Artist of a Thousand Tasks

One woman's crazy quest to take on everything and become the ultimate jack-of-all-trades.

Fourth Project- Learn “Go” Day 1

Next week marks seven years married to my wonderful husband. In honor of our anniversary, I have decided that my fourth project should be learning to engage in one of his hobbies. My husband is a card-carrying nerd, it is one of the things I love about him. He is also an introvert, which is great because my daughter and I are crazy, gregarious, extroverted ham enough for one family. This means I have my choice of introvert nerd hobbies such as bonsai, computer programming, Dwarf Fortress, Nethack, and wood carving. The problem is, I am hoping to actually interact with my husband when I do this activity. Fortunately, he really likes board games- but not games like Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary, those would be more my thing. He likes strategy games and he is an avid “Go” player. For those of you unfamiliar with the game (you are in the majority of Americans, by the way), Go is an ancient board game that is very popular in Asia.

Sort of reminds me of an ancient LightBrite.

Sort of reminds me of an ancient LightBrite.

That is what wikipedia has to say about it. My description of the game is as follows:

Go: A game where I sit down with my husband and take turns placing either white or black stones on a grid. I place mine completely randomly, he places his in what appears to be random at first but actually it is all according to his master plan. This continues until he tells me resistance is futile and suggests I resign (A Go game is over when both players agree that it is over. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is downright un-American). Don’t even ask me how a winner is determined, I have no clue how the game is scored. Oh, and the word “plonk” is very important.


This game makes my brain melt out my ears. It is therefore a perfect project choice.

What I have observed about the game is that when you know what you are doing it can be a very relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. It plays off of a very important human ability- pattern recognition- and by all accounts is very, very good for your brain (if any of it still remains in-tact after much of it leaked out your ears during the learning process).

I approached my husband with the idea of taking this project on and he was pretty excited. He has already given me a list of resources to help me get started. He has also helped me to come up with an appropriate “end goal”:

“I think an appropriate goal for you would be to beat me in a game where I had a nine stone handicap.”

For the record, nine stones is the maximum handicap you can give another player and it pretty much guarantees that anyone who knows the basics will beat you with little trouble. Oh yes, it’s hard to be humble. In his defense, he has been studying and playing for years. I think he underestimates the abilities of a bored, determined housewife with a competitive streak. So, for now I will accept this (deceptively simple-sounding) challenge, and if it proves to be not hard enough I can extend the goal later.

Wish me luck.

4 comments on “Fourth Project- Learn “Go” Day 1

  1. Channing
    March 4, 2013

    It’s not a matter of humility, it’s a matter of ranking. I’m a fairly weak player in the grand scheme of things. However, Go has one of the more elegant handicap systems among games that allow almost any two players to play a rewarding game regardless of skill level. Go ranks start out at 30 “kyu” (complete novice) and moves upwards to 1 “kyu”.Then, somewhat like black belts in martial arts, you graduate to “dan” rankings. 1 dan, 2 dan, 3 dan, etc. I am currently ranked somewhere between 18-14 kyu on any given day (I still have much to learn), and the number of stones you give someone usually depends on the number of ranks separating the two of you. For instance, if Lauren was ranked 22 kyu and I was 18 kyu, I would give her a 4 stone handicap. So, in the case of Lauren’s goal, if she can rise from 30 kyu to 25 kyu, she should be able to stomp me into the ground at nine stones. Since, 25 kyu is the approx. rank of a beginner who knows all the rules and has some basic understanding of the strategy and tactics of the game, it seemed a fitting goal for Lauren’s “breadth over the depth” blog.

  2. rexlogan
    March 7, 2013

    might i suggest an anime/manga series called hikaru no go? not that anime is necessarily going to be right up your alley (although it would be convenient if it is!), but this is one that my wife really loved, and i don’t think i can think of a better way to introduce oneself to the basics of go.

    • thousandtasksartist
      March 7, 2013

      Hahaha, as a matter-of-fact, as a jack-of-all-trades anime IS up my alley (I also speak basic Japanese)! My husband watched Hikaru no Go for awhile. I had not even though of checking it out to learn the basics. What a great idea! Thank you!

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This entry was posted on March 4, 2013 by in Go and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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