Skulls Show Evidence Ancient Chinese Brain Surgeons Operated 3,000 Years Ago

Skulls Show Evidence Ancient Chinese Brain Surgeons Operated 3,000 Years Ago

Chinese experts have determined that two skulls found in a historic site show evidence of ancient craniotomy. The finds are being taken to demonstrate that craniotomy, along with other advanced medicine, was practiced in China at an early date. The discoveries are also allowing researchers to better understand the development of medical treatment and surgery in China and elsewhere and offer further insights into the important Shang period.

Skulls of an ancient dynasty

The skulls were found in the ancient city of Yin, in Henan Province. This was the last capital of the Shang (or Yin) Dynasty who were one of the earliest Chinese dynasties and who decisively shaped the early history of China. They were the first to practice writing in the region, some 3,000 years ago.

The city of Yin has been excavated for almost a century and the two skulls were unearthed in a previously unexcavated area of the Shang capital. The skulls were examined at the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). This is one of the premier archaeological research centers in China.

Evidence of brain surgery

A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a portion of the cranium, the bone that protects the brain. This is to allow a procedure to be carried out on the exposed brain. Once the procedure has been carried out the portion of skull removed is reattached. This procedure is also known as trepanning and it is a form of surgery that still takes place in modern hospitals.

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A craniotomy removes some of the skull to allow access to the brain, or to give the brain space to swell. ( Internet Archive Book Images )

One of the skulls found belonged to a 10 year old male child. His cranium had a circular cut, that measures 1/3 inch (1 centimeter). Yue Hongbin, a lead researcher with CASS, has stated that ‘the cranium shows that it still grew after the perforation, which suggests the surgery was successful," reports Xinhuanet. The other skull that bears traces of cranial surgery was from an adult male. The incision was on the front of the skull, and it measures only a few millimetres in diameter.

Shang medicine revealed

The Shang were familiar with a number of diseases and conditions, based on surviving inscriptions on oracle bones. They also had a profound knowledge of herbal medicine and the remains of plants have been found in the tombs of high-ranking members of the Shang elite. Some medical instruments used in therapies and possibly surgery have also been found in Yin, including four bone needles used to heal fractures uncovered in a tomb.

The discovery and the history of medicine in China

The finds prove conclusively that the Shang were able to perform sophisticated surgery some three millennium ago. There have also been discoveries of skulls with traces of this surgical procedure found in other parts of China. In 2007, 13 skulls that had been perforated were ‘unearthed in the north-western region of Xinjiang’’ according to China.Org. It seems that several millennia ago throughout China diverse cultures were familiar with this form of operation and many people survived what was and remains a dangerous procedure. This surgery was also practiced throughout the ancient world from Siberia to the Andes.

There is evidence of this kind of surgery much earlier. For example, this trepanned skull of a girl who lived 5,500 years ago. She survived the surgery. Natural History Museum, Lausanne ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

The Chinese skulls which have traces of trepanning will now help researchers to better understand the development of medicine in Ancient China. It is offering evidence that the Shang had a wide range of surgical and other techniques. This is helping researchers to "help recast ancient medical history" according to Xinhuanet. There are ongoing excavations at the Yin site and it is hoped that more human remains and artifacts will be unearthed that provide evidence of the development of medicine in Ancient China .

Rewire Your Brain With Qigong

Yes, you can rewire your brain with qigong. You can alter your mental and emotional makeup to a point that you’ll experience a profound tranquility. Simple, natural, and easy-to-learn exercises, ones that anyone can do, have a profound effect on mental health. Neuroscientists have now discovered what the ancient Chinese sages knew thousands of years ago: how to rewire the brain with Qigong.

For a long time, Western medicine scoffed at the idea that the adult human brain can change in both structure and function. Yet, practitioners of Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine have long contended that when the mind and body are in balance, sustained mindful awareness results. For this to be accomplished, the mind must train the brain to grow new neurons.

This was considered impossible until recently. What else we are soon to discover? Neuroscientists now have scientific evidence proving our ability to rewire our brains, resulting in greater success, health, and longevity. The ability of the brain to forge new neural connections and develop new functions is called “neuroplasticity.”

How your neurons behave affects not only your emotional states, but your physiological states as well. In other words, by practicing Qigong, you can enjoy more lucid, conscious, perceptional experiences. Instead of feeling like you’re living in a fog, you’ll see everything as vivid and bright. You’ll be sharper and more alive.

How does it work? Qigong involves coupling your breath with certain time-honored body movements. By using the breath to lead the mind, you’ll recharge certain biological batteries and revitalize the body. Qigong’s mental training has proven in case after case that when we mentally lead energy (called chi or qi) across the map of the body, the circuitry of the brain is rewired.

Plasticity is very responsive to our experiences. Our particular experiences simply induce the brain to register that which it’s conscious of as a pattern of neural activity. This, in turn, produces physical changes in the brain on a neural and synaptic level. When neural circuits respond to stimuli, it causes certain genes in the nucleus of our nerve cells to activate the synthesis of new proteins. Simply put, new proteins, new body and mind. New circuits become activated and new abilities emerge.

What we’re actually doing on an internal level is creating electromagnetic, infrared, and ultraviolet energy fields. What the ancient Chinese called “QI” has been identified, according to scientists, as massive energy fields made up of photonic or light emissions. As a result of Qigong and its mental rewiring effects, the body generates these fields.

In “Science and Human Transformation,” William Tiller, Ph.D., of Stanford University writes, “The human body is not just a chemical and electrical machine, the human body is a light machine.” This light spills out of the human body as a radiant glow once the brain has been sufficiently rewired for health and positive emotions. Dr. Tiller was fascinated with the ability of Qigong practitioners to demonstrate such photonic emissions in scientific studies. Dr. Tiller and Dr. R.R. Zhang then conducted backup studies to support this idea.

Qigong masters have long understood that the physical body has three brains they stated this thousands of years ago. Newly conducted studies have revealed neurotransmitters located in the lower abdomen as well as in the heart. When Qigong is practiced, neurological pathways are strengthened, amplifying communication between the brain, heart, and lower abdomen. Qigong, in addition to rewiring the brain, also positively affects the healing of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Proof of this can be found in many of the 1,600 research papers demonstrating the healing benefits of qigong that are available at the Qigong Institute in Menlo Park, California.

In addition to changing your neurochemistry and accelerating healing, Qigong has a powerful pro-youthing effect. If you embark on a simple Qigong program of just ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night, you may see profound benefits.
Might you be interested enough to give it a try?


Human beings hold higher intelligence than other animals on Earth however, it is still unclear which brain properties might explain the underlying mechanisms. The brain is a major energy-consuming organ compared with other organs. Neural signal communications and information processing in neural circuits play an important role in the realization of various neural functions, whereas improvement in cognitive function is driven by the need for more effective communication that requires less energy. Combining the ultraweak biophoton imaging system (UBIS) with the biophoton spectral analysis device (BSAD), we found that glutamate-induced biophotonic activities and transmission in the brain, which has recently been demonstrated as a novel neural signal communication mechanism, present a spectral redshift from animals (in order of bullfrog, mouse, chicken, pig, and monkey) to humans, even up to a near-infrared wavelength (∼865 nm) in the human brain. This brain property may be a key biophysical basis for explaining high intelligence in humans because biophoton spectral redshift could be a more economical and effective measure of biophotonic signal communications and information processing in the human brain.

Despite remarkable advances in our understanding of brain functions, it is still unclear why human beings hold higher intelligence than other animals on Earth and which brain properties might explain the differences (1). Early studies have proposed that brain size and the degree of encephalization [encephalization quotient (EQ)] might be related to the evolution of animal intelligence, including that of human beings (2 ⇓ –4), but, so far, the relationship between relative brain size and intelligence is inconclusive, and EQ is also not the best predictor of intelligence (1, 5 ⇓ –7). Communications and information-processing capacity between neurons in neural circuits play an important role in the realization of various neural functions, such as sensorimotor control, learning and memory, consciousness, and cognition. The neural network studies have indicated that neural signal transmission and encoding is in a nonlinear network mechanism (8 ⇓ –10), in which biophotons, also called ultraweak photon emission (UPE), may be involved (11). A recent study has demonstrated that glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, could induce biophotonic activities and transmission in neural circuits (12), suggesting that biophotons may play a key role in neural information processing and encoding and may be involved in quantum brain mechanism (11, 13 ⇓ ⇓ –16) however, the importance of biophotons in relation to animal intelligence is not clear, in particular human high intelligence, such as problem-solving and analytical abilities. We hypothesized that the spectral redshift of biophotonic activities and transmission in the brain may play a key role. Here, we have provided experimental evidence that glutamate-induced biophotonic activities and transmission in brain slices present a spectral redshift feature from animals (bullfrog, mouse, chicken, pig, and monkey) to humans, which may be a key biophysical basis for explaining why human beings hold higher intelligence than that of other animals.

Marriott and US Navy hacks

In addition to the APT10 hackers, two other large-scale Chinese hacking attempts also grabbed headlines in the latter part of last year — one against hotel chain Marriott and another against the United States Navy contractors.

se hackers began stealing information from Marriott servers almost four years ago and reportedly stole personal details of more than 500 million customers. “Think of the depth of knowledge they could now have about travel habits or who happened to be in a certain city at the same time as another person… It fits with how the Chinese intelligence services think about things. It’s all very long range,” Robert Anderson, former FBI official, said to Reuters .

Several U.S. Navy contractors were also the target of hacking attempts by China over the past 18 months. The hackers are said to have stolen sensitive information like ship maintenance details, weapons data related to a supersonic anti-ship missile, and so on. The National Security Officials traced an IP address back to Hainan Island in China.

Critical information regarding the U.S. Navy has also been leaked by hackers from China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Community Reviews

"… to follow the Silk Road is to follow a ghost. It flows through the heart of Asia, but it has officially vanished, leaving behind it the pattern of its restlessness: counterfeit borders, unmapped peoples. The road forks and wanders wherever you are. It is not a single way, but many: a web of choices. Mine stretches more than seven thousand miles, and is occasionally dangerous."

Shadow of the Silk Road is a very absorbing and enlightening travel narrative that transported me to the land 4.5 stars

"… to follow the Silk Road is to follow a ghost. It flows through the heart of Asia, but it has officially vanished, leaving behind it the pattern of its restlessness: counterfeit borders, unmapped peoples. The road forks and wanders wherever you are. It is not a single way, but many: a web of choices. Mine stretches more than seven thousand miles, and is occasionally dangerous."

Shadow of the Silk Road is a very absorbing and enlightening travel narrative that transported me to the land through which the ancient road traversed and introduced me to a diverse group of people along the way. British travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron made this bold and dangerous journey in the early 2000s, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His venture begins at the tomb of China’s Yellow Emperor, the ‘Founder of Human Civilization’, outside of Xian and takes us through the heart of Central Asia to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Kurdish Turkey – a trek that covers seven thousand miles and a total of eight months.

Travel narratives are a new genre of reading for me, so I can’t compare this one to others. However, I can say that this was positively delightful – full of history, conversations with the citizens of these countries, beautiful descriptions of the landscape and architecture, and often lyrical prose. Never once did I feel that I was reading textbook material. Thubron can speak some of the languages encountered here when he can’t, he utilizes the skills of translators. In either situation, the people seem to be eager to open up to him, this Westerner, and express their views, sorrows and hopes for the future of their countries. Thubron touches on the varied religions of the inhabitants and visits places of worship. He sits in restaurants and chats about the politics, the fights for freedom the aggravation felt by many is quite evident. In most cases, the people are tired of fighting and long for peace. Sometimes newly found independence is a struggle itself with many difficulties yet to be overcome. Besides the contemporary issues, Thubron illustrates the various empires and dynasties that existed in the past. The region is rich with stories of kings, emperors, conquerors, inventors, artists and the like. I found the information surrounding the silkworm and the silk trade itself to be quite interesting.

If there’s one complaint I have about this wonderful book, it’s just that there was so much information. I could never completely retain even half of what I read, simply due to the number of miles and years of history covered. And yet, I feel enriched by having read this. I would read, and in fact plan to read, more travelogues written by Thubron. I highly recommend this book to anyone that would like to learn more about this region and those that take pleasure in armchair travel, as I do.

"In the shaky candle-flame I remember reaching countries hundreds of miles before their official frontiers, or long after. Often I imagine the Silk Road itself has created and left behind these blurs and fusions, like the bed of a spent river, and I picture different, ghostly maps laid over the political ones: maps of fractured races and identities." . more

Shadow of the Silk Road is a phenomenal book. The author, British travel writer Colin Thubron, traveled from Xian, an ancient capital of China, to Antioch in Turkey along the silk road, blending broad historical knowledge with acute observations of contemporary life.

Thubron speaks Mandarin and Russian, and was able therefore to speak directly with many of the people on his journey, at least until he arrived in Afghanistan. A theme throughout the book is the mix of peoples, with tribes and nation Shadow of the Silk Road is a phenomenal book. The author, British travel writer Colin Thubron, traveled from Xian, an ancient capital of China, to Antioch in Turkey along the silk road, blending broad historical knowledge with acute observations of contemporary life.

Thubron speaks Mandarin and Russian, and was able therefore to speak directly with many of the people on his journey, at least until he arrived in Afghanistan. A theme throughout the book is the mix of peoples, with tribes and nations spanning the current political borders. Most of western China has been populated by Tibetans, Uighars, and other central Asian people for a very long time, and is only now being colonized by Chinese. The Chinese are hated by the native people because of the vast migrations that are underway. Native cultures are being subsumed by a Chinese industrial juggernaut. Old towns are being covered over by concrete and by soulless industrialization.

