Weiqi and the Brain

In this post, I am going to share how Weiqi can help in developing the brain.
Let us understand how our brains function. Our brains are divided into two hemispheres, left and right.
  1. The Left Brain, the primary function is to perform tasks like:
    1. Logical thinking
    2. Maths
    3. Science
    4. Direction seeking
    5. Reasoning
  2. The Right Brain, will perform tasks like:
    1. Arts and Music appreciation
    2. Designing
    3. Creativity
    4. Speeches
    5. Big-picture visualization
Left and Right Hemispheres
So, how does learning and playing Weiqi help in developing the brain?
I will relate and expound 5 areas in our daily lives that can be improved if we apply the strategies that we learnt from Weiqi.
  1. In Education, Weiqi could enhance the students’ mathematical skills, including problem-solving, pattern recognition etc. Art students begin to train themselves by looking out of the box, exceeding boundaries, unlimited thinking. The combination of both important logical and creativity skills will definitely help any student in his or her linguistic learning, ie writing and speaking.
  1. In Businesses, managers look to have a holistic approach in running their businesses. Embracing day to day new challenges, adapting to an ever-changing environment to suit business requirements and stay competitive in the market. Weiqi is such a competitive mind sport that many business owners adopt this game’s tactical strategy in their businesses. In the brain part, design skills are needed for product innovation, cost-effective budgeting and business planning, whereas the left brain will play the role of calculating, budgeting, execution of plans and ensuring success.  http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20141208000697
  1. In relationships, Weiqi teaches every individual to look outwards for connectivity. Great accomplishments are built by networks of different talents. People may be individual, but a connection of individuals becomes a powerful organization. Connections are formed usually not by logic calculation, but rather use of linguistic skills. So now you can see the art in Weiqi helps developing the connectivity skills of a human interacting with another human.
  1. In Family, we seek to create a safe settlement in our home. Every individual needs a home base before any form of endeavour outside the home life. Hasn’t Weiqi taught us that we should first settle with a home base before attacking weak stones to secure victory? (In a game example, no strong player would enter into the board’s centre when his / her home base territory is being invaded?) To have a warm and safe home or settlement, we will need both good logical, constructive sense and good emotions to build and live in. These senses are scientifically found in the brain.
  1. In Finance, we seek to make more than we lose, get the best bargains in the market rather than paying overpriced products. Occasionally, pampering ourselves with pricier things that will feed our egoistic emotions. But that is fine, as long as we can justify that the investment on the things that we need (logical) or we want (emotional).
There is an endless list of good things that Weiqi can bring to us. Please drop a comment below if you can share any experience that Weiqi has brought to your life.

Network, network and network

Weiqi is a game that subtly teaches us using networking skills to accomplish great goals.

In the beginning, Weiqi is just a blank board without a single stone. Then a stone is placed as the game commences. Then the game progresses, more and more stones are added. Stones are then linked together to form boundaries and defensive lines. At the end of the game, we can see many stones are connected to form countable territories on the board. The more stones that are networked the more territories will be surrounded. In other words, the more stones remain on the board, the stronger the position the stones have become.

Stones that are not connected will be killed and removed. And that is the name of the game.

Image result for weiqi

Networking indeed is a powerful tool in our life. Businesses require networking to maintain growth and relevance. The individual requires connectability to sustain employment. No one person or business is a standalone island.

The more a person is networked, the more useful the person has become; the talent of that person becomes amplified.

Weiqi resembles life. It teaches us useful wisdom. That is to be well networked in life. Great businessmen network to grow their business empire.  McDonald’s had 2 stories. First was that the original McDonald’s brothers did not like the idea of networking and in the end, they had to force sell their business to Ray Croc and exit the market. The second story was that Ray Croc networked McDonald’s and became the biggest fast food chain in the whole world.

 

The Balance of Weiqi

The balance of Weiqi is probably one of the most difficult concepts of play in the game. It is simple to understand at the theoretical level but it becomes technically difficult when comes to play.

Too much territory loses control over the centre and affects mid game fights later on in the game. Whereas too much external influence usually begets a low territory count that may put you in an out-of-balance situation.

Therefore, it will be a challenge to teach and impart the concept to Weiqi learners. Yet if the concept of balance is well understood, the Weiqi learner will improve the game by leaps and bounds.

During the elementary days of our Weiqi learning journey, most of us were taught in basic lessons on taking territory above controlling the board’s centre influence. This is not a fully correct pre-learnt concept.

With enough playing experience and understanding, most matured high-level players knew that they must balance territory and influence.

Therefore, a good balance in the game is having a sufficient amount of territory with ample support of influence towards the centre of the board or vice versa.

This concept of good territory-influence balance gives the player a better selection of josekis 定石 (prefix formation of stones usually in the corner) right at the start of the game. Hence able to control the mid-game better.

On an additional side note to promote the application of balance in Weiqi into our real lives:

Sometimes, we have to make a radical or life-changing decision in difficult situations. Applying this concept of balance could sometimes paint a clearer or bigger picture (as in Weiqi’s influence) and declutter hidden dangers of immediate gain (as in Weiqi’s territory).

I hope we can all learn together the balance of Weiqi and apply this valuable concept in our lives.

Intrinsic Value of Weiqi

Q: Why do parents send their children to Weiqi lessons in spite of computer AI domineering humans in the game in this age?

A: There are a few points to answer this commonly asked question.

1. Life values learned in the game.

Example as in the Ten Commandments of Weiqi 围棋十决

As in the list, all items are applicable to real life. I will give each an example in a later article.

 

2. Cultural values learned in this game. Manners, greetings, patience and respect.

These traits are not taught by computers nor by our mainstream school teachers and professors.

Our school teachers had taught us to excel in our academics but in human to human relationships, this area has failed miserably. This could be the fundamental reason why social problems are occurring in our society.

 

3. The true values of winning and losing.

This may look abstract but I think it is still not difficult to understand.

For example, a person may win in an argument with his friend or spouse in a short-term dispute, but he may lose this person’s friendship in the long term.

A very smart and intelligent guy may win arguments all the time, but he may not have a close friend at all as his way of debating may turn away many friends who find him domineering in conversation.

Learning Weiqi teaches us how to keep balance in the area of assessing winning and losing situation. In the first commandment of Weiqi, “Do not overly be greedy in winning”, teaches us to keep in check our attitude when comes to winning.

 

Overall, in summary, the trend of computers winning human may seem to have a negative impact on the development of promoting the game in the short term, but I believe the understanding of the intrinsic (or core nature) value of the game of Weiqi like its cultural and educational values will outlast and turn the trend eventually.