Typical Go Player

Dear Go community,

How would you describe the typical Go player? I know that of course it is impossible to generalise but if you had to list some features that characterise you or other Go players what are they? Are there any patterns? And how much do they depend on the cultural context?

Thanks for your ideas!

[quote=“grapefruit, post:1, topic:2776”]
How would you describe the typical Go player?[/quote]plays Go :smiley:

[quote]I know that of course it is impossible to generalise[/quote]Yes, this.

[quote] but if you had to list some features that characterise you or other Go players what are they?[/quote]The problem is that as soon as I try to think of something, other Go players come to my mind who don’t fit what I just a moment ago believed to be a pattern.

Maybe this is wide enough to include many players: enjoys playful challenge of mind and psyche?

[quote]Are there any patterns? And how much do they depend on the cultural context?[/quote]I think it may be much easier to narrow down if one asks about strong Go players. There … affinity to analytic thinking, perhaps.

I live in Toronto. Almost all the Go players I know are computer programmers, Search engine optimizers etc.

Western online players… It would not surprise me if a sizable double digit percentage were code monkeys. KGS is now mostly people over 50 so their percentage of code monkeys is probably declining.

The game demands that you see the big picture and assess the situation before moving.

Probably one characteristic that all go players get after a few hundred games… Learning from loss.

After a few hundred more… Studying life-and-death to stop adding chapters to “How to Lose a Won Game.”

After a few hundred more… Getting filled with fighting spirit as you can see a few moves ahead.

Beyond this point, I can only speculate. I hear that Dan players get a new sense of humility and start studying the game in different ways. I’ll look forward to it.

Go, the way we play and study, is a martial art. Martial arts absorb you and eventually you take their shape, not the other way around.

There are many examples of stuff like this. Most notably, making soldiers. People are broken, trained and rebuilt to pretty much the same thing as a certain level and beyond that level, they can become philosophers of the nature of soldiering.

Anyway, those are my dumb answers to your dumb questions.

1 Like

I assume that “dumb questions” was rather somewhat ironic and not meant as an insult towards the OP, @SunPin :wink:

Anyway, I have played Go with …

  • philosophers
  • doctors
  • gardeners
  • automobile mechanics
  • carpenters
  • linguists


But it seems to be clear that Go especially attracts mathematicians and computer scientists. I wouldn’t want to turn that around and make “a typical Go player” of that, though … because no matter how many you take, they will be different again if you watch them individually.

Ons thought I first had was, “could it be that a majority of them shares properties like being a geek/nerd?”, but then again this might be hard to say since … playing Go alone already may make us geeks/nerds :smiley:

1 Like

If a sizable portion of Go players are indeed computer scientists/engineers, many of them presumably programmers, maybe you should avoid potentially derogatory expressions like “code monkey” :wink:

Why would someone find that ignorant and offensive?
Because it misrepresents programming as a thoughtless, mechanical typing activity focused only on the code that is written, as if it was data entry.
It de-emphasizes the years of experience, talent and good intuition required for the planning and design aspects of building good software, an art for which there exists no fail-proof methodology. It is perhaps not much unlike becoming a professional at Go. :smile:
The same goes for the artistic and personal qualities of the programmer that will be reflected in their code style, even when they are not designing, but merely implementing a complete specification (a rare thing, you might sooner see a unicorn).

If any programmers are reading this, do you know The Story of Mel, a Real Programmer?

1 Like

Heh, I always thought “coding monkeys” was a friendly term, and even one that coders use for themselves :smile:

There even is a German crew of software developers that call themselves “Coding Monkeys” — codingmonkeys.de who create (in their own words) “lovingly handicrafted” software for OS X (namely the famous SubEthaEdit) and for iOS.

And of course, being a monkey, more specifically: being an ape, I can never find the word “monkey” derogatory :monkey_face:

Thank you all for your ideas! I am fully aware that generalizations never do justice to anyone but I am very interested in hearing how people got into go, where they come from, why they play it etc. I often ask my opponents these questions and I’ve had really interesting conversations about the motivation that drives us to play. As for me, I’m not a ‘coding monkey’ nor am I in any way involved in maths, software development or anything like that (might explain my struggles with the game…) but somehow I find it fascinating. What I find interesting is that apparently in Asia go is becoming less popular among young people whereas I think in Europe it’s becoming more of a ‘fad’ right now. But that’s just my impression - what do I know?