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Go (Wei QI)

Photo by lng0004 / CC BY

One of the Pages from "Zuo Zhuan"

Korean players, in traditional dress, play in a photograph dated between 1910 and 1920.

Photo by Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection

Professional Go Tournament:

Lee Chang-ho plays Go against Alexandre Dinerchtein

Photo by Alexandre Dinerchtein / CC BY





OTHER NAMES: Wei Qi (Chinese), Baduk (Korean), igo (Japanese)


Go is one of the oldest board games in the world and one of the few that retained the original game play from thousands of years ago. Go, or Wei Qi in its original Chinese name, is a game that requires significant strategy and riddled with philosophy. (1)



The earliest text reference to the game is the historical annal "左傳" (Zuo Zhuan), which means the "Chronicle of Zuo", referring to historical events of 548 BCE. In this text, the game was referred by its ancient name of "弈" (Yi). (2)


The earliest archaeology discovery of an existing board is a pottery go board from the Western Han dynasty era. (3) Li Gang, a research fellow with the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Research Institute, said that this board might have been made from a floor tile, and that it did not belong to the royal family since the carvings are too rough. Li said the board could have been made by the tomb guards who played go to pass the time. "That proves that go was being played not only by nobles, but also by ordinary people like tomb guards, more than 2,000 years ago," Li noted. (4)



Go made its way to Korea around 5th century by the name of "baduk", and to Japan in the 7th century where it is referred by the of "igo" or "Go". The game became very popular in the Japanese imperial court in 8th century, and well played among the public by the 13th century. (5) Go competitions were played in front of the shogun annually after Tokugawa Ieyasu's re-establishment of the unified national government. (6)


Although Go had some literary mention in the Western world around 16th century, it wasn't until the 19th century that the game became widely accepted. In 1935 the American Go Association was formed by Arthur Smith and Edward Lasker in New York, after Lasker had brought the interest of the game from Germany to the states.


In 1996, NASA astronaut Daniel Barry and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata became the first people to play Go in space. They used a special Go set, which was named Go Space, designed by Wai-Cheung Willson Chow. (7)



Go consists of a 17 by 17 grid board and many black and white pieces, which are used to deploy abundant forms of strategy upon your enemy or self perseverance.




There are many intense Go players, which are ranked from Beginner to Professional stage. Go players such as Lee Chang-ho and Alexandre Dinerchtein dominated International Go and won many titles over the years.


Go playing can also be causal and entertaining. It is great for family fun and a nice way to cultivate strategies while playing a piece of history.


Game box for playing Senet

Photo by ddenisen / CC BY

The origin of games is one of the oldest human civilization lineage, spanning over millenniums of development to date. From archaeological evidence traditional games is one of the fundamental aspect of life in the ancient world, and is paramount to the development of social culture and military strategies. Many of these games became modern day family fun for holidays and occasions to enjoy.

Family Playing Boardgame Together

Photo by krisnfred / CC BY




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