American Go E-Journal

Kissinger on Go and Chinese Strategic Thinking

Monday January 24, 2011

Discussing China on CNN Sunday, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that “One has to understand the Chinese intellectual game, which is what we call go (and) they call weiqi.” Explaining that “it’s a game of strategic encirclement,” Kissinger said that “our intellectual game is chess. Chess is about victory or defeat. Somebody wins.” Kissinger contrasted chess in which “all the pieces are in front of you at all times, so you can calculate your risk” with go, where the pieces “are not all on the board, and your opponent is always capable of introducing new pieces.” Historically, Kissinger said, the Chinese use strategic analysis based on “the go way.” Despite Kissinger’s cogent understanding of the game, CNN mistakenly used video of Chinese Chess to illustrate the segment. Click here to see the interview; the comments about go begin at 7m32s.
Thanks to the many readers who alerted us to this interview.
UPDATE: Noting that “The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress,”
Kissinger made similar comments in a 2004 Newsweek column. (Thanks to Roy Laird for finding this)

Categories: U.S./North America