The Benefits Of Playing Go

Ulster Open 2022 analysing a go game

There is a reason why Go is the oldest continuously played board game in the world. On the surface, it’s easy to learn and fun to play. Go flexes your creativity and tests your logical thinking. There are many layers to the game, however, and the more you play the more you will recognise the need for deep strategic and tactical thinking, patience, focus, open-mindedness, discipline and more. These are but a few of the skills developed as you progress.

Let us look in more detail as to how playing Go can transform your life.

Developing Mental Acuity

In Go you must plan ahead to succeed. Novice players start off by learning to read 2-3 moves ahead, visualising the stones on the board and considering alternative moves as well as responses from the opponent. As you practice and advance in your skills you will get used to the flow of the game and be reading further ahead. The practice of forethought excercises your ability to visualise and memorise, and plan accordingly. You may find that over time your general memory will improve and your capacity for forward planning will increase.

“Baduk [Go] players developed larger regions of white matter with increased fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the frontal, cingulum, and striato-thalamic areas that are related to attentional control, working memory, executive regulation, and problem-solving”


Each part of a game of Go is its own tactical as well as strategic puzzle. In figuring out what to do in a local situation the player must be mindful of the global position — how a move on one side of the board can have an effect elsewhere on the board. The stronger you get, the more aware you become of how subtle and intricate this game can be.

Playing this game helps develop an analytical, as well as a creative, mindset. This can result in improvements in your everyday problem-solving capability.

Maintaining Emotional Balance

go player contemplating

Go can teach us many things about ourselves, one of which is how we handle our emotions. During a game you can be confronted with difficult scenarios that cause a flurry of emotional responses, how you manage them reveals your current state of being.

For example, falling into a state of greed can be detrimental to your game. Taking a risk seeking to edge out another 5 points when the security of 2 points will do. Claiming all the corners and territory quickly in an effort to deprive your opponent of a single point can leave you in an unfavourable position as you now must contend with all of their central influence. The challenge is to recognise when this is happening, pause for a moment, gather yourself, and approach the situation calmly.

Surprisingly, the feeling of joy or happiness, due to the belief that you are winning, can be dangerous. It is when we believe we have won that we let our guard down. Many a game has been lost due to a player believing they had an insurmountable lead. This resulted in attacking or defending with a slack frame of mind. Slowly losing point after point, the game was lost by 0.5 points. The lesson: be vigilant to the end.

Patience is a quality that helps us in our day-to-day as well as over the board. We can all too easily try and rush a situation or jump into a scenario we weren’t ready for due to impatience. Preparation and flexibility are important in order to realise goals. Take a breath, think things through and make your move. Go can teach us this.

There are other emotional states that can arise during a game. Noticing and managing them effectively is key. Such is life.

Go Brings People Together

go players smiling

Above all else, Go has a very welcoming social impact. Playing a game with another person is a shared experience. It allows you to get to know one and other in a different way than the regular chit-chat. Once the game has ended you feel as if you know each other on a different level. A friendship is born.

Analysing games and solving ‘life-and-death’ problems is a fun group activity.

Tournaments provide an occasion for a larger amount of players to congregate and meet new people. Playing, analysing, sharing a coffee, going for dinner. The perfect context to make new friends, all the while improving your skills in the game.


Between the mental, emotional and social elements of Go, the impact it can have on your life is profound. Learning new skills and developing as a person are great reasons to start a journey in the art of Go.

Join us in one of our clubs around the country or online on our Discord channel. We love to welcome new players into the fold. We are also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow us and keep up to date with what’s happening with Irish Go throughout the year.

We look forward to playing with you!

Powered by Wordpress. Theme design by Niall Tuohy © 2024