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Go vs. Chess, or, Why is this Computer-defeating Board Game Ignored in the Occident?

Cognitive Science

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May 1, 2010, 4:38pm Top

Why is go not better known in the Occident? Why don't schools teach it, as they do haiku? Why do even the intellectuals have so little interest in it, while interest in chess remains high? Are Occidentals so strongly biased toward zoomorphic, especially human form and metaphor that the plain wood and stone and shell and abstraction of the game holds no interest? Or, are they psyched out of even trying because of odd ideas about cultural difference such as found in Percival Lowell's Soul of the East (1888)? Or do Occidentals, forgetting where chess began, assume this great ancient board game from the Far East is not revelant to the Modern World (when, to me chess seems medieval and go modern)?

I would think go would be of particular interest for people interested in cognition, though I will not parade my ignorance of the field by tryiing to explain why. Perhaps Leo Lionni had something of interest in Parallel Botany, but I only saw the Italian version and not reading the same cannot say exactly where he took it.

Sorry for so vague an introduction. If you find it a subject of interest, please take it where you will . . .

Jun 11, 2010, 12:40am Top

As to why schools (in the west) don't teach it, "hypothesis non fingo".

But as to "intellectuals" being interested in it, and computers being programmed to play it (and beating high ranked humans), see


Jun 11, 2010, 11:08pm Top

I had not read about the advances since 2006, and myself enjoy Handtalk (champion AI go program in 1997) changed this situation in many ways, but the high-ranking players are beaten in some games with considerable handicaps, hardly the same as what happened with chess. The summary at Wiki is "although the gap between strong human players and the strongest Go programs remains considerable."

Message 1 is a generalization. I know the USA got its first top-ranked go player around 2000 or so and once exchanged an e-mail or two with Fotland whose Many Faces AI Go is charming (it even includes a choice of comments desired from the caustic to the sweet!).

In The Joy of Sports (probably -- I recalled it as The Psychology of Sports but failed to find it in Touchstones) Michael Novak essayed what values make the people of some cultures go for baseball, others for soccer, others football, etc.. I cannot help but wonder whether something like that is involved here and not just the Occidental hubrix . . . Sorry, i like to guess and encourage others to do so.

Group: Cognitive Science

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