On Games

Came across this fascinating tidbit on Wikipedia today:

Often, a comparison of Go and chess is used as a parallel to explain western versus eastern strategic thinking. Go begins with an empty board. It is focused on building from the ground up (nothing to something) with multiple, simultaneous battles leading to a point-based win. Chess, one can say, is in the end centralized, as the predetermined object is to kill one individual piece (the king). Go is quite otherwise: individuals are only significant as they join or help determine the fate of larger forces, and what those are is worked out only as the game proceeds.

A similar comparison has been drawn among Go, chess and backgammon, perhaps the three oldest games that still enjoy worldwide popularity. Backgammon is a"man vs. fate" contest, with chance playing a strong role in determining the outcome. Chess, with rows of soldiers marching forward to capture each other, embodies the conflict of “man vs. man." Because the handicap system tells each Go player where he/she stands relative to other players, an honestly ranked player can expect to lose about half of his/her games; therefore, Go can be seen as embodying the quest for self-improvement — “man vs. self."

Board games… enlightenment in a box.

Published: November 8, 2006 Last updated: November 8, 2006

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