Russia, China and the US - Weiqi (Go) and Chess - Strategic Thinking versus Tactical Thinking
<reproduced from an email received with no attribution, not my words/essay>
In 1972, in Beijing, Henry Kissinger asked Chou En-lai, the then Chinese foreign minister if he thought the French Revolution of 1789 had benefited humanity. “We Chinese feel it is too soon to tell,” Chou answered.
As James Pinkerton wrote, “sitting atop 5,000 years of Chinese history, Chou had a point: it can’t hurt to let events unfold before rushing to judgment. The Chinese, after all, invented the game of weiqi - known in the West by its Japanese name, go - which requires the utmost in patience and a sense of long-term positioning. And that outlook spills over into geopolitics; the Chinese worked on their Great Wall, on and off, from the 7th century BC to the 17th century AD.”
The game known in English as go, Igo in Japanese, Weiqi in Chinese, Baduk in Korean — is not just more difficult and subtle than chess. It may also be the world's oldest surviving game of pure mental skill. As for the origin of the game of Weiqi, it is known to have been developed in China, but the dates are open to much speculation. One story has it that it was invented by the Emperor Yao (ruled 2357-2256 B.C.) as an amusement for his idiot son.
A second claims the Emperor Shun (ruled 2255-05) B.C created the game in hopes of improving his weak-minded son's mental prowess . Finally , a third theory suggests that Weiqi was developed by court astrologers during the Chou Dynasty(1045-255 B.C.). In any event , it is generally agreed that Weiqi/GO is at least 3000 to 4000 years old which makes it the world's oldest strategic board game. The origin of Chess being circa 600 AD, considerably later than Weiqi/GO.
Whereas Chess is, as one Grandmaster put it, “99% tactical”, Weiqi/GO is 100% a game of strategy.
Militarily, Chess is a single battle; Weiqi is a multi-front war. The former is conducted on an 8x8 board; the latter on one of 19x19 squares or 361 interstices. Chess is a game that relies entirely on the left hemisphere of our brain, the analytical function; Weiqi requires the employment of both left and right brain hemispheres – analytical and perception of spatial patterns respectively. Chess is designed for short term engagement and Weiqi for the long term.
Chess versus Weiqi - Object Of The Game
Chess: Checkmate Opposing King = Total Victory
Weiqi: Obtain Larger Territory = Greater "market share"
Brain Functions Used In Playing
Chess: Almost Entirely Analytical (left brain).
Weiqi: Fully utilizes/integrates analytic (left brain) and artistic/pattern recognition (right brain) functions. Intuitive analysis. One requiring multi-tasking.
Number of possible First Moves.
Chess: 20 White x 20 Black = 400.
Weiqi: 361 Black x 360 White = 129960, although symmetry reduces this number to an effective 32,490.
Estimated Number of Possible Board Configurations
Chess: 10 to the 120th power
Weiqi: OMNI Magazine in June, 1991 proposed 10 to the 761th, but most believe that the correct figure is really on the order of 10 to the 174th.
Chess: A single battle.
Weiqi: An entire multi-front war.
The Nature of Play
Chess: Primarily tactical, with only a modest strategic component.
Weiqi: Profoundly strategic, but with incisive, complex, integral tactics.
Countries Using This Kind Of Thinking In Their Political Decision Making.
Chess: US, Western Democracies and Eastern European Nations.
Weiqi: China, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore.
China and Russia are following the basic principles and concepts of Weiqi; the US is using those of Chess. Acquiring territory by isolating its opponent’s pieces, by finessing them, not using force and the assumption that removing the “King” or the opponents “pieces” will secure victory. Engaging in a multi front effort: not narrowly concentrating and counting on a single objective to achieve its ends
Finally, a quote:
“Dr. Hans Berliner, a leading Chessmaster, former World Correspondence Chess Champion, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and one of those whose work on chess led to the development of IBM's Deep Blue and its descendants said: "
You don't have to be really good anymore to get good results. Chess is winding down.....What's happening with Chess is that it's gradually losing its place as the par excellence of intellectual activity". And he concluded: "Smart people in search of a challenging board game might try a game called Go..."
The people doing war games in Washington should take note; they might want to reconsider their tactical and narrow approach in favour of a more strategic one, one that employs the whole brain, not half of it.