Q&A #9661

The Game of Go - A Beautiful Mind

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From: Anton Ninno <aninno@cnyric.org>
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: Oct 18, 2002 at 11:24:07
Subject: The Game of Go - A Beautiful Mind

Do you students know how to play Go? You may remember seeing a board game called Go in "A Beautiful Mind", the recent film about John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who at Princeton University. The game of Go originated in China roughly 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, so it's much older than Chess. You would have to guess that it must be both a challenging and entertaining game to have lasted so long, and you'd be right, too! One 20th century American novelist described the game this way: "Go is to Chess, as philosophy is to double-entry accounting." Perhaps that analysis is a bit prejudiced, but let's just say that if you enjoy learning about Asian cultures and religions, you will find that Go is a fascinating game that is steeped in Oriental tradition and legend. For example, the black and white pieces used on a Go board are often said to represent Yin and Yang. Amazingly enough, the rules of Go are very simple, so it's easy for students to learn how to play their first game. On the other hand, the combinations that result during a professional- level Go game are much more complex than Chess. If you don't believe me, consider the fact that there is still no computer program that can beat a professional Go player. Programs like Deep Blue and Deep Fritz wouldn't even come close. Software is available that will teach Go, and play at the advanced amateur level.  If you can't find a human player to challenge, the Internet Go Server allows players to meet and play online. Go is still extremely popular in Asia today, and is now played all over the world. As you might expect, Go clubs can be found in many large cities and on university campuses. We have a Go club here in my hometown at Syracuse University. You might check the math, engineering, and philsophy dept at a local college to see if there are Go players your neighborhood. They can sometimes be found hiding in Chess clubs, too. In the K12 classroom, Go can be used to introduce students to the study of Asia. Having student learn to play Go will add a whole new meaning to the idea of "hands-on" lessons in your class! One possibility would be to contact a school in Japan, China, or Korea, and arrange to have their students teach your class to play Go. I'm sure the participants on both continents will find this a delightful way to get to know each other. The relationship could then grow to include class-to-class projects for other topics in social studies, science and the language arts. I am currently teaching Go to high school students in the library at the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown (APW) High School during their after-school recreation and study program, and occasionally, during my lunch breaks. It all started when a student asked the librarian about the board game he had seen in the movie, "A Beautiful Mind". The librarian asked me if I knew anything about it, and so I talked to a few students about my experience playing the game as a college student. Since then, interest spread to someof the chess players in the school, and a few teachers have shown interest in the connection between Go and their curriculums. The librarian promised to order at least one beginner's instruction book Go, and offered some wall space for a display of Chinese and Japanese paintings, and photos of people playing Go, that we got off the Web, including one of Russell Crowe as John Nash from the movie's Web site. If enough interest develops, and the students continue to play, we will arrange a presentation by a philosophy professor from Syracuse University who is the advisor for the club there - the same professor who taught me to play as a student back in the 70's. My, oh my, how time does fly! If some had told me back then, that some day I would be a staff developer for technology integration, working with teachers, and high school kids, I would have laughed out loud. Of course, back then, there was no Web, no Internet (to my knowledge), and no PCs, either. We "computed" with punch cards! Have a look at the sites below, and feel free to ask questions. Then think about creating a display on Go in your school this year. For help, contact a local college and the cultural exchange organizations for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese residents in your community. I've found that Go works as an excellent medium for developing friendships. The Asian people I meet are always delighted to find a Westerner who wants to learn to play Go. Keep in mind that the game goes by other names, too. It's called Baduk in Korea, and Wei-chi or Wei-qi in China and Taiwan. The easiest way to purchase a Go set is to do it online. If you're lucky, and can take the time to look around, you might find one in an Asian grocery store. Take along a photo of Go from the Web to show the clerk -- often they don't speak English well, and will not be expecting a Westerner to ask them about the game. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when you don't HAVE any words. Anton What is Go? by Mindy Adams http://www.well.com/user/mmcadams/gointro.html "A Beautiful Mind" game suddenly popular - article http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm? newsid=3383195&BRD=1091&PAG=461&dept_id=425695&rfi=6 Film puts ancient game on the Go - article http://www.nj.com/mercer/times/index.ssf?/mercer/times/02-24-I0QR1Z1B.html Albert Einsterin and Go - by Robert A. McAllister (a funny story!) http://www.kiseido.com/einstein.htm The Master of Go - novel by Yasunari Kawabata, Nobel prize for literature, 1968 http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1968/kawabata-bio.html A Very Brief History of Go http://www.usgo.org/resources/gohistory.asp American Go Association - resources, club list, tournaments http://www.usgo.org/ Go Base - resources, games, periodicals, and more http://gobase.org Internet Go Server - play Go online worldwide http://igs.joyjoy.net/ Ibuki - supplier of Go sets & books http://www.ippi.com/top_go.html Ishi Press - supplier of Go sets & books http://ishigames.com/home.htm Samarkand - supplier of Go sets & books http://www.samarkand.net/ Yutopian - supplier of Go sets & books http://www.yutopian.com/go/ __________ Anton Ninno, K12 Tech Integration Trainer Voice: 315-431-8407   E-mail: aninno@cnyric.org Web: http://www.ocmboces.org/ Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES 6820 Thompson Road, Syracuse, NY 13221 NYGPS  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nygps/ Fun with GPS  http://www.monitoringtimes.com/html/gps.html RIC  http://www.classroom.com/community/email/archives.jhtml?A0=RIC 43N, 76W  http://www.confluence.org/confluence.php?lat=43&lon=-76&visit=3

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