The silk road was never a single road, but a kind of nervous system with two heads: one in China, one on the Mediterranean. It has existed in some form for nearly 3000 years. Silk began to appear in the Mediterranean by at least 500 B.C.E., having been cultivated in China since 2000 B.C.E. And Greek and Roman images began appearing in China by about 300 B.C.E. No one person actually traveled the length of the silk road - in Thubron's words, no Chinese traders appeared on the Palatine to surprise native Romans. Instead, goods were transported by different traders via intermediaries along the route, enriching those intermediary cities in central Asia and Persia.

Today, as ever, the route is dangerous and often isolated. Thubron traveled by train, bus, truck, private car, on foot, horseback, camelback, and only once by plane, across the northern section of Afghanistan, where no driver would go, with or without him. He was quarantined for a time because of the SARS virus, and had a few close calls when crossing borders.

By the end of his long journey he was clearly ready to be done. He rushes through the last part of the trip, in southern Turkey, almost as an afterthought. After the long stretches of genuinely wild and dangerous travel, he seems not to have been aware of just how interesting a trip through Turkey would be for most of us.

This book gave me a much clearer view of the geography and people of Asia than I had before. I would never want to retrace Thubron's journey, so reading about it is as close as I will get to experiencing central Asia and the silk road. . more

Accidentally deleted my review, I&aposll have to rewrite it when I have time.

This book begins in Xi’an, the original, ancient capital of China. Where is Thubron going, and why?

Accidentally deleted my review, I'll have to rewrite it when I have time.

This book begins in Xi’an, the original, ancient capital of China. Where is Thubron going, and why?

This book revisits some of the territory covered in his earlier books The Lost Heart of Asia (1994) and Behind the Wall(1988). In Shadows, Thubron has lost much of the young man’s confidence that marked the earlier books the more he has learned, the less he understands. This book spends less time on the journalistic accumulation of facts and impressions and more time trying to figure things out. Of Xi’an itself:

Eighteen years earlier, I had trudged through a run-down provincial capital. But now it had shattered into life. All around now, another generation was on the move. In my memory, their parents’ expressions were guarded or blank, and footsteps lumbered…Something had been licensed which they called the West. I gawped at it like a stranger. Being Western was a kind of conformity. Even as the West touched them, they might be turning it Chinese.

Old people gazed as if at some heartless pageant. Dressed in their leftover Mao caps and frayed cloth slippers, they would stare for hours as the changed world unfolded. It was hard to look at them unmoved. Men and women born in civil war and Japanese invasion, who had eked out their lives through famine in the Great Leap Forward and survived the Cultural Revolution, had emerged at last to find themselves redundant. Under their shocks of grey hair the faces looked strained or emptied by history. And sometimes their expressions had quietened into a kind of peace, even amusement, so that I wondered in surprise what memory can have been so sweet.

His father obsessed him. The old man had been persecuted in the Cultural Revolution for owning books. ‘He was paraded in a dunce’s hat, with his arms wrenched out of their sockets’. Huang let out a tremor of strained Chinese laughter. ‘But now he’s gone home. He’s retired to the village of his childhood.’

‘The village that persecuted him

‘Yes. But to trees now, and flowing water, and a newspaper.’

But he had left behind this son tormented by a zeal for self-improvement. ‘A year ago I helped a Brazilian tourist. He’s a lawyer. He’s my only foreign friend – and now you.’ I felt a sudden misgiving, the start of a delicate interplay between debt and request. But he said: ‘I want to go to Brazil. During the day I’ll work at anything, but in the evening I’ll give Chinese lessons. Free, no charge! Money is important, of course, but later. First, friends. Friends will be more important for my life. Maybe after a year I’ll have five people studying Chinese – all new friends. Here. here. and here!’ He planted them in space, like aerial seeds. ‘Soon maybe one of my friends will tell me: Oh, Mr. Huang, I have good news – my father or my uncle works in a company that needs…’

I felt an amazed misgiving for him. ‘Do you know anything about Brazil?’

‘Brazil is in South America…Maybe they are making this’. He picks up a tiny bell from a table. ‘So I’ll send one of these to friends in China who’ll find a company to make them cheaper. After that we sell them back to the Brazil company.’ Then he advances down other avenues, other schemes. And slowly, as he juggles with a ferment of percentages and notional deals, my fear for him dissipates. I start, with dim foreboding, to pity the Brazilians.

He comes with his twenty-eight-year-old daughter Mingzhao, who looks like porcelain, like him. For a long time we climb over this perfect, sterile geometry. Beneath us the city moans invisibly through the smog: The drumming of a train, faint cries. Sometimes his daughter takes his arm, as if comforting him for something. As we mount the Linde hall, the pleasure palace of nineteen successive generations of Tang emperors, his daughter falls back beside me. She is pretty and delicate, with child’s hands. ‘In the Cultural Revolution he was sent into the mines,’ she says. ‘He was there eleven years. He had silicosis in his lungs long afterwards. But he kept up his studies even there. I’ve seen his old notebooks, covered in Maoist slogans.’

Later, in a dumpling restaurant that hangs its red lanterns near the city’s bell tower, Hu Ji and his daughter are debating something. They share the same small mouth and slim nose. She is studying the Sung dynasty, as he has studied the Tang. Sometimes she laughs, as he smiles. He is writing a book of essays—they are complex, provocative—which will expose old pieties to new light.'

My hand brushes his arm. I feel for his compassion – surprising myself – a surge of consolation, and I realize that I have never lost some misgiving at this hard land.

Hu Ji says quietly, ‘That’s why the Tainanmen Square massacre could happen’.

I hear myself ask: ‘Could it happen again?’

Seconds go by before he says: ‘I don’t think so. We have opened up too much to the world now. We are overseen.’

Is that the only reason? I wonder. But Hu Ji is looking at his daughter, says softly: ‘Our culture is starting to change, it’s true.’

He is seeing it in her and she answers my unspoken question: 'I don't know what my generation would do in revolution. But I think mine are more selfish. They have a conscience. They must decide things for themselves.'

Her gaze stays innocent on mine. She is twenty-eight, but looks a child. For a moment I do not understand her – the equation of conscience with selfishness is strange. But ever since the Cultural Revolution, she implies—when morality was vested in a near-mythic leadership—responsibility could no longer be displaced upward, but had come to rest, with guilt, in the confines of the self. Implicitly Mingzhao is announcing the death of the whole Confucian order, which places in an immutable hierarchy every person under heaven.

Before gloom can gather, Mingzhao asks me brightly: ‘What period would you have liked to have lived in?’ She enjoys these parlour games.

‘It depends if I were rich or poor,’ I laugh. ‘And you?’

‘It depends if I were a man or a woman.’

We turn to her father. Surely he would choose to live under the Tang. But he only smiles, and says uncertainly: ‘The future.’

All this brings us to page 29. From Xi’an, Thubron wanders westward, through hundreds of pages, armed with working ability in both Russian and Chinese, as he moves through Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and finally through Turkey to the Black Sea. Throughout, he questions all he thought he had understood on earlier trips and grapples with what these very different nations can teach him about humanity.
It is a journey well worth taking, with a deeply sympathetic narrator.
. more

Shadow of the Silk Road records a journey along the greatest land route on earth. Out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran and into Kurdish Turkey, Colin Thubron covers some seven thousand miles in eight months. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart and camel, he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people, to the ancient port of Antioch—in perhaps the most difficul Shadow of the Silk Road records a journey along the greatest land route on earth. Out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran and into Kurdish Turkey, Colin Thubron covers some seven thousand miles in eight months. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart and camel, he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people, to the ancient port of Antioch—in perhaps the most difficult and ambitious journey he has undertaken in forty years of travel.

The Silk Road is a huge network of arteries splitting and converging across the breadth of Asia. To travel it is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions and inventions. But alongside this rich and astonishing past, Shadow of the Silk Road is also about Asia today: a continent of upheaval.

One of the trademarks of Colin Thubron's travel writing is the beauty of his prose another is his gift for talking to people and getting them to talk to him. Shadow of the Silk Road encounters Islamic countries in many forms. It is about changes in China, transformed since the Cultural Revolution. It is about false nationalisms and the world's discontented margins, where the true boundaries are not political borders but the frontiers of tribe, ethnicity, language and religion. It is a magnificent and important account of an ancient world in modern ferment. . more

there are parts of this book that are amazing (Xian comes to mind and several of the strangers he meets on his journey) but sadly the author&aposs writing style is very much one that I don&apost like - overly descriptive almost as if he was being paid by the word. If you like old British travelogues - where the flowery prose is more important than the tale - this may be the book for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for something more - its still here - but its buried.

there are parts of this book that are amazing (Xian comes to mind and several of the strangers he meets on his journey) but sadly the author's writing style is very much one that I don't like - overly descriptive almost as if he was being paid by the word. If you like old British travelogues - where the flowery prose is more important than the tale - this may be the book for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for something more - its still here - but its buried.

I do not read a lot of travel narratives, but now and then I select one because each page I open while thumbing through (or previewing on Amazon) holds something interesting and makes me want to keep on reading. This book passed my small test, and I was not disappointed.

Many others have praised Thubron&aposs way with words. I would join them but for a small caveat: sometimes he overdoes it. Sometimes the poetry overexerts itself and threatens to smother the prose. But not too often!

This was a long j I do not read a lot of travel narratives, but now and then I select one because each page I open while thumbing through (or previewing on Amazon) holds something interesting and makes me want to keep on reading. This book passed my small test, and I was not disappointed.

Many others have praised Thubron's way with words. I would join them but for a small caveat: sometimes he overdoes it. Sometimes the poetry overexerts itself and threatens to smother the prose. But not too often!

This was a long journey -- more than 5,000 miles overland, alone, and with little reliable transportation. Thubron was aided by his fluency in both Mandarin and Russian. He introduces us to several unique people along the way, and I'd say those are some of the most enjoyable parts of his story -- but I also enjoyed very much his skillful weaving of historic background alongside his bumping on buses, his climbing up cliff faces to gain access to ancient caves, his attempts to sleep in inhospitable rooms.

Thubron reveals to us some aspects of Chinese hegemony that are rarely uncovered in Western media. Of particular interest to me were his experiences among the Uighurs, a traditionally Muslim ethic group whose lands lie on vast oil reserves within China's borders. I was also fascinated by his days spent in Iran and Afghanistan, where he shows a few slices of daily life wholly apart from war and military maneuvers.

There's not much of a personal nature in this account -- I knew little more about Thubron when I finished than when I had started. This didn't bother me while I was reading, and I would guess it was Thubron's intention to assert himself as little as possible. Instead he lets the rugged scenery, the history, and the residents of these unfamiliar lands speak mostly for themselves.

I also recommend this beautifully illustrated and very readable history: The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia. . more

Colin Thubron&aposs account of an epic journey along the Silk Road is an interesting mix of history and travelogue. He has a good eye and ear for detail and a knack for finding interesting people. His determination to find important historical sites that have been overlooked/sanitized is impressive. The pace, maybe like that of travelers on the Silk Road of old, is slow. I wish there were photos, but I don&apost think he&aposd have gotten access to some sites if he&aposd traveled with a camera.

His writing is oc Colin Thubron's account of an epic journey along the Silk Road is an interesting mix of history and travelogue. He has a good eye and ear for detail and a knack for finding interesting people. His determination to find important historical sites that have been overlooked/sanitized is impressive. The pace, maybe like that of travelers on the Silk Road of old, is slow. I wish there were photos, but I don't think he'd have gotten access to some sites if he'd traveled with a camera.

His writing is occasionally lyrical:

"Sometimes a journey arises out of hope and instinct, the heady conviction, as your finger travels along the map: Yes, here and here . and here. These are the nerve-ends of the world."

"The heavy stirrup was a Chinese brain-child as early as the fourth century AD, it seems, and as it traveled westward, stabilizing its rider in battle, it made possible the heavily armored and expensively mounted knight."

"Nothing ahead of me, I sense, will be homogeneous, constant. To follow a road is to follow diversity: a flow of interlocked voices, arguing, in a cloud of dust."

"My feet crunch over the snow, seeming light and lonely, and from somewhere in the darkness ahead -- like an old god clearing his throat -- sounds the braying of a horn. Then a familiar elation wells up: the childlike anticipation of entering the unknown, some perfect otherness."

"These men -- two of them spoke tentative English -- were touched by a delicacy which I was starting to recognize, of people educated for something else, derailed by hard times." . more

Thubron captures a panoply of voices from along the silk road, reflecting all the ethnicities that have intermixed through the last 3,000 years as traders and conquerors moved back and forth. He is an amazingly brave man to have moved through the deserts and battlegrounds of the Uigars, Iraquis and Iranians with nothing but a rucksack, some maps and whatever drivers and translators he could pick up along the way. But this made him approachable, and he had Russian and at least rudimentary other l Thubron captures a panoply of voices from along the silk road, reflecting all the ethnicities that have intermixed through the last 3,000 years as traders and conquerors moved back and forth. He is an amazingly brave man to have moved through the deserts and battlegrounds of the Uigars, Iraquis and Iranians with nothing but a rucksack, some maps and whatever drivers and translators he could pick up along the way. But this made him approachable, and he had Russian and at least rudimentary other languages that helped bridge the way to sharing meals and stories with the people he met.

At times the effort to capture the emptiness of the land was a little too traditional British poetic travel-talk, but mostly the writing is good. I think the best parts are the simple transcriptions of monologues by the indivdiuals he meets who are trying to survive the politics of the countries he passes through. Many are faithful Muslims who believe in the official version of the West that they are given. Others are restless for political change or relief from ethnic persecution.

