The Surrounding Game (2018) Script

[soft instrumental music]


[speaking in foreign language] If you look at the core of this tree, there are many lines emanating.

You can only get it from a large tree.

Each ring represents one year.

From here to there, that's one hundred years.

Do you see how slowly this tree grew?

Yet its life continues.

That's why it is most fitting for a Go board to be made from trees.

The board is a window to the human mind.

Whether we want to or not it draws a picture of our thoughts and reveals what is inside us


[dance music plays]

[Computer] Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

The game has started.

The key is not to lose a game or otherwise the top pros probably won't play you.

[Friend] I don't care about that.

Who wants to play the top pros?

Who wants to get their asses kicked?

Me.

So Andy decided he was going to be insane, more so than usual.

He's going to try to win 40 games in a row playing against other people online.

He has 21 hours remaining.

No, I need a four.

[dinging]

[Friend] So what number win is that?

It's two.

There are two ways you can get very good at this game.

One, you study very hard and take lots of good lessons, think hard, study, do your homework.

The other, you play maniacally for days on end without stopping.

[upbeat instrumental music]

Every time I'd go to the Go club in Flushing I'd always encounter Andy Liu.

He was about 8 years old and had become very strong already.

I would say he's a genius.

He might have some mutation.

[woman] I don't know how his social skills are but on the Go board he's obviously a monster.

He has 18 wins, zero losses, so he needs to win another 22 more without losing any to make it on time.

[boy] Andy, he doesn't train.

He just plays 20 games everyday online.

But doing that, he's now the strongest player in North America I think.

I think he's stronger than me now because of his weird style.

You have five minutes.

It all comes down to this [laughs].

Yes!

[cheering]

[Friend] There he goes, 60 bucks in the bag.

I didn't think you were gonna make it.

I've never seen anyone play this much in my entire life.

[upbeat instrumental music]

[sirens wailing]

[soft instrumental music]


[Ben] Once you reach a certain level, if you live in the United States, you don't have anyone to play in person.

I mean there's a tiny handful of people who are really serious about it.

And actually if the bar for being serious about it means going to Asia and training, then maybe I'm the only one.

If you win a game you feel great, you think about staying in Korea, you know how great it is, and when you lose you think about you know, going back to the US, going back home [laughs], giving it all up, it's just highs, lows.

All day, everyday for years.

I've had these times where it's like, I'm living my life with these tiny Asian boys and girls and I'm just like [blubbering] where am I?

I have no choice, given the things I care about, and given the speed at which I want to improve.

Yeah, I don't have much of a choice.

[soft instrumental music]

[sirens wailing]

[humming]

Where did my wife put the filters?

So we got the coffees here, cake if anybody wants it.

Alright.

In 1975, walking down 57th Street, I go by a little game store and I noticed that there are two guys playing Go.

I walk in, I say, hi, you're playing Go.

And they said, "You know that this is Go?"

And I said, yeah sure.

The rules of Go are very simple.

It's played on a grid of lines.

Two players take turns putting stones on the intersections.

Once stones are played on the board they don't move.

But stones can be captured and removed if all the empty intersections around them are occupied by their opponent.

[soft instrumental music]

The goal of the game is to surround territory with your stones.

At the end of the game, whoever controls more of the board wins.

When you are playing Go, you're often kind of zoomed in to one corner of the board and you're thinking about what's gonna happen locally as a result of making this move.

So I'm gonna go here and black's gonna go here and then white goes here and black goes there.

Oh I see, what if I go here and there and blah, blah, blah.

So you're really zoomed in and you're focused.

But the thing about Go is that that's happening all over the board at the same time right.

Those little situations are emerging here and here and here and each one of them is its own tactical puzzle.

But they're all subtly connected because the outcome of this tactical situation is going to exert an influence on this one.

You have these rules and they're simple and in a way, obvious, and yet they lead to this rich, ambiguous, complicated, subtle, hard to predict, and hard to understand set of possibilities.

Go is so complex and so open-ended that it requires the intuitive and the aesthetic part of the brain as much as the analytical part so it rewards creativity and analysis simultaneously.

And it's never boring, every game is different.

Go is by far the toughest strategy game for computers.

In chess there's about 35 legal moves on the board at any one time.

[man] In Go there's over 200 and so if you want the program to look four moves ahead, it has to look at 35 and then 35 for each of those, and 35 for each of those in chess.

In Go it's 200 times 200 times 200 times 200.

There is no brute force search for Go and there never will be.

The only way to simplify that, to be able to manage it, is to have a feeling for the game and that's the right brain side of the game.

Where you go, hmm, I don't know but this feels right.

Go is a game that really fits the human mind very well, it fits with who we are, it fits with our ability to take a lot of disparate information and make patterns out of it.

[soft instrumental music]

[man speaking in foreign language] To become a professional Go player you must walk a very arduous path.

You have to give up regular school leave home when you're about ten years old and train every day from 8 AM to 10 PM.

They start at the age of five or six.

And then become pro like 13, 14.

