The Seven Homunculi of Go: The Satyr of Disagreement



Some of my losses follow a certain pattern:

I surround a relatively large territory and judge it as secure. My opponent invades it anyway. I get annoyed at my opponent’s stubbornness. My opponent destroys my big territory. I lose what is supposed to be a won game.

As a level kyu player, it is very easy to accept things that we only see and dismiss our opponent’s ideas as merely stubbornness or desperation. We hate our opponent for attempting such random tactics. However, these random moves turn out to be meaningful. Before we discover our opponent’s plan, we already have committed suicide.

Agitation happens when our opponent disagrees with our plan or judgement, and we let our emotion guide us in retaliation than allow reason to lead us to an agreement. When our opponent blatantly disagrees with our judgement, we take it as a slap to our face, as voice shouting at us “You are wrong, kyu! I can still do damage here!”

In our own stubbornness to prove we are correct, we do not pause and calm ourselves. We rely on our instinct and play the very first move that comes to our mind that stays consistent with what we know. If our knowledge turns out to be flawed, then our opponent will take advantage and destroy us.

How to get over the trap of agitation? Keep in mind that every move has a meaning. When the opponent disagrees, we can disagree also, but we must first see the stone’s meaning as it sits on the board.

Someone once compared Go to a conversation. Like conversations, players can also have disagreements and difference in opinions about position of stones on the board. In these conflicts, our emotions can go berserk and override the real purpose of a conversation, accepting differences and reaching an agreement or compromise. So, next time an opponent disagrees with our move, we should relax, stay calm, read to learn the meaning of our opponent’s move, and play a move to keep the conversation healthy for both and not destructive to our own.

Do you agree on my thoughts on agitation? Has an opponent agitated you to a loss? Have you agitated an opponent and a win a lost game? Share on the comments below, so we can have a healthy conversation.


In the third volume of the Learn to Play Go Series by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun, we learn the proper and improper mindset in the game of Go. More than an intellectual game, I think Go is a spiritual and philosophical endeavor too for serious players. I want to be a serious player, amateur I may be, and I look at the game as a battle for my mental, spiritual, and psychological growth (Deep I know, but that is how I see the game).

On the downfall of a player, Kim and Soo-hyun lists seven dangers. These seven dangers remind me of the seven homunculi (named and inspired by the seven deadly sins) in my favorite anime Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. Indeed, as scary and menacing as the seven villains Ed and Al have to face, I also struggle against these seven nemesis every time I place or click a stone on the goban.

This is the second installment of The Seven Homunculi of Go Series.


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