I was reading “EZ-GO: Oriental Strategy in a Nutshell” by Bruce and Sue Wilcox and I’ve actually fallen in love with the way that it makes me conceptualize go. For reference I’m 7k OGS, so take my opinions with that in mind. The reason I’m reading it is because I found the table of contents to be labeled with a wonderful sense of humor. With chapters titled “Darwinian Evolution” and “Rampant Machiavelliism,” I had to read at least part of it. I haven’t gotten very far, but the first chapter has already enlightened the way I teach go to my school students. The use of extended metaphor is wonderful for introducing and retaining concepts, especially abstract ones to beginners. This book, coincidentally, is chock-full of it. I wanted to share this little nugget to all of you go educators out there in hopes that it might work for you, too. Here’s an excerpt from the book.
The Goal of Go: Imagine a freshly-baked square pan of brownies. Smell the aroma
wafting through the air toward your nose. See the chocolate icing spread over the top.
Savor how it would taste in your mouth. Now, imagine you have a friend with you.
Naturally you want all of the brownie for yourself. However, your mom is standing
nearby, so you know you can’t get away with it. Instead you are supposed to cut the
brownie fairly, in half. Will you? Or will you wiggle the blade to get a slightly bigger
half? Or cut the brownie so that the best frosted bits are on your side? In other words,
you will want to get something better than your friend, but not enough so that Mom
will notice and take the brownie away from you and divide it evenly.
OK. Back to being an adult. The Go board is like the brownie. You want it all. But you
don’t deserve it all and you won’t get it all. If you try to get it all, you will surely get less
than you could otherwise. It’s the nature of the game. So you must aim to share.
Cooperate, but be greedy. Aim for a little bit more than your opponent. Something
almost unnoticeable. That is your goal.
It is as if a great white light descended upon me from the heavens and an angelic choir sang Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with such fervor that I wept tears of joy. Okay, maybe that’s a little much, but all of the bad habits I had been trying to fix in my student’s greedy capture-go approach to the game disappeared instantly. They felt sneaky like they were actually slicing a brownie with each move, and reviewing games using the extended metaphor makes it funny to younger ones, too. They started playing more one-point jumps on 9x9 instead of direct extensions, they stopped playing inside of their opponent’s territory, and stayed more connected throughout without me having to teach any of that to them.
Now, I still teach “capture go” (aka “atari go”) first to get them familiar with basic shapes, but teaching it in tandem with the “brownie method” is making life so much easier all around. I hope you all can take something away from this, as well as support the authors by buying this gem. If for nothing else, get it for a good laugh. It’s a riot, and inspiring - need I say more? Good luck in your future games!
Sometimes dies in gote,