From our experience, the younger the better.

[speaking in foreign language] As you can see these tables are arranged so you are by yourself.

I only could go back to my hometown like once a year or twice a year.

And I remember like when I, every time when my parents called me I cried and I said oh I miss you and I want to go back and my Dad always said, "If you want to fulfill your dream you have to stay there, "you have to study, you have to work harder."

[soft instrumental music]

Most of the people who want to become professionals, they gave up the education because they don't have enough time to study both.

Becoming professional is their dream so they can give up everything.

[soft instrumental music]

[man speaking in foreign language] Only people who have Go deep in their souls would walk down this path.

[Terry in English] It's very different when you're trying to take something which is not a part of a culture and add it to a culture.

So here.

These are all the old pictures.

I mean I always liked it and I always played it, but I couldn't find other people to play with most of the time, that's just the way it goes.

In the 50s and 60s, I rarely ran into another Go player.

If I met somebody who was Asian I asked and usually they didn't play either.

There was a time when I think the AGA membership was in significant danger of just going out of existence.

Terry Benson took over and he served as President for 10 years.

My belief is that he probably saved the AGA.

The AGA had fallen to 200 members and nobody was doing anything and there were checks left in the drawer, so they immediately drew me into the circle, I started playing tournament Go and within eight months I was editing the American Go Journal.

We were sittin' around just talkin' saying, "We oughta have a big tournament, "invite everybody from the whole country."

♪ I build a big white group with points by the dozen♪

♪ Right in the center of the board ♪

♪ I can move right here ♪

[cheering]

I wanna see Go become a cultural normal thing in America.

It's gonna take awhile for that to happen in America but I think that someday if somebody says, "Oh yeah and I'm a Go player," they won't have to explain.

I've been dreaming and preaching and arguing for growth and promotion as the number one priority for the AGA for many years.

We're 75 years old and to have a membership of 2,100 or 2,200 after 75 years, it's breathtakingly sad honestly.

[clacking]

[Announcer] Bags and other large containers are subject to random search by the police.

[Andy] What does the normal college grad do?

I mean who wants to work in a corporation?

Like everybody follows rules, there's cubicles, like you have to work in cubicles, every morning you receive a memo you know, that kind of environment and I'm a little bit afraid of that.

I could try to play Go better but that's not meaningful in the sense that it could be a career or whatever.

It's just not a career path.

This is every pro who became professional from one of the three schools, going back to the very first one which is my teacher.

There, you just don't go.

You don't go to A, you don't breathe the rarefied air of A.

But that's all, that's a professional study group basically and this door, I don't know what do you think?

Can I open it, can I go in?

I hear people in there.

[door slamming]

[dramatic instrumental music]

[buzzing]

[clinking]


[speaking in foreign language] We've always referred to China, Korea and Japan as the Three Kingdoms of Go.

It has been passed down generation after generation each stronger than the last.

-[soft instrumental music] -[camera shutters clicking]

[speaking in foreign language] There is chess in the West but Go is incomparably more subtle.

It is the most difficult game ever devised by human beings.

[speaking Japanese] Passing down the beauty of Go to many people is a professional's responsibility.

Handing down this beauty is as important as winning prize money.

[speaks Japanese] The level of the whole Go world...

...improving the global level of Go is what's most important.

That is the direction everyone especially professionals should move towards.

[in English] At the highest levels, what the pros are thinking about is several orders of magnitude more than what any of the amateurs think about.

Everyone starts as a beginner where you know how to put the stones on the board, how to capture, how to get to the end of the game.

But every level above that you're learning something.

The ranking system starts at 30 kyu.

As you improve you move up, 20 kyu, 10 kyu, one kyu.

Then you enter the black belt master ranks: one dan, two dan, to nine dan.

And above that are the professionals: pro one dan, pro two dan, all the way to pro nine dan.

I'm Gregory Marshall and I'm in 16 kyu.

My name's Rachel Small.

I am playing as a nine kyu.

My name is Larry Morningvey.

I'm theoretically a six kyu.

Somewhere around five kyu, at least in my experience, it starts getting a little thick, it gets a little tougher to move up.

Oh lord, I've been a four kyu for so long [laughs].

Among the dan level players, we kyu, have not yet begun to learn.

You almost definitely play at least closer to 1,000 games to become a dan player.

After that you're on the road of playing serious Go.

[man] When I was around four kyu, three kyu, in there, I became convinced I'm gonna have this game down you know.

And then you get to one dan, two dan and you start realizing, oh crap, I don't know anything.

[Terry] For the top amateur players and all the professionals, what they are considering, what they're thinking about is almost beyond my comprehension.

They will be thinking about 20 and 30 move sequences, using their knowledge base of shapes and patterns.

At the top level they are in a different world frankly.

[soft instrumental music]

[man] You know in the past 20 years, a lot of AGA organizers, they put a lot of time and a lot of effort into youth activities.

We have built up a collection of awesomely strong kid players.

And we needed to be in a position to give them some kind of a next step.

