American Go E-Journal

Go Spotting: Jorge Luis Borges on “the astrological game of Go”

Monday October 1, 2012

Wayne Nelson has just sent us a translation of Jorge Luis Borges’ wonderful poem about go. We’ve run it before but it’s so lovely that, like all great poetry, it bears repetition. Other than this poem, we don’t know anything about Borges’ connection to go, e.g. where he learned, whether he attended a club, or if he mentions it in other writings; if anyone has information along these lines, please send it to us at

Today, the 9th of September 1978,
I had in the palm of my hand a small disk
of the 361 that are required
for the astrological game of Go,
that other chess of the Orient.
It is more ancient than the most ancient writing
and the board is a map of the universe.
Its black and white variations
exhaust time.
In it men can lose themselves
as in love and in the day.
Today, the 9th of September 1978,
I, who am ignorant of so many things,
know that I am ignorant of one more,
and I thank my Muses for
this revelation of a labyrinth
that never will be mine.
- by Jorge Luis Borges; translated by Wayne Nelson

El Go
Hoy, 9 de septiembre de 1978,
tuve en la palma de la mano un pequeño disco
de los trescientos sesenta y uno que se requieren
para el juego astrológico del go,
ese otro ajedrez del Oriente.
Es más antiguo que la más antigua escritura
y el tablero es un mapa del universo.
Sus variaciones negras y blancas
agotarán el tiempo.
En él pueden perderse los hombres
como en el amor y en el día.
Hoy, 9 de septiembre de 1978,
yo, que soy ignorante de tantas cosas,
sé que ignoro una más,
y agradezco a mis númenes.
esta revelación de un laberinto
que nunca será mío.
- photo by Martin Chrz