The World of Chinese - - NEWS - BY SUN JIAHUI (孙佳慧)


The name of the three-day sum­mit in Wuzhen be­tween China's top-ranked player and an AI ma­chine de­vel­oped by Amer­ica's Google said it all: This was The Fu­ture of Go. But be­yond na­tion­al­ism and anx­i­eties over hu­man lim­i­ta­tions lay a far larger ques­tion. Is this the end of Go as we know it—or the be­gin­ning of some­thing much greater?

One hour into the fi­nal match at the Fu­ture of Go Sum­mit, shouts and pop­ping flash­bulbs sud­denly dis­rupted the si­lence that had set­tled over the au­di­ence at the Wuzhen In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. Nie Weip­ing (聂卫平), hero of the 1980s’ China-ja­pan “Su­per Matches” in Go, had ar­rived to com­men­tate. Later, some would say he was there to sound the death knell for the game he’d helped pop­u­lar­ize.

“Black has al­ready won,” he said, be­fore the ap­plause had even died down. It was 11:30 a.m.; and only the 38th move.

The sum­mit, held in the last week of May, had been fraught with emo­tion, laden with apoc­a­lyp­tic pre­dic­tions on so­cial me­dia, and im­mense pres­sure fanned by Chi­nese and in­ter­na­tional me­dia. Through it all, the player now on Black had held un­per­turbedly onto their win­ning streak. This was Al­phago, the AI pro­gram built by Google’s Deep­mind lab. In 2016, it had be­come the first ma­chine

to best a top-ranked pro­fes­sional hu­man player in a live match of the 2,500-year-old Chi­nese game on a stan­dard 19-by-19 board. Now, this would be its last match be­fore re­tire­ment.

Al­phago’s op­po­nent was 19-yearold Ke Jie (柯洁), child prodigy, the world’s No.1 ranked Go player for the last two years. But af­ter en­ter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion in the un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tion of the un­der­dog, and los­ing his two pre­vi­ous matches at the sum­mit, Ke re­mained stonily silent, even as the crowd re­acted with a mix of amuse­ment and re­lief at Nie’s pro­nounce­ment.

It was a cu­ri­ous end to a week— some would say years—of emo­tional strife in which Ke, the Go com­mu­nity, fans, and in­ter­na­tional me­dia had spent the lead-up to the fi­nal match.

Win­ning his first na­tional com­pe­ti­tion at age 10 and first world ti­tle at 17, Ke had be­come the poster boy of China’s new gen­er­a­tion of elite Go play­ers since the coun­try’s re­turn to dom­i­nance in the game it had in­vented, a process that started with Nie’s vic­tory decades be­fore. Yet as the sum­mit neared, Ke was given the mon­u­men­tal task of rep­re­sent­ing hu­man­ity’s su­pe­ri­or­ity to AI. Small won­der that he self-dep­re­cat­ingly an­nounced, at a press con­fer­ence prior to the tour­na­ment, that he would “play for the best and pre­pare for the worst.”

Gu Li (古力), Ke’s friend and for­mer No. 1 player in the world, gave Ke bet­ter odds: “Ke has just 10 per­cent chance to win one game of all three,” he pre­dicted to Shaanxi news­pa­per Chi­nese Busi­ness View. Fans jok­ingly re­but­ted that Ke’s only chance would be to un­plug the ma­chine.

At 10:30 a.m., May 23, the first of three Fu­ture of Go matches be­tween Ke and Al­phago be­gan. Ke played Black, which meant he moved first. At the sev­enth move, view­ers in the commentary room let out a gasp: Ke had played a “3-3 point” move, a risky strat­egy typ­i­cally saved un­til the mid­dle of the bat­tle. There is cur­rently only one player in the world known to risk this move as an open­ing gam­bit: Al­phago.

In Jan­uary, un­der the pseudonym “Master,” Al­phago had played 60 on­line games against sev­eral of the world’s top play­ers in­clud­ing Ke, reg­u­larly play­ing the “3-3 point” as an open­ing move. At first, play­ers thought the AI must have lost its mind. Af­ter Al­phago won all 60 games, they couldn’t stop rav­ing about its meth­ods.