[dramatic instrumental music]

[man] My name is Myungwan Kim.

I came from Korea and I'm a Certified Nine-Dan Professional from Korean Go Association.

[Allan] Myungwan came over as an ambassador for the Korean Baduk Association.

First thing he said to me was, we need a pro system in the United States.

You need to have a professional system to have geniuses.

Just one or two people one or two geniuses can change the picture.

He came back and said, "I found you a sponsor.

"They've agreed to support the qualification tournament."

And I said, oh well, now that might be different.

[Allan] Good evening and welcome to all our distinguished visitors as we witness the first qualifying tournament for the AGA Professional Certification System.

[audience applauding]

[Myungwan] There will be 16 finalists, and they play to pick 2 professionals.

First time outside of Asia that an organization is certifying professionals but we will have our own unique American brand.

It's very much a beginning for us because we really don't know what an American professional system is going to look like.

[Driver] So what did you get?

Did you get me anything?

Uh, I got Pringles, beef jerky, Doritos, and Naked juice.

[overlapping chatter]

Welcome, we will be playing three rounds today, two rounds tomorrow.

The winner of this tournament will have the opportunity to go to North Carolina this summer to compete to become one of the first two homegrown and homemade American pros.

At meetings I derided the idea that this country was ready for a pro system.

That being said, it was an opportunity that was hard to say no to.

[upbeat instrumental music]

[Ben] Back in the States to play in this Professional Tournament.

It's not the seriousness of Asia but I think it's the first time in 10 years where I've seen some serious stab at it.

[upbeat instrumental music]

Easy work... easy work.

'Cause of the shortage of liberties.

But here he's just not going to.

He didn't turn so now he's just gonna push and play here.

Ready to kill him!

[upbeat instrumental music]

It gets ugly.

I like ugly games.

[Andy] His playing style is hyper-aggressive, with no regards for his own safety or those of his opponent.

[upbeat instrumental music]

[announcer] For the AGA Pro Selection Tournament the winner is Benjamin Lockhart.

[audience applauding]

And first place, undefeated is Liu Zhi Yuan An invitation to the first AGA Professional Selection Tournament.

[cheering]

The tournament was great.

I thought the muffins were great, the chocolate chip cookies, the coffee [laughs].

[upbeat instrumental music]

Alright, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.

Actually I need a container so I'm just gonna do this.

You wanna help yourself?

[Friend] Sure.

How much is that?

780.

[Curtis] Andy, he's a huge favorite.

What did you say?

You know who I think is the second favorite?

Dude, I think you're number two, that's my opinion.

I think Calvin Sun, no Calvin Sun.

You know where I'm really confident in myself?

I'm confident with my poker skills.

[laughing]

Yeah dude, we're gonna be playing a lot of poker, we'll be careful about getting enough sleep and stuff.

I mean I'm gonna take it pretty seriously.

Oh you're gonna take it seriously for the Pro Qualifier?

Yeah, dude, do you understand that I've been training for a long time in Korea?

-Do you know what I've been-- -Wait, how long, how long?

You're not going to college?

Seriously?

Well not yet, I don't think I'm ever gonna go to college.

I think it'll just be too much time of my life.

I just hope you don't fall into the old way of thinking about playing Go.

Oh dude, I am.

I mean the most important thing to me is winning period.

I don't care about the beauty of the game anymore.

You have to fight, you always have to fight, always a resistant fight, I mean that's go.

Oh shit, oh shit, I think Ben is getting the concept now.

[laughing]

[soft instrumental music]

[man speaking Chinese] The origin of Go is very mysterious.

Chinese history goes back 5000 years but many ancient records are essentially legend.

About the origin of Go, there is one story.

People who wanted to observe the universe would use a net to envelop the sky and record the location of the stars at the crossing threads.

[soft instrumental music]

[in English] The oldest evidence we do have is sixth century B.C.

At this time we had the Korea Go game but still we don't know how big the Go board was that time.

[soft instrumental music]

[man] In China traditionally, Go was one of the four fine arts.

There's music, painting, and calligraphy, and Go.

And when Japan acquired the game in the eighth century, it was considered as a fine art.

[soft instrumental music]

[Zhou Gang in Chinese] By the Tang dynasty, Go had reached Japan.

Go advanced so much in Japan they left China and the other countries far behind.

[speaks Japanese] These are the official Go archives.

This room is used to present the history of Go.

[soft instrumental music]

In the tale of Genji, the game of Go is mentioned so we know that Go is played by the Buddhist clergy.

It was played at the royal court.

[Zhou Gang in Chinese] In ancient times, Japan was a very rigid hierarchy.

But Go gave the common man a way to climb the social ladder.

If a person played Go very well they could speak with the top government officials!

[man in English] During the 17th and 18th and 19th centuries, Japan was the center of the Go playing world and it was regarded so highly that they decided to subsidize Go and during the entire Edo shogunate from 1612 for the next well over 200 years, the best Go players enjoyed a stipend from the government and it just produced a whole string of tremendous players.