This is also an interesting book to read in counterpoint to Robert Byron’sjourney through some of the same area in the 1930s: The Road to Oxiana. Like Byron he organizes much of his journey so as to see architectural monuments in various states of ruin or veneration, but Byron did not mingle on such an individual level with everyday people, as I recall. . more

Colin Thubron, the prized British travel writer, takes us on a journey along the Silk Road, the mythical link between Asia and Europe, responsible for shaping history as we know it. Steeped in history, the Silk Road has been shaped by empires such as the Roman, Persian Achaemenid, Mongol, various Islamic caliphates and Chinese dynasties, the list goes on. Yet, this travelogue is drier and dustier than the forgotten and desolate trade route it explores. Add to this Thubron’s pretentious language, Colin Thubron, the prized British travel writer, takes us on a journey along the Silk Road, the mythical link between Asia and Europe, responsible for shaping history as we know it. Steeped in history, the Silk Road has been shaped by empires such as the Roman, Persian Achaemenid, Mongol, various Islamic caliphates and Chinese dynasties, the list goes on. Yet, this travelogue is drier and dustier than the forgotten and desolate trade route it explores. Add to this Thubron’s pretentious language, poor flow, and periodic repetition of words, as if he had a word of the week challenge, and you have proper slog on your hands. If the goal was to bring the reader along on an uncomfortable camel ride through the barren deserts of the Silk Road, then it must be considered a success.

It is quite fascinating how Thubron can travel through China, Central Asia, and the Middle East, write a whole lot about it, and end up with something so uninspiring. These are truly remarkable places, with fascinating cultures and histories, but those elements are glossed over, in favour of archaeological peculiarities. The author’s obsession with tombs and crypts knows no limits, but sadly it is not accompanied by appropriate explanation of the historical significance of the places visited, nor the captivating, one would have thought, scenery along the way. When Thubron is not searching for tombs to explore, he spends most of his time obsessing over people’s facial features. Not through an interesting anthropological lens, but in a strange neo-imperialist hunt for Western traits across the Eurasian continent.

Luckily, there are stretches of the journey that Thubron does do justice. Most notably Afghanistan, where he takes a welcome break from his archaeological explorations in favour of digging into the country’s history and culture. Nevertheless, his arrival on the Mediterranean Ocean, the end of his journey, is as welcome to the reader as it must have been to the caravans making the treacherous journey a thousand years ago.
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This book records the eight-month journey that the author took through what is probably the most fascinating part of the world, traveling west from China through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, ending in Turkey. He writes amazingly beautiful prose and his observations are deep and heartfelt, often containing intricate details about the landscapes, cultures, people he encounters. He talks to a wide variety of people and, importantly, gets them to talk to him. A famous British travel writer, he h This book records the eight-month journey that the author took through what is probably the most fascinating part of the world, traveling west from China through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, ending in Turkey. He writes amazingly beautiful prose and his observations are deep and heartfelt, often containing intricate details about the landscapes, cultures, people he encounters. He talks to a wide variety of people and, importantly, gets them to talk to him. A famous British travel writer, he has visited these places three decades earlier, but his historical commentary stretches far before that to the ancient times. He tells stories of times when peoples and cultures were on the move, emperors and conquerors shifted, goods and ideas moved along the Silk Road. Colin Thubron knows his history.

The journey starts in Xian in central China from where Thubron travels west, the early part of his trip somewhat hampered by the SARS epidemic in the country. This first part of the book is perhaps the most tedious. There are lots of cultural sites that Thubron visits and which lead to ponderings about history and mixing of people along the Silk Road. He harbors an animosity towards the Communist China and the Cultural Revolution (which obviously was sheer madness and one of the most destructive passages of modern history), as well as the Han Chinese domination of the ethnic minorities in the western parts of the country. The anger about the loss of culture simmers just beneath the surface.

Most of the trip, starting in western China, travels through Islamic lands, which serves to demonstrate the enormous variety in the practice of that religion. The voyage continues through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which exist as countries only after Stalin’s Soviet Union annexed and created them as such. Even their history and myths were created. The true identity lies with ethnicity, clan and religion. The Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek and Turkmen—even the Chinese in the east—mix in a patchwork which doesn’t respect national boundaries. Thubron observes and discusses with people the post-Soviet world (many long for the stability of the Soviet Union), the revival of Islam (which has been limited to small minorities and hardly has a bright future in Central Asia), and the future, revealing much uncertainty and confusion.

He crosses into Afghanistan and arrives in Mazar-i-Sharif witnessing the aftermath of the war in which numerous, often ethnic-based militias have been vying for control of territory, resources and people’s lives since long before the emergence of the Taliban and US-led invasion. But the Taliban were the craziest—uneducated, ignorant, fanatical , brutal. Lawlessness is widespread and local warlords in control, but people are also tired of fighting and just hoping to get along with their lives. In the land ravaged by war and drought, opium cultivation is the only viable option for many villagers.

From Afghanistan the trip takes him to Iran and finally to the final destination in Turkey. Traveling through Kurdistan Colin Thubron again explores one of the main themes of the book (and in the process gets a rough but effective root canal done to himself), that political borders seldom coincide with those boundaries that really matter to people, namely those based on ethnicity, language, religion.

This should be one of my favorite books and on some levels it is. Thubron’s erudite prose is very informative and humane, but also rather slow and at times heavy. The reader gets to visit many monuments and tombs of historical figures and receives lots of arcane details about the lives and the variations in the religious beliefs of people. Consequently, it took me a long time to get through the beautiful book. This is likely to be more of a judgment of the reader than the author. In today’s world, there is too little patience for reflection.
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9 Chinese Herbs that May Beat Cancer

What if the cancer treatments doctors prescribed more than 2,000 years ago work better than today’s drugs – with few or no side effects?

What if your doctor saw the patient’s cancer as the “uppermost branch” rather than the “root” of the problem?

And best of all: What if this ancient treatment could improve your odds of survival by 70 percent? Keep reading. . .

A Few Sips a Day, Keeps Cancer Away…

The Simple Secret That’s Saving Thousands of People Around The World from Deadly Cancers…

The National Cancer Institute confirmed its effectiveness. When the results came in, the NCI researchers were amazed…

In their experiments, cells from six of the deadliest cancers were knocked out – lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, ovarian cancer, kidney cancer and melanoma. In every test almost all of the cancer cells were dead. Wiped out within just 48 hours of being exposed one little-known cancer treatment…

Imagine the millions of lives it could save,
Then brace yourself for a shocking surprise…

Chinese doctors may use about 133 different herbs to treat lung cancer. These herbs decrease cancer symptoms in 85 out of a hundred patients.

What’s the biggest symptom they help erase? Pain!

In addition, the right selection of Chinese herbs can reduce tumor size by 38 percent, improve quality of life, and prevent relapse.

Here are nine of the herbs Chinese doctors most commonly use to heal lung cancer. Many are beneficial against other cancers too.

1. Astragalus

One of the most widely used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus root boosts your immune system and helps prevent infection.

In the cancer world, it stops tumor growth, thwarts tumor spreading, and reduces the immune-suppressing side effects of chemotherapy. Astragalus increases your T-cell levels – and they in turn kill cancer cells.

Astragalus improves quality of life for people with non-small cell lung cancer. It enhances the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy treatments, such as cisplatin, by counteracting the damage to the immune system caused by chemo, according to research by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. For the best results, the patients in the study took astragalus while receiving chemotherapy.

In addition to killing cancer cells and reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy, astragalus protects your kidneys and lungs from autoantibody attacks.

It also heals burns, protects from heart disease, fights the common cold, increases stamina, and lowers blood pressure. As an adaptogen, it increases your general resistance to stress and disease.

2. Nan Sha Shen

This root (also known as American silvertop root) acts as an antibiotic. Doctors often prescribe it to help heal a dry cough that involves only a little phlegm.

Nan sha shen’s healing powers also help cancer patients.

The herb reduces cancer-promoting compounds. When injected, it reduces inflammation and vascular permeability, making it harder for cancer-promoting compounds to grow and expand.

3. Gan Cao

Gan cao (licorice root) acts as an expectorant, accelerating mucus secretion. It helps relieve coughs and shortness of breath. This is of particular benefit to lung cancer patients.

Several components in gan cao – Licochalcone-A, glabridin, and licocoumarone – stop cancer growth and kill breast cancer cells, prostate cancer cells, and leukemia cells.

Overall, the herb helps cleanse and refresh your body to keep you younger and healthier.

Traditional Chinese medicine doctors often prescribe gan cao in combination with other herbs. Gan cao aids their absorption and increases their effectiveness.

4. Poria

Poria is a medicinal mushroom that helps heal many ailments. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory useful for edema – fluid buildup under the skin.

The herb (also known as fu ling) balances electrolytes, energizes your spleen, reduces phlegm, and helps insomnia patients sleep better. It is an antibacterial that can also lower your blood sugar.

Plus, it helps fight cancer by:

  1. Down regulating nuclear factor-kappa B activity
  2. Preventing new blood vessels from growing
  3. Killing cancer cells outright

5. Oldenlandia diffusa

Oldenlandia diffusa helps you eliminate toxins.

Known as snake-needle grass in the U.S., this herb stops cancer cells from growing and increases the natural death rate of cancer cells. It stimulates your immune system to kill or overwhelm tumor cells – without killing normal cells.

One study found that Oldenlandia diffusa prevents inflammation by reducing the body’s production of three commonly over-expressed cancer compounds – tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and prostaglandin-2.

Oldenlandia diffusa is also said to treat hepatitis, snakebites, arthritis, and liver and stomach cancers.

6. Asparagus root

Like Oldenlandia diffusa, asparagus root acts as an anti-inflammatory and prevents the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Even though scientists have conducted only animal studies on asparagus root, they believe the evidence and data collected show that this plant remedy effectively fights lung cancer and leukemia.

The herb is also useful for constipation, coughs, and hepatitis.

7. Huang Qin

Also known as Baikal skullcap or Chinese skullcap, this Chinese herb prevents secondary tumors from forming in lung cancer patients.

Huang qin (scientific name Scutellaria baicalensis) kills human lung cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. A component named wogonin triggers cancer cell death while leaving healthy cells undamaged.

Huang qin prevents tumor cell reproduction, especially for A549 cells. In this way, it stops tumor growth and can dissolve tumors completely. The herb also decreases inflammation.

Besides helping lung cancer patients, huang qin also treats digestive system cancers, liver cancer, breast cancer, and chorioepithelioma (a malignant fast-growing tumor that forms from trophoblastic cells, the cells that help an embryo attach to the uterus and help form the placenta).

8. Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumber extract kills cancer cells and prevents tumor growth.

A compound found in sea cucumber fights against multiple types of cancer, including lung, pancreatic, prostate, colon, breast, skin, and liver cancers, leukemia, and glioblastoma.

Sea cucumber prevents angiogenesis – the process in which tumors grow new blood vessels that enable them to access food for growth.

More than just preventing growth, sea cucumber kills cancer cells outright. According to studies, the compound Frondoside A kills 85 to 88 percent of three different types of lung cancer cells. It also kills 95 percent of breast cancer cells, 90 percent of melanoma cells, and 95 percent of liver cancer cells.

In addition to killing these harmful cells directly, Frondoside A activates your immune system so your body can fight back against the cancer naturally.

9. Green Tea

Green tea extract is a potent antioxidant. It starves tumors by preventing new blood vessels from growing. This starving action targets cancer cells without hurting healthy cells.

Green tea contains a polyphenol named EGCG that prevents tumor growth. Studies demonstrate its benefits for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

Other polyphenols found in green tea lower cholesterol, fight free radicals in your body, protect your brain from dementia, lower your risk of diabetes and heart attacks, and slim you down.

One of green tea’s lesser known benefits is its ability to kill bacteria and inhibit viruses, thereby lowering your risk of infections.

In a study of more than 40,000 Japanese adults, those who drank five or more cups per day reduced death from all causes by 23% in women and 12% in men. For risk of death from stroke, the results are even better – 42% reduction in women and 35% lower in men.

Chinese herbs part of a larger system

Herbal medicine is one of the most common alternative therapies used by cancer patients. Doctors who use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) do not use these herbs in isolation, though.

Instead, TCM doctors most often use these herbs in combination with each other. Although there are more than 3,000 different medicinal herbs in TCM, 300 to 500 are commonly used. Nearly all Chinese herbal formulas I’ve seen contain a long list of ingredients, many of them unknown to me. The formulas tend to be complicated.

They try to address three main functions in TCM:

  1. Treat acute diseases and conditions
  2. Heal chronic conditions
  3. Maintain daily health and wellness through balance in the body

As part of a program of total healing, TCM herbs are also combined with acupuncture, massage therapy, and breathing and movement exercises (such as qi gong or tai chi). By using these treatments, doctors aim to restore your qi (pronounced “chee”). Your qi is your body’s flow of energy.

In the Chinese way of looking at things, good health requires good qi.

I don’t recommend self-medicating with Chinese herbs because there are so many choices and combinations, and so many questions about where the herbs come from and how they were grown. If you want to try this type of medicine, it’s best to seek out a trusted practitioner.


The word Go is a short form of the Japanese word igo ( 囲碁 ), which probably derives from the Middle Chinese ɦʉi gi ( 圍棋 , Mandarin: wéiqí, lit. 'encirclement board game' or 'board game of surrounding'). In English, the name Go when used for the game is often capitalized to differentiate it from the common word go. [14] In events sponsored by the Ing Chang-ki Foundation, it is spelled goe. [15]

The Korean word baduk derives from the Middle Korean word Badok, the origin of which is controversial the more plausible etymologies include the suffix dok added to Ba to mean 'flat and wide board', or the joining of Bat, meaning 'field', and Dok, meaning 'stone'. Less plausible etymologies include a derivation of Badukdok, referring to the playing pieces of the game, or a derivation from Chinese páizi ( 排子 ), meaning 'to arrange pieces'. [16]

Go is an adversarial game with the objective of surrounding a larger total area of the board with one's stones than the opponent. [17] As the game progresses, the players position stones on the board to map out formations and potential territories. Contests between opposing formations are often extremely complex and may result in the expansion, reduction, or wholesale capture and loss of formation stones.

