The History of The Game of Go

The origin of Go itself is unknown, but it is sure that the first Go stones were placed on the board 4000 years ago.

Myth and Legend

A myth tells us that the emperor Yao invented the game for his astronomical calculations. Another legend says that Wu, a vasall invented the game for his master's entertainment.

We discovered, that the lines of a Go board, were originally used as coordinate axis in a star map, with the stones, marking the positions of certain stars and their constellations.

Increasing Popularity...

In the seventh century B.C. Go became the favorite game of the rich and the mighty and was played at the royal palaces. At these times, the game was developed to its modern form and its simple rules are still valid in our days.

Go - A Privilege of the Upper Classes

During the lifetimes of Kibi no Mabi (eighth century A.D.). Go became more and more poular, but the lower classes were not allowed to play it. Playing Go was a privilege of the Samurais, aristocracy and Buddhist priests. Old manuscripts tell us about the unique life at the imperial palaces and the Go tournaments that were held there under the Emperor Seiwa.

From an Instrument of Power to the Favorite Game of the Mighty

Go became of great importance when army commanders of the time deliberated about guerilla-warfare with the help of this game. Even Mao's peasant forces used Go to answer tactical questions. In this respect, Go is much closer to military theory than chess is, because unlike chess, where two hierachic armies oppose each other, stones in Go can penetrate into enemy territory that has to be protected.

Go continued to be restricted to the upper classes until the nineteenth century. That may explain why to this day Go is so highly esteemed in Japan.
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