[soft instrumental music]

Go Seigen was a Chinese Go player who was discovered when some Japanese players visited China and brought over to Japan.

Even before he was 20 years old, he was one of the top players in Japan and they organized a series of 10 game matches between him and other leading Japanese players and he won almost all of these matches.

Over time, he defeated all of the other strongest Japanese players.

He sort of changed the flow of the game.

[speaking Japanese] When I was a child I had a chance to see one of Go Seigen's games.

This was in the old days. when it was not easy to get close to the players.

I was looking at Go Seigen's back and I saw an aura, a glowing aura.

I don't know if anyone else saw it but I felt it that way.

To us Go Seigen was not human but something way above.

A whole different level.

[soft instrumental music]

[speaking Chinese] This board is signed by master Go Seigen.

It's from 70 years ago, I believe.

[Ben] Alright, everybody in?

Now, what we have to do is let each other show off by laying down something really simple for the other person to show off so like.

[beatboxing]

Andy on the track.

Is Andy on the track?

♪ Is Andy on the track ♪

[beatboxing]

And is Andy on the track?

[laughing]

[upbeat instrumental music]

[man] The Go Congress is the national gathering for 400 dedicated Go players.

If you play Go it's the place to be for a week.

This is a Go board in the shape of the United States.

This is blind Go and the white pieces are flat so the players who are blindfolded can tell what they're doing.

This is spiral Go, this is the 3,4,6,4 tessellation.

Oh, somebody just got captured.

Two gold stones just got captured by red, green, and blue.

This is my 26th Congress in a row.

Go had to take the place of sex for me for a year and it's kind of scary how well it did.

Well I have Go tattooed on my back.

Even though the stones don't move once they're on the board, they kind of develop sort of cloud shapes forming and reforming.

It's an iconic Congress because someone goes Pro, first US Pro, that's amazing.

Outside of Asia we're the first Western country to do this.

We're going to find our Bobby Fischer who's gonna energize the whole country, and we will become internationally competitive.

[cheering]

[paper rustling]

So the main thing about the tournament is that we have a couple of constraints.

One is we only have a week to do it in, but two, we need to be sure that we've selected the strongest people.

So one of the best ways to do that is a double elimination tournament.

So people come in, they start playing here, and as they win they go through this bracket, if you lose you drop through here, and if you manage to beat everybody else, you can still manage to turn up as one of the pros.

[soft instrumental music]

I need everybody to come up here and initial by it indicating that you agree to the rankings shown.

[man] I really want to thank you all for coming here.

When we decided to try this difficult experiment, we put American Go on a new heading and we don't know exactly where it's going to wind up.

We're trying to make an American Go community where when someone decides to put as much time and as much effort and as much passion into the game as you guys have, they can go as far as hard work and talent will take them.

[audience applauding]

Alright, it's the official start.

[soft instrumental music]


How did I manage to lose that game?

Unbelievable.

So you lost, Dillon lost, Ben lost.

He threw it away, you got your ass kicked.

I am so fucking pissed right now.

[sighing]

I know, but I really threw it, really whooping his ass all game.

I thought I was like, I had the entire game, like I thought I was just controlling the entire game and eventually I end up losing that much.

How much?

7.5.

[Ben] Shit.

Dude, that was biggest upset in Go history I think.

[Andy] You're arrogant, you both are arrogant.

This game was way too huge.

You can't lose the first game dude.

[Ben] Dude, you really can't.

[man] One of the striking things is time just disappears.

You're so absorbed in the game and it's just the most refreshing thing.

Instead of having all this clutter in your head and worry about things you're just absorbed in this ideal world of the Go board.

But it's a long process and somewhere in the middle of the game one has to encounter, or one comes to terms with one's own imperfections, a certain kind of impatience or fear or greed and it's like some of the beautiful elements of the Go suddenly become clouded with all these other emotions.

[laughing]

[Frank] At the heart of Go is a concept called emergence.

How do you go from something that's obvious to something that's non-obvious right?

How do you go from something that's simple to something that's complex.

So stone's empty neighbors are called its liberties and I can capture a group by filling in all of its liberties.

When there's one liberty left, we say that that group is in atari.

Then with one more move I can capture that group.

Now this group is harder to capture

'cause if I try to put a white stone in the middle, it actually gets captured first.

So instead I have to surround the outside first putting black in atari.

Only then can I play in the middle and capture them.

Now, what about this group?

Even after I surround the outside, wherever white plays next, white would be captured first.

So actually, black can never be captured because it has these two internal liberties which we call eyes.

And any group with two eyes can never be captured.

A fundamental strategic concept in Go is to make two eyes when your groups come under attack.

Now there's no rule in Go that says you can't capture a group with two eyes.

It just follows necessarily from the existing rules, and this is a very simple example of what we mean by emergence.

So there are lots of examples of this in the world.

How do we get from atoms interacting according to the rules of physics, to thinking?

How do we get from the material stuff of the gray matter inside your head to the sensation of being alive, to consciousness?

And it's hard to see how it's even possible that they could arise from the operation of simple, deterministic rules.

