American Go E-Journal

The Janice Kim Files: Applying David Lee Roth’s “Brown M&M” strategy to go

Thursday March 3, 2016

by Janice Kim 3P2016.02.20-janiceKim

The world is surely converging…years ago after reading about David Lee Roth’s “Brown M&M” strategy for finding an indicator in a complex system, it seemed like the best tool I had ever heard of for approaching the opening in go, a simple and elegant way to understand opening theory, and apply it in real games. (Van Halen Frontman David Lee Roth Taking Go Lessons from Myungwan Kim 3/2 EJ)

Roth’s idea is genius: with an arena rock concert to set up in four hours, how to know with reasonable certainty that every technical specification in a 1000-page manual has been met? Answer: Insert a clause somewhere in the middle that there will be a bowl of M&Ms in your dressing room, with the brown ones picked out. No M&Ms, or brown M&Ms, no show.

The beauty of David Lee Roth, is to actually follow this, and knowing it’s beyond explanation or legal argument, just smash some stuff and refuse to go on. The one time he went on anyway when there were brown M&Ms, part of the set collapsed.

One of the brown M&Ms in go are those pesky third line stones lined up in one direction on one side of the board. I can use no other analysis tool, and so far accurately determine whether the opening is a fail or not. Here, I’ll show you :)

Once, I explained to Kim Myung-wan 9 dan David Lee Roth’s brown M&M strategy and how it applies to go. He may have thought I was kidding, but appeared to good-naturedly accept it as just another example of how go is really at the center of things, after all. Hmmmm, like the chocolate inside that thin, thin colorful shell that melts in your mouth, not in your hand…

My hat is off to David Lee Roth, a great musician whose thought truly spans our odd global modern age, and Kim Myung-wan, a great player of games, who may not know he is the David Lee Roth of the game world. (Sorry!)

PS. In regard to the other news items I’ve been reading — let’s not get carried away, folks. I’m sure that when Asians first started seeing Westerners play go, they were intrigued, and opinions were all over the place. But no one thought that a Westerner winning a game against a top Asian, or setting up a match with the expectation of winning, meant that Westerners had “surpassed” Asians, or it was only a matter of time. Even if it were so, Asians will probably not stop playing go, of course. And of course, someone will probably make some where-are-you-going-with-this case for Westerners to be inherently better at go playing. The show goes on, with me smashing up dressing rooms in my mind.

Categories: The Janice Kim Files