The an­cient game of Go is no stranger to in­no­va­tion. Known as weiqi (围棋, “en­cir­cling chess”), it has been played in China since at least the sixth cen­tury BCE. Nu­mer­ous mas­ters, first in China and then Ja­pan af­ter the ninth cen­tury, have im­proved upon the rules to the ex­tent that it’s now im­pos­si­ble to com­pare the skills of an an­cient master to a mod­ern cham­pion. How­ever, the es­sen­tial ob­ject is to sur­round a larger area of the board than the op­po­nent with stones of the player’s own color.

Mod­ern Go is played on a board criss­crossed by 19 hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal lines, form­ing 361 in­ter­sec­tions—es­sen­tially in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties of play. Win­ning re­lies on an in­tu­itive abil­ity to rec­og­nize a good move, rather than map­ping out

fu­ture moves, one of the rea­sons why the Al­phago matches were so highly an­tic­i­pated (though AI had al­ready beaten hu­mans at other com­plex games such as chess).

Leg­end has it that Go’s in­ven­tion came via two im­mor­tals who in­structed the myth­i­cal king Yao to use it to teach his rak­ish son the mer­its of pa­tience and calm rea­son. The chess­board rep­re­sents an an­cient view of the uni­verse: Round stones rep­re­sent­ing heaven, a square board for earth, yin (black) and yang (white) forces act­ing out the pro­cesses of life amid the in­ter­sec­tions that sym­bol­ize the days of the year.

In the Tang dy­nasty (618 – 907), the hey­day of Go, the game had a more sec­u­lar sta­tus among the four main ac­com­plish­ments of the Con­fu­cian scholar, in ad­di­tion to paint­ing, cal­lig­ra­phy, and play­ing the seven-string zither. There were Tang of­fi­cials solely re­spon­si­ble for play­ing Go against the em­peror. Con­fu­cians be­lieved that Go-play­ing cul­ti­vated moral char­ac­ter, teach­ing equa­nim­ity in the face of pres­sure and loss.

And yet Al­phago is now chang­ing the way hu­man play­ers play the game. “When we learned Go as chil­dren, the teacher would never al­low you to play a ‘3-3 point’ so early,” pro­fes­sional player Xu Ying com­mented dur­ing the fate­ful first match. Ke was even more ad­mir­ing after­ward: “Al­phago is chang­ing our orig­i­nal per­cep­tion of Go…no move can’t be played.” Ke ad­mit­ted that he was im­i­tat­ing Al­phago’s play in­ten­tion­ally, to see how it would deal with its own strat­egy.

Still, up un­til a match-up be­tween Al­phago and South Korean master Lee Sedol in Seoul in 2016, the Go com­mu­nity, as well as those loathe to see ma­chines tri­umph com­pletely, were hop­ing that Go’s com­plex­ity could still prove a point in fa­vor of hu­man un­der­stand­ing.

Yet in one baf­fling mo­ment in the third of five matches in last year’s Seoul tour­na­ment—with Al­phago lead­ing Lee two matches to none—the AI stunned its op­po­nent, com­men­ta­tors, and 280 mil­lion live view­ers by play­ing a move that seem­ingly de­fied logic, as well as its own cal­cu­la­tion of the odds. There was just a 1-in-10,000 chance that a player would make that move. The AI went on to win the match, prov­ing that its al­go­rithm could in­cor­po­rate hu­man-like in­tu­ition, in­stead of making pre­dictable moves based on the mil­lions of pre­vi­ous games its mem­ory had been fed.

The me­dia’s hype ma­chine went into over­drive at the pos­si­bil­ity of an AI that thought for it­self. The re­sult also cre­ated an un­prece­dented amount of pres­sure for Ke, one he partly cul­ti­vated him­self. In China, Ke’s pub­lic per­sona toes the line be­tween “out­spo­ken” and “bratty”; just a year ago, he crit­i­cized other


play­ers for de­ify­ing AI. Prior to the match in South Korea, Ke voiced sup­port for Lee: “In 1997, the chess­play­ing com­puter ‘Deep Blue’ beat Garry Kas­parov, while Go has been re­sist­ing for so many years. [Go] is al­ready great even if [Lee] loses the game.” But when Al­phago fi­nally won, Ke pro­claimed on so­cial me­dia, “Even though Al­phago de­feated Lee, it can’t de­feat me.”

The brazen dec­la­ra­tion went vi­ral on­line, and in­creased Ke’s Weibo fol­low­ing from 18,000 to 420,000 in less than a week. The be­lief grew that if Al­phago could de­feat Ke as well, it would prove that AI had now out­classed hu­man­ity in the field of Go.

The AI was now, how­ever, eas­ily see­ing through Ke’s “3-3 point” gam­bit. As the match wore on, Ke de­vel­oped a no­tice­able tic— un­con­sciously lean­ing for­ward, his body hunched to­ward the board, be­fore making any move. As the hours passed, he leaned more of­ten, and hunched far­ther, longer.

The turn­ing point ap­peared at the 54th move, when Al­phago placed its white stone onto a very un­ex­pected po­si­tion; once again, the whole Go-watch­ing world was im­me­di­ately thrown into con­fu­sion. The ob­ser­va­tion room buzzed with chat­ter. Ke leaned for­ward. But he was prob­a­bly the first to un­der­stand what had hap­pened. “I was shocked… It would never hap­pen in a game played by hu­man. But later I fig­ured out it was a good move,” he said af­ter the game.

Fi­nally, four hours and 15 min­utes af­ter the game be­gan, Ke lost by half a point, the small­est mar­gin pos­si­ble. But Al­phago is pro­grammed to seek the surest route to vic­tory, in­stead of the largest mar­gin of win­ning. Look­ing back, Ke never had a chance since the first minute of the game.

It was a very dif­fer­ent Ke who at­tended the press con­fer­ence af­ter the first match. Gone was the brag­gado­cio—he was now “fully con­vinced” of Al­phago’s abil­ity. “It was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ‘per­son’ com­pared with last year,” he said. “Last time, it was still close to hu­man. But now, it has be­come a god of Go.”

Some be­lieve that this god is a benev­o­lent one. There’s no ques­tion that the “Great Hu­man-ma­chine Tour­na­ment,” as Chi­nese me­dia dubbed the event, has drummed up in­ter­est that in a sport whose pro­file had “damp­ened” within China in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to re­tired player Yang Rong, cap­tain of Ke’s team in 2013. “In the 1980s China saw a pe­riod of ‘Go fever,’ but it seems that in the 90s, ev­ery­one be­came too busy try­ing to get rich,” Yang told TWOC.

Iron­i­cally, 80s Go fever had it­self

been pre­cip­i­tated by a de­cline in China’s mas­tery of the game. For much of the 20th cen­tury, the game had been dom­i­nated by a his­toric ri­val, Ja­pan (it’s still known to the world by its Ja­panese name). In the early years of the Repub­lic of China, Ja­panese player Tak­abe Do­hei had bested ev­ery Chi­nese op­po­nent, and salted the wound by declar­ing that even the best Chi­nese were merely at the level of 1 dan, the low­est pro­fes­sional rank in Ja­pan. It was a bit­ter pill for Chi­nese to swal­low, made even more painful by Ja­pan’s oc­cu­pa­tion of China in the 1930s and 40s. From then on, the na­tion’s prow­ess at Go be­came a point of pa­tri­o­tism.

From 1939 to 1955, the top Go master in the world was Fu­jian-born Wu Qingyuan (吴清源). But he did noth­ing to re­solve the pol­i­tics of the game, since he had ob­tained Ja­panese cit­i­zen­ship be­fore the war. In 1959, Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Chen Yi, a Go afi­cionado, de­clared that, “when the coun­try rises, Go de­vel­ops. When the coun­try is in de­cline, Go de­clines as well.”

Chen pro­posed cul­tural ex­changes, known as “Go Diplo­macy.” This was a mis­nomer. In 1960, the Ja­panese Go del­e­ga­tion vis­ited China and played 35 games, among which China only won two. One year later, the Ja­panese del­e­ga­tion re­vis­ited, and Ito To­moe eas­ily de­feated Chi­nese master Liu Di­huai—even hav­ing time to leave the board to “watch flowers and birds” out­side, one op­po­nent noted. The fail­ure was re­garded as a na­tional hu­mil­i­a­tion.

In 1984, the China-ja­pan Su­per Matches used the knock­out for­mat with six to nine play­ers on each side. The per­for­mance of Nie Weip­ing, then in his 30s, could only be de­scribed as leg­endary, beat­ing seven top Ja­panese play­ers, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing an 11-game win­ning streak, and win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion al­most sin­gle­hand­edly—de­feat­ing all his op­po­nents twice. It’s as if China’s Guangzhou Ever­grande foot­ball team were to beat Bay­ern Mu­nich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manch­ester United, and Ju­ven­tus all in a row.

For his ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance, Nie was awarded the ti­tle “Sage of Go” by the Chi­nese Na­tional Sports Com­mis­sion: Go fever had of­fi­cially be­gun. Be­fore 1984, Ja­pan’s pop­u­la­tion of 100 mil­lion had around 600 pro­fes­sional play­ers and over 12 mil­lion Go buffs, whereas China, with 10 times the pop­u­la­tion, had about 100 pro­fes­sion­als, among whom only four had the rank of 9 dan (high­est pro­fes­sional Go rank). In 2000, China’s Go Uni­verse mag­a­zine re­ported that there were around 20 mil­lion pro­fes­sional and ama­teur play­ers. In 2005, seven-year-old Ke was sent to the Nie Weip­ing Go Dojo, a train­ing school founded by the for­mer cham­pion.

To Ke’s col­league Yang how­ever, Go fever is partly con­tin­gent on a con­tin­ued sense of pride and dom­i­nance in China’s per­for­mance. “The pub­lic’s in­ter­est in Go and the

re­sults of pro­fes­sion­als are in­ti­mately re­lated. The bet­ter we do at world cham­pi­onships, the greater the in­ter­est in learn­ing Go,” he said. “Though we ad­vo­cate for the spread of Go and Go cul­ture, though we speak of the joy of Go, first we need Ke Jie and good re­sults at in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments.”

The AI that played Ke in Wuzhen was an im­proved ver­sion that had played Lee in 2016. Ac­cord­ing to Demis Hass­abis, CEO the ma­chine is driven by a new and more pow­er­ful ar­chi­tec­ture. Rather than re­gur­gi­tat­ing tac­tics gen­er­ated by hu­mans, it can now learn al­most en­tirely from play­ing against it­self.

The new ver­sion added three hand­i­cap stones to the 2016 AI, to make the two play­ers’ abil­ity roughly equal. It’s an un­be­liev­able gap that rarely ap­pears be­tween top Go play­ers. As Ke put it, it’s like al­low­ing your en­emy to stab you three times first in a duel. At mid­night be­fore the first match, Ke stated on Weibo that, what­ever the re­sult, the tour­na­ment would be his last against Al­phago: “I will use up all my pas­sion to fight in the last duel. No mat­ter how for­mi­da­ble the op­po­nent is, I won’t back down! At least one last time.”

The sec­ond match be­gan as sched­uled on May 25. Ke de­scribed his “blood surg­ing” af­ter the game. Many pre­dicted that Ke might em­ploy the “mir­ror Go” strat­egy, when a player plays moves di­ag­o­nally opposite those of the op­po­nent, cre­at­ing po­si­tions with 180-de­gree sym­me­try about the cen­tral 10-10 point. Though less ex­cit­ing to watch, it’s ef­fec­tive. Ke had de­feated Fine Art, a Chi­nese AI de­vel­oped by Ten­cent, with the same strat­egy.

But it seemed as though Ke didn’t want to make the game to be­come AI against AI. He tried to gain a lead from the very be­gin­ning, com­pli­cat­ing the play as much as pos­si­ble. His ag­gres­sive­ness “pushed Al­phago right to the limit,” Hass­abis tweeted. The crowd was cheered, but as Ke played, he grew more and more solemn. Now and then, he grasped his chest with his hands. “I was very ex­cited. I could feel my heart thump­ing,” he told the press con­fer­ence after­ward.

It has be­come al­most cliché for Al­phago’s op­po­nents to ef­fuse about how much their own play has im­proved through their brush with AI. Fan Hui, three-time Euro­pean cham­pion-turned-con­sul­tant for Deep­mind, fa­mously saw his in­ter­na­tional rank­ing jump from the 600s to the 300s af­ter sev­eral months prac­tic­ing against the AI. Lee Sedol has re­port­edly never lost to an­other hu­man since his 2016 tour­na­ment.

In Ke’s case, there was a more pal­pa­ble dis­ap­point­ment. “Ke Jie truly had a chance to win, but his emo­tions were in tur­moil,” Yang told TWOC. “A per­son, af­ter all, is not a ma­chine.”

Ke’s perfect per­for­mance lasted mid­way. Though he had man­aged to com­pli­cate play to an ex­tra­or­di­nary de­gree, as the timer wore on, both sides be­gan to move

quickly, a sit­u­a­tion where ma­chines have the up­per hand. Al­phago was sim­pli­fy­ing the game, said the English com­men­ta­tor and player Michael Red­mond, “and this was a bad sign for the hu­man player.” On the screen in the press room, Ke was seen ner­vously clench­ing his hair.

By the third hour, Ke had used about twice as much play­ing time as Al­phago. He was on the verge of los­ing; within 15 min­utes, Ke re­signed.

Al­phago’s cre­ators said Ke had noth­ing to re­gret. At the presser, they hailed Ke’s “in­cred­i­ble” per­for­mance, say­ing that Al­phago’s in­ter­nal eval­u­a­tions “agreed with all the moves.” “No­body can do as well as Ke Jie did in the sec­ond game,” said top player Lian Xiao, who part­nered with Al­phago in a mixed-pairs match dur­ing the Wuzhen sum­mit.

But Ke’s own feel­ings were mixed. The sec­ond game meant los­ing the tour­na­ment, but it was also the only one in which he had seen the pos­si­bil­ity of vic­tory. “Be­fore Al­phago ap­peared, I thought I knew 50 per­cent of the truth of Go. But its birth changed a lot of my life,” he said. “If one per­cent rep­re­sents know­ing the ba­sic rules, [I feel] my knowl­edge is just at two per­cent. And if I can’t win the third match, Al­phago will be 100 per­cent to me.”

In the Shuy­iji《述异记》,( Tale of Strange Mat­ters), a fi­fith-cen­tury col­lec­tion of myth­i­cal sto­ries, there’s the tale of Wang Zhi, a wood­cut­ter who came across a group of chil­dren play­ing Go in the moun­tains. Wang sat down to watch for some time, un­til the chil­dren asked, “Isn’t it time you went home?” He then stood up and saw that the wooden han­dle of his ax had rot­ted away. Re­turn­ing to his vil­lage, every­thing looked dif­fer­ent; lo­cal leg­end spoke of a man named Wang Zhi, who had dis­ap­peared in the moun­tains hun­dreds of years ago.

Schol­ars have read many morals into the story—the un­for­giv­ing pas­sage of time or even the danger of Go as a dis­trac­tion. How­ever, at the close of Ke’s sec­ond Fu­ture of Go match, it’s Wang Zhi’s ut­ter ab­sorp­tion in the men­tal in­tri­ca­cies of the game that of­fers the most ap­pro­pri­ate par­al­lels. The game ended while most of the au­di­ence was still at lunch, and when the press corps filed in, they found Ke still hunched over the board, re­view­ing


ev­ery move that had been played.

“Go is a lonely con­test against the self,” Yang told TWOC. “We may all think at a young age that we have what it takes, but you even­tu­ally find you can’t al­ways win. Deal­ing with your emo­tions and learn­ing from fail­ure is an im­por­tant part of the process.”

In Jan­uary, af­ter Ke lost two matches on­line to Al­phago as Master, he was re­port­edly hos­pi­tal­ized. “Hu­man be­ings spent thou­sands of years com­bat­ing, prac­tic­ing and pro­gress­ing, but the com­puter is telling us that it’s all wrong,” Ke told his fol­low­ers on Weibo, adding that he still had a “last move” that he wasn’t able to de­ploy against Master.

On May 27, Ke and Al­phago met for the third and fi­nal time, but any­one hop­ing for a bat­tle royale was quickly dis­ap­pointed. Af­ter just an hour, the for­mer cham­pion Nie broke what­ever ten­sion re­mained, ca­su­ally an­nounc­ing what many al­ready sus­pected: the match was lost, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.

Sev­eral jour­nal­ists be­gan draft­ing post-match re­ports; no longer con­cerned with the re­sult, the com­men­ta­tors re­laxed by guess­ing what moves were still avail­able. Only Ke re­mained im­mersed in bat­tle, ei­ther a lone war­rior or tragic hero. It was soon easy to guess which, as he rose and abruptly left the stage for nearly 20 min­utes. From back­stage, whis­pers came rip­pling through the au­di­ence that Ke was weep­ing.

View­ers were at a loss to re­spond to this an­ti­cli­mac­tic though re­gret­table end to the story, ex­cept with clichés and mixed metaphors: “Ke Jie is like a relic of the me­dieval age…with the steam lo­co­mo­tive roar­ing to­ward him,” one viewer wrote. “Al­phago is too perfect,” Ke him­self re­peated (Pro­fes­sional player Ali Jabarin had ap­par­ently said the same thing to Ke af­ter an en­counter with Al­pha Go: “It’s too strong…it’s too strong”).

“Go is a trial by or­deal for the per­son­al­ity. The students we teach, of­ten, when they lose, they cry, and when they’re done cry­ing they con­tinue to play. By rep­e­ti­tion, it teaches them how to deal with fail­ure, and it tests their willpower,” Yang said. “Ke Jie’s abil­ity to deal with frus­tra­tion is strong. He’ll bounce back from the loss.”

There are those who feel that hav­ing an un­beat­able op­po­nent has made the game less ap­peal­ing. At an AI con­fer­ence held in Luoyang dur­ing the Go sum­mit, e-commerce ty­coon Jack Ma said that de­vel­op­ing Al­phago was mean­ing­less, be­cause he be­lieved the essence of Go was wait­ing for your op­po­nent to make mis­takes. Be­cause AI never makes mis­takes, it of­fers noth­ing worth watch­ing. Oth­ers have said play­ing Go against Al­phago was like run­ning against a car or weightlift­ing against a crane.

“I be­lieve the fu­ture be­longs to AI,” Ke wrote on Weibo just be­fore the sum­mit be­gan. “But it’s still a cold ma­chine…to it, pas­sion is no more than the heat gen­er­ated by its high­speed work­ing CPU.”

Af­ter the sum­mit, Lin Jian­chao, vice-pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Weiqi As­so­ci­a­tion, ex­pressed his agree­ment. “[Google] can de­cide whether they will play with us. When they choose Go, it’s not out of love for the game but as an ex­per­i­ment…a warm-up. But for us it’s a ca­reer, a cul­ture, a


her­itage…and we must con­tinue to de­velop [the game] ac­cord­ing to new con­di­tions of the times.”

By con­trast, Yang ap­pears to think that these new con­di­tions of­fer room for pos­i­tive re­flec­tion. “To some ex­tent, [play­ers’] abil­i­ties can be in­creased by ar­du­ous train­ing…i’ve seen young play­ers take an­tide­pres­sants to deal with the pres­sure,” he said.

Yet while these play­ers had good re­sults, Yang said, “there were no ‘mas­ters’ like Nie Weip­ing and Ke Jie. “It’s making us think, per­haps this method of train­ing has also re­stricted [the play­ers’] growth. Those moves played by Al­phago—we all tried them when we were young, but the teach­ers would scold us, say­ing, you’re not al­lowed to play that way.”

Deep­mind is al­ready gear­ing up to po­si­tion AI as hu­man­ity’s teacher in­stead of op­po­nent. They plan to re­lease 50 “spe­cial games,” in which Al­phago plays it­self, and de­velop a Go teach­ing tool in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ke—but for now, the de­throned cham­pion seems to be tak­ing a wel­learned rest.

“The gap be­tween Al­phago and I is so huge that I won’t catch up with it all my life,” said Ke in an in­ter­view with China Global Tele­vi­sion Net­work af­ter the sum­mit. “Al­phago can see the whole uni­verse, while I can only see a small pond. So, let it ex­plore the uni­verse, and I will just fish in my own pond.”

Two days later, Ke came back to his pond. Af­ter de­feat­ing a South Korean player in the LG Cup World Baduk Cham­pi­onship, where moves cre­ated by Al­phago were fre­quently used, Ke posted on his Weibo, say­ing: “Now I re­al­ize that play­ing Go with hu­man­ity is so re­laxed, com­fort­able, and happy…it’s nice to play Go.”


At the sec­ond Fu­ture of Go match be­tween Ke Jie and Al­phago, Ke re­signed while most of the me­dia was at lunch

“Lady Play­ing Go,” a silk paint­ing from the Tang dy­nasty (618-907)

Wang Zhi de­picted watch­ing Go at Mount Lanke, Zhe­jiang

Play­ers pre­par­ing for a Go con­test in the city of Pingding­shan dur­ing the mid-90s

Thou­sands of young play­ers at­tend a mass Go event in Hubei in 2016

A match be­tween Gu Li (left) and Lee Sedol dur­ing the Sam­sung In­sur­ance World Mas­ters Baduk tour­na­ment in 2012

A team of China’s top five Go play­ers all played—and lost—against Al­phago in Wuzhen, May 26

Three hun­dred and fifty chil­dren play Go in an in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment held in Bei­jing on June 24

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