And yet, here's Go to show us that it's all of a piece.

That those things can exist, that the mysterious and the obvious can exist in the same square.

So I'm playing against Justin Tang, nice key name.

Nice, who's?

Dude, I'm gonna be playing Matthew Burrall.

Which means they're gonna be covering me in an unofficial white man championship.

[man] I think he's the strongest white guy in America.

But that's not saying anything.

We'll bet on that game.

I'll bet on Matthew.

[suspenseful music]


[speaking Chinese] We create these things because we've seen the treasure concealed in Go.

This wood is in the process of drying.

They have to dry in the shade for up to ten years because they're quite thick.

This is my second older brother.

He's the craftsman.

Forty-nine years!

I've been making Go boards since I was 13 years old.

First I put this on the board.

And then with a drafting machine.

Up and down, up and down.

I draw all these lines by hand.

[in English] One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.

[in Chinese] These are shells for making stones.

A clam has to die and be submerged underwater for decades before you can get this.

This board is made of Gingko tree.

The tree is 500 years old.

Everything is made with purpose.

The baby turtles hold the stones.

Why do we make the board out of trees?

We use wood because it represents the Earth to express what happens in this world on the board.

As we protect our territory we build upon what came before.

We position ourselves more firmly on the path we have chosen.


Yeah, he just made a call in Calvin's corner so Calvin's still struggling but he's probably done.

I kind of wanted to go further but I mean these people are too strong.

[Computer] 60 seconds.

You have 60 seconds.

That is one whitey down.

[Friend] Last place standing.

The White Castle is helping.

I'm just happy that I don't, I'm not fuckin' out.

[sighing]

You can see the competition sparking among them, and you can see how the games seem to be inspiring them and driving them that much further.

And that's everything you can hope for and so right now it's been a dream.

In America, yeah it might be very difficult to push a kid to study more than 10 hours, they don't study that much, not like Asia, but still I think it's possible to be a very good professional.

There are always pros and cons, if you want to gain something you have to sacrifice the other one.

[soft instrumental music]

[Ben] I grew up doing little math puzzles and games.

I was thinking you take me, I take you, then that, I would go there or there.

I guess.

From the ages of nine to 15, Go is just the thing I was always by far the best at and most talented at.

There was this time where it's like, I'm 16, I spend my time studying Go, walking in the park.

But my priority was always just getting outside of school and outside of having to be somewhere.

Andy and I would just stay there all night playing online or against each other for six or seven hours and get fast food or whatever food was open at 4:00 AM.

You know, both skip school the next day [laughs].

You develop too much of a relationship with something and then especially if you don't suck at it, it becomes impossible to pull away.

[soft instrumental music]


[Zhou Gang in Chinese] There's a saying in China: one wrong move and the world crumbles.

The first time Japan sent a Go delegation to China was in 1960.

But they had no chance against the Japanese players.

They were way behind.

[man in English] For a long time, China was trying to catch up with Japan and Korea too, and eventually they did.

And for historical reasons, in China and especially Korea, beating Japan is very big.

[Zhou Gang in Chinese] In the 1960s we entered the New China era.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China came the greatest development of Go because the government gave it unprecedented importance.

[man in English] They started producing some strong players.

In the 1970s China had Nie Weiping and he could beat most of the Japanese pros and he did it repeatedly and this of course, caused a sensation in China.

[in Chinese] My happiest memory was the China-Japan Super Go tournament. which I won three times in a row. It was miraculous!

And afterwards I got a call from Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping congratulating me.

[man in English] As for Korea, one of their strongest players was Cho Hunhyun who made pro at the age of nine.

Then when they started playing international games professionally, he won the first Ing Cup.

[speaking Chinese]

[in Korean] After winning the match...

...they told me to get in a convertible Since I was the winner I had to get in.

And we were riding in a parade from Gimpo airport. before I even knew what was happening.

[Nie Weiping in Chinese] After Cho Hunhyun won the Ing Cup the media began covering the game extensively.

[speaking Chinese]

The attitude towards Go was changing totally.

We became thinking like Go is not a philosophy but a game or a sport.

[man speaking Chinese] The starting age became lower and lower.

These days we start as young as kindergarten.

[woman in English] If you become pro at the age of 13, then you can have a good chance to become World's Best Player, but if you are already 15 you won't have any chance.

At that time it was not considered as late but these days, too late.

[Woman in Chinese] When I was learning we studied the Japanese style. which focused on being aesthetically pleasing.

Today it's impossible to win with that style.

Because now winning is everything.

[soft instrumental music]

I won.

Ben is black.

[Curtis] Black doesn't witness too many liberties.

There's seven, yeah there's one, yeah.

Black I don't think.

[soft instrumental music]

Oh my goodness dude, like he's not clutch.

What do you mean, he died?

I said Ben is not clutch.

Ben's gonna be pretty mad.

He's gonna be so pissed.

So, he resigned?

He resigned.

It went so fast.


[speaking Chinese] Threw it away.

