The Desire to Win - Part 1

Today, I am writing about a more solemn topic that I know most people would shy away from posting on. However, I believe that this post touches on something that almost every go player will encounter along their journey: the desire to win. It is a difficult topic for me to write at the moment since the disappointing kifu is fresh off the board, but by doing so I hope to capture a vulnerability that we all feel at one point or another.

In terms of what I mean when I say the desire to win, I’m not just talking about the simple desire for victory. After all, most people enjoy winning and the feeling of doing so. Instead, I’m talking about the type of desperation to win that you lose your rationale and even if you somehow manage to win, it’s the type of win that eats away at you because you know you didn’t really deserve it.

For Hikaru no Go fans, the following scene should be familiar.

Hikaru No Go - Chapter 83

Who could possibly forget how tortured Hikaru felt afterwards? After all, is there really any honor or joy that can really come from a win like this?

The game record for today is precisely that kind of win.

For those who don’t have time to see the game record and the commentary, it essentially consists of me trying to win a capture race where I’m about six moves behind. And it wasn’t a complicated race, my group was two moves away from death. Ultimately, my opponent’s overconfidence caused him to actually lose his entire group.

Now he still thought he was going to win, so he played it out to the end; but when he realized he was short 3.5 points, he left the game “for obvious reasons.”

At first, I tried justifying to myself that I deserved that win. After all, it was my opponent’s cockiness and carelessness that led him to the situation…. serves him right…. right? I didn’t want to lose… I wanted my rank to go up… why should I give up my win for his mistake….

So in regards to the results of the game, technically, I did win with a +3.5 margin. After some thought and in the midst of drafting this post, I came to a realization. Even though most people would have viewed their opponent escaping as a frustrating event that might have even demanded the attention of an admin since the game had been played out to the very end, this should instead be looked as an opportunity for me to do the right thing.

Many people would say that the lessons in Go are parallel to those in life, and this is precisely one of those moments. Everything in life can ultimately be boiled down to which perspective you choose to take. And in the end, it is precisely these choices that lead us down the various paths we call our life.

Faced with a major crossroad, I decided to do the right thing: I resigned. If I let an admin or the system eventually force the game in my favor, that would be a permanent mark that I would never be able to change. By resigning, my spirit is at rest and I can move forward without the guilt.

Update: This post has now become a two-part post in order to account for some great points that were brought up. Read The Desire to Win - Part 2 here.