Game Night at Sweet Basil

Emma Cooper, Columnist

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If you’re looking for more than just pizza at Sweet Basil, Wednesday nights are the time for you. Sweet Basil hosts the Walla Walla Go Club (WWGC) game night each week on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

A few Whitman students, especially members of the Japanese club, have frequented Go Club.

Go is an ancient Japanese board game that has simple rules, but the road to mastery is complex.

Go and its distant cousin, chess, are both strategic games. There is one interesting difference, however: human players play Go better than computers do.

The game is usually played on 19×19 square boards, making it complex for computers to beat human players.

Anne Ogborn, a beginning Go player at the event, enjoys the complexity of the game.

“Go is a game of great depth. You can learn the rules in five minutes…but you can spend your whole life sort of learning and developing as a Go player.”

Robert Frohardt, veteran Go player of 15 years and regular member of the WWGC, explained why humans play Go better than computer players.

“Part of it is that the board is a lot larger than a chessboard so there’s a lot more options, so it’s harder for a computer to just brute force analyze it.”

The larger board means more possible combinations, and the computer has to take all of these in to account, even though, to the human brain, some are irrational and counterproductive.

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Go Game Board

Despite how complex Go can get, the rules are simple and easy to learn.

Anthony Lizotte, founder of the WWGC, started the club to build a community that will play Go together.

“We started the Walla Walla Go Club–it’s nice to have a club–[so we can] play on a regular basis. It’s not a well-known game, so you have to have people to play.”

He started the WWGC at Sweet Basil because, before the WWGC, he was planning on meeting some friends to play Go with at Sweet Basil, but they never showed up. In their absence, Lizotte began the WWGC.

Lizotte is also enthusiastic about the Japanese culture that gets introduced through Go.

Whether you are a just learning about the game from this article or have been playing for years, the Walla Walla Go Club on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. is a great place to meet new people and sharpen your Go playing skills.