[FORUM]The game of life trumps others

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[FORUM]The game of life trumps others

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, was asked during an interview a few years ago, “What is it that you haven’t been able to achieve in your life?” He said he had always wanted to be the world’s best chess player and the world’s best Go player.
It makes sense that Bill Gates might be interested in chess, but it is surprising that such a busy man would be interested in playing Go, which is an Asian game similar to chess.
Talk of chess and go naturally led to the subject of the supercomputer Deep Blue, which beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
Bill Gates surprised people again by saying that he knew a long time ago that it was just a matter of time before computers started beating chess champions, but that it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Deep Blue was just a machine that only knows how to play chess, he said.
As a computer genius, Bill Gates was probably also proud that a computer beat the best human player there is. However, he mainly talked about about the difference between machines and humans.
He said the leader of the machine world is simply a machine that knows how to do one thing, but a human with a sense of humor and the capability to persuade a child is really the more amazing creation.
A champion Go player, Lee Chang-ho, has been playing the game since he was 8 years old. He thought of Go all day long and all night too, during his sleep.
He reminisces of his childhood: “Go was a magic mirror to me, and I walked endlessly into that mirror.”
As a result, Mr. Lee became a “Go machine” with brilliant precision.
However, Mr. Lee recorded an unprecedented shameful record of 1 win and 5 losses during the first two months of this year. People started to wonder what had happened to Mr. Lee, the Go computer.
Mr. Lee started getting into books a few years back, and so earned a new reputation as a bookworm.
He read books of all kinds, from the classics to modern literature, because he wanted to know more about the world, and at times he read all through the night.
Mr. Lee walked in a world outside the Go board. He sincerely wanted to know the truths contained in the world.
When you know life, winning becomes harder. To win a game, one needs to be reckless and cruel. However, when you think of life sincerely from your heart, your heart becomes less hard and ruthless.
If your concentration is reduced by even 1 percent or 2 percent because of this awareness of the outside world, you lose and end up kneeling before a stronger opponent.
Nevertheless, Mr. Lee did not stop reading books.
He told a worried reporter, “If I lose something, there must be something else that I may be gaining, don’t you think?”
I am reminded of an unforgettable moment: Mr. Lee, who was at the very top of his career, was seen one day playing Go with a shabby looking middle-aged man in the corner of the Korea Go Club, the most prestigious club for master Go players.
Back then, he had a torturously busy schedule of games every day, so the stranger sitting across from him and playing peacefully appeared extraordinary somehow, and employees at the clubhouse watched enviously, wondering who the man might be.
It turned out that the man was nobody special. He was just someone who came to the clubhouse because he wanted to play Go with Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee did not refuse.
It could have been uncomfortable to play with a stranger like that man, but he was at ease.
The scene remains in my memory as a calm and touching moment.
It was important because it showed me that Mr. Lee is not a Go machine made to conquer the world at 17 years of age, but, as Bill Gates put it, an amazing human.
The world is filled with specialists much like broken machines, who think that only his own field of work and his skill and expertise in his field are important.
That is the reason why Mr. Lee’s miraculous streak of 5 wins, after a depressing record of 1 win and 5 losses, at the Nong Shim Cup National Contest comes across as more valuable than other victories.

* The writer is a staff writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Park Chi-moon
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