I am a Go coward

I feel bad about it but I just resigned from a “game of play-by-web Go”:http://www.dragongoserver.net/game.php?gid=59654 with “Mikko”:http://melankolia.net/gameblog.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that PBW Go is excruciatingly slow. I resigned on move 199 and the game was only about 75% complete, although it was already obvious that Mikko would win by a landslide. Each move only takes you a tiny way towards your goal, but picking up the game from cold to take a move requires a lot of concentration and time. Eventually I was making stupid errors because I just could not be bothered to think for 10 minutes for every move. When you dread having to take a move, you know it is time to bail out.

The second is that my passing infatuation with Go has been like a teenage crush – short-lived and shallow. I have seen the amount of study that goes into becoming even an intermediate player and have pulled away from the brink. I just do not enjoy beating people in mental combat that much.

I hope the last two paragraphs did not sound too negative, because I have enjoyed learning about Go. I always knew it was a profound game, but now I appreciate the kind of thinking and strategy that goes into it. It was also a pleasure to play with Mikko. He gave me lots of good tips and coaching.

I will definitely play again face-to-face, and occasionally on a real-time online server like “KGS”:http://kgs.kiseido.com/ when I am in the mood for a fight.


  1. I think the games best suited for play-by-web (or email) are the ones that have a limited number of multi-action turns. A few big turns, in other words. Go, like many of the German games we now enjoy, is just the opposite: lots of a little turns. It just gets so drawn out over asynchronous play. Some games like StreetSoccer on Littlegolem get by through their limited number of turns.

  2. If play-by-web Go isn’t your game, that’s fine. I think it’s one of the better ways to play the game. I can also understand if you find Go just a bit too massive – I wanted to just learn the game, because after all, it is a rather significant game, but now I’m in quite deep.

    Go is a longish game to play this way. But hey, I’ve had worse. Diplomacy usually moves pretty fast, but the longest game I GM’d took over two years (and loads of players). My longest play-by-web Britannia took just over a year. I’m a patient guy, I think =)

  3. Mark: I totally agree with you.

    Mikko: Thanks for your understanding. I notice you have several PBW games running at once. That must reduce the impatience you feel, as there are always interesting decisions going on. I can definitely understand why you have got involved with Go. It is satisfying to feel yourself progress and there is no doubt that it develops your mind.

  4. I used to use the e-mail notification at Dragon, but it’s long since I turned it off. I just log in daily (or more often) to make my moves. That’s the way for me, keeps me up in good pace. Of course, I too sometimes forget what I was doing. But hey, so does everyone…

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