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The History of Go

Ancient beginnings are generally clouded in mystery because documentation in ancient times is so uncertain. The genesis of go has been called legend, but even legend generally contains the seed of truth. It is thought that about 2300 B.C. the game of Go was invented by the perhaps mythical Emperor, Yao. He invented the game because he was not pleased with the preparations or rather lack of preparations that his son was making to succeed him someday as emperor.

Emperor Yao hoped that getting his son to play this game might help sharpen his mind and help him think logically. In the end, the game seems not to have succeeded as well as it might have, for the Emperor, ultimately chose another to be his successor. Whether this is because the son chose not to play, or was inept, is not explained in the ancient manuscripts. Even so, the result was a very playable game that has stood the test of time like few others.

The first book to have been written on Go appeared in the first century A.D. Like chess, Go, gained a considerable following and much thought went into how it was played. Later in Japan Ji Xin Wang would compile his now famous "10 Golden Rules of Go". There would be many books by great masters to follow.

Go took nearly two millennia to cross the Sea of Japan to reach the Sui Dynasy. Yet when it did hit those shores it was taken up with a passion. So much so that by 1612 the Tokugawa Government actually supported four Go "Houses" with subsidies and sponsored matches between the houses.

In spite of being designed as a game to cultivate logic and intelligence, it was not always looked upon favorably even in its homeland. Confucus, in 479 B.C. the most influential philosopher in Chinese history, would label it as only one step above "gluttony and idleness". He felt that people were much better off pursuing more productive activities.

Even so, Go has prospered so that today it is played around the world and intensely followed in many Asian countries. It has also caught on in the United States and Go clubs can even be found in High Schools and colleges. It was likely first brought to the United States by immigrants and quickly spread because of its quality as a game easy to learn and difficult to master.

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