Unlike the topic could imply, this text isn’t about about the process of placing a stone on the board, nor about playing times, but instead about the pace of stones played on the board themselves.
The exact wording of the topic comes from a story I saw on the internet, in which Washington Post conducted a social experiment: Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world, played some of the world’s most intricate violin music for one hour on a public place with a $3,500,000 violin, and no passer-by realized it. The punchline of the story was as follows: “If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made… How many other things are we missing?”
Seeing the 1994 movie recently, The Shawshank Redemption, made me think a lot about time (some minor spoilers about the movie included in this paragraph). The movie is about prison inmates, the main characters being sentenced for life – they’ve got the time to do what not, but there’s not too much you can do in a prison. For most of the time, the protagonist is taking his time leisurely, without a worry in the world, yet making the prison a better place for other inmates. The movie made it seem like the inmates actually had it pretty well: food, shelter and basic hygiene and other needs guaranteed, and certainly not many things to be concerned about. With less content in each of their days, they could spend more time concentrating on what they’re doing, instead of having to hurry and conduct different businesses all the time. That certainly leaves more space to appreciate the beauty of things. A released, old inmate sends his friends a letter that begins as follows: “Dear fellas, I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they’re everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” Was a pretty touching scene.
How do these stories relate to go? Other than the more obvious realization that one well-played and enjoyed game could well be worth more than multiple fast and hastily played games, I also found an allusion to sente (“preceding move“, in common usage meaning a move or sequence that tempts the opponent to respond in some fashion) and gote (“following move“, meaning a move or sequence that doesn’t tempt the opponent to respond in any fashion). The amateurish way of playing unnecessary sente and forcing moves, extremely often seen in internet games, I could very well dub “getting in a big damn hurry”. It is not uncommon at all that instead of trying to do everything at the same time (like real-life multitasking), doing one thing properly is much better. Sente is well-used if there is a task you absolutely have to accomplish in a way that you also get to some other part of the board first. The forcing moves you may have to make will make the opponent’s position significantly stronger, but sometimes it may be worth it. In the opening and middle games, I consider it safe to say that trying to settle multiple positions in sente is never ever a good idea.
Here’s my game against Wang Wei 6 dan in the London Open Go Congress – I think I was able to play a few good gote moves, even if I did get hasty during the middle game. I was black.