No, I don't think you're bad. I just think that.

Why did you connect? You wanted to kill more?

I dunno. I hallucinated.

I thought either way I lived.

But why is Andy, wait. [Ben] Of course Andy's.

[Curtis] Dude, no why do you play so fast?

You have so much time left.

When he went down why don't you take 30 minutes and figure out almost all the variations?

Sloppy dude.

I got sloppy.

[soft instrumental music]

I won.

Andy won?

I spent several hours in front of the Go board everyday for the past two years.

I mean the first time I didn't sit in front of a Go board for 24 hours was my plane ride back from Korea a week and a half ago.

And then the first thing I did when I landed in New York was go upstairs.

I've never, I mean it's the only thing where I've ever just given 100% you know.

[water splashing]

[soft instrumental music]

[sighing]

My ideas about life all, the only consistent pattern is that the way you should spend your life is by playing around with your brain.

What else are you gonna do?

You gonna run around like try to get super rich and just kind of engage in all sorts of [sighs] like carnal pleasures and that's what you're gonna spend your life trying to do?

I don't even know if that's, well that's pretty gross to me.

I'm just saying it's not easy to feel, it's not easy for me to feel okay with things in this world.

-[thunder rumbling] -[water splashing]

[Ben] I wanna spend all my time in the world of Go and I don't really wanna spend much time dealing with the real world.

He won.

[muttering]

On a scale of one to 10 right now, I'm like 7.5 pissed.

Dude, I think I should quit Go with you.

Like before I thought I stood a chance to beat Andy, right now I can't even beat them.

I was lucky that game. I did not play well.

I did not play well.

[Curtis] I just want Andy to lose a game.

[Ben] That can't happen.

Andy can't lose unless he wants to.

Dude no, that's definitely not true.

Gansheng.

[Andy] Gansheng please win so I can play you.

I know your style.

-Oh shit, oh shit. -Is that a challenge?

[Curtis] If you beat Andy two to zero, I'll finally admit.

[soft instrumental music]

I'm gonna be in the finals playing Andy Liu and you know, he's a strong opponent.

I just think he has a different mindset and he doesn't play the normal moves and I think I just gotta play solid with him, you know not make too many mistakes and try as hard as I can.

[Computer] Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

[dramatic instrumental music]

I'm sort of like a perfectionist so I think our brainpower is not nearly enough.

I mean multiply our brainpower by a million and our imaginations will still not be rich enough.

Take every possible configuration of matter in the universe, arrange the universe into all possible configurations and you can come up with some pretty intelligent beings.

Hyperintelligent beings who just look at the world and then the ability to predict everything that will happen afterwards.

My lifetime goal would just be to be reincarnated in a far higher being.

Imagine an intelligent being that does not have an ego.

It won't have emotions, all it would be able to do is just perform endless calculation.

And yeah, that would be a computer I guess.

[dramatic instrumental music]

[overlapping chatter]

[soft instrumental music] [soft instrumental music]


I win by 10.

[Curtis] Andy and I, we've been friends since 2000 maybe.

We've known each other for 12 years and we've been like rivals, like you know he went back to China sometimes to learn Go.

I went back to China and we just kept on doing that.

Andy doesn't care about the prize money.

Andy cares about his theories and his thoughts and that's like me too.

[laughing]

The more I think about it, he's just not a normal person.

[Ben] No, you need to be like that dude.

To be good at Go.

Study the game and be a normal person.

I'm actually, I think I'm quite normal.

You know who's just a normal like--

Do you think I'm normal?

Gansheng's pretty normal, he tries to hit on girls, he likes girls whereas Andy, Andy you know what, I don't think Andy likes girls.

I think he, maybe he does, I don't know.

When you really ask him he's like "No, I don't care."

But Gansheng and I, we're clearly like almost exactly the same.

We do a lot of shit the same.

Our thoughts are the same like play Go, try our best, if we can't we lose, we go back to college, you know have some fun with some girls, and then you know study, get a degree, and then you know start working, have a good life.

That's our thought but I don't know about Ben but Andy's thoughts doesn't, it's all messed up, he doesn't know what he wants.

[man] Andy has managed to go undefeated in all of his games all the way through.

And so he is in the final, best out of three, and he is up one game so if he is to win this game then he would be our first certified professional.

One minute to settle down and find your places.

One minute please.

[Gansheng] How much time did you use?

-Fifty. -Oh shit.

I made Andy use more than 30 minutes.

[soft instrumental music]


I think Gansheng Shi played much better this game.

Andy, on the other hand played fast in the beginning so he made a few mistakes.

Maybe he was too confident?

It looks certainly like he's confident about what he's doing, he's playing so fast.

This thing in the lower left corner blew my mind.

He's just putting stones in everywhere.

Isn't it Andy's normal MO though to just play fast and super confidently?

[soft instrumental music]


[man speaking Chinese] The last thing I was able to see was Go.

So Go is my last memory and final image.

Not being able to see has made me concentrate more and read more thoroughly.

