The Magic of Go

Go in Europe

Over the past few decades, go has become increasingly popular in the West, especially in the United States and Europe. In the United States, there are more than 120 go clubs, representing almost every state, while in Europe the European Go Federation brings together go organizations from both eastern and western Europe.

The history of go in Europe began in 1900 with the founding of a go circle in a naval officer’s club in Pula, a Croatian port in the Adriatic Sea. This club was apparently quite active, with about 200 members, and from here the game spread throughout Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. In the aftermath of World War I, only a nucleus of about 12 players were left, but they held regular meetings in Vienna until around 1939.

Meanwhile, go had also established a foothold in Germany. A German engineer, Otto Korschelt, who had learned go from Honinbo Shuho while working in Japan, published a report on the game in a German journal around 1880. Based on this report, two introductory books on go were published around 1908. Around this time Prof. L. Pfaundler published a go magazine Deutsche Go Zeitung. But it had only about 50 readers and it was discontinued in about one year after publishing 10 issues. But in 1920, Bruno Ruger resumed publication in Dresden. It was published continuously until 1943 and provided unity to all go groups throughout Germany and Austria. In 1937, the German Go Association was founded. It was the first official nationwide go organization established outside of Asia and in 1938 it organized the first European Go Championship.

World War II effectively put a stop to most go activities in Europe, but by 1953 go clubs had sprung up in both the Netherlands and Britain and there was enough interest to warrant annual European go congresses. In 1958, the European Go Championship was restarted as part of the European Go Congress, and it has been held every year sincethen. By 1960, go clubs had sprung up in Yugoslavia and by the 1970s it had spread to France, Switzerland and Denmark. Today, go is played in 27 countries throughout western and eastern Europe. Each of these countries holds a national championship and the winner is usually entitled to go to Japan to represent his or her country in the World Amateur Go Championship.

The responsibility of organizing inter-European go activities falls to the European Go Federation. The biggest and most important event is the European Go Congress that includes the European Open Championship. This event is held every year during the last week of July and the first week of August, and is usually attended by about 500 players. This year’s congress will be held in Slovakia.

Besides the go congress, the EGF organizes a tournament to determine the European who will play in the Fujitsu World Championship. It also organizes youth championships as well as many other tournaments.

In 1992, the European Go Center was opened in Amstelveen, Netherlands. It was founded and financed by Kaoru Iwamoto who held the Honinbo title for two terms in the 1940s. The center is more than a venue where players can meet for games: it is also the main center for popularizing the game throughout Europe. It publishes books for beginners as well as teacher manuals and has had them translated into 16 European languages. It also actively promotes go in elementary schools, thereby ensuring that go will be an important game in Europe as well as in Asia in the next century.

Answers to last week’s problems

go problems

In Problem 1, Black must defend his marked stone if he is to make a living group at the top. The correct way to do this is to extend to the edge with 1 in Diagram 1. This move gives Black the space he needs to make two eyes. White plays 2 to prevent Black from making an eye at 5, but Black 3 is now the vital point. After the sequence to 7, Black has the two eyes needed to live-one around the stone at 4 and the other to the left of 3.

game of go

If White strikes at the vital point of 2 in Diagram 2 in answer to Black 1, the sequence would continue up to Black 7. The result is shown in Diagram 3. This is an instructive position-White can’t play on the 1—1 point because he would be committing suicide, which is not permitted. That means that Black can eventually capture with the marked stone in Diagram 4. It should be clear that Black now has the two eyes needed to live at the two 1—2 points in the corner.

Connecting at Black 1 in Diagram 5 is the usual way to defend an endangered stone on the second line. However, Black cannot make two eyes after White makes a placement at 8.

game of go. problems

In Problem 2, Black will have give up some stones if he is to make a living group in the corner. The key move is for Black to expand his position with 1 in Diagram 6. White will capture two stones with 2 and 4, but Black’s remaining stones are alive when he plays 5.

Black 1 in Diagram 7 seems to save the two stones captured in Diagram 6, but White ataris with 2 and 4. Even though the white stone to the left of 5 is captured, this point becomes a false eye. After White 6 and 8, Black has insufficient space to make two eyes, so his stones are dead.

game of go

Black 1 in Diagram 8 is not expansive enough. After White captures two black stones with 4, White plays the hane-placement combination with 6 and 8, and the black stones are dead.

Sacrifice tactics

Sacrificing stones is a tactic often used to destroy the eye shape of your opponent’s group. For example, the white group in Diagram 9 cannot make two eyes if Black plays correctly. However, an ordinary move such a Black 1 in Diagram 10 will induce White to play on the key point of 2. White now has two eyes and is unconditionally alive.

game of go

The correct move for Black is to sacrifice a stone at 1 in Diagram 11. This move threatens to captures the marked stone above the two marked ones on the left. Therefore, White must capture with 2. Next, Black ataris with 3 in Diagram 12; the point at A now becomes a false eye, so the white stones are dead.

If White defends against Black 1 with 2 in Diagram 13, Black captures two stones with 3. The remaining white stones can no longer make two eyes.