Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maximum War Game

I don't normally read manga. I'm 55, okay? But I had to. I mean I had no choice. This manga is different. It's about go.

Hikaru No Go features a boy who finds a go board while exploring in the attic. The go board is possessed by the ghost of an ancient Japanese go master (Go is the national game of Japan. At Gobase, you can study games of today's masters, and games dating all the way back into the 1700s, as well!).

Hikaru learns to play from the ghost. Only Hikaru can see him, and Sai (the ghost) still loves to play.

I love this game. Anyone who enjoys games of strategy and tactics, such as chess, should learn to play go, IMHO. At the Chess and Go program at the local library, some of the regular players taught themselves the game by reading this manga series or watching the anime. But learning the rules is just the start, as Hikaru finds out. To play go well, you have to keep playing. As the series progresses, Hikaru gets better and better.

So how is go better than chess? Well, first, it's a game about conquering territory, much more like war than just capturing a king. And second - while a chess board has 64 squares, there are 361 points on a go board. There are way more possibilities to consider, offensively and defensively.

Try the manga. It's quite fun. And if you want to pursue go, Janice Kim's Learn to Play Go series, reviewed here last June, is an excellent introduction. I also like the four-volume series, Graded Go Problems for Beginners, though I haven't made it past volume 2 yet. I just have too much to read, you know?

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