A basic principle of Go is that a group of stones must have at least one open point bordering the group, known as a liberty, to remain on the board. One or more liberties enclosed within a group is called an eye, and a group with two or more eyes cannot be captured, even if surrounded. [19] Such groups are said to be unconditionally alive. [20]

The general strategy is to expand one's territory, attack the opponent's weak groups (groups that can be killed), and always stay mindful of the life status of one's own groups. [21] [22] The liberties of groups are countable. Situations where mutually opposing groups must capture each other or die are called capturing races, or semeai. [23] In a capturing race, the group with more liberties will ultimately be able to capture the opponent's stones. [23] [24] [b] Capturing races and the elements of life or death are the primary challenges of Go.

Players may pass rather than place a stone if they think there are no further opportunities for profitable play. [25] The game ends when both players pass [26] or when one player resigns. In general, to score the game, each player counts the number of unoccupied points surrounded by their stones and then subtracts the number of stones that were captured by the opponent. The player with the greater score (after adjusting for komi) wins the game.

In the opening stages of the game, players typically establish positions (or bases) in the corners and around the sides of the board. These bases help to quickly develop strong shapes which have many options for life (self-viability for a group of stones that prevents capture) and establish formations for potential territory. [27] Players usually start in the corners because establishing territory is easier with the aid of two edges of the board. [28] Established corner opening sequences are called joseki and are often studied independently. [29]

Dame are points that lie in between the boundary walls of black and white, and as such are considered to be of no value to either side. Seki are mutually alive pairs of white and black groups where neither has two eyes. A ko (Chinese and Japanese: 劫 ) is a repeated-position shape that may be contested by making forcing moves elsewhere. After the forcing move is played, the ko may be "taken back" and returned to its original position. [30] Some ko fights may be important and decide the life of a large group, while others may be worth just one or two points. Some ko fights are referred to as picnic kos when only one side has a lot to lose. [31] The Japanese call it a hanami (flower-viewing) ko. [32]

Playing with others usually requires a knowledge of each player's strength, indicated by the player's rank (increasing from 30 kyu to 1 kyu, then 1 dan to 7 dan, then 1 dan pro to 9 dan pro). A difference in rank may be compensated by a handicap—Black is allowed to place two or more stones on the board to compensate for White's greater strength. [33] [34] There are different rule-sets (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, AGA, etc.), which are almost entirely equivalent, except for certain special-case positions.

Aside from the order of play (alternating moves, Black moves first or takes a handicap) and scoring rules, there are essentially only two rules in Go:

  • Rule 1 (the rule of liberty) states that every stone remaining on the board must have at least one open point (a liberty) directly orthogonally adjacent (up, down, left, or right), ormust be part of a connected group that has at least one such open point (liberty) next to it. Stones or groups of stones which lose their last liberty are removed from the board.
  • Rule 2 (the ko rule) states that the stones on the board must never repeat a previous position of stones. Moves which would do so are forbidden, and thus only moves elsewhere on the board are permitted that turn.

Almost all other information about how the game is played is a heuristic, meaning it is learned information about how the game is played, rather than a rule. Other rules are specialized, as they come about through different rule-sets, but the above two rules cover almost all of any played game.

Although there are some minor differences between rule-sets used in different countries, [35] most notably in Chinese and Japanese scoring rules, [36] these differences do not greatly affect the tactics and strategy of the game.

Except where noted, the basic rules presented here are valid independent of the scoring rules used. The scoring rules are explained separately. Go terms for which there is no ready English equivalent are commonly called by their Japanese names.

Basic rules Edit

The two players, Black and White, take turns placing stones of their colour on the intersections of the board, one stone at a time. The usual board size is a 19×19 grid but for beginners, or for playing quick games, [37] the smaller board sizes of 13×13 [38] and 9×9 are also popular. [39] The board is empty to begin with. [40] Black plays first, unless black is given a handicap of two stones or more (in which case, white plays first). The players may choose any unoccupied intersection to play on, except for those forbidden by the ko and suicide rules (see below). Once played, a stone can never be moved and can be taken off the board only if it is captured. [41] A player may also pass, declining to place a stone, though this is usually only done at the end of the game when both players believe nothing more can be accomplished with further play. When both players pass consecutively, the game ends [42] and is then scored.

Liberties and capture Edit

Vertically and horizontally adjacent stones of the same color form a chain (also called a string or group), [43] forming a discrete unit that cannot then be divided. [44] Only stones connected to one another by the lines on the board create a chain stones that are diagonally adjacent are not connected. Chains may be expanded by placing additional stones on adjacent intersections, and can be connected together by placing a stone on an intersection that is adjacent to two or more chains of the same color. [45]

A vacant point adjacent to a stone, along one of the grid lines of the board, is called a liberty for that stone. [46] [47] Stones in a chain share their liberties. [43] A chain of stones must have at least one liberty to remain on the board. When a chain is surrounded by opposing stones so that it has no liberties, it is captured and removed from the board. [48]

Ko rule Edit

An example of a situation in which the ko rule applies

Players are not allowed to make a move that returns the game to the previous position. This rule, called the ko rule, prevents unending repetition. [49] As shown in the example pictured: Black has just played the stone marked 1, capturing a white stone at the intersection marked with the red circle. If White were allowed to play on the marked intersection, that move would capture the black stone marked 1 and recreate the situation before Black made the move marked 1. Allowing this could result in an unending cycle of captures by both players. The ko rule therefore prohibits White from playing at the marked intersection immediately. Instead White must play elsewhere, or pass Black can then end the ko by filling at the marked intersection, creating a five-stone black chain. If White wants to continue the ko (that specific repeating position), White tries to find a play elsewhere on the board that Black must answer if Black answers, then White can retake the ko. A repetition of such exchanges is called a ko fight. [50]

While the various rule-sets agree on the ko rule prohibiting returning the board to an immediately previous position, they deal in different ways with the relatively uncommon situation in which a player might recreate a past position that is further removed. See Rules of Go § Repetition for further information.

Suicide Edit

A player may not place a stone such that it or its group immediately has no liberties, unless doing so immediately deprives an enemy group of its final liberty. In the latter case, the enemy group is captured, leaving the new stone with at least one liberty. [53] This rule is responsible for the all-important difference between one and two eyes: if a group with only one eye is fully surrounded on the outside, it can be killed with a stone placed in its single eye.

The Ing and New Zealand rules do not have this rule, [54] and there a player might destroy one of its own groups (commit suicide). This play would only be useful in a limited set of situations involving a small interior space. [55] In the example at right, it may be useful as a ko threat.

Komi Edit

Because Black has the advantage of playing the first move, the idea of awarding White some compensation came into being during the 20th century. This is called komi, which gives white a 6.5-point compensation under Japanese rules (number of points varies by rule set). [56] Under handicap play, White receives only a 0.5-point komi, to break a possible tie (jigo).

Scoring rules Edit

Two general types of scoring system are used, and players determine which to use before play. Both systems almost always give the same result. Territory scoring counts the number of empty points a player's stones surround, together with the number of stones the player captured. Area scoring counts the number of points a player's stones occupy and surround. It is associated with contemporary Chinese play and was probably established there during the Ming Dynasty in the 15th or 16th century. [57]

After both players have passed consecutively, the stones that are still on the board but unable to avoid capture, called dead stones, are removed.

Area scoring (including Chinese): A player's score is the number of stones that the player has on the board, plus the number of empty intersections surrounded by that player's stones.

Territory scoring (including Japanese and Korean): In the course of the game, each player retains the stones they capture, termed prisoners. Any dead stones removed at the end of the game become prisoners. The score is the number of empty points enclosed by a player's stones, plus the number of prisoners captured by that player. [c]

If there is disagreement about which stones are dead, then under area scoring rules, the players simply resume play to resolve the matter. The score is computed using the position after the next time the players pass consecutively. Under territory scoring, the rules are considerably more complex however, in practice, players generally play on, and, once the status of each stone has been determined, return to the position at the time the first two consecutive passes occurred and remove the dead stones. For further information, see Rules of Go.

Given that the number of stones a player has on the board is directly related to the number of prisoners their opponent has taken, the resulting net score, that is, the difference between Black's and White's scores, is identical under both rulesets (unless the players have passed different numbers of times during the course of the game). Thus, the net result given by the two scoring systems rarely differs by more than a point. [58]

Life and death Edit

While not actually mentioned in the rules of Go (at least in simpler rule sets, such as those of New Zealand and the U.S.), the concept of a living group of stones is necessary for a practical understanding of the game. [59]

Examples of eyes (marked). The black groups at the top of the board are alive, as they have at least two eyes. The black groups at the bottom are dead as they only have one eye. The point marked a is a false eye.

When a group of stones is mostly surrounded and has no options to connect with friendly stones elsewhere, the status of the group is either alive, dead or unsettled. A group of stones is said to be alive if it cannot be captured, even if the opponent is allowed to move first. Conversely, a group of stones is said to be dead if it cannot avoid capture, even if the owner of the group is allowed the first move. Otherwise, the group is said to be unsettled: the defending player can make it alive or the opponent can kill it, depending on who gets to play first. [59]

An eye is an empty point or group of points surrounded by one player's stones. If the eye is surrounded by Black stones, White cannot play there unless such a play would take Black's last liberty and capture the Black stones. (Such a move is forbidden according to the suicide rule in most rule sets, but even if not forbidden, such a move would be a useless suicide of a White stone.)

If a Black group has two eyes, White can never capture it because White cannot remove both liberties simultaneously. If Black has only one eye, White can capture the Black group by playing in the single eye, removing Black's last liberty. Such a move is not suicide because the Black stones are removed first. In the "Examples of eyes" diagram, all the circled points are eyes. The two black groups in the upper corners are alive, as both have at least two eyes. The groups in the lower corners are dead, as both have only one eye. The group in the lower left may seem to have two eyes, but the surrounded empty point marked a is not actually an eye. White can play there and take a black stone. Such a point is often called a false eye. [59]

Seki (mutual life) Edit

There is an exception to the requirement that a group must have two eyes to be alive, a situation called seki (or mutual life). Where different colored groups are adjacent and share liberties, the situation may reach a position when neither player wants to move first, because doing so would allow the opponent to capture in such situations therefore both players' stones remain on the board (in seki). Neither player receives any points for those groups, but at least those groups themselves remain living, as opposed to being captured. [d]

Seki can occur in many ways. The simplest are:

  1. each player has a group without eyes and they share two liberties, and
  2. each player has a group with one eye and they share one more liberty.

In the "Example of seki (mutual life)" diagram, the circled points are liberties shared by both a black and a white group. Neither player wants to play on a circled point, because doing so would allow the opponent to capture. All the other groups in this example, both black and white, are alive with at least two eyes. Seki can result from an attempt by one player to invade and kill a nearly settled group of the other player. [59]

In Go, tactics deal with immediate fighting between stones, capturing and saving stones, life, death and other issues localized to a specific part of the board. Larger issues, not limited to only part of the board, are referred to as strategy, and are covered in their own section.

Capturing tactics Edit

There are several tactical constructs aimed at capturing stones. [60] These are among the first things a player learns after understanding the rules. Recognizing the possibility that stones can be captured using these techniques is an important step forward.

A ladder. Black cannot escape unless the ladder connects to black stones further down the board that will intercept with the ladder.

The most basic technique is the ladder. [61] To capture stones in a ladder, a player uses a constant series of capture threats (atari) to force the opponent into a zigzag pattern as shown in the adjacent diagram. Unless the pattern runs into friendly stones along the way, the stones in the ladder cannot avoid capture. Experienced players recognize the futility of continuing the pattern and play elsewhere. The presence of a ladder on the board does give a player the option to play a stone in the path of the ladder, thereby threatening to rescue their stones, forcing a response. Such a move is called a ladder breaker and may be a powerful strategic move. In the diagram, Black has the option of playing a ladder breaker.

A net. The chain of three marked black stones cannot escape in any direction.

Another technique to capture stones is the so-called net, [62] also known by its Japanese name, geta. This refers to a move that loosely surrounds some stones, preventing their escape in all directions. An example is given in the adjacent diagram. It is generally better to capture stones in a net than in a ladder, because a net does not depend on the condition that there are no opposing stones in the way, nor does it allow the opponent to play a strategic ladder breaker.

A snapback. Although Black can capture the white stone by playing at the circled point, the resulting shape for Black has only one liberty (at 1), thus White can then capture the three black stones by playing at 1 again (snapback).

A third technique to capture stones is the snapback. [63] In a snapback, one player allows a single stone to be captured, then immediately plays on the point formerly occupied by that stone by so doing, the player captures a larger group of their opponent's stones, in effect snapping back at those stones. An example can be seen on the right. As with the ladder, an experienced player does not play out such a sequence, recognizing the futility of capturing only to be captured back immediately.

