Go players rise to the challenge

By Lin Shujuan in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-07 07:34
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The world's top-ranking professional player Ke Jie loses 3-0 to AlphaGo in a contest in 2017. XU YU/XINHUA

For more than two millennia, Go was considered one of the "four accomplishments", along with the guqin - a stringed musical instrument - calligraphy and painting, that had to be mastered by Chinese men since the time of Confucius (around 500 BC). The game's popularity later declined during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) when it was considered an "archaic intellectual pursuit".

However, it has been making a comeback, with observers pointing out that the market for "Go education" has boomed as parents increasingly realize the benefits of the game.

Wang Jianhong, a professional player who founded China's first Go club in 1997, said the education industry related to the game started to take off in about 2003.

"At the time, there were not as many extracurricular programs as there are now. As a result, Go, a traditional Chinese game that had always been known to be beneficial in developing the mind, was among the top choices for most parents," he said.

Wang Xiuqiao, from the Qingdao Go Club in Shandong province, offered a similar observation.

"Go would appear to be an obvious extracurricular option for children because their parents, who grew up admiring Nie Weiping, are probably fans of the game themselves," he said.

Nie has been largely credited for kick-starting the game's revival in China in the 1980s after his triumph at the inaugural World Amateur Go Championship in 1979.

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