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chess vs go 

JoDee and I are learning the game of Go.

Many folks compare chess and Go as though they are in the same category of games.

As someone who understands chess and is learning Go I can say they're nothing alike, outside of being long running board games that have white and black pieces.

Chess is limited in its moves. Your opening moves are limited to a time-tested number of "good" openers.

Go allows any piece anywhere on a 19x19 board. True, some moves are better, but it's open.

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chess vs go 

Chess is about humiliating the other player with clever moves. You can play it for speedy checkmate or remove all of your opponent's pieces. Both strategies are about knocking your opponent down.

Go has so many different skirmishes going on that you can lose a section of the board and still win the game. Nothing is final. You're both creating the landscape in which one player can claim more territory. It also doesn't reward humiliation: play a capture game and lose the overall war.

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chess vs go 

Chess is a puzzle at this point. Your moves are limited on the board. When people talk about all of the various combinations of moves they're overstating their case. You have a handful of good moves, a few great moves, and a lot of terrible moves.

People talk about the middle game and end-game of chess as though they are something grand and mysterious, but really you're looking to keep enough pieces on the board to keep applying pressure to your opponent.

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chess vs go 

The endgame in chess is about removing moves from your opponent. Can't go there because check. Can't move there because it's a trap. Better move there to fork two pieces.

Big deal.

In Go the moves you still can force moves but it's up to the other player to accept that. They have more options to sacrifice or direct attention elsewhere.

After every Go game I feel like I've learned something. In every chess game I don't feel I've learned anything. It's just limited.

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chess vs go 

And that's before you get to handicapping games, or playing on smaller boards, or the myriad of ways that Go can adapt to the players. Chess doesn't afford the same handicapping without strange rules or piece removal:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handicap

It's not elegant, and worse, you have to think about what might be the right level of handicapping. With Go it's not nearly as fraught.

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chess vs go 

There's a reason that there are hundreds of thousands of pages written about chess: it's an easy game to write about. There's boarloads of books on correct openings, correct middle-game pay, and correct endgame play. They're annotated, deconstructed, and elaborated. Breathless prose about the brilliance of moves highlight the pages.

And eventually those moves stop being brilliant because other players learn how to route around them. They learn how to defeat those moves.

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chess vs go 

Chess is an arms race, much like the books on poker. They're folks trying to be on the cutting edge of move technology.

In short they're not about understanding the game but about being more clever than their opponents. It's why the metagame of slapping pieces and trash-talking is so prevalent in speed chess. It's making chess in to a confidence game. The game becomes secondary to the primary game of pushing your opponent off-balance to gain an advantage.

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chess vs go 

Go has that component as well, but it's not as direct. There's still a level of respect. That's why computer chess isn't as popular with more experienced chess players: there's none of that metagame happening with a computer that doesn't care about how cleverly or how loudly you smash those pieces against the board.

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chess vs go 

If anyone tells you they're a very smart person because they play chess well please decouple the chess ability from whatever other abilities they have. Chess is not a smart game. Being good at chess is like being good at memorizing trivia: it's a skill that can be impressive but is not a measure of intellect. It's about recognizing a handful of patterns and executing them effectively to unbalance your opponent. And it's no wonder that computers have excelled at chess.

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chess vs go 

@craigmaloney Are you playing the computer? In theory, if you're losing, you should be learning something.

chess vs go 

@pj In Go or in chess?

In Go I feel like I'm being taught something.

In chess all I seem to learn is that every player out there memorizes a bunch of openings, figures out some clever forking moves, and then forces mate at the the earliest point they can. Oh, and the good players can play out many combinations of moves in their head.

What lesson should I take away from that?

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney I haven't played Go. Personally I play a chess computer algorithm. I can see what you're saying, but I wouldn't assume the game is boring. I don't really know the standard openings and bc of that I think maybe I created my own opening, I have yet to check books to see if what I'm doing is a standard opening...I use it because I can get a serious game started with the computer...I find playing defensively makes the algo more interesting as well.

chess vs go 

@pj Try Go sometime and get back to me once you have. 😀

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney OK. I hate chess openings too, but now I just think of it as protecting my king/queen from simple textbook attacks, usually an attack from a bishop or knight. In general, that's the only threat early on, having king/queen boxed in. Everything else can be sacrificed & recovered from (the fun part.) The secondary threat is losing control of the middle of the board, but that's not necessarily a problem. So I think you can still play strong w/o memorization.

chess vs go 

@pj Oh it's possible but you're still trying to build a shape in the center of the board where your pieces have access to both defend from and attack your opponent. That's part of the memorization (knowing which positions are better at keeping the opponent off-balance).

In chess you've got the middle of the board you're trying to conquer. In Go you've got many "middle of the board" battles in play. Memorization goes straight out the window.

chess vs go 

@pj Not to mention the textbook attacks you're defending against are also a form of memorization. That's why you know about the "fool's mate". That's why you've probably studied the traps in chess. That's all memorization for recognizing those patterns.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fool%27s

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney weak opening = poor protection, a computer a skilled opponent I think will find a weakness and go for the exploit, so the challenge for me is to keep a strong defense while maintaining some kind of offense, problem is an algorithm will always win (sees every eventuality) so I have two choices, learn by losing or turn down the algorithm's difficulty, it's not super exciting but if I'm stuck waiting in line at the DMV, I find it's a calming distraction, LOL.

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney lately chess has become something of a spectator sport on streaming platforms because they are breaking away from "traditional" chess.

One variant I saw was a "fog of war" chess, where you can only see as far as your pieces can move, and the objective is to capture the opposing king, not checkmate.