Reading ahead Edit

One of the most important skills required for strong tactical play is the ability to read ahead. [64] Reading ahead includes considering available moves to play, the possible responses to each move, and the subsequent possibilities after each of those responses. Some of the strongest players of the game can read up to 40 moves ahead even in complicated positions. [65]

As explained in the scoring rules, some stone formations can never be captured and are said to be alive, while other stones may be in the position where they cannot avoid being captured and are said to be dead. Much of the practice material available to players of the game comes in the form of life and death problems, also known as tsumego. [66] In such problems, players are challenged to find the vital move sequence that kills a group of the opponent or saves a group of their own. Tsumego are considered an excellent way to train a player's ability at reading ahead, [66] and are available for all skill levels, some posing a challenge even to top players.

Ko fighting Edit

In situations when the Ko rule applies, a ko fight may occur. [50] If the player who is prohibited from capture is of the opinion that the capture is important, because it prevents a large group of stones from being captured for instance, the player may play a ko threat. [50] This is a move elsewhere on the board that threatens to make a large profit if the opponent does not respond. If the opponent does respond to the ko threat, the situation on the board has changed, and the prohibition on capturing the ko no longer applies. Thus the player who made the ko threat may now recapture the ko. Their opponent is then in the same situation and can either play a ko threat as well, or concede the ko by simply playing elsewhere. If a player concedes the ko, either because they do not think it important or because there are no moves left that could function as a ko threat, they have lost the ko, and their opponent may connect the ko.

Instead of responding to a ko threat, a player may also choose to ignore the threat and connect the ko. [50] They thereby win the ko, but at a cost. The choice of when to respond to a threat and when to ignore it is a subtle one, which requires a player to consider many factors, including how much is gained by connecting, how much is lost by not responding, how many possible ko threats both players have remaining, what the optimal order of playing them is, and what the size—points lost or gained—of each of the remaining threats is. [67]

Frequently, the winner of the ko fight does not connect the ko but instead captures one of the chains that constituted their opponent's side of the ko. [50] In some cases, this leads to another ko fight at a neighboring location.

Strategy deals with global influence, interaction between distant stones, keeping the whole board in mind during local fights, and other issues that involve the overall game. It is therefore possible to allow a tactical loss when it confers a strategic advantage.

Novices often start by randomly placing stones on the board, as if it were a game of chance. An understanding of how stones connect for greater power develops, and then a few basic common opening sequences may be understood. Learning the ways of life and death helps in a fundamental way to develop one's strategic understanding of weak groups. [e] A player who both plays aggressively and can handle adversity is said to display kiai, or fighting spirit, in the game.

Basic concepts Edit

Basic strategic aspects include the following:

  • Connection: Keeping one's own stones connected means that fewer groups need to make living shape, and one has fewer groups to defend.
  • Cut: Keeping opposing stones disconnected means that the opponent needs to defend and make living shape for more groups.
  • Stay alive: The simplest way to stay alive is to establish a foothold in the corner or along one of the sides. At a minimum, a group must have two eyes (separate open points) to be alive. [68] An opponent cannot fill in either eye, as any such move is suicidal and prohibited in the rules.
  • Mutual life (seki) is better than dying: A situation in which neither player can play on a particular point without then allowing the other player to play at another point to capture. The most common example is that of adjacent groups that share their last few liberties—if either player plays in the shared liberties, they can reduce their own group to a single liberty (putting themselves in atari), allowing their opponent to capture it on the next move.
  • Death: A group that lacks living shape is eventually removed from the board as captured.
  • Invasion: Set up a new living group inside an area where the opponent has greater influence, means one reduces the opponent's score in proportion to the area one occupies.
  • Reduction: Placing a stone far enough into the opponent's area of influence to reduce the amount of territory they eventually get, but not so far in that it can be cut off from friendly stones outside.
  • Sente: A play that forces one's opponent to respond (gote). A player who can regularly play sente has the initiative and can control the flow of the game.
  • Sacrifice: Allowing a group to die in order to carry out a play, or plan, in a more important area.

The strategy involved can become very abstract and complex. High-level players spend years improving their understanding of strategy, and a novice may play many hundreds of games against opponents before being able to win regularly.

Opening strategy Edit

In the opening of the game, players usually play and gain territory in the corners of the board first, as the presence of two edges makes it easier for them to surround territory and establish their stones. [69] From a secure position in a corner, it is possible to lay claim to more territory by extending along the side of the board. [70] The opening is the most theoretically difficult part of the game and takes a large proportion of professional players' thinking time. [71] [72] The first stone played at a corner of the board is generally placed on the third or fourth line from the edge. Players tend to play on or near the 4-4 star point during the opening. Playing nearer to the edge does not produce enough territory to be efficient, and playing further from the edge does not safely secure the territory. [73]

In the opening, players often play established sequences called joseki, which are locally balanced exchanges [74] however, the joseki chosen should also produce a satisfactory result on a global scale. It is generally advisable to keep a balance between territory and influence. Which of these gets precedence is often a matter of individual taste.

Middlegame and endgame Edit

The middle phase of the game is the most combative, and usually lasts for more than 100 moves. During the middlegame, the players invade each other's territories, and attack formations that lack the necessary two eyes for viability. Such groups may be saved or sacrificed for something more significant on the board. [75] It is possible that one player may succeed in capturing a large weak group of the opponent's, which often proves decisive and ends the game by a resignation. However, matters may be more complex yet, with major trade-offs, apparently dead groups reviving, and skillful play to attack in such a way as to construct territories rather than kill. [76]

The end of the middlegame and transition to the endgame is marked by a few features. Near the end of a game, play becomes divided into localized fights that do not affect each other, [77] with the exception of ko fights, where before the central area of the board related to all parts of it. No large weak groups are still in serious danger. Moves can reasonably be attributed some definite value, such as 20 points or fewer, rather than simply being necessary to compete. Both players set limited objectives in their plans, in making or destroying territory, capturing or saving stones. These changing aspects of the game usually occur at much the same time, for strong players. In brief, the middlegame switches into the endgame when the concepts of strategy and influence need reassessment in terms of concrete final results on the board.

Origin in China Edit

The earliest written reference to the game is generally recognized as the historical annal Zuo Zhuan [8] [9] (c. 4th century BCE), [10] referring to a historical event of 548 BCE. It is also mentioned in Book XVII of the Analects of Confucius [10] and in two books written by Mencius [9] [78] (c. 3rd century BCE). [10] In all of these works, the game is referred to as ( 弈 ). Today, in China, it is known as weiqi (simplified Chinese: 围棋 traditional Chinese: 圍棋 pinyin: wéiqí Wade–Giles: wei ch'i ), lit. 'encirclement board game'.

Go was originally played on a 17×17 line grid, but a 19×19 grid became standard by the time of the Tang Dynasty (618–907). [9] Legends trace the origin of the game to the mythical Chinese emperor Yao (2337–2258 BCE), who was said to have had his counselor Shun design it for his unruly son, Danzhu, to favorably influence him. [79] Other theories suggest that the game was derived from Chinese tribal warlords and generals, who used pieces of stone to map out attacking positions. [80] [81]

In China, Go was considered one of the four cultivated arts of the Chinese scholar gentleman, along with calligraphy, painting and playing the musical instrument guqin [82] In ancient times the rules of go were passed on verbally, rather than being written down. [83]

Model of a 19×19 Go board, from a tomb of the Sui dynasty (581–618 CE).

Painting of a woman playing Go, from the Astana Graves. Tang dynasty, circa 744 CE.

Li Jing playing Go with his brothers. Detail from a painting by Zhou Wenju (fl. 942-961 CE), Southern Tang dynasty.

Spread to Korea and Japan Edit

Go was introduced to Korea sometime between the 5th and 7th centuries CE, and was popular among the higher classes. In Korea, the game is called baduk (hangul: 바둑 ), and a variant of the game called Sunjang baduk was developed by the 16th century. Sunjang baduk became the main variant played in Korea until the end of the 19th century, when the current version was reintroduced from Japan. [84] [85]

The game reached Japan in the 7th century CE—where it is called go ( 碁 ) or igo ( 囲碁 ) . It became popular at the Japanese imperial court in the 8th century, [86] and among the general public by the 13th century. [87] The game was further formalized in the 15th century. In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu re-established Japan's unified national government. In the same year, he assigned the then-best player in Japan, a Buddhist monk named Nikkai (né Kanō Yosaburo, 1559), to the post of Godokoro (Minister of Go). [88]

Nikkai took the name Hon'inbō Sansa and founded the Hon'inbō Go school. [88] Several competing schools were founded soon after. [88] These officially recognized and subsidized Go schools greatly developed the level of play and introduced the dan/kyu style system of ranking players. [89] Players from the four schools (Hon'inbō, Yasui, Inoue and Hayashi) competed in the annual castle games, played in the presence of the shōgun. [90]

Detail from a Japanese illustrated handscroll of The Tale of Genji. Heian period, 12th century CE.

A Korean couple playing Go in traditional dress. Photographed between 1910 and 1920.

Internationalization Edit

Despite its widespread popularity in East Asia, Go has been slow to spread to the rest of the world. Although there are some mentions of the game in western literature from the 16th century forward, Go did not start to become popular in the West until the end of the 19th century, when German scientist Oskar Korschelt wrote a treatise on the ancient Han Chinese game. [91] By the early 20th century, Go had spread throughout the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. In 1905, Edward Lasker learned the game while in Berlin. When he moved to New York, Lasker founded the New York Go Club together with (amongst others) Arthur Smith, who had learned of the game in Japan while touring the East and had published the book The Game of Go in 1908. [92] Lasker's book Go and Go-moku (1934) helped spread the game throughout the U.S., [92] and in 1935, the American Go Association was formed. Two years later, in 1937, the German Go Association was founded.

World War II put a stop to most Go activity, since it was a game coming from Japan, but after the war, Go continued to spread. [93] For most of the 20th century, the Japan Go Association (Nihon Ki-in) played a leading role in spreading Go outside East Asia by publishing the English-language magazine Go Review in the 1960s, establishing Go centers in the U.S., Europe and South America, and often sending professional teachers on tour to Western nations. [94] Internationally, the game had been commonly known since the start of the twentieth century by its shortened Japanese name, and terms for common Go concepts are derived from their Japanese pronunciation.

In 1996, NASA astronaut Daniel Barry and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata became the first people to play Go in space. They used a special Go set, which was named Go Space, designed by Wai-Cheung Willson Chow. Both astronauts were awarded honorary dan ranks by the Nihon Ki-in. [95]

As of December 2015 [update] , the International Go Federation has 75 member countries, with 67 member countries outside East Asia. [96] Chinese cultural centres across the world are promoting Go, and cooperating with local Go associations, for example the seminars held by the Chinese cultural centre in Tel Aviv, Israel together with the Israeli Go association. [97]

Ranks and ratings Edit

In Go, rank indicates a player's skill in the game. Traditionally, ranks are measured using kyu and dan grades, [98] a system also adopted by many martial arts. More recently, mathematical rating systems similar to the Elo rating system have been introduced. [99] Such rating systems often provide a mechanism for converting a rating to a kyu or dan grade. [99] Kyu grades (abbreviated k) are considered student grades and decrease as playing level increases, meaning 1st kyu is the strongest available kyu grade. Dan grades (abbreviated d) are considered master grades, and increase from 1st dan to 7th dan. First dan equals a black belt in eastern martial arts using this system. The difference among each amateur rank is one handicap stone. For example, if a 5k plays a game with a 1k, the 5k would need a handicap of four stones to even the odds. Top-level amateur players sometimes defeat professionals in tournament play. [100] Professional players have professional dan ranks (abbreviated p). These ranks are separate from amateur ranks.

The rank system comprises, from the lowest to highest ranks:

Rank Type Range Stage
Double-digit kyu 30–21k Beginner
Double-digit kyu 20–10k Casual player
Single-digit kyu 9–1k Intermediate/club player
Amateur dan 1–7d (where 8d is a special title) Advanced player
Professional dan 1–9p (where 10p is a special title) Professionals

Tournament and match rules Edit

Tournament and match rules deal with factors that may influence the game but are not part of the actual rules of play. Such rules may differ between events. Rules that influence the game include: the setting of compensation points (komi), handicap, and time control parameters. Rules that do not generally influence the game are: the tournament system, pairing strategies, and placement criteria.

Common tournament systems used in Go include the McMahon system, [101] Swiss system, league systems and the knockout system. Tournaments may combine multiple systems many professional Go tournaments use a combination of the league and knockout systems. [102]

Tournament rules may also set the following:

  • compensation points, called komi, which compensate the second player for the first move advantage of their opponent tournaments commonly use a compensation in the range of 5–8 points, [103] generally including a half-point to prevent draws
  • handicap stones placed on the board before alternate play, allowing players of different strengths to play competitively (see Go handicap for more information) and
  • superko: Although the basic ko rule described above covers more than 95% of all cycles occurring in games, [104] there are some complex situations—triple ko, eternal life, [f] etc.—that are not covered by it but would allow the game to cycle indefinitely. To prevent this, the ko rule is sometimes extended to forbid the repetition of any previous position. This extension is called superko. [104]

Time control Edit

A game of Go may be timed using a game clock. Formal time controls were introduced into the professional game during the 1920s and were controversial. [105] Adjournments and sealed moves began to be regulated in the 1930s. Go tournaments use a number of different time control systems. All common systems envisage a single main period of time for each player for the game, but they vary on the protocols for continuation (in overtime) after a player has finished that time allowance. [g] The most widely used time control system is the so-called byoyomi [h] system. The top professional Go matches have timekeepers so that the players do not have to press their own clocks.

