Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Greatest Game of Go Ever Played


There are two important, ancient games of tactical and strategic skills, one is chess which came from India and the other is the game of Go which originated in China. The two games are similar yet very different. In chess, you want to capture castles and kings and each piece has different powers and values and the winner is whoever can checkmate the king. This is an excellent game for learning how to do Byzantine politics! Trapping someone by eliminating their options, removing obstacles and forcing events.

Go is utterly different. Each stone on the huge board is identical in value. Its level of preciousness depends entirely and totally to what stones occupy which spaces around it. One can capture many stones and still loose the game. Indeed, good Go players sometimes try to force the opponent to take stones that would then leave them at a strategic disadvantage. Usually, though, one tries to lure opponents into ackward impasses. The goal of Go is to take territory. Not occupy it. Surround it and control it. The winner at the end is the one who controls the most space using the fewest pieces to do this! In other words, you don't want to fill in the blanks. You want it empty as possible. This yin/yang zen game is required training for diplomats and generals in Asia for the last 2,000 years or more. This is why the tactic, to enfold an alien force and then digest it, has been the strategic tactic of the Chinese culture for thousands of years.

Virtually no American diplomats play or even heard of the game of Go. The negotiators for trade and military and geo political matters trot off to Japan or Korea or China and try manipulating events blithely unaware that we are playing the wrong game. Occassionally, we do the classic thing: we tip over the table and become violent. This starts the game over again, with us the victors and they, slowly enveloping us, enclosing us and digesting the foreign forces. Burp.

Today there is a raft of news, stored here at Daily Fortune Cookie News I and "Daily Fortune Cookie News II and even this hour, more news pours in if you read foreign papers....but in America, the several day long riots in China just hit the about olds! Like a grumbling turtle, the American media brings up the rear! Onwards, slogggggg.

This is life and death for us. We depend nearly totally now on Asian good will for propping up our wastrel ways. Already, the irritated Chinese are letting us know in not so inscrutable ways, they are pissed off. The South Koreans just let the Japanese know they are angry, too. Then Japan, encouraged by Bush and Condi, wondered out loud if they should have nukes.

OK. WWIII: it will happen if it looks like Japan will nuke China. Right? If not earlier. I detail in the news the fights raging over the potential oil fields in the China Seas. Japan, using America as their muscle, are trying to unilaterally take this territory. This is prime Go board real estate, it has oil! So China and Japan and Korea all set one piece after another not just at the disputed site but elsewhere on the board. You win in Go by placing pieces, sometimes far away from the contested sector, the other player, intent on winning this sector doesn't notice he is being surrounded with an outer ring. The Chinese have been building this outer South America, once prime Japanese territory, they even took over Peru openly for a while! And in Asia. The Prime Minister of China is visiting the Prime Minister of India. India is mad because Bush placed dangerous Go stones in Pakistan, endangering India's stones so India hooked up with the master Go players in the world: the Chinese.

As a long time Go fan, I can look at the international board and project ahead. It is clear, the USA is over extended, has too few deeply held places, nearly all the places we control now are ours only through force and can slip away as quickly as the Soviet satellite states.

The USA now has to spend $200 in Iraq alone to secure our bases and get oil. China just went shopping for influence in South America and spent $100 billion and not one rock was thrown, not one bomb killed a single Chinese, indeed, everywhere the delegation went, they were greeted by cheering crowds and the Presidents of all the South American nations begged them to come.

Bush dare not show his face in public in South America or North America, for that matter. In Italy this week, Clinton moved through the mob of Europeans, they cheered him. When Bush's face appeared on TV in St. Peter's Square, he was booed lustfully. Clinton could have been a great Go player, you know.

Bush can't even play tiddley winks, much less checkers. And chess? Forget about it.

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