One of the things I'm remembering about go is the number of little proverbs that crop up to explain points of strategy. Go is sometimes used as a starting point for other endeavors, most notable in Japanese business. So I started thinking about what some of these proverbs might apply to in my life.
When faced with a cross-cut, extend.
This bit of advice applies to many situations in a game of go. Pieces in go (stones of black and white) are played on the intersections of lines. If stones occupy intersections in a straight line, they are said to be connected. If the stones occupy intersections on opposite corners of a square, they are not. A common attack, therefore is to break any possible connection by playing your pieces on the unoccupied corners of the square. Some ascii art to demonstrate:
*-+ | | +-* Black stones (signified by *) are not connected. *-o | | o-* White stones (signified by o) prevent black from forming a connection.
Such an attack is called a cross-cut. The proverb extols us to extend if faced with such an attack. That is, a player with less experience will often, when faced with such an attack, choose to return the attack by playing to threaten one of the opponent's stones, thusly:
*-o | | o-* | | *-+
If a stone is surrounded on all four sides, it is captured, so white must play to avoid this if he wants to keep his pieces. The downside here, is that such an attack requires black to place another unconnected stone, opening himself up for additional attacks. If he follows the advice of the proverb, he might play thusly:
*-o | | o-* | | +-*
Now black has extended his line of stones, removing one of them from the danger of immediate attack. There are some other advantages to this play that aren't immediatley obvious, but you aren't likely interested in esoteric go strategy and are wondering, "Why is he going through all this?"
Well, gentle reader, I think this little go proverb has something to say about life in general as well. It is very Christian, for example, to not retaliate when faced with an attack. "Turn the other cheek," I was taught, but didn't really internalize or understand. In this little proverb, however, I see practical advice for a similar situation. When under attack, returning the attack upon the one that attacked you only embroils you in a more complicated fight. Importantly, this is a fight of your enemy's choosing; it is fought reactively and reflexively. Rather, one can reach out to connect with others on your side. This serves to diffuse the immediate fight and puts you in a position to better return the attack if it serves your future purposes.
The attacks one endures and to which this proverb can apply are certainly more than just the physical. (Though it applies to those sorts of conflicts easily.) Political attacks, emotional stresses and economic hardships are just a few of the applications that spring to mind immediately.
I hope this little proverb proves worthwhile for you.