Two widely used variants of the byoyomi system are: [106]

  • Standard byoyomi: After the main time is depleted, a player has a certain number of time periods (typically around thirty seconds). After each move, the number of full-time periods that the player took (often zero) is subtracted. For example, if a player has three thirty-second time periods and takes thirty or more (but less than sixty) seconds to make a move, they lose one time period. With 60–89 seconds, they lose two time periods, and so on. If, however, they take less than thirty seconds, the timer simply resets without subtracting any periods. Using up the last period means that the player has lost on time.
  • Canadian byoyomi: After using all of their main time, a player must make a certain number of moves within a certain period of time, such as twenty moves within five minutes. [106][i] If the time period expires without the required number of stones having been played, then the player has lost on time. [j]

Notation and recording games Edit

Go games are recorded with a simple coordinate system. This is comparable to algebraic chess notation, except that Go stones do not move and thus require only one coordinate per turn. Coordinate systems include purely numerical (4-4 point), hybrid (K3), and purely alphabetical. [107] The Smart Game Format uses alphabetical coordinates internally, but most editors represent the board with hybrid coordinates as this reduces confusion. The Japanese word kifu is sometimes used to refer to a game record.

In Unicode, Go stones can be represented with black and white circles from the block Geometric Shapes:

The block Miscellaneous Symbols includes "Go markers" [108] that were likely meant for mathematical research of Go: [109] [110]

  • U+2687 ⚇ WHITE CIRCLE WITH TWO DOTS (HTML &#9863 )

Top players and professional Go Edit

A Go professional is a professional player of the game of Go. There are six areas with professional go associations, these are: China (Chinese Weiqi Association), Japan (Nihon Ki-in, Kansai Ki-in), South Korea (Korea Baduk Association), Taiwan (Taiwan Chi Yuan Culture Foundation), the United States (AGA Professional System) and Europe (European Professional System).

Although the game was developed in China, the establishment of the Four Go houses by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the start of the 17th century shifted the focus of the Go world to Japan. State sponsorship, allowing players to dedicate themselves full-time to study of the game, and fierce competition between individual houses resulted in a significant increase in the level of play. During this period, the best player of his generation was given the prestigious title Meijin (master) and the post of Godokoro (minister of Go). Of special note are the players who were dubbed Kisei (Go Sage). The only three players to receive this honor were Dōsaku, Jōwa and Shūsaku, all of the house Hon'inbō. [111]

After the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji Restoration period, the Go houses slowly disappeared, and in 1924, the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association) was formed. Top players from this period often played newspaper-sponsored matches of 2–10 games. [112] Of special note are the (Chinese-born) player Go Seigen (Chinese: Wu Qingyuan), who scored 80% in these matches and beat down most of his opponents to inferior handicaps, [113] and Minoru Kitani, who dominated matches in the early 1930s. [114] These two players are also recognized for their groundbreaking work on new opening theory (Shinfuseki). [115]

For much of the 20th century, Go continued to be dominated by players trained in Japan. Notable names included Eio Sakata, Rin Kaiho (born in China), Masao Kato, Koichi Kobayashi and Cho Chikun (born Cho Ch'i-hun, from South Korea). [116] Top Chinese and Korean talents often moved to Japan, because the level of play there was high and funding was more lavish. One of the first Korean players to do so was Cho Namchul, who studied in the Kitani Dojo 1937–1944. After his return to Korea, the Hanguk Kiwon (Korea Baduk Association) was formed and caused the level of play in South Korea to rise significantly in the second half of the 20th century. [117] In China, the game declined during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) but quickly recovered in the last quarter of the 20th century, bringing Chinese players, such as Nie Weiping and Ma Xiaochun, on par with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts. [118] The Chinese Weiqi Association (today part of the China Qiyuan) was established in 1962, and professional dan grades started being issued in 1982. [119] Western professional Go began in 2012 with the American Go Association's Professional System. [120] In 2014, the European Go Federation followed suit and started their professional system. [121]

With the advent of major international titles from 1989 onward, it became possible to compare the level of players from different countries more accurately. Cho Hunhyun of South Korea won the first edition of the Quadrennial Ing Cup in 1989. His disciple Lee Chang-ho was the dominant player in international Go competitions for more than a decade spanning much of 1990s and early 2000s he is also credited with groundbreaking works on the endgame. Cho, Lee and other South Korean players such as Seo Bong-soo, Yoo Changhyuk and Lee Sedol between them won the majority of international titles in this period. [122] Several Chinese players also rose to the top in international Go from 2000s, most notably Ma Xiaochun, Chang Hao, Gu Li and Ke Jie. As of 2016 [update] , Japan lags behind in the international Go scene.

Historically, more men than women have played Go. Special tournaments for women exist, but until recently, men and women did not compete together at the highest levels however, the creation of new, open tournaments and the rise of strong female players, most notably Rui Naiwei, have in recent years highlighted the strength and competitiveness of emerging female players. [123]

The level in other countries has traditionally been much lower, except for some players who had preparatory professional training in East Asia. [k] Knowledge of the game has been scant elsewhere up until the 20th century. A famous player of the 1920s was Edward Lasker. [l] It was not until the 1950s that more than a few Western players took up the game as other than a passing interest. In 1978, Manfred Wimmer became the first Westerner to receive a professional player's certificate from an East Asian professional Go association. [124] In 2000, American Michael Redmond became the first Western player to achieve a 9 dan rank.

It is possible to play Go with a simple paper board and coins, plastic tokens, or white beans and coffee beans for the stones or even by drawing the stones on the board and erasing them when captured. More popular midrange equipment includes cardstock, a laminated particle board, or wood boards with stones of plastic or glass. More expensive traditional materials are still used by many players. The most expensive Go sets have black stones carved from slate and white stones carved from translucent white shells, played on boards carved in a single piece from the trunk of a tree.

Traditional equipment Edit

Boards Edit

The Go board (generally referred to by its Japanese name goban 碁盤 ) typically measures between 45 and 48 cm (18 and 19 in) in length (from one player's side to the other) and 42 to 44 cm ( 16 + 1 ⁄ 2 to 17 + 1 ⁄ 4 in) in width. Chinese boards are slightly larger, as a traditional Chinese Go stone is slightly larger to match. The board is not square there is a 15:14 ratio in length to width, because with a perfectly square board, from the player's viewing angle the perspective creates a foreshortening of the board. The added length compensates for this. [125] There are two main types of boards: a table board similar in most respects to other gameboards like that used for chess, and a floor board, which is its own free-standing table and at which the players sit.

The traditional Japanese goban is between 10 and 18 cm (3.9 and 7.1 in) thick and has legs it sits on the floor (see picture). [125] It is preferably made from the rare golden-tinged Kaya tree (Torreya nucifera), with the very best made from Kaya trees up to 700 years old. More recently, the related California Torreya (Torreya californica) has been prized for its light color and pale rings as well as its reduced expense and more readily available stock. The natural resources of Japan have been unable to keep up with the enormous demand for the slow-growing Kaya trees both T. nucifera and T. californica take many hundreds of years to grow to the necessary size, and they are now extremely rare, raising the price of such equipment tremendously. [126] As Kaya trees are a protected species in Japan, they cannot be harvested until they have died. Thus, an old-growth, floor-standing Kaya goban can easily cost in excess of $10,000 with the highest-quality examples costing more than $60,000. [127]

Other, less expensive woods often used to make quality table boards in both Chinese and Japanese dimensions include Hiba (Thujopsis dolabrata), Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), Kauri (Agathis), and Shin Kaya (various varieties of spruce, commonly from Alaska, Siberia and China's Yunnan Province). [126] So-called Shin Kaya is a potentially confusing merchant's term: shin means 'new', and thus shin kaya is best translated 'faux kaya', because the woods so described are biologically unrelated to Kaya. [126]

Stones Edit

A full set of Go stones (goishi) usually contains 181 black stones and 180 white ones a 19×19 grid has 361 points, so there are enough stones to cover the board, and Black gets the extra odd stone because that player goes first. However it may happen, especially in beginners' games, that many back-and-forth captures empty the bowls before the end of the game: in that case an exchange of prisoners allows the game to continue.

Traditional Japanese stones are double-convex, and made of clamshell (white) and slate (black). [128] The classic slate is nachiguro stone mined in Wakayama Prefecture and the clamshell from the Hamaguri clam however, due to a scarcity in the Japanese supply of this clam, the stones are most often made of shells harvested from Mexico. [128] Historically, the most prized stones were made of jade, often given to the reigning emperor as a gift. [128]

In China, the game is traditionally played with single-convex stones [128] made of a composite called Yunzi. The material comes from Yunnan Province and is made by sintering a proprietary and trade-secret mixture of mineral compounds derived from the local stone. This process dates to the Tang Dynasty and, after the knowledge was lost in the 1920s during the Chinese Civil War, was rediscovered in the 1960s by the now state-run Yunzi company. The material is praised for its colors, its pleasing sound as compared to glass or to synthetics such as melamine, and its lower cost as opposed to other materials such as slate/shell. The term yunzi can also refer to a single-convex stone made of any material however, most English-language Go suppliers specify Yunzi as a material and single-convex as a shape to avoid confusion, as stones made of Yunzi are also available in double-convex while synthetic stones can be either shape.

Traditional stones are made so that black stones are slightly larger in diameter than white this is to compensate for the optical illusion created by contrasting colors that would make equal-sized white stones appear larger on the board than black stones. [128] [m]

Bowls Edit

The bowls for the stones are shaped like a flattened sphere with a level underside. [129] The lid is loose fitting and upturned before play to receive stones captured during the game. Chinese bowls are slightly larger, and a little more rounded, a style known generally as Go Seigen Japanese Kitani bowls tend to have a shape closer to that of the bowl of a snifter glass, such as for brandy. The bowls are usually made of turned wood. Mulberry is the traditional material for Japanese bowls, but is very expensive wood from the Chinese jujube date tree, which has a lighter color (it is often stained) and slightly more visible grain pattern, is a common substitute for rosewood, and traditional for Go Seigen-style bowls. Other traditional materials used for making Chinese bowls include lacquered wood, ceramics, stone and woven straw or rattan. The names of the bowl shapes, Go Seigen and Kitani, were introduced in the last quarter of the 20th century by the professional player Janice Kim as homage to two 20th-century professional Go players by the same names, of Chinese and Japanese nationality, respectively, who are referred to as the "Fathers of modern Go". [111]

Playing technique and etiquette Edit

The traditional way to place a Go stone is to first take one from the bowl, gripping it between the index and middle fingers, with the middle finger on top, and then placing it directly on the desired intersection. [130] One can also place a stone on the board and then slide it into position under appropriate circumstances (where it does not move any other stones). It is considered respectful towards White for Black to place the first stone of the game in the upper right-hand corner. [131] (Because of symmetry, this has no effect on the game's outcome.)

It is considered poor manners to run one's fingers through one's bowl of unplayed stones, as the sound, however soothing to the player doing this, can be disturbing to one's opponent. Similarly, clacking a stone against another stone, the board, or the table or floor is also discouraged. However, it is permissible to emphasize select moves by striking the board more firmly than normal, thus producing a sharp clack. Additionally, hovering one's arm over the board (usually when deciding where to play) is also considered rude as it obstructs the opponent's view of the board.

Manners and etiquette are extensively discussed in 'The Classic of WeiQi in Thirteen Chapters', a Song dynasty manual to the game. Apart from the points above it also points to the need to remain calm and honorable, in maintaining posture, and knowing the key specialised terms, such as titles of common formations. Generally speaking, much attention is paid to the etiquette of playing, as much as to winning or actual game technique.

Nature of the game Edit

In combinatorial game theory terms, Go is a zero-sum, perfect-information, partisan, deterministic strategy game, putting it in the same class as chess, draughts (checkers), and Reversi (Othello) however it differs from these in its game play. Although the rules are simple, the practical strategy is complex.

The game emphasizes the importance of balance on multiple levels and has internal tensions. To secure an area of the board, it is good to play moves close together however, to cover the largest area, one needs to spread out, perhaps leaving weaknesses that can be exploited. Playing too low (close to the edge) secures insufficient territory and influence, yet playing too high (far from the edge) allows the opponent to invade.

It has been claimed that Go is the most complex game in the world due to its vast number of variations in individual games. [132] Its large board and lack of restrictions allow great scope in strategy and expression of players' individuality. Decisions in one part of the board may be influenced by an apparently unrelated situation in a distant part of the board. Plays made early in the game can shape the nature of conflict a hundred moves later.

The game complexity of Go is such that describing even elementary strategy fills many introductory books. In fact, numerical estimates show that the number of possible games of Go far exceeds the number of atoms in the observable universe. [n]

Research of go endgame by John H. Conway led to the invention of the surreal numbers. [133] Go also contributed to development of combinatorial game theory (with Go Infinitesimals [134] being a specific example of its use in Go).

