another human being. Why? To win at all costs? Surely not, but, if so, then he or she has become atomised, divorced from greater considerations and any thought of community.

And that misses the point. Playing go is fun, especially if it is with friends. For the vast majority of go players, the end of playing is to have fun. This also implies an obligation to one's community to work towards that end. Unless you subscribe to an egotist approach to fun and pleasure, the fun of others will have to be addressed and by each individual. Essentially, if you play go for fun, either be a free-rider or an active member.

Treat go as not an intellectual pastime but as social interaction and all will be well.



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