Still, you bring up great points on chess vs go

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney not to dampen your enthusiam, but slogging through memorizing joseki is not too different from slogging through chess openings 😅

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney not to mention, a bragadaccio play style is absolutely a thing you'll find in Go clubs. You'll find plenty of jokes about the guys who slam stones on to the board as hard as possible, and advanced amateurs will rely on a pocket full of trick plays to bedazzle a less experienced player as an easier path than hard study. Attacking your opponents morale is absolutely a thing in face to face play.

chess vs go 

@rafial Right, you'll find those in any head-to-head game. But the Joseki is like sparring to me where you're practicing small moves to get muscle memory to think about larger moves. Chess doesn't feel like sparring, or at least I haven't ever felt like that while reading about chess openings. It feels like "This is a list of of good ways to start the game" followed by "and here's the clever ways that unbalanced those good ways played by people who really studied openings".

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney from my perspective, joseki are really very specifically about good lines of play for the corners, because they are too complicated to reason through in any reasonable time, and because corner play is so critical to the game. If you start looking at them, they are full of "well A used to be considered joseki, but now most pros play B, etc"

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney Oh man... I'm a smart guy. I took to coding like a fish to water, I'm a great problem solver. I studied chess... worked problems, studied openings, tried to understand principles of play. I owned so many books. I'm a D-class tournament player. I get beat by school children.

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney i've low-key unconsciously hated chess all my life and your posts the past couple days have helped me both understand that and become at peace with it

re: chess vs go 

@craigmaloney It's a fascinating game.

I've only recently tried to more seriously understand it, after watching the AlphaGo documentary.

Can recommend :)

youtu.be/WXuK6gekU1Y

And some old "good" moves(Joseki) have been proved to be wrong by powerful Go AI.
@craigmaloney

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney I've studied both (not very good at either) and came to similar conclusions. I was really disheartened to find a huge chunk of chess was memorizing openings. You can play by principles, but you lose to opponents with equal skill but better memorization. Go has it's memorization in corner fights (joseki), but it's less dominant in the learning process.
In chess, learning to calculate, to look ahead, is critical... go has much less emphasis on calculation, and I like that.

chess vs go 

@CarlCravens I found myself having better games with Go if I had the board set up and looked at it each turn. That sounds nutty, but it's true. Surveying the board and letting it tell me where I was in trouble, where I was gaining ground, and where my opponent wanted to play next was just so flipping eye-opening for me. I've played on my phone for years and it wasn't until I set up the board and paid attention to it that I started understanding better what the board was telling me.

chess vs go 

@CarlCravens Thing too with Joseki is it's not 100% about memorization but recognizing a pattern and understanding how to respond to that pattern. That's way more useful to me than the chess puzzles that say "find the best move for white" where best move was relative at best, and that board position was unlikely to ever appear again.

re: chess vs go 

@craigmaloney I'm probably the only person in Hoenn who has never understood the rules of igo, even with the boosted intelligence ascribed to Psychic-types.

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney Do you have recommendations for starting to learn Go? A colleague took me through the rules once but that's it.

chess vs go 

I've heard the advice "lose your first 100 games quickly"

I think it's good to play against someone who is interested in helping you make progress in your game.

It love that Go has a handicapping system. I love the combination of tactics with strategy. It's crucial that several things might be going on, and each play should be made in the best place, not necessarily in the current fight.

Watch the alphago commentaries!

(I'm a poor go player... if at all.)

@twsh @craigmaloney

chess vs go 

@EdS @twsh This is sound advice because it's by failure that you learn the most in Go.

There are many good books for learning Go:

* "Learn to Play Go" by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun is one series that I like.

* "Learn Go" by Neil Moffatt is also one that I enjoy (along with Neil's other books in the series.I like his approach of explaining each move instead of the usual approach of showing multiple moves at once and then explaining them.

The Peter Shotwell books are good too.

chess vs go 

I like the idea that one should learn some amount of tactical skill by playing on a reduced board. But not so much as to become good at it: it's not the whole game, by any stretch.

The thing about strategic play is that you have to judge between different tactical situations already in play: you need a tactical sense.

See perhaps
boardgames.stackexchange.com/q

(I too was put off chess by the nature of the learnable opening book. I didn't want to learn a book.)

@twsh @craigmaloney

chess vs go 

Some slightly varied opinions on learning go by playing on smaller boards here:
senseis.xmp.net/?WhoShouldPlay

One thing about the smaller board is that a game is shorter, so you get more learning per hour.

Also mentioned there is playing to first capture or to Nth capture.

The ideal, I'm sure, is to be playing with people at broadly your level. The handicap only works to a degree.

@twsh @craigmaloney

chess vs go 

@twsh @EdS One thing I'd also recommend is playing the game as best you can but being gracious and kind to yourself in defeat. You will try things that won't work. You'll play against the computer and they'll seem relentless in their attack and clever in their ways to thwart you. You'll want to take it personally. You're not broken, it's part of the learning process. Go teaches you humility and grace in failure if you're willing to accept the lesson.

chess vs go 

@twsh @EdS Chess does not give gracious failure. When you've received your checkmate your only recourse is to replay that game over in your mind to realize where you have failed. Go lets you know pretty quickly where you are falling short and reinforces those lessons throughout the game. You'll make mistakes, but it's through those mistakes that the "a-ha!" moments emerge, in real-time.

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney I like your description of what you dislike about chess. It fits with my own small experience. @EdS

chess vs go 

@craigmaloney @twsh @EdS this is something i really like about go-- you can often talk to your opponent about the mistakes that were made mid-game, and then continue playing. because there are so many small interesting battles, i find go games to be less antagonistic than chess games; it's possible to have a really good game with lots of small victories and still get your ass kicked.

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