The loneliness of Go

@S_Alexander brought to my attention this nice video about Go:

I think it’s funny and entertaining and shows a big love for our beloved game, but…

…there’s also a sad part that I find painfully true.

Go needs Go friends to be shared, because you just can’t do it with other people. It’s someway isolating. If you have Go friends you isolate with them in your Go world. If you don’t have them you’re just alone… struggling to find someone…

I feel so and I think I’m not the only one.
How many of us tried in vain to engage their family and their friends with this game?
How did we feel after that?

And it’s even worse!
If you have just few Go friends, they probably don’t fit your level. So you can talk with them and study and whatever, but playing isn’t that much fun, because even games are too… uneven… and handicap games have their cons.

The Go club in my city is very VERY small.
Finding a good match to play is hard both for our strongest and weakest players.
So we feel someway isolated in our city and also a little between us.

Please share your thoughts.


You can look the opposite side. A lot of my good friends are weiqi players.
Sometimes I feel very lonely outside our world of go.
Like in a family meal,when you really you have nothing to say to that uncle and auntie. Like with your coworkers with whom you don’t understand how they could be happy in their way of life… With your neighbors with…


Don’t lose yourself completely in the go scene. It is easy to do so, because you are passionate about go. Go is just a game, don’t let it absorb the rest of your life. Go is certainly not bigger than life. Also share time with family, friends, colleagues, etc. Develop other hobbies, join a sport club, etc.

If they are interested they will come to go, otherwise it is 100% wasted energy.


(Thoughts on the video:
-Ke Jie as “Kay G”, can’t unhear it.
-“Yes I know this is an incorrect example of a living group please don’t leave a comment”. I literally LOL’d.
-Guy has no idea there are literally hordes of 9-year-olds that are almost pros at Go.
-He sent the goban back. :cry:)

We don’t even have an official Go association in Greece. I had to actively find and pursue Go, so I feel it curved its own spot in my mind and my life. I can only imagine how much harder it must have been for people in countries/ places without a Go tradition before the internet. I was spared that loneliness.

All in all, it is a bittersweet reminder that we are all really alone in the world and our one true home is our mind, the only person that’s been with us forever is ourselves.


I totally don’t relate to this at all.

I’ve never been to a Go club. I don’t need to - my Go friends are here.

Even in physical isolation we can play Go together at OGS.

There is absolutely no need to be “alone with your own Go world struggling to find someone”.

Here we are… right here.


I watched this video yesterday, and did enjoy it (especially pausing the video to wonder how a particular position came about), but I did find his aversion to playing online strange.


I guess it’s because you can’t share snacks online. Which is fine by me.


You can still eat your own snack, though. :smiley:


There were a time before you, kids, with no internet. A time when almost no one know what is go.
You felt so lucky to have been introduced. Go was something so shiny and so myterious. A very few books, a club in the biggest town only.
A tournament was like a new year party, a go camp like holidays on a tropical island. A game with a dan player a rare thing that required to have a good going tournament or… to share beers and dance all around the night.
We slept from 8am to 12, then rush to not miss aperitif, then we played go at the swimming pool, or some simultaneous in some courtyard or some rengo tournament (with big laughs) or a nap. There were a lot of go variants, crazy other games (like werewolves) then then at 2am got a lecture on how to crush white in a 9 stones game, at 5am go to watch the sun coming … Every year it was so crazy that a few of us lost mind (went to hospital).
We had a perfect pro 9p who stayed with us days and nights drink smoke dance and played everyone from TPK to 6d non-stop.
I had brunch with seafood and champagne on Sunday (after 4days playing) in a tournament. I attended a gocamp in a squat of Zurich, with free (ofc) pool sauna movie place. The go lectures were given in the sado-maso room with some unusual furnitures. I attended many tournaments made so that we would spend as less money as possible. We organised a 5ppl car (our go team!) we leave on Thursday and came back on Tuesday even if it was just a 2days event and spent most of the time (and nights) playing go with the locals.

I made strong friendship Everytime.


