Introduction: Quick-Play Travel "GO" Set

About: Hello. I am #1 Son. Yes, my Dad is Kiteman.

The ancient game of Go pre-dates chess and draughts, has simpler rules, yet its subtleties defy attempts to computerise it.

Normally played on the intersections of an 18x18 grid (thus giving a playing area of 19x19 points), quicker games can be played on smaller boards.

This Instructable details the manufacture of a 7x7 travel board with unique reversible pieces and the capability of preserving a part-played game.

(I have to own up to this being a collaboration with Kiteman. Blame him for any weird language.)

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

  • A large, empty matchbox (known as "cook's matches" or "kitchen matches" in the UK)
  • Some dead matches, burned as little as possible (yes, I lit and extinguished these matches deliberately)
  • Scrap card, preferably corrugated.
  • Decorative paper.
  • Sharp things, including a Dremel with a 2mm drill-bit, glue (we used PVA woodglue) and a permanent marker.

Step 2: The Board

Draw a square grid of six by six squares. You can do this by hand or with the software of your choice, just make sure the grid is slightly smaller than the internal width of the matchbox drawer. For our matchbox, we made a grid 55mm wide inside a square 63mm wide.

Glue the grid onto the corrugated card and trim to size to fit the drawer. If you have enough corrugated card, use two or three thicknesses glued together.

Trim it square by sawing it with a serrated knife blade.

At each of the 49 intersections, use the sharp thing of your choice to poke holes through the board, large enough to accept a matchstick. We ended up drilling the holes with Kitedad's Dremel.

Glue the board into one end of the matchbox drawer.

You may like to cut a rectangle of card to form a fourth wall around the board, which will also prevent the spare pieces falling across the board.

You may also like to decorate the outside of the matchbox (mainly to prevent it looking like a matchbox!) - the easiest way is to glue coloured paper around the box. You can also decorate it to suit your personal taste. If you are making this as a gift, then decorate it to suit the recipient's taste.

Step 3: The Playing Pieces

As you may have guessed, the playing pieces are not the traditional stones, but matches. We'll still call them stones, though.

Trim the matches to slightly shorter than the internal height of the matchbox drawer. For our matchbox, that turned out to be 2cm long, which also meant we could get two stones out of each match.

Oddly, I have found that the best tool for trimming matchsticks to size quickly is a cheap pair of wire-cutters (the kind with the square notch in the blade).

Use the marker to colour one end of each match black. Each match can now be used as a "white" or "black" stone, depending which way up you place them in the holes.

The matches can be stored in the drawer, lying beside the board.

Step 4: Playing the Game

"GO" is normally played for territory - far-reaching tactical moves to capture as much of the 19x19 board as possible.

Such tactics do not work on a smaller board, and the game is instead played to "first capture", making it ideal for the beginning or impatient player.

Starting with black, players take turns to place single stones on the board, one at a time, wherever they like.

When a single stone is placed on the board, all the spaces immediately adjacent to the piece are called "liberties". Stones in the main board have four liberties. Stones on the edge have only three liberties, pieces in the corners have only two.

If all the liberties of a stone (or of a continuous block of stones) are filled by stones of the opponent's colour, then that stone (or block of stones) is captured. In this short version of GO, this ends the game.

Players can play as many games as they like, scoring either by the number of captures, or by the total number of stones captured.

For more on playing Go, check the British Go Association website. They have a brilliant comic that teaches play to capture.

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