The Full History of Board Games
Peter Attia

Peter Attia gives a fair description of a number of ancient board games, some of which are very interesting. I especially like the references to the Roman “Ludus” games, because I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s “Codex Alera” series, in which the main character plays Ludus against a nonhuman enemy. But he barely mentions an ancient game that is played today across the world. This game has even gotten enough of a foothold in America that there’s now a small group of PROFESSIONAL players in this country. Japan, China, and Korea have had professional players of this game for a long time, but American players have only recently gotten good enough to convince one of the big three countries to sponsor their creation of an American professional group.

That game is what American call Go. Our name is modified from the Japanese name, “Igo”. The Chinese, who invented it, call it “Weiqi”, and the Koreans call it “Baduk”. There is a popular Japanese manga series that spawned an anime series, “Hikaru No Go” about a young boy possessed by the spirit of an ancient Go player in search of the “Divine Move”. This series has inspired people around the world to take up this game, and contributed greatly to the efforts to popularize it in America. The game is deceptively simple, the rules being few. But the play is immensely complex, so much so that a person could study and play it for a lifetime and not exhaust its intricacies. Those who compare it to chess have not truly studied Go. (The game more closely related to chess that is still played today is Japanese Shogi, not Go.)

Giving such short shrift to Go disappoints me, and makes me strongly doubt the title of Peter’s article as a “FULL” history of board games.

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