[soft instrumental music]

[man speaking Chinese] The game is endless.

I don't think human beings can ever master it.

[soft instrumental music]

Andy appears to be irritated, he appears to have not foreseen what has begun to happen.

[Curtis] If he connects those two stones.

-You're talkin' about here at Q12?

-[Curtis] Yeah.

Then that would be one big eye and why he would need to find another eye.

I actually beat Andy in New Jersey Open when he was four down so I actually have a win against him so it will be kind of cool if he becomes the first pro.

Then I can say, well I'm one and oh against him myself.

[laughing]

He was very young [laughs].

[soft instrumental music]

[Friend] Is that group in a tie?

Is that group, yeah, I mean I think he's.

[soft instrumental music]

Good game.

It's over, he resigned! It's over.

Andy resigned.

He's dead?

He's dead, it's a false eye.

Ooh, those guys got cut off.

Those guys are dead.

He was late, he had a chance to connect.

Yup, yeah those guys were always a target.

Well it's, I would say 50-50 now right?

Whichever one takes the next game is the first pro.

-Andy, what happened? -I dunno.

You're so territorial.

Like territorial.

Yes, yes!

See, I told you, Andy's not that much stronger than us.

[laughing]

Let's go.

[soft instrumental music]

[Andy] The average human lifespan is a bit short, I would prefer to be living for like maybe 3,000 years or so like that would be enough to learn a lot of things that I would want to learn.

I would prefer not to put myself in the thick of things but just watch our evolution from or like,

ideally I would like to be blessed with a prodigious imagination and just create my own worlds in my mind.

You would be the ruler of your own imaginary universe without actually subjecting other people to your whims.

As long as you don't feel stupid just living in your own imaginary world it's pretty enticing.

[man speaking Chinese] The game is so difficult only part of it has been conquered.

When I sit in front of the board

I fall completely into the game.

When I am lost in my passion I have endless dreams...

dreams of unbelievable moves that never occurred to me before.

But once I reached a certain level the more I played the more I felt its difficulty.

Even the best players in history their level is low in light of the game's sheer complexity.

[woman in Chinese] Many of the famous top players... they will sometimes sit at the board through the whole night.

[Woman 2 in Chinese] Just the empty board?

[Woman in Chinese] Yes.

They won't play, they won't read books, they just sit there and think.

[man in Japanese] Ever since I was young I've been studying Go Seigen's games.

It changes the way you play.

After every move lies a world unknown.

[speaks Korean] You are not Picasso or Monet just because you imitate their paintings.

Art is formed by putting your own color into something.

A legendary player isn't just remembered for winning.

They change the paradigms of the game.

That's what I am striving to do too but I have a long way to go.

[speaks Japanese] More than forty years ago as computers were getting bigger a computer expert told me that computers would become more and more powerful.

But considering the amount of space on a 19x19 board wide as the universe if a computer manages to win many things will be different... the age we live in will have changed.

Anyway, today's about you.

Today's about you and how you're gonna lose to Gansheng and make a bunch of excuses about it.

I mean he played well against me, but can he repeat that every game?

I don't know.

It's in the bag.

[laughing]

[soft instrumental music]

[Interviewer] What are you guys thinking about the game?

-No idea. -I encourage Gansheng...

Beat him!

He's got to get that group out anyways, it's just a question of whether his other group is strong enough to get any type of a double attack going between the two white groups right?

Yeah, that's what this is about, the last 10 moves have been all about.

Here he's blocking.

This white group doesn't have much territory so I would say in this exchange Andy has scored a minor victory.

[soft instrumental music]


I'm gettin' scared Andy's gonna over attack again and it's gonna bite him.

I have no basis for this opinion on him.

He's gonna what?

He's gonna over attack again and lose something like he did last, yesterday.

Oh boy.

They're jostling for position in the middle so now it's kind of like an arm wrestling match in the middle if whoever pushes the other guy away is going to have a big advantage.

[soft instrumental music]

[Curtis] White has won the arm wrestling competition, he's kind of got black surrounded now.

It seems like white scored, Gansheng scored a very major victory in this fight.

He's obviously completely closed down but if he can survive the game is great for white.

[man] Black was quite prepared for that, threatening the double atari on one side and the tomb of capture on the other.

Now Andy's thinking.

[soft instrumental music]

There's been like three times when Andy's been most confident, and the other guy's managed to throw a wrench in the works.

I think he's still okay.

[Computer] 30 seconds.

[soft instrumental music]

Of course, Gansheng tries to kill the entire group.

This is extremely exciting.

Now black has no way to live, he has not enough eyes.

Now the only thing he can do is he can push and cut off the middle white group against, and the corner white group, neither of which are alive either.

[soft instrumental music]

This is a nasty race.

[soft instrumental music]


[Curtis] So right now, Andy's definitely winning because Gansheng's middle group is dead.

Oh man, this is terrible.

I think Gansheng probably made a mistake in reading.

That's the end of the universe.

[soft instrumental music]


If you're still playing a game, please pause your thoughts for a moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present the first US Certified Go Professional, Andy Liu.

