I just came upon this article, what's your opinion?

“…Finally, as masters at the game of Go ( weiqi ), Chinese strategists are purportedly engaged in a protracted war, maximizing their own advantages while considering the long-term outcomes of strategic decisions. This chess-like game traces back to the literati, generals, and statesman from the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD); its objective is, simply, to control territory on the game board through the strategic placement of black or white stones.[15] The successful Go player will engage in moves, posturing, and tests of the opponent’s resolve. As the game continues and the board becomes more layered with pieces, players must simultaneously defend against the adversary on multiple fronts. In other words, the game of Go transforms into a “competition between two nations over multiple interest areas.”[16] To assume that Chinese defense planners were raised playing this strategic board game, and that such formative experiences continue to shape their thinking today, is a precarious assumption at best. Even if true, does an avid Go player—or in a Western context, a diehard Risk or Settlers of Catan gamer—have the operational knowledge or qualifications to translate strategy at the conceptual level of board games into national or military strategy? The impact of such strategic games upon the individual strategist is undoubtedly highly subjective. Thus, if anything is to be garnered from the Chinese tradition of Go and similar games in the West, it should be that the formulation and implementation of strategy and gains of each player are dependent upon the choices of the opponent. Whether one is playing Go, Risk, or Catan, strategic success is created through tactics of deception, coercion, and compellence—concepts which transcend cultural traditions.[17]”

The complete article is here

(don’t ask)

What are your opinions on someone not-Go-but-strategy person’s opinion, regarding Go? I can’t really form something concrete, since I still miss basic things about the game.

Note: this is a “wherever it goes” topic (although my initial thought is to ask about things that are viewed differently).
Please be civil.

P.S. Sorry if it’s posted before and I haven’t seen it.


The article seems right to me, though I did find it odd that the author was so blatantly in favor of reunification with the PRoC winning out; doesn’t it being its own country for decades by all metrics save the opinions of the UN give it the de facto right to independence?

Yes, I know I have opened up a can of worms equivalent to someone from the RoC talking about Trump. :smiley:

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I’m mostly offended that the writer thinks the Western equivalent of Go is Risk or Settlers of Catan… Even chess would’ve been moderately acceptable there :confused:


Yeah, Risk is a stretch; that game is in desperate need of a redesign to widen the meaningful strategic decision space throughout the game as well as tightening up some clunkier aspects of its play.

Most importantly, both games are heavily dependent on chance. And neither are abstract games.

Although that gives some good argument that being good at Risk or Catan is actually a more useful skill than Go, when it comes to military strategy.

I don’t think so, though. Those two games are fun, but they lack depth to explore.


I think Diplomacy is a better model for international affairs than any of the games mentioned above.


(I realize I haven’t played any of those board games, maybe Risk once in University, not sure.)

I wouldn’t want this to be the main focus, but if the discussion goes there, I’ll watch. :slight_smile:

Really, especially that comparison with the specific board games was what was odd to me. I’m not saying what is better or worse, but they don’t seem similar at all to Go. I’d expect them to be in different parts of the article, at least.

Note: I’ve not even been in the army, so I have strictly layperson civilian ideas about military strategy.


In my humble opinion, Risk and Catan are both fantastic games and I have played them both extensively for quite a few years, discovering most of the strategy. My dad’s favorite game of all time is probably Catan and there have been times where we have played it more than twice a week.

That being said, both of these games don’t even begin to compare to Go. I agree with @Vsotvep that there is a serious element of chance in both of the games with the dice and so this really messes with the comparison in terms of “strategy.” Furthermore, the strategy that exists is MUCH simpler than in Go; there is indeed much less depth. But yes, I can see where the level of chance could be useful in terms of military strategy.

At the end of the day, I think it really comes down to taste, and that is just fine. But there is no getting around it; Go is much more difficult and will teach you how to become a much better problem-solver than Risk or Catan will.


There is a small book that presents go from a western-strategical perspective. You may like to see:



I think it’s worth adding to this thread that a ‘Zero Sum’ game like Go can be a dangerous model to mimic. There is no mutual gain. Their loss is your gain and vice-a-versa.

When nations “Play to win” it’s people that lose out, people on all sides.

It is human nature to look after our own first. To prioritise those we can identify with above those more alien to us :cry:. Unfortunately, all to often we overlook the large swathes of territory that we may have in common with others and we sacrifice that for the more dramatic differences that motivate conflict.


Haven’t read it all but it sounds like the opposite thesis to that of “The protracted game - a wei-chi interpretation of Maoist revolutionary strategy” by Scott A Boorman, which I also have not finished reading. However, from my limited exposure to both, I’d probably come down on the side of the article over the book.


Comes to mind a footnote I found on an Italian translation of The Go Master by Yasunari Kawabata (also titled as Meijin).

