Few days ago, a beginning Polish go player asked in a Facebook group where to find affordable equipment. The discussion which emerged showed not only the willingness of go players to help each other (and their creative problem solving skills), it also highlighted a challenge that perhaps most of the go players face at some point in their life.
Here at European Go News we strive to deliver relevant and interesting information to our audience and we agreed that writing a lighthearted article on how various Go players approached this problem met that goal and might be of benefit to both beginners and advanced players alike.
So, are you a beginner who is hesitating whether or not to invest in a standard wooden go board and proper go stones and is looking for alternatives? Or are you an advanced player searching for a creative DIY challenge? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this post is for you. To help you decide on the right solution, the ideas presented are ranked in a go-fashion according to the level of your DIY skills.
30k-15k: The paper set.One of the most common solutions is to simply make a board out of paper, carton or cardboard. If you think that such sets are too lame for you, consider that one of the very few professional European players, Pavol Lisy from Slovakia, started playing Go at the age of five using beer bottle caps and a paper board. Here is how he described his beginnings:
When I was a small kid, I started to collect lids from beers. Everyone who knew me collected them and gave the lids to me, when me and my family visited them. When I was 5 years old, one day I was playing with them. I was playing with the two kinds, from which I had the most. That was the white "Steiger" (about 1000 pieces) and the brown "Topvar" (about 700 pieces). My father saw me and it reminded him of a game, which he was taught at his university, but he had never played it. The game was called Go. He searched for the rules, we made a 19x19 board from paper and we started to put lids on it. That is how I started to play Go.
To create the board, the only thing you need to do is drawing a grid. As go “stones,” you could use any round objects in two colours: coins, bottle caps or round sweets... You need to consider the size of the objects you will play with while drawing the grid, as each “stone” should fit in the square created by the grid lines.
For those who hate measurements, the British Go Association has uploaded ready-to-print templates, including the paper “stones” to cut out. You can download them here.
The biggest advantage of such a set is that it is very light and portable. You can easily take it with you to school, work, or a pub. The disadvantage is that paper can easily break, and you also need a container for the go stones (or coins, bottle caps, etc.). The next set solves this problem!
15k-1k: The beach set.Whereas the set above can easily be made at home, the next one requires a bit more imagination.
A typical scenario for go players to encounter is lacking access to their equipment during their time away from home. Whether it is a family picnic, a drink with friends, or holidays on the beach – it seems that as soon as we have some company and the time to relax, our brains long for the mental effort, doesn’t it? I thought I was the only one who had ever experienced this, but then Dargo Polanski shared the following photo (originally posted by Brett und Stein Verlag on Facebook).
Using a cloth as a board is not an idea that many of us would come up with, but it has so many advantages: It does not tear easily like paper, it weighs nothing, and it can be transformed into a container for the stones (in this case, the sea shells.).
Compared to the previous set, this one requires a different skillset: less crafting, but more searching for matching objects. What you need to create this set is having your eyes wide open and a bit of imagination! If you would rather play with more regular objects without sacrificing the holiday feel to your set, you can use the stones for the aquarium set. In case you are stuck on a beach without any cloths around, you can just draw a grid in the sand, like Peter Dijkema did on Kerala beach (in India).
1d-2d: The dinner set.If you hunt around the kitchen, you might find just what you need to create a perfect go set. Michael Langerman and his son made one using a wine case and… beans. Their go board is colorful and adjusted to multiple sizes. The whole project took them about 2-3 hours to make.
Michael has documented his DIY-experience in this video on YouTube, where you can see step-by-step progress. So, if you need a weekend project (alone or with your kids), or an excuse to order a case of wine, then take a look how it is done:
3d-7d: The wooden set.If you want to create your own perfect wooden board, a very detailed step-by-step tutorial has already been made by another Go enthusiast, so there is no need to repeat ourselves here. Have a look at the instructions by David Fifield, from Colorado, US by clicking here.
9p: The sharpest set.If all the ideas presented in this article are no match for your extensive DIY-experience, and you want to give your set an artisan touch, try to paint the lines of your board in a traditional Japanese way, using ink and a blade. To see the exact level of mastery needed, have a look at this video (the redaction takes no responsibility for any frustrations or accidents):
Thank you to Dargo Polanski and Peter Dijkema for contributing to this article, and to all creative go players for making their ideas available online! The photos used belong to their respective owners, mentioned whenever possible.
Which of these ideas did you like the most? Have you tried (or will you try?) any of them? Or maybe you have encountered another creative way to play Go? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.