Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How kids think about Go

Lately, Richie and Alyssa have been taking interest in Go again. After a brief respite where Richie only wanted to play chess, in the last few days we've played at least 1 game of go a day and I've also seen them playing each other.

Go is a simple game to explain the rules to, so they basically know how to play already, and I think they even know the concept of Ko now, as well as how to score the game. They like to play on the 19x19 side of the board. I guess even kids have pride and think that the 9x9 game isn't the real thing.

But as anyone who plays the game knows, the strategic aspect of Go is very deep, and it's hard to know how to start explaining it.

Without any instruction from me, I noticed two tendencies of their play that needed to be addressed: 1) too much focus on capturing/contact and not enough almost no attention paid to making territory and 2) no concept of efficiency of play, or preferring solid structures.

I think some of the first problem I was able to address by showing them several times how we count points at the end and after I demonstrated a few times that a 2-point jump, for instance, could surround territory faster than solid connections and was just as difficult to break into.

Initially they had difficulty understanding that the opponent couldn't just cut through the space made by the jump, but eventually I showed them some variations where they could wait to fill the space until I approached or tried to cut and still end up with a solid territory line. I called this "dot-to-dot" fence building. I said they should build fences using dot-to-dot and connect the dots later if someone came close. I admonished them not to play too close to the enemy since that ends up making the enemy stronger but I am having a difficult time explaining when conditions are good to attach. They also have a tendency to want to save stones that are dead but it's hard to explain why that is the case.

They were excited to learn to learn that there was a "knight's move" in Go as well as chess and that double-atari was like forking in chess too.

No comments:

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide