The origins of Go are thought to be in ancient Asian history. People think that it is actually older than that. A more likely source for the origin of go lies in the way Zhou divination changed.

The board is said to have started from an early form of the abacus. Others think it may have been a fortune-telling device, with the black and white stones representing yin and yang. A legend formed that it was made by an emperor to help improve the intelligence of his son. [1] Recent archeology ventures have added more concrete facts to this. China is the probable birthplace of Go (Wei-chi or Weiqi in Chinese, meaning "surrounding game"), but the date of appearance is still uncertain. In old books, however, the ancient term yi is also used. [2]


In the early 7th century BC, Go, backgammon and gambling were enjoyed by the Japanese according to the Chinese document entitled he Records of the Sui.

Go was popular with the T'ang Court and led to the popularity of Go with Japanese aristocrats and the Imperial Household.[3]

We know that Go was present in Japan at least since 1000 A.D., since it figures peripherally in Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, but it took a giant leap forward there in the 1600s. When the warlord Tokugawa unified Japan in 1602, he decreed that four schools of Go would be established. [4]

The Tokugawa government started to provide government subsidies to the four major Go houses: Honinbo, Inoue, Hayashi, and Yasui in 1612. This added to the support of Go.

Castle games (a kind of early tournament) become an official ceremony in the year 1628. [5]

With the Meiji restoration in the late 1800s, Go fell into a period of relative decline in Japan, but it was brought back to life in the 1920s with the formation of the Japan Go Association. Tournaments began being sponsored and many major titles now exist today. [6]

The last castle games are played in 1863 as government crises impact the importance of Go. In 1868, the Tokugawa Government falls ending the government subsidies for the Go houses. The first newspaper column for Go appears in Japan on the 1st of April in the year 1878. [7]


Chinese archaeologists have discovered a porcelain go board from the years 206 BC to 24 AD and that suggests that people started playing Go more than 2,000 years ago. A picture can be found here.

The board was found in the ruins of a watchtower at the tombs of Emperor Jingdi of the Western Han Dynasty, and his empress. The board was slightly damaged and irregularly sized.

The board might have been made from a floor tile and it did not belong to the royal family in question because the carvings are too rough.[8]

Around 600 B.C., China had already made a version of the game called Wei-chi and that had already become one of the Four Accomplishments that had to be perfected by the Chinese man.

Wei-chi became known in Korean and Japanese cultures through trade and other forms of contact between countries in the years 0-1000 A.D.[9]

We don't need just scientific evidence to say that Go is much older than that. We also have archaeological evidence. From China, this includes a 17x17 stone board from before the year 200 AD that was found in the Wangdu County of China in 1954 that is now in the Beijing Historical Museum. [10]

In 1978, a modern professional system was established, and a few years later began the Japan-China Super Go Series, an annual event where each countries top players faced off in a knockout format. [11]



Korean players playing Go in the 1910s

The way Go got to Korea was either when Qizi led a huge tribe of followers to Korea to avoid the fighting that was raging in China during the times of Confucius, or when the Chinese invaded and established the separate colonies in the year 109 BC.

The first actual visual evidence that Go was in Korea was when a stone board from around the 800s was found at the Hae-in Temple. This stone board is famous because the great scholar Ch'oe Ch'i-weon is thought to have played on it.[12]

The Korean professional system was established in the 1950s, when Cho Nam-chul returned from professional training in Japan. Today, Go (Baduk in Korean) is more popular in Korea than anywhere else in the world. It is estimated that between 5-10% of the population plays Go regularly. Today, nobody argues against the fact that some of the worlds' best players live and play Go in Korea. [13]

Far WestEdit

The details of Go were unknown outside of Asia for a lot of the games history. Oscar Korschelt, a German engineer, is credited with being the first person to try to get people to play Go in a non-Asian country. He learned about the game from Honinbo Shuho (Murase Shuho) when he worked in Japan from 1878 to 1886. [14]

Some of the earliest Go players in North America were Chinese workers working on the transcontinental railroad during the mid-1800s, but it unfortunate did not spread from there at that time.


A game of Go being played by farmers

Americans started noticing Go in the early 1900s after some German mathematicians and game players stumbled upon it, including Otto Korschelt and Edward Lasker, a cousin of the legendary chess player Emanuel Lasker and himself a well-known master. With Lee Hartmann and a few other people, Lasker made the American Go Association in New York in 1937. [15]



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