I think it is valid to lament the difficulty of finding fellow go players in physical proximity. In many places, it’s definitely hard to find players for face-to-face games, which is a great experience that can’t quite exactly be replicated virtually.

The internet and OGS make it possible to find players online, replacing the absolute need to play in meatspace, however, while it is great to have it, virtual interaction is certainly very different. Loneliness is a subjective and complicated feeling. I think one thing, which many of us have felt through these trying times, is that virtual interaction is often a poor substitute for physical closeness.


I found the video delightful because of the personality and enthusiasm of the presenter. Talk about lonely—I learned go 54 years ago, when practically no one in the West had even heard of the game. My gaming friends took no interest because it was hard to get equipment. The few players I encountered over time were themselves weak and getting together for games was difficult. Even today, despite post-AlphaGo publicity, I have to explain what go is to almost everyone I meet.

I have actively participated in 8 distinct subcultures at one time or another (counting go, chess, and bridge separately). All of them exist as isolated bubbles within the general popular culture. Indeed, all of them feature exclusivity within fellowship (the flip side of loneliness), which is part of their appeal. Humans general crave the feeling of exclusive fellowship in something larger than themselves. The dark side of this craving finds expression in criminal gangs and destructive mass movements (see The True Believer). Subcultures typically exhibit a learning curve with a beginner phase, specific jargon, history and lore, and status symbols (ranks in go; prize specimens, knowledge like crystallography, and mining skills in rock collecting). Subcultures differ, however, in their social atmosphere. Go players can take pride in the general helpfulness and pleasant quality of the community (discounting trolls, which are an Internet phenomenon). In contrast, I found bridge players to be generally nasty backbiters (I did win master points, so I am not speaking from envy). Rock hunters, to take another example, are decidedly mercenary because their hobby has retail value. Ironically, many of them, in old age, end up giving away their collections or selling at bargain prices.

Yes, the Internet is a boon for reducing the loneliness, but I’m really missing my local group, where we might talk about bird watching, or books, or our children while playing a game.


Other then OGS I don’t really play go with anyone. I tried teaching it to my family members but they just don’t really like it.


In the video he’s a board game player (like monopoly). Naturally his preferred style of play is face-to-face with friends.

Not everyone feels the same.


I thought it was an excellent review. When you consider that his primary love is playing face to face board games you can see where the only real objection (of the game taking him away from that side of his preferred hobby) comes from.

He did a good job describing the detail, complexity and brilliance of the game and also comparing it favourably with chess (mainly due to the handicap system perhaps)


Hands down the best Go review there is. For myself I feel the “loneliness” is one of the best parts of Go since I barely have any friends anyway and internet Go is available anytime anywhere. With AI even the internet is optional.


And I mean - I think he got one thing spot on - the Cure for Go Loneliness is to make Go Friends.

That’s what I’m doing here, anyways…


It still feels like that to me, even with the internet. I still want to go to our tiny go congress of about 20ish players each year, where I can spend a weekend playing games and talking to people about Go.

I agree, even when the explanations of territory and alive stones are a bit off and so on, I don’t really mind because of how enthusiastically it’s being presented.

I do understand his point to some extent too. Actually one issue I would have with buying an expensive board and stones (if I end up having money to spare at some point) is that it’s highly likely the board and stones would just be for me to replay games on and review, probably not being used to play with someone. The go club we attend typically has boards and stones, and it’s not exactly easy to transport boards and stones around a city anyway. In principle one could offer the use of their nice board as (one of) the top board(s) of a nearby go tournament/congress though.


The first board may be just the first step :wink:


That video has actually resulted in quite a few players getting interested in Go. That’s why I am here. I think he was saying though that as a social boardgamer his circle of friends didn’t gravitate towards games like Go which is usually a two player game (I know there are team variants) and it’s typically very mental rather than social. That being said, he did say he was very impressed with the game and his enthusiasm for the positive points of Go are what inspired me to do more research and in particular look up the YouTuber In Sente ( who has some great tutorial and teaching videos and in turn directed me here to this great online source for Go! I’m now pretty hooked and I really enjoy playing.


That’s fantastic, welcome to the go community!!