Go is an ancient Chinese game, attested by written accounts to be at least 2500 years old. In it, players will take turns placing stones that connect to others nearby, forming chains. Your goal is to encircle with these chains the largest possible territory. But be careful, for if your opponent manages to surround your stones, he'll take them captive and when that happens, the space they occupied is freed - and might end up annexed to the enemy territory.
The principles of Go are very easy to learn, but they hide an extremely complex game whose depth may have never been rivaled by any other board game.
Traditionally, a Go set comes with a 19x19 board and hundreds of stones, but the game is commonly taught to beginners with a 9x9 board and 81 stones. This is a print and play version of that 9x9 game set.
For 2 players, with an approximate duration of 30 minutes. In spite of its simple rules, Go requires experience to fully appreciate the game.
As it happens to many ancient games, the origins of Go (which means 'encircling game') are unclear and surrounded by legend. Among the explanations about its beginnings are that it evolved from a divination process of emulating cosmic bodies or that it came about because generals used stones to represent troops when preparing for battles, and so the game could have developed as exercises on strategy. The most common myth, though, is that Yao, a mythical 23rd century BCE Chinese Emperor, created or commissioned the game in order to educate an unrefined son (unsuccessfully, as the story goes).
Historically, written documents confirm the game was around during the 6th century BCE, and from such an early age was considered a worthy and refined activity, but not exclusive to the upper classes. It is endorsed by the Analects of Confucius (composed between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE) and was one of the four cultivated arts refined gentlemen - i.e. emperor appointed civil servants - should master (the others being calligraphy, painting and music, specifically a sitar-like instrument called 'qín').
The game spread from China to neighboring countries, reaching Japan somewhere around the 7th century CE as a pastime for the elite, and it took centuries for it to grow into the popular taste. But when Tokugawa Ieyasu reestablished an unified Japan in the 17th century, he indicated a Minister of Go, and started state funding institutions of professional Go players (and through them one could became a civil servant and even attain a hereditary title as a Go master). These investments allowed the game to flourish and strategies to reach amazing depth.
Despite its enormous cultural impact in the East, Go has yet to really take root in the West. Up to the 19th century the game was practically unheard of, but immigration and globalization have been allowing the game to spread, and it will soon, hopefully, be known and valued as it deserves.
About this version
Go is a traditional game of Eastern Asia, at least as iconic to them as chess is to western nations. The game board has been standardized for centuries as having 19x19 intersections, but two variants are commonly used to teach new players: the 13x13 and the 9x9. We chose the 9x9 board for two reasons: first because we hope this game will reach more new players then experienced ones, and a smaller board may ease their learning. But also because a larger board would dramatically increase the time and effort necessary to assemble the game. However, game rules are the same whatever the size of the board and we do advice players who liked this version to play the full 19x19 game. It is awesome!