-[audience applauding] -[soft instrumental music]

[All] Andy!

-Next time you should play teaching games!

-[laughing]

Please pause your thoughts for one moment.

I would like to present the second US Certified Go Professional, Gansheng Shi.

[audience applauding]

These two emerged as the top of the heap and are achieving the first AGA certificates as professionals.

And they deserve all our honor and respect.

We have high hopes for their futures.

Green tea, five different kinds of green tea.

And when you make these teas and drink these teas you can remember this experience.

[laughing]

So the AGA will send you to the five biggest tournaments in Korea.

You are not just individual Go players anymore.

You are representing the American Go Association as well and the American Go community as a whole.

So if you become strong and hero and make a lot of money there will be thousands of kids who'd like to learn Go because of you.

They want to be like you.

It may seem like the same as it was a few days ago, everything's changed.

Apparently we get our own business cards.

[Friend] Oh, well then.

Where's Gansheng?

Oh, right here [laughs].

Is that weed?

No.

[Andy] BC card, LG card, Samsung card.

There's two more.

Are invited?

Like you don't even have to play or pre-qualify?

It's our precondition.

A main tournament?

Out of 32 people there's going to be two American players?

Yeah, they invite our association.

And we get our own business card.

[laughing]

With the AGA.

Oh my goodness.

I don't know what to say.

What was your question?

[Gansheng] Like when do you think we might go to Korea to play in these tournaments?

I'm not sure.

[laughing]

I'm actually... my attention is being taken away by this game.

[clattering]

[soft instrumental music]

[Ben] I'm not going to leave a good thing in Korea.

When I say it's a good thing, it's as opposed to what?

You get your one adventure while you're still alive.

Like what else am I gonna do?

This is the thing that I'm best at, take your talent to its full potential and see where that goes.

Factoring in all that, I just don't even care, like okay whatever, better, worse, I have to live in a studio apartment for the rest of my life like that's not changing anything about the fact that everything's what you make it and like treated my brain the way it wanted to be treated, did it what it was asking for and made myself happy as opposed to lying to myself and living in a suit that doesn't fit.

I don't know, I'm a little bit scared for him.

I don't know, he's not gonna thrive, he's not gonna survive in a corporate setting, I know that.

Will he be okay if he just spent the rest of his life

not as an outcast but just an unusual member of society, just like a [sighs].

Neither of you fit into society very well.

Neither of us?

[Curtis] I think I have the ability to fit in.

You do?

Okay.

I'll try to watch my stuttering, for example.

The only reason I do that is because I look for... more precise words to describe myself.

But that's not how most people speak.

If you don't wanna work, what are you gonna do?

[Andy] What do you mean?

Well if you're not gonna go and do some random job.

I am going to, just in time.

[Curtis] Oh, so you are?

Yeah.

[Curtis] Okay.

A job is important.

[Andy] I agree.

[Ben] Hi.

So we have to find, I think if we go downstairs, there's gonna be more stores and you can get a cake.

Yeah, I'd love to get a cake with a 99 on it.

I was expecting rolling green hills, like he lives on top of a mountain or something like that.

[laughing]

Hope he likes the cake.

[speaking Japanese] We will bring him in.


It is close to your birthday on the old calendar.

So we will have a birthday party.

♪ Happy Birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy Birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy Birthday Go Seigen ♪

♪ Happy Birthday to you ♪

[speaking Japanese] Everyone together!

One, two, three!

[in Japanese] This is strong.

An amateur might cut here but this is the vital point.

[Michael] Better hit the key point.

[speaking Japanese] Even if you capture two stones it's no good!

This is big.

It's big.

-[Ben in English] What year? -[Michael] 1942.

It was his first game of Jubango.

[in Japanese] I often played with Kitani sensei overnight.

I would get tired when it was late but then I'd be more awake in the morning and catch up.

We used to play pool near the Go center.

Kitani would be taking off his glasses and it would take him five minutes to hit the ball.

[Michael in English] He's talking about the time when he was young.

They didn't have time limits sometimes, sometimes the time limit was a lot, and so games would go on throughout the night.

[Go Seigen in Japanese] He was a good-hearted person.

Once when I went to a temple in Kyoto

I played an exceptionally good game.

But with one move an atari the game was spoiled.

Master Segoe and the priests were all disappointed.

It was so close to perfect but that one atari...

[soft instrumental music]

[in Japanese] Go can bring happiness to people around the world.

That is the best thing.

I'm glad that I have played Go.

[Michael in English] He's tired.

[soft instrumental music]


[Curtis] What are you thinking Andy?

Wasting too much time on Go?

-[Andy] Me? -[Curtis] Yeah.

[Andy] Probably, yes.

I'm mean, I've envisioned myself doing other things instead of Go.

Having not learned Go and...

[Curtis] I think you can still do all of these things cause you're still very young.

[Andy] That's not true, I mean...

The problem is that once you make the commitment you're kind of, you're kind of You're committed?

Kind of committed.