In the time since this thread was active, @seequ has set up a variants server at https://go.kahv.io/, the Variant Go Server (VGS).
In October of last year, he ran – in association with the Nordic Go Dojo – a tournament of pixel Go, a variant developed by Mikkgo and Antti Törmänen in which one places 2x2 dango instead of single stones (see NGD Pixel Go Tournament is tomorrow!).
As I’m discussing variants, I’ve noticed that one-colour Go seems to have become more popular, mainly due to its integration on CGS (the Color Go Server). Interest in Thue-Morse Go also continues. Let’s also not forget Alex’s 25x25 correspondence tournament, Hunting at Night (Hunting at Night: The 1st 25x25 Tournament).
There are also interesting ideas in Features everyone secretly want on OGS but will never be implemented.
If we examine modern Go culture, there seems to be widespread acceptance of three variants, which is to say “standard Go” on the board sizes 19x19, 13x13, and 9x9. Historically, of course, the traditional rules of Chinese, Tibetan, and Korean Go were locally popular, but have now been largely supplanted by Japanese or “standard” Go.
An important part of the evolution of Go thus far seems to have been first a development, and then a rejection, of set stone patterns. It’s possible, as I said earlier in the thread, that set stones might return to the game. This might well be in a semi-randomised form analogous to Chess960. There was a thread about this in 2020, Semi-random starting position, but it was a bit too technical for me to follow.
Of course, we’re seeing an evolution of both local and global play since the AI revolution, with emphasis shifting to territorial, precise, and confrontational play relying more extensively on reading; we’ve the normalisation of the early 3-3 invasion and the abandonment of some popular 20th-century moves like the slide.
I don’t really envisage Go evolving in what could be called a “chronospecific” sense, which is to say with the greater mass of the game shifting all at once. Rather, I expect that what will happen is that variants will continue to branch from the trunk of 19x19 standard Go – which will itself remain healthy for an indefinite time – and will rise or fall in popularity over time, proportionally to how interested or bored players are with the “trunk game”.
It’s possible that variants like one-colour Go, random-opening Go, Thue-Morse Go, 21x21 etc. will gradually grow in popularity over the course of this century, and it’s also possible that they might not. At this point, of course, we cannot say.