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in Auroville


The noble game of Go, originated in China, is much more ancient than chess, and infinitely more complex. I have a dictionary of Josekis - the first initial moves in the corners that over the millennia have been found the best - and it consists of three thick volumes!

GO is played with simple black and white round stones on a board with nineteen horizontal lines and nineteen vertical ones, forming 361 intersections. Once a stone is set in an intersection it cannot move from there, unless it is captured, and then it's removed from the board. We can forgive, neutralise, erase; heal negative, traumatic or painful events from our past, but we cannot change the fact that they have actually occurred.

The aim is to surround territory. Most beginners try to surround too much immediately, and lose because they are too easily invaded. People who feel insecure tend to make small, very safe territories, but then they lose on points because they are not enough. We must find an equilibrium between our greed and our fear. Most people see the world as a mixture between a supermarket and a slaughterhouse. It is neither. It is a learning device.

GO in Auroville

Go in Auroville is playing regularly every Saturday afternoon and Wednesday evening as a group, a kind of very informal Go Club. Besides this, some of us may meet individually at various times, more often than not in the evenings. A proper building for a GO Club has been planned since a long long time, but somehow it has never materialised, so we usually play in the large veranda of one of the players, or inside.


Participation varies quite a bit. The more regular players are a German, a half Hungarian/half Italian named Vijay (writer of this), an American, a Dutchman, an Italian, and an Aurovilian (we're all Aurovilian, but he was actually born in Auroville). There are also about twenty other players in Auroville still at a beginner-intermediate stage, who play more with each other rather than come and get mercilessly trashed by the experts.

It is also possible to play GO on the Internet and choose the level of difficulty, that is, choose to play with players which are from 20 to 1 Kyu - the lower stage, or with players from one to four or five dan, the higher level. (The higher level goes up to nine dan, but the best players do not play in the Internet with weaker players.)

Getting to know one-self through GO

Over the years we have all learned a lot about ourselves through this game. For example, I remember a very funny episode many years back in which, while we were playing GO, the wife of the German began to tell him a long and complicated list of problems involving carpenters, suppliers who has not yet delivered urgently needed materials, etc. She went on and on and on, and my friend replied occasionally with some non-committal grunts. Eventually his wife lost patience and shouted: "But TELL ME, what should we do?" With a stone in his hand, he turned his head, looked at her as if he had never seen her before in his life, and said "Eh? Eh? What do you want? Can't you see I am playing GO?" Clearly, he had not heard a single word she had said. Well, after playing GO for years, he now doesn't do such things anymore, can patiently bear interruptions, more or less, and also takes losing much better than he used to.

Life lessons

Personally, I have also learned many lessons from this game. For example, I noticed that I would play at a very high level up to a certain point but then, relatively often, perhaps a game out of five, I would sort of blank out and do a really dumb move worth of a rank beginner. Then I realised I was doing much the same thing in my life - although fortunately less often!
Besides what we learn from it, the game has great value if only as an exercise in training the mind, in concentration, and creativity. And if course, like all games, GO is also a way to relax and have fun.

In the heat of the battle..

While there are usually three or four games simultaneously going on, now and then there is an explosion of funny, half funny, depreciative and sometime uncharitable comments all around, like:
The Italian:
"Oh NO! No No No No! Why did I do that? All I had to do was to take that stone and I had won the game! Now I have really had it! Why did I do that!?"
"I have a vague memory of having heard such jeremiads quite a few times before from you...."
The American, talking to the German:
"Yes, you won, I know that, but that was only because I left you off the hook and did not cut off your group.. You played so poorly, man, it was appalling, I was so far ahead the whole game, miles and miles ahead, practically I had already won, and if I had just..."
The Auroville-born:
- Laughter -
"There isn't much to laugh about those two blunderers, they rather ought to make us cry. About how you play, however, one could really crack up..."
The German, talking to the American:
"Eh? What? But you did not have any secure territories at all, only some small miserable potential ones I could always have invaded! What are you talking about?! While I had at least FORTY POINTS in my bottom territory alone!"
The American:
"Forty points? Perhaps twenty, with some luck, that is..."
The German's partner:
"Does anyone wants tea now?"
General chorus of agreement..

GO books and magazines

The American has quite a library of GO books and magazines, both for beginners, medium-level and very advanced ones. The German and Vijay have also some.

So if you're a GO-player and happen to be in town, get in touch!

Contact: vijay@auroville.org.in 



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