What’s the difference between Baduk and other games I know so well? What made me never come back to them in spite of their attractiveness, although still I like them very much? The deciding factor is philosophy of Baduk, which is very different from philosophies of other games. Due to this philosophy we find many direct links between Baduk and human life and the world around us.
A fight for territory without necessity to destroy the opponent is the most striking character of Baduk. I’d like to call your attention to a very important Baduk feature that makes it different from other games describes its character and is decisive in Baduk philosophy. In order to win while playing chess, bridge or checkers one needs to take away from his rival his pieces, tricks or pawns, and to force him to surrender as a result of losing his means of playing. The aim in Baduk however is to win space, to conquer the territory on board. One can win the game without beating even one of his opponent’s stones. Conquering land is one of eternal human drives.
The aim of a Baduk game is natural and somehow reflects human being’s vital aspirations.
Summing up one can say that a game of Baduk is played not only on an intellectual plane but also on a psychological one. An engagement of all powers of mind, soul and character is required. It makes us describe some of Baduk games with one word: masterpiece.
The game begins when the board is empty. This is a warrant of free creativity, building one’s own image of each game. The rivals cannot rely on their memory – they build they play on their own. This makes Baduk not only a game but also an art with its own creation process.
The space on the board is much bigger than in other games. The length of one game often makes the fight to victory very strenuous and tight. At each stage of the game the player’s chances are still open. Choosing a new way is not immediately punished with a loss like in chess. The players often follow some general laws, patterns and comply with some proverbs but they still make their own free choices. The beginning stage is most important for future possibilities just like youth in human life. The middle game is like maturity – then the outcome is worked out. The ending is like the downhill of life – each reckless move can put efforts of the whole life to waste.
Simplicity of rules. One can say that Baduk is based on two rules – capturing stones without liberties and ko rule. I know no other game so difficult with so simple rules.
A score reflects a difference of rivals playing quality in a game. It gives an opportunity to analyze one’s mistakes. It especially concerns final stage of a game. One can also devise a match, score of which would be calculated as a sum of scores of several games.
Handicap system is unique and there is no equivalent for it in other games. The aim is to let two people of different strength play a game with equal chances to win. The stronger one bears a burden not to show his superiority but to strain his powers and use all his skills. It doesn’t let him neglect his partner. In short he has to do his best to defeat his competitor. Handicap games are interesting and exciting for both partners. I cannot give an example of a game during which the stronger player has to give so much in the beginning in order to win. It’s another proof of a huge room left in Baduk.
Modern Baduk has two more distinguishing features: a compensation of points (komi) for the white player that makes the game of Baduk more just then other games. For example in chess white player wins more often whereas black employs defensive techniques from the beginning. Compensation implies a fight from the beginning without a feeling of less chances to win. Moreover it makes a draw impossible. In Baduk there are no draw tactics and each game has to be decided so players try hard to achieve a favorable result.
Learning to play Baduk is like learning a language. First we learn marks and letters, and then we learn to pronounce single words. Only after years we can say a complete and understandable sentence. One has to devote his entire life to make others admire what we say or write and hear one day that we managed to create a masterpiece.
Moreover a game of Baduk is like a discussion and moves are like reasons. My father used to say that truth was born in fiery debate. A score of a game shows who was right and who was wrong, whose reasons had better grounds. A similarity to language is even bigger. Players through their games discover and analyze their own personality. They also see their partner’s true self. Baduk is a kind of a universal language used to communicate by people who can play. Many times have I experienced myself that a game became a beginning of a friendship that lasts until now.
Natural ethics of Baduk
A good play is most important. It’s better to surrender than to play until the end and count on rival’s big mistake. This is one of the first views I heard from my master Janusz Kraszek. In the beginning I didn’t understand the full meaning of these words. Today after many years and many games played I do appreciate their importance. I remember games I won having played well and they are obviously a source of satisfaction. I also remember games I didn’t give up and still prevailed. These are a source of shame and constant qualms of conscience. Fortunately there were only few of the latter. A victory secured thanks to violating ethics is worth nothing.
A person learning to play Baduk starts to need not only victories but also good play. Baduk creates that need, and it is a source of it. Practicing Baduk induces not ideal human to behave ethically.