Go is a board game for everybody. Its rules are simple and certain aspects of the game, like board size and handicap, are customizable, allowing the players to manipulate the difficulty and time required to play a match. It has something for all kinds of players - the more competitive ones will be enthralled by the possibilities and the complexity of maneuvers deriving from those simple rules and the more casual ones will love the social nature of it, discovering the art of different board compositions or simply enjoying a conversation with a fellow plyaer. It's a great medium of developing abstract thinking and concentration of the young, but also serves great as an engaging pastime and mental exercise for the old. It does not matter whether one plays often, rarely, competitively or casually; everyone can find something great in it. Go is a game like no other.

Our recommended method of learning the rules and training before a real-life match is the interactive go course: http://playgo.to/iwtg/en/, or one in Polish: http://kursgo.pl/.

History

The beginnings of Go stretch back to ancient China, from where, around the sixth century A.D., knowledge about the game has managed to reach Korea and Japan. Especially in the land of the rising sun it has enjoyed great popularity, first among the aristocrats, later also amongst other people. The cultural impact it had on the populace and its deep engagement in the game has led to constant development of techniques and understanding of it, eventually leading to forming a professional player system in the XVII century, which was funded directly by the shogunate. It was then that the commonly known ranking system of kyu and dan levels has been created. Nowadays there are professional leagues and tournaments in China, South Korea, Japan and the United States of America, with prize pools reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is also possible to become a professional player in Europe, through the European Go Federation; the currently strongest player in Poland, Mateusz Surma, has achieved such rank.

Go and computers

Various computer programs playing Go for many years could not compete even with the strongest amateur players. Limited computational resources and low efficiency of techniques of artificial "reasoning" about the game - with said techniques most often requiring performing a brute-force search through decision trees - meant that those programs, also called bots, could not, under imposed by tournament rules time constraints, find moves that would have advantageous continuations. This situation has diametrically changed in 2016, when Deepmind, a company specializing in artificial intelligence, has combined various heuristic (probabilistic) algorithms with artificial neural networks to create the strongest bot yet, AlphaGo. In march 2016 its creators have challenged the then strongest Korean player, Lee Sedol, to a five game match against the bot. This event, promoted as the Google Deepmind Challenge Match, ended with the computer winning over human in four out of five games. This win is still widely considered to be the breaking point in the struggle between the man and machine - not many have expected such a crushing defeat, with the bot employing moves which were hard to understand or inexplicable for human players. The match has sparked great interest in the game from around the world, also contributing greatly to the research in artificial intelligence.

If you want to know more about Go in Poland, we invite you to visit our general hub go.art.pl and the Facebook group for Polish go players: https://www.facebook.com/groups/polscy.goisci/.