“Here, the sidereal distance that separates Go from the “noble game” of the West - chess - appears very evident. These are the clear illustration of a “full” universe (the game begins with the pieces already arranged on the chessboard) and hierarchical (different pieces that perform different functions): a typical example of a centered model in which the game ends with the final death of one of the two kings and therefore with the definitive annihilation of the opponent. Although full of medieval flavors and suggestions, chess - in its infantile rudeness which appeals more to the use of the spinal cord than to that of the nervous system - constitute an excellent metaphor for the evolution of the western social system starting from the beheading of Louis XVI on the public square”. (Cristiana Ceci)


This is a very interesting topic.
Having read Sun Tzu’s masterpiece and Tao Te Ching, I think that the way both of those were written, in small sentences and in the form of sayings, would have earned their writters a position in the “sages of antiquity” in the West, as well as the position they hold in the East. Because it is a fact that the “sages of antiquity” where known mostly in the masses of the time for their aphorisms and not so much for their more verbose texts (those that did write such, at least).

One could argue that this simililarity is negligible, but I think that it goes to show that wisdom is appreciated accross the globe and accross cultures in a similar fashion. Having said that, it remains a fact that the cultures that we are talking about, have some very profound differences.

Before we get into that let us establish that China and Greece (along with India and Japan) are among the few countries that have managed to survive more than 2500 years while keeping some semblance of identiny along with a constant evolving language. They also produced a lot of philosophy and they ended up influencing a lot of people outside their countries. Indeed Greece, with its philosophy influencing even the Catholic church for centuries, can be said to be the basis of what we call the “Western civilization” and while the East had more “trend-setters” (if you pardon the expression) than the Chinese, I will only keep them in this post because we are talking about Wei-Qi/Go and its establishment as a cultural item of education.

In that regard let us return to the differences of the Greek/Western world with the Chinese Empire which has spanned hundreds of years in different forms.


  • Fragmented with different groups with different goals. A lot of the times one group considered the other as invader.
  • Small populations where the individual can sometimes sway a whole battle or move a city-state in having a meteoric rise
  • Had a lot of constant fighting and rarely had a unified leader of all the different areas
  • A vast array of geographical features and lots of coasts, making a lot of places had to defend in any meaningful way.
  • In medieval Europe you could have been a Dutch farmer, whose feudal lord was French and his king was Spanish. Next day, unbeknownst to you, things could has shaken up and you might have been traded to some other lord and now you could be Dutch, your lord is Italian and his king is German. Chaos.


  • Fragmented with different groups and different goals, but they all identified as a similar group of people since there was a centralized empire. The position of the Chinese emperor - as a whole - was always the coveted prize for the lords and small kings that were ambitious.
  • Comparatively enormous populations, even back at the early days. Therein the individual lost a lot of its power and ability to have the chance to exert and amazing talents they might have had.
  • Had a lot of constant fighting, but over who would be the a unified leader of all the different areas
  • A smaller, less diverse region geographically, with much fewer coasts.
  • Vast areas and populations change lords, but the idea of the Empire - a semblance of overarching order that will be eventually be restored - remains.

Let us now see the games those two cultures produced:


  • The pieces are set and always similar between the opponents, but they have different values and “talents”
  • Killing is encuraged. Indeed the game cannot end without it.
  • The balance of power changes, but mostly through destruction. Even if you want to se advanced tactics those demand sacrifices and a lot of mutual bloodshed.
  • Nothing matters, except from the king. If the king dies, everyone else is as good as dead or they are free to join the enemy. (indeed in a lot of European History whole countries changed hand just because the kings married off to some other royal line).
  • The winner takes it all.


  • The pieces have equal value and equal talents. No piece is inherently more important than the other.
  • There are games where not one stone is captured. No killing is needed. There is no king at all.
  • The balance of power changes, but mostly in a peaceful manner
  • The winner does not take it all. The player that win is the one that managed to have even half a point more, but the game itself does not deny the loser its gains. Indeed the game teaches practically that the winner cannot take everything

Now, a good question is that considering the aforementioned cultural/historical differences, is it any wonder that the strategy games that dominated the popularity in those regions had those differences? Is it any wonder that there are many historical differences in the way generals and countries though the ages have solved their problems or had even different definitions of victory?
When you live in a fragmented continent that constantly bickers on who will be the top dog over different countries, with different cultures with different languages, I think that chess, and the military tactics/strategies that go along with it, is a reasonable result.
When you live in an empire where the people are mostly similar and you are used to have one supreme ruler in a vast land, which needs administration and efficient delegation of authority, I think Go, and the military tactics/strategies that go along with it, is a reasonable result.

I admit of this post is a very shallow analysis of the historic attributes of the countries and regions involved. I am neither a history scholar, nor a strategist, so this is post is bound to be relatively myopic in its scope. In that regard, I’d like to request of you to not just point out in general that “some historical things are missing”, but, if you can and have the time, do mention them specifically, so I can learn about them, since I find the topic genuingly interesting :slight_smile: