Devin Fraze can teach you how to play Go in about two minutes.
Understanding the depth, complexity and philosophy of the ancient Chinese board game might take longer – which is why there’s a Go Meetup at 7 p.m. every Thursday at Cup O’ Joe, 2990 N. High St. in Clintonville.
Fraze, lead organizer with the Columbus Go Club, has run the gatherings – which typically attract anywhere from eight to 14 attendees – for seven years, he said. He’s been playing Go for 15 years.
People gather to learn the game or to play against other experienced players, Fraze said.
“To try and teach yourself the game can be confusing and frustrating, but to sit down across the board from an experienced player is a great way to learn,” Fraze said.
The meetups, Fraze said, are “a friendly learning environment where people can learn the game, practice game play and play with friends.”
Although the game, with its black and white “stones,” might resemble the more commonly known Othello – Fraze admitted his first Go experience was a case of mistaken identity – the game play is far different.
The game’s Chinese name is “weiqi,” which roughly translates as “surrounding game.” The goal is to occupy more territory on the board than one’s opponent; boards range in size from nine crisscrossed lines to the 19-by-19-inch board that’s standard for tournament play.
Stones are removed from the board once they’re surrounded by stones of the opposite color.
“The game requires creativity and logic,” Fraze said. “It’s infinitely deep.”
Fraze contrasted Go game play with the Western game of chess. In Go, all the pieces are equal, with no hierarchy as there is in chess. Rather than work to empty the board, Go competitors fill the board and, at some point, reach a peaceful conclusion to the game.
Michael Queener, who helps Fraze run the Thursday meetups, said he was introduced to the game in elementary school and played briefly in high school but began playing regularly in Fraze’s group.
He said unlike chess and some other popular games, Go doesn’t have too many rules to learn.
“I have taught people how to play chess, which is a great game, but by comparison, when I teach someone to play Go, I always feel like I should have more to say,” Queener said with a laugh.
According to the American Go Association’s website, usgo.org, the group has 2,000 individual members and about 100 local clubs.
Fraze, a Franklinton resident, serves on the association’s board of directors. He said wheretoplaygo.com can help people find a group to play just about anywhere.
As the head of the local Go chapter, Fraze is dedicated to growing the game, adding he teaches Go regularly at elementary schools in Worthington and Dublin.
“I’m always happy to teach new players,” he said.