The history of the game Go (Weiqi in China, Baduk in Korea, Igo in Japan), starts approximately 3000 years ago.

Legends, reflected in ancient Chinese chronicles, refer to the appearance of the third or early second millennium BC. The game definitely existed and was fairly common 2500 years ago.

In the 7th century, go came to Japan. Starting from the 15th century, it experienced a strong rise.

In the 20th century, Go became recognized and gradually spread in Europe and America. To date, most European countries, have their own go federations. Although the number of players and the level of play in the West has not yet reached Korea, Japan, and China.

Legendary period

Legendary period of Go history

It is not known exactly where exactly the game of go appeared and how it originally looked.

Chinese legends attribute age to be more than four thousand years. According to these legends, the game of go was invented at the dawn of Chinese history.

The author of the invention is the legendary emperor Yao (about 2100 BC), or his first minister Chun, or emperor Gao (about 1750 BC), of the semi-mythical Xia dynasty.

In all versions of the legend, it is said that the game was invented for the emperor’s unlucky son, in order to develop his mind and ability to concentrate. These legends are mentioned in the Han Dynasty ( 206 BC. AD – 220 years).

Other theories suggest that the game was invented by generals and chiefs of the Chinese army. They used stones to indicate attack positions on maps, or those elements currently used for the game were once used to perform fortune readings. In China, it was considered the game preferred by the aristocracy, while the Xiangqi was the game of the masses.

Go in China

Go history in China

Since its introduction in China, it has been one of the “four virtues” – the skills necessary for any worthy person – along with playing the lute, calligraphy, and painting.

Go was played by noble people, warlords, and wise men. They played go and at court and the strongest players were known to have the emperor personally. Back then, Go equipment was very expensive. Stones made of precious stones; bowls and board were made of high-quality wood.

Originally the go was played on a grid of 17×17, but during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) the use of the 19×19 grid was imposed.

Go in Japan

Go in Japan

Documented the date of the appearance of Go in Japan is not set. Chinese chronicles say that the game has been popular with Japanese nobility since the beginning of the 7th century. It is most likely that scientists, officials, and artists who emigrated from political chaos brought the game to Japan from Korea.

The Japanese gave the game a new name “I-Go”, but did not make any changes to the mechanism of the game and the rules. Moreover, in Japan, some elements of the Chinese rules, which the Chinese themselves subsequently refused, have been “mothballed” and have survived to our time.

For example, the method of calculating the result of the territory and captured stones were later replaced by counting on the territory and its stones on the board in China.

According to modern researchers, the game was known in Japan and before Kibi, and his merit is that he raised the status of this game. However, for a long time in Japan, it was no more than light entertainment., along with other courtly funs, such as playing music.

Go in Korea

Go history in Korea

The game of Go was introduced in Korea between the fifth and seventh centuries. And became popular among the upper classes of the country.

In Korea, the game is called baduk, which evolved into a variant called Sunjang baduk in the sixteenth century. The Sunjang baduk was the most played version in the country until the end of the 19th century.

Go in Europe and North America

Go in Europe and North America

Despite its high popularity in East Asia, the game has been introduced very slowly in the rest of the world, unlike other games of Asian origin such as chess.

Although there are some mentions of the game in Western literature from the sixteenth century, Go did not begin to become popular until the late nineteenth century, when the German scientist Oskar Korschelt wrote a treatise on the go. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Go began to expand in the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In 1905, Edward Lasker learned to play it while he was in Berlin. When he moved to New York, Lasker founded the New York Go Club with Arthur Smith (among others), who knew the game and had published the book The Game of Go in 1908. 21 Lasker’s book, Go and Gomoku (1934) helped popularize the game in the United States. In 1935 the American Go Association was founded. Two years later, in 1937, the German Go Association was created.

About the author

Irakli Khizanishvili

Hi, I'm Irakli from Georgia.
I've been playing the game of Go for a few years now. During that period I've read lots of books about all aspects of this interesting and beautiful game.
On this website, I'm glad to share my game knowledge and experience with you.
I hope I'll be able to help improve your skills and proficiency in the magnificent game of Go!
Remember, it's never too late to learn new things!

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