Over the last few weeks, I’ve been “rewatching”* Hikaru no Go so many times I’m pretty sure I’m on double digits of the number of iterations I’ve gone through the anime. Don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve read the manga.
In the scene above, there is this poignant moment that I must have missed at some point; but it resonated with me in one of the recent iterations that I was watching it. In a lot of ways, it is a pivotal moment in Hikaru’s first steps on his journey as he is deeply intrigued by Akira’s intensity and passion for the game.
Looking back at my origin story, I can’t help but laugh as I am reminded the lofty ambitions of aiming to be a professional and taking on the world. And yet, even though I’ve taken many detours along the way, here I am six years later still playing this game.
And it made me ask myself the very same question: “What is go to me?”
* Note: When I say rewatching, it’s typically running in the background when I’m studying or sometimes I just play the audio when driving around. Haha.
Call me a masochist, but I have found I tend to gravitate toward seemingly impossible challenges. And unlike many games where there is a clear beginning and end to your journey as a player (i.e., campaign mode in a game), there is no end to the journey of a go player. As any true go player will tell you, the quest to gain an additional stone is a never ending one.
As most of you know, one of the aspects of go that I find particularly appealing is the atmosphere of zen that it carried. And while I have had numerous games into bloody battles where my blood boiled over captured stones, I have had also had the good fortune of experiencing glimpses of the calm serenity go can offer when all of that simply melts away.
While my second point regarding the peace you can find within the game can be said about numerous hobbies, the aspect of go where stones are placed on a blank board one by one reminds me of an art canvas. Almost as if we were to add individual pixels that grow into a beautiful work of art. Yet, even though each battle will be etched into your experience as a player, it is just as quickly erased to make room for the next one.
This quote from William Pinckard is one I referenced a long time ago, but it’s just as relevant to me today as it was before:
Backgammon is a “man vs. fate” contest, with chance playing a strong role in determining the outcome. Chess, with rows of soldiers marching forward to capture each other, embodies the conflict of “man vs. man”. Because the handicap system tells Go players where they stand relative to other players, an honestly ranked player can expect to lose about half of their games; therefore, Go can be seen as embodying the quest for self-improvement, “man vs. self.”
And say what you want about the metaphors, but I love the concept of “go… embodying the quest for self-improvement.” Because after all, what ultimately matters if your growth and nothing else.
So all in all, I would say that go represents self-improvement and clarity to me. And though I have struggled with that immensely throughout my journey, I like to think that every struggle has been important in progressing me one step further.
With that said, I now pose the same question to you:
What is go to you?