Silverington - Personal Strategies


Life and Death; The Reality vs. a Metaphor

The Game That "Plays Us" !

Chu Chikun captures the essence of the game Go in his book titled All about Life and Death. Its cover illustration is a Gyosai (874) print of a beautiful woman and a child surround by skeletons playing Go. The print too is appropriately titled, The Courtesan of Hell. Chikun is a Korean who distinguished himself by being the only player to ever hold all four Japanese titles at the same time. He was also the youngest player to rise through the professional ranks, but his dedication to the game is typical of master players who at sometime between seven and ten years old begin intensive study under masters and continue for the rest of their lives. It is rare for dedicated professional players to take university degrees or have time to excel in anything else. In Chinese, the game is called wei chi or wei qi, the Japanese and Americans call it Go and Koreans, like Chu Chikun call it Baduk, but to all of children who become masters, Go is life.
To the rest of us, Go is a powerful metaphor that helps us to understand the complexities of life and death. Its theme, "patterns evolving through time" is a fundamental theme that is repeated over and over again in its many variations. This describes our lives as individuals, the development of our species as well as conflicts between armies, cultures and genes. This is also a good description of the game it self. Called wei-ch'i by its Chinese inventers, Go is 3,000 years old: the oldest strategic game on record. Popular in the Orient as a metaphor for brilliant military and business strategy, the Go metaphor has found new enthusiasts in the West among such disparate groups as computer program developers, micro geneticists, mathematicians and mathematical psychologists.
For example, according to micro geneticists Eigen & Winkler, our genes are applying survival strategies analogous to those characteristic of sophisticated Go strategies. The mathematical argument that supports their claim is one of the foundations of Silverington' approach to Psychohistory. See (Elements).
In addition to acting as a metaphor for Nature' genetic strategies, knowledge of Go's rules and elementary strategies are essential to understanding what many call "Harmony of Opposites strategies". Mastery is not essential, but skill at the competition level of at least 8 Kyu is necessary to apply the analogy to link individual strategies with the group strategies of organizations and to understand the complexities of global competition between large organizations. For example, wei-chi is a dramatic way of demonstrating that embrace and extend is an excellent example of the Harmony of Opposites Principle and a marvelous tactic. But it is definitely not a strategy of choice for either leaders or organizations in highly competitive IT environments, because you start out behind and, unless your competition makes a serious mistake, you will remain behind.
Like its T'ai Chi Ch'üan companion, Go is a very easy game to learn, but a very difficult game to master. Also like T' Chi, the male gender is no advantage because neither gender is favored over the other. Focus, knowledge, creativity, skill and innovation combine to determine the winner. Males and females are equal.
The only fundamental difference between the rules and the laws of Go and the rules and the laws of life in our real world is the role of CHANCE. Chance plays almost no role in a game of Go. In the real world, Nature applies Harmony of Opposites Principles to govern chance. Consequently Go can only be an analogy for Nature's Life/Death Game.
Invented by Eigen & Winkler, the Life/Death game emulates the principles of Nature to govern CHANCE. Consequently control is never complete. Because events can seldom be completely determined, they can only be "determined more or less". Somewhat ominous, at our present state of development it appears that we may not be playing Nature's Life/Death Game. It may be playing us!

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