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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I’ve started learning Go by playing against GNU Go. It’s something I’ve been wanting to learn for years, and for some reason I never got around to it. I have no illusion that I’ll ever be passable, let alone good. I’m ok with that.

I think what’s been interesting thus far is that the game rapidly changes as you grow the board size. At first I just tried playing the computer without really knowing anything but the basic rules on the 7×7 grid. I got destroyed every time.

Then I watched the computer play the computer. I never lost against the computer after that. So, I bumped up from a 7×7 to a 9×9 grid, and thought “well gee, I’m unbeatable, I’ll just use the strategy and kick the computer’s ass again.” The game was, after all, already solved.

Well, no great shock, the computer kicks my ass on the 9×9 grid, and the 7×7 strategy no longer works — with a much larger playing area, a distinct change happens — no longer is the board just a single area of “battle” but it’s easy for at least two territorial disputes to start up. Yes, I’m probably using all the wrong terminology here. Shush.

But, where one could just build a “wall” of liberties in the 7×7 grid and it’s basically a stalemate dependent on who goes first, the wall cannot be built fast enough in the 9×9 grid, and the opponent can easily destroy one that uses this strategy.

Anyhow, I’m sure none of this is fascinating to anybody that actually plays the game. You’re all probably sitting here going “duh!”

I’m ok with that. I get more enjoyment out of plonking down stones against the computer than playing a solitaire card game, crossword puzzle, or sudoku. I don’t know why.

Incidentally, if you’re on OS X, I’ve been using Sen:te’s Goban, which seems quite usable and good to me.