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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

The Inside Story

Author: David Lindholm Assistant Sports Editor

We're a group of 22 first-year students, spread out across campus, seeming quite normal. But maybe you've seen us in a common room, or in Bicentennial Hall, staring at a seemingly incomprehensible wooden board covered with black and white stones in patterns which look completely abstract. Yes, we're Go players.

I'm talking about us students in First-year Seminar 037, entitled "Go and Haiku." Since orientation the 22 of us have been taught (amoung other things) how to play the ancient game called Go. This board game is played on a square wooden board with black and white stones and is often considered the most mentally challenging, deepest and historic of all board games. Because of the beautiful patterns created by the stones, it is considered a Zen art, immensely popular in Japan, China and Korea.

The game is played by two players, one using the black stones and the other using the white, and the players alternate moves as they place stones on one of the 361 intersections of the lined, 19 by 19 inch board. The goal of the game is to surround as much territory as possible with your stones, a simple task complicated by the fact that the possibilities for play are infinite. The beauty of the patterns become fully visible late in a game. A finished game does look like a piece of art.

If you're intrigued at all, you should know that this Saturday, Middlebury will play host to a Go Tournament. Put together by one of FS 037's beloved teachers, Peter Schumer of the Math Department, this American Go Association (AGA) sanctioned event will include players from all over New England.

It's tough to write about Go in the Sports section of The Campus. It doesn't require athletic prowess, but it does require immense patience and skill. There is a huge range in ability between players, and another unique aspect of the game is that it has a handicap system that allows a weak player to have a tight, competitive game with somebody of much greater skill. This is one of the major points of Go: the goal is not to win so much as to have a good game. And so all day this Saturday, in Bicentennial Hall Room 409, our Go Tournament will take place. I will be there, as one of the weak (if not the weakest) players. Yet I will be given a fair handicap, and if I'm playing well enough, I could have a chance to win a game or two. So if you have any desire to learn the game, see at the beauty of a completed board, or just feel the excitement of a tournament, stop by on Saturday. You could join the throng of Go Players on campus. I'll teach you in between games.