Software players Edit

Go long posed a daunting challenge to computer programmers, putting forward "difficult decision-making tasks, an intractable search space, and an optimal solution so complex it appears infeasible to directly approximate using a policy or value function". [135] Prior to 2015, [135] the best Go programs only managed to reach amateur dan level. [136] On smaller 9×9 and 13x13 boards, computer programs fared better, and were able to compare to professional players. Many in the field of artificial intelligence consider Go to require more elements that mimic human thought than chess. [137]

The reasons why computer programs had not played Go at the professional dan level prior to 2016 include: [138]

  • The number of spaces on the board is much larger (over five times the number of spaces on a chess board—361 vs. 64). On most turns there are many more possible moves in Go than in chess. Throughout most of the game, the number of legal moves stays at around 150–250 per turn, and rarely falls below 100 (in chess, the average number of moves is 37). [139] Because an exhaustive computer program for Go must calculate and compare every possible legal move in each ply (player turn), its ability to calculate the best plays is sharply reduced when there are a large number of possible moves. Most computer game algorithms, such as those for chess, compute several moves in advance. Given an average of 200 available moves through most of the game, for a computer to calculate its next move by exhaustively anticipating the next four moves of each possible play (two of its own and two of its opponent's), it would have to consider more than 320 billion (3.2 × 10 11 ) possible combinations. To exhaustively calculate the next eight moves, would require computing 512 quintillion (5.12 × 10 20 ) possible combinations. As of March 2014 [update] , the most powerful supercomputer in the world, NUDT's "Tianhe-2", can sustain 33.86 petaflops. [140] At this rate, even given an exceedingly low estimate of 10 operations required to assess the value of one play of a stone, Tianhe-2 would require 4 hours to assess all possible combinations of the next eight moves in order to make a single play.
  • The placement of a single stone in the initial phase can affect the play of the game a hundred or more moves later. A computer would have to predict this influence, and it would be unworkable to attempt to exhaustively analyze the next hundred moves.
  • In capture-based games (such as chess), a position can often be evaluated relatively easily, such as by calculating who has a material advantage or more active pieces. [o] In Go, there is often no easy way to evaluate a position. [141] However a 6-kyu human can evaluate a position at a glance, to see which player has more territory, and even beginners can estimate the score within 10 points, given time to count it. The number of stones on the board (material advantage) is only a weak indicator of the strength of a position, and a territorial advantage (more empty points surrounded) for one player might be compensated by the opponent's strong positions and influence all over the board. Normally a 3-dan can easily judge most of these positions.

As an illustration, the greatest handicap normally given to a weaker opponent is 9 stones. It was not until August 2008 that a computer won a game against a professional level player at this handicap. It was the Mogo program, which scored this first victory in an exhibition game played during the US Go Congress. [142] [143] By 2013, a win at the professional level of play was accomplished with a four-stone advantage. [144] [145] In October 2015, Google DeepMind's program AlphaGo beat Fan Hui, the European Go champion and a 2 dan (out of 9 dan possible) professional, five times out of five with no handicap on a full size 19×19 board. [135] AlphaGo used a fundamentally different paradigm than earlier Go programs it included very little direct instruction, and mostly used deep learning where AlphaGo played itself in hundreds of millions of games such that it could measure positions more intuitively. In March 2016, Google next challenged Lee Sedol, a 9 dan considered the top player in the world in the early 21st century, [146] to a five-game match. Leading up to the game, Lee Sedol and other top professionals were confident that he would win [147] however, AlphaGo defeated Lee in four of the five games. [148] [149] After having already lost the series by the third game, Lee won the fourth game, describing his win as "invaluable". [150] In May 2017, AlphaGo beat Ke Jie, who at the time continuously held the world No. 1 ranking for two years, [151] [152] winning each game in a three-game match during the Future of Go Summit. [153] [154]

In October 2017, DeepMind announced a significantly stronger version called AlphaGo Zero which beat the previous version by 100 games to 0. [155]

Software assistance Edit

An abundance of software is available to support players of the game. This includes programs that can be used to view or edit game records and diagrams, programs that allow the user to search for patterns in the games of strong players, and programs that allow users to play against each other over the Internet.

Some web servers [ citation needed ] provide graphical aids like maps, to aid learning during play. These graphical aids may suggest possible next moves, indicate areas of influence, highlight vital stones under attack and mark stones in atari or about to be captured.

There are several file formats used to store game records, the most popular of which is SGF, short for Smart Game Format. Programs used for editing game records allow the user to record not only the moves, but also variations, commentary and further information on the game. [p]

Electronic databases can be used to study life and death situations, joseki, fuseki and games by a particular player. Programs are available that give players pattern searching options, which allow players to research positions by searching for high-level games in which similar situations occur. Such software generally lists common follow-up moves that have been played by professionals and gives statistics on win/loss ratio in opening situations.

Internet-based Go servers allow access to competition with players all over the world, for real-time and turn-based games. [q] Such servers also allow easy access to professional teaching, with both teaching games and interactive game review being possible. [r]

Apart from technical literature and study material, Go and its strategies have been the subject of several works of fiction, such as The Master of Go by Nobel prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata [s] and The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa. Other books have used Go as a theme or minor plot device. For example, the novel Shibumi by Trevanian centers around the game and uses Go metaphors, [156] and The Way of Go: 8 Ancient Strategy Secrets for Success in Business and Life by Troy Anderson applies Go strategy to business. [157] GO: An Asian Paradigm for Business Strategy [158] by Miura Yasuyuki, a manager with Japan Airlines, [159] uses Go to describe the thinking and behavior of business men. [160] Go features prominently in the Chung Kuo series of novels by David Wingrove, being the favourite game of the main villain. [161]

The manga (Japanese comic book) and anime series Hikaru no Go, released in Japan in 1998, had a large impact in popularizing Go among young players, both in Japan and—as translations were released—abroad. [162] [163] Go Player is a similar animated series about young Go players that aired in China. In the anime PriPara, one of the main characters, Sion Tōdō, is a world renowned Go player, but decides to retire as nobody has been able to beat her, becoming an idol instead. Despite this, Go still features heavily in her character's personality.

Similarly, Go has been used as a subject or plot device in film, such as π, A Beautiful Mind, Tron: Legacy, and The Go Master, a biopic of Go professional Go Seigen. [164] [t] 2013's Tôkyô ni kita bakari or Tokyo Newcomer portrays a Chinese foreigner Go player moving to Tokyo. [165] In King Hu's wuxia film The Valiant Ones, the characters are color-coded as Go stones (black or other dark shades for the Chinese, white for the Japanese invaders), Go boards and stones are used by the characters to keep track of soldiers prior to battle, and the battles themselves are structured like a game of Go. [166]

Go has also been featured in a number of television series. Starz's science fiction thriller Counterpart, for instance, is rich in references (the opening itself featuring developments on a Go board), including applications of the game's metaphors, a book about life and death being displayed, and Go matches, accurately played, relevant to the plot. [167] Another example is Syfy's 12 Monkeys: In the first season's episode Atari, one of the characters explains the homonymous concept, using it as an analogy to the situation he was facing, and his son is briefly seen playing Go later on. [167]

The corporation and brand Atari was named after the Go term. [168]

Hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel used Go as his main investing metaphor in his investing book The Dao of Capital. [169]

In the endgame, it can often happen that the state of the board consists of several subpositions that do not interact with the others. The whole board position can then be considered as a mathematical sum, or composition, of the individual subpositions. [170] It is this property of go endgames that led John Horton Conway to the discovery of surreal numbers. [133]

A 2004 review of literature by Fernand Gobet, de Voogt and Jean Retschitzki shows that relatively little scientific research has been carried out on the psychology of Go, compared with other traditional board games such as chess. [171] Computer Go research has shown that given the large search tree, knowledge and pattern recognition are more important in Go than in other strategy games, such as chess. [171] A study of the effects of age on Go-playing [172] has shown that mental decline is milder with strong players than with weaker players. According to the review of Gobet and colleagues, the pattern of brain activity observed with techniques such as PET and fMRI does not show large differences between Go and chess. On the other hand, a study by Xiangchuan Chen et al. [173] showed greater activation in the right hemisphere among Go players than among chess players. There is some evidence to suggest a correlation between playing board games and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. [174]

In formal game theory terms, Go is a non-chance, combinatorial game with perfect information. Informally that means there are no dice used (and decisions or moves create discrete outcome vectors rather than probability distributions), the underlying math is combinatorial, and all moves (via single vertex analysis) are visible to both players (unlike some card games where some information is hidden). Perfect information also implies sequence—players can theoretically know about all past moves.

Other game theoretical taxonomy elements include the facts that Go is bounded (because every game must end with a victor (or a tie) within a finite number of moves) the strategy is associative (every strategy is a function of board position) format is non-cooperative (not a team sport) positions are extensible (can be represented by board position trees) game is zero-sum (player choices do not increase resources available–colloquially, rewards in the game are fixed and if one player wins, the other loses) and the utility function is restricted (in the sense of win/lose however, ratings, monetary rewards, national and personal pride and other factors can extend utility functions, but generally not to the extent of removing the win/lose restriction). Affine transformations can theoretically add non-zero and complex utility aspects even to two player games. [175]

Go begins with an empty board. It is focused on building from the ground up (nothing to something) with multiple, simultaneous battles leading to a point-based win. Chess is tactical rather than strategic, as the predetermined strategy is to trap one individual piece (the king). This comparison has also been applied to military and political history, with Scott Boorman's book The Protracted Game (1969) and, more recently, Robert Greene's book The 48 Laws of Power (1998) exploring the strategy of the Communist Party of China in the Chinese Civil War through the lens of Go. [176] [177]

A similar comparison has been drawn among Go, chess and backgammon, perhaps the three oldest games that enjoy worldwide popularity. [178] Backgammon is a "man vs. fate" contest, with chance playing a strong role in determining the outcome. Chess, with rows of soldiers marching forward to capture each other, embodies the conflict of "man vs. man". Because the handicap system tells Go players where they stand relative to other players, an honestly ranked player can expect to lose about half of their games therefore, Go can be seen as embodying the quest for self-improvement, "man vs. self". [178]

Skulls Show Evidence Ancient Chinese Brain Surgeons Operated 3,000 Years Ago - History

Silicon Valley’s Chinese Brain Drain

posted on November 9, 2017 7:02 am

Silicon Valley’s Chinese engineers are increasingly opting to move back to China, but it’s not necessarily the easy road it seems.

“So this is life,” Liang sighed at his 35th birthday party.

To an outsider, Liang’s life was enviable—five years previously he had graduated with a PhD from an Ivy League school, then started work at Google. Because he had a doctorate and had some publications to his name, he was able to obtain a greencard not long after graduation.

He was even able to afford an apartment in Silicon Valley. He might not have been so well off as other engineers who had had smooth promotions and were buying two million dollar homes in the Stanford area, but compared to the average person outside of the tech industry, he was living the good life.

Yet the longer he lived in Silicon Valley, and the more work experience he accumulated, the more dissappointed he became in himself. “Is this it? I’m not going anywhere.” As he saw it, Silicon Valley was like a retirement home. He had a good salary and benefits at Google, but he wasn’t able to realize his individual value, had no way to break through the management ceiling, and he wasn’t willing to spend his life just in coding.

The week after his birthday, he bit the bullet and resigned from Google, and, leaving his wife and son in the US to maintain their residency, he returned to China to join Alibaba. He also left behind a group of others just like him, hesitating and hoping for something more.

The Ambitions of Middle-Aged Engineers

Who knows when it started, but somewhere along the line “35” became code for “midlife crisis,” even in spite of the fact that Silicon Valley’s middle-aged engineers live without too much stress or strain.

These people, envied the world over for their chance to work at the apex of the global tech industry, sometimes turn on themselves, believing that they could do still more, but are held back by some indiscernible “ceiling” and left to be just one more cog in the machine of their employers.

They don’t lack for money. According to a 2015 study, the median household income in the US is about $55,000, while the individual median income in Silicon Valley is $76,000. For those working at FLAG, FANG, or some other acronym combination of the top tier companies (Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Google, Netflix, etc.), that figure can easily rise to between 200 and 400,000 for an engineer.

“Although it wasn’t bad, I still wanted to try to go higher.” Liang said that even if he spent another 10 years in Silicon Valley, he still wouldn’t be able to break into the level where he would be involved in discussions of strategy. And yet, he says, he’s always wanted to “do something.”

“Being an engineer in the US, you can quickly get a comfortable life. But Chinese engineers want to break through that rigid hierarchy. More and more of them in Silicon Valley believe that if they want real money and real success, they have to return to China,” Wu Ruizhi, another engineer, told me. And they have precedents to look to: Li Zhifei, who left Google to found Mobvoi, or Mao Wenchao, who left Stanford to become CEO of Little Red Book.

And that desire among Silicon Valley-based engineers to reset their “destinies” by returning to China is always ready to be answered by a few headhunters, quietly lying in wait on LinkedIn.

Join a Unicorn

Wu, like Liang, was once an engineer in Silicon Valley, and later served as the CEO of the largest Chinese engineer community in Silicon Valley. He ending up having plenty of contact with Chinese companies, and then joined Rokid, one of China’s many upstart startups, an AI and robotics company, as its North American lead, which has him often travelling back and forth across the Pacific. For Wu, he is able to keep one foot in China, one in the US, a compromise rather than a radical break like Liang’s.

But even more, Chinese companies themselves want to bring people back, as shown by a new and recent recruitment battle among several competing Chinese companies who came directly to Silicon Valley. The knives have come out, and it’s been a free-for-all every bit as intense as the still ongoing fight between Mobike and Ofo.

As one insider explained, it’s comparable to what happened not so long ago with Uber. “Uber’s San Francisco team has basically been emptied out of its Chinese engineers. After Uber left China, Ofo and Mobike swooped in to poach their people, and they set their sights on Uber’s US headquarters’ Chinese engineers.” The two companies ended up escalating their fight, offering ever larger salaries and opportunities for advancement.

It is possible then for someone who spent years as an ordinary engineer in a company like Uber to return to China and suddenly find themselves elevated to the position of a director. “How much better their technical skills might be than the engineers already in China is hard to say, but bringing valuable people out of Silicon Valley makes for a good story, capital-wise,” said one person familiar with the recruitment drive.

And in the process, Ofo won its new product chief, Chen Wei.

In March, Chen Wei joined Ofo, after serving at Uber in China. A graduate of Stanford’s MBA program, and with experience at Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and other major tech companies, she had joined Uber at its San Francisco office in 2015 as the lead for its China product team. With an international background and connections, especially from her time studying in Silicon Valley, she became a bridge for Ofo to other professional talent in Silicon Valley.

“Getting one Chen Wei is equivalent to getting half of Uber headquarters China team,” said one person.

There are plenty more like Chen Wei, and they all have one thing in common: they chose to return to China to join a unicorn company.

Born in Beijing, and having come to the US to study when he was in his teens, Zou Jia was also once part of Uber’s San Francisco team, where he led a small team responsible for product development. But he has since been persuaded by Mobike to move back to China and join them as their new vice president.

To leave Silicon Valley and return to Beijing after 17 years was an enormous decision for him and his family, but he took only two days to consider it. “They found me just by talking around. Mobike’s CEO used to be Uber’s general manager, and seeing how he’s been able to advance, I had faith in the company’s vision, so I came to the decision quickly.”

Zou made note of Mobike’s international background multiple times, with not only the CEO, but also the CTO having spent over a year outside of China, and five other vice presidents all with overseas experience or at least experience in foreign-owned companies.

“In the US, I couldn’t touch the policy-level of a company. But at Mobike, I can really feel that we are able to change the world, or at least I can feel what value I bring to the company, and I can clearly see what space for growth the company gives me.”

Zou says that he has enjoyed the process: leading an even larger team and taking on new problems brings many challenges, but that only pushes him to learn more and become better.

“This is the life I’ve always wanted. Professionally the horizon is wider, and I can see farther.” Returning to China has indeed been what he hoped for, and his Silicon Valley halo has put him at an advantage over his peers, winning him a better salary and benefits.

But that halo can only last so long, and only his skills can help him maintain his position.

There are four or five others around him who also decamped from Uber and the US to make the move to Mobike, and it has been similarly smooth sailing for them. Where in the US they might have only been able to be a tech lead, at Mobike they have risen to high-level management. They have skipped up two or three rungs of the ladder, in what might have taken them at least six or seven years to achieve while at Uber.

After joining Mobike, Zou also lobbied some of his colleagues in Silicon Valley, but he is constrained by the former agreement he signed with Uber from actively poaching former coworkers. Still, some of them have moved of their own accord after seeing how he has prospered.

Choice Matters More Than Ability

Despite their many differences, each person interviewed emphasized one common point: choice is more important than ability.

In most cases, the Chinese companies trying to lure Chinese engineers back have their own calculations in mind, and one thing they have gradually become clear on is that Silicon Valley engineers are becoming less and less “worth it.”

“From 2013 to 2015, there was this Silicon Valley investment fever for Chinese investors. At the time, if someone ethnically Chinese founded a company, they’d get a horde of investors throwing cash at them,” Wu said. Mobvoi and Little Red Book were such cases. But in the last two years, the rush has been in the other direction, from Silicon Valley back to China.

That’s how Wu Jie, an international headhunter who previously worked at Oracle as an engineer and returned to China in 2015 to start his own company, sees it. Several months ago, he and his company went scouting for Chinese engineers in the US on behalf of Alibaba, Ctrip,, and several other companies. “We had almost 3000 people register for a job fair, with no fewer than 1000 showing up,” he says.

Those who have already gone back, each time they show off their achievements on social media, make the engineers lingering in Silicon Valley feel an itch in their feet. “It’s only ever good news in startup circles,” Wu joked.

Under the influence of such “good news,” some Silicon Valley engineers can’t help but be tempted to jump on the bandwagon, and instantaneously redouble their value by returning to China, carrying dreams of becoming the next Li Zhifei or Zou Jia.

But unfortunately, the words “Silicon Valley” are losing some of their shine, at least for those looking for a way into BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent).

“When we give these sorts of big companies a resume from Silicon Valley, only one in 20 will get an offer, and sometimes the compensation is just middling,” Wu said. BAT are already reluctant to pay out too much just for Silicon Valley credentials.

“If you compare it to the last two years, when you could join a Chinese unicorn and become some CXO, or enter BAT and rise to a vice president’s position, the moment for Silicon Valley returnees has passed, and their value is growing less and less.” That’s especially true for those who aren’t already highly ranked in Silicon Valley, or who don’t work on a core team.

An ordinary engineer from Google’s advertising team might be able to get 20 offers, but even a more senior engineer from a more marginal team might get nothing. When hiring Silicon Valley technical professionals, ability and what the person can provide for a company come first, but many who want to return to China don’t have a clear measure of where they stand they just feel that the badge of “Silicon Valley” still gives them some distinction. They aren’t yet aware that the difficulty of using a return to China as a springboard for a higher salary and higher position is growing worse.

So far as BAT are concerned, the skills gap between the average Silicon Valley engineer and those in China is narrowing. Thus would-be returnees are finding it harder to negotiate the money they had hoped for, and giving up. Wu has seen so many such cases already that he and team are no longer even willing to spend their energy on them.

But the choices made upon returning are incredibly important. As Wu noted, joining a company with promising prospects and that the returnee understands well will give a boost to their career, but joining a smaller startup, even one offering larger compensation, could just add to one’s troubles.

“Getting used up and squeezed dry by some startup and then cast aside has already become a cliché.”

On (Not) Keeping Up and Looking Down

One thing Wu Jie has seen a lot of is this: Many startups, when poaching people from Silicon Valley, don’t really pick them for their skills, but to create a story around them that will capture investors’ attention. So they might make an offer with terms even better than those for their own CEOs, but once they get their new funding in hand, the value of the new hire diminishes. The company may not be willing to continue paying such a luxurious salary package, and if it runs into cash flow problems, the highly paid hire is apt to be the first to get cast aside.

“Joining a company you don’t know well has a very high risk.” Wu, based on his experience, estimated that engineers who return to join small companies may have to jump ship once every half a year. And if along the way they want to join the likes of Alibaba, it may be difficult to ensure the same rank and pay.

Those who join the larger firms, though, have their own complaints.

“It’s exhausting in China, not just physically but mentally, with more pressure. Silicon Valley is better.” Liang hinted to his wife over the phone after over a month of coughing in the terrible air that he was thinking of returning to Silicon Valley—and that he didn’t think much of domestic companies.

“He doesn’t approve of any of them,” his wife sighed when speaking to me.

It’s not just Liang who holds this “Silicon Valley elite” sense of superiority almost all returnees have it. But their new employers do not always grant them the work environments, salary, or chances for promotion that will placate them.

“In Silicon Valley, everyone thinks that the reason they can’t advance is because white and Indian coworkers form a glass ceiling over them. So in the giant firms, becoming a director or a VP is as far as you can go, and most can only make it to senior engineer,” said one engineer, Zhang Xiao, who had left LinkedIn for Alibaba. “But in reality, it’s still easier to advance in the US. There’s too much competition in China, so it’s actually harder.”

Those harsh and sudden new realities have left Liang and other returnees who were hoping to be “valued” and receive better treatment feeling dejected.

“Now, the era of looking favorably on someone just because they came back from Silicon Valley is gradually passing.” Zhang believes that his peers in China are not necessarily better than those in Silicon Valley, but in soft skills, especially building connections, sometimes returnees are at a disadvantage compared to those who have remained local.

And so even as returnees like Liang look down on domestic companies, companies say that returnees can’t catch up.

“If I hire a returnee engineer at four times the local salary, then my expectations for them are not the same as for an ordinary engineer. I want to see results,” one CEO who wished to remain anonymous said.

“Chinese employers are more urgent when it comes to seeing results, and that puts huge pressure on returnee engineers. But for returnee engineers and scientists, turning their more extensive knowledge into products takes more time, especially when you’re talking about something that a local engineer could never do. If the employer lacks patience and the engineer can’t meet the ‘unreasonable’ deadline, then sooner or later there is going to be a problem,” Wu Rongzhi said.

In many cases, the problem isn’t one of ability, but one with managing people. And that is one thing that is not a forte of many Silicon Valley engineers.

“It’s not that the US doesn’t have a ‘wild west’ environment in the industry, it’s that most ethnic Chinese haven’t been promoted far enough to find themselves in it,” Wu said. He believes that office politics is something still very alien to most returnee engineers, especially for those dropped into a management position in a Chinese company, without any management experience of their own. “Just being airdropped in [to that position] isn’t easy.”

Can’t Stay, Can’t Leave

Some returnees think of running off again—to Silicon Valley, where they were once comfortable. But that’s not easily done.

Wu Jie says that in the US, engineers have more focused work. Once they join Chinese companies, though, because of personnel shortages, their work tends to become more varied: their technical knowledge falls behind, which means they then fall short when they go up for technical interviews with Silicon Valley companies.

For others, there are more lurid reasons for why they can’t return to Silicon Valley—such as infidelity, breaking them from their families left behind in the US.

Zhou Hong (not his real name) is one such example. Two years ago he returned to China, and has since divorced the wife he left behind in the US and remarried to a woman he began a relationship with in China.

In Silicon Valley, Zhou was one more brick in the wall, and there are plenty more like him. But upon returning to China, his newfound prestige and salary transformed him from an unremarkable “honest man” into someone else. Even now, he denies that he had an affair, claiming instead that he simply “met someone more suitable.”

“A lot of people who return have affairs. It’s already become common.” A number of those interviewed affirmed this, though they each insisted they themselves had not had any such relationships. Wu Ruizhi remains in the US largely because he does not wish to break up his family. “If I want to go back for my career, I’ll wait until my child is a little older, and then take my family back with me.”

Zou, for similar reasons, brought his Taiwanese wife with him to Beijing. Although she had difficulty adjusting at first, Zou believes it was important to keep his family together.

Wu, however, believes that the problem isn’t due to men’s promiscuity or temptations away from home, but because when couples are separated for long periods of time, there is a breakdown of communication and mutual understanding of the pressures they each face.

In spite of it all, Liang chose to return to China. He believes he will remain unchanged, though his wife is uneasy. Because of their child, she has no choice but to remain behind in the US.

“Remember to wear the ring I gave you!” she told him over dinner the day before he left. She hopes that over the next four years it will serve to remind those around him that Liang is a family man. But behind her remonstrations there is no end of doubt.

And so she tries to console herself: “Perhaps before long he will decide to come back.”

Relax into your shoulders, hip joints, lower back and back of neck. The points at the back of the neck and lower back/hip joint area act as a cerebal spinal pump to help the spinal fluid move freely up and down the spine thus enhancing communication througout your nervous system.

Now that you have activated the energy in your body, stop and close your eyes and become aware of the buzzing and tingling sensations throughout your body. This feeling is what is known as ‘qi’ or ‘life force’ or ‘prana’ circulating more freely throughout your body. It is what powers our body and keeps our heart beating 24/7. When this life force energy is flowing freely it optimises our health and vitality and therefore our happiness.

Written by Liz on October 24, 2017 . Posted in Qigong Exercises

What’s causing #Malaysia ’s ethnic Chinese brain drain? Almost half of Chinese have reported a strong desire to leave the country. Of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship between 2006 and 2016, 49,864 were Chinese. “Malaysia is getting more backwards and religious,”

3rd generation Chinese Indonesian here. Not sure about Malaysia, but in Indonesia, we are the kept as scapegoat pet by the politicians.

"Economy going down ? Not the Chinese, they're keeping all the money, you are slaved in your own country! Most of you have Chinese boss correct . ", while the native politicians quietly, laughing at the public's back, using taxes from Chinese's hard earned money to fund their family's holiday in Europe.

"The youth are not as Islamic as we want! Well, they get their examples from the Chinese, look at their ah-moi, barely clothed!", while the native politicians quietly, laughing at the public's back, using taxes from Chinese's hard earned money to hire prostitutes for their own entertainment.

Sometimes I wonder if our grandparents were just plain stupid, why would they came to a country that hate them since the Dutch was slaving the natives ? Especially when our Chinese comrades were and are having it much better in western countries. I know conditions were different back then.

This is why Indonesian Chinese will not even think once, when the opportunity comes to to renounce our useless Indonesian citizenship, if you can call that "citizenship".

Especially when our Chinese comrades were and are having it much better in western countries.

Indonesia is much, much closer than any Western countries, so the voyage is less risky and much cheaper. I mean, long voyage is a very serious undertaking in 17th/18th century there's no satellite to tell you if there's a storm and you still have to deal with food preservation (no fridge lol), diseases, crew and passenger conflicts, and many more. Even with modern technology, it's still quite a serious business for cargo ships.

And West Coast US* were not that favorable for Chinese people or Asians in general. ABCs have to deal with many massacres and murder such as these:

*US and Australia are the closest western countries that are accessible from Pacific Ocean, to go to Europe you have to literally circle the Africa before Suez Canal was constructed. I haven't read about Australian history much so I can't comment on it.

But these countries and China have moved on to a much better future, while Indonesia is still running in circles. I still remember when "go back to China" was an insult lol, but literally nobody is saying that these days.

Sometimes I wonder if our grandparents were just plain stupid, why would they came to a country that hate them since the Dutch was slaving the natives ?

If ancient Chinese migrated to Central Asia instead of Southeast Asia and established Sinicized states there we would have a stronger OBOR right about now.

Sometimes I wonder if our grandparents were just plain stupid, why would they came to a country that hate them since the Dutch was slaving the natives ? Especially when our Chinese comrades were and are having it much better in western countries. I know conditions were different back then.

Are you sure? Are you really saying Chinese Americans are doing better than Chinese Indonesians?

Chinese are literally treated as 2nd class citizen there, this is the only nation on earth where affirmative action benefits the MAJORITY of the population.

US love to talk about human rights for Chinese. but let me guess. not for Chinese not living in China right?

Chinese people don't want to live in a theocracy that forbids pork, ancestor worship and taxes non-believers. More news at 11.

Is having racist law written by racist fucks will make your country unappealing for minorities? News at 11.

Let's put these numbers into perspective. From 2006 to 2016 (10 years), about 50,000 Chinese-Malaysians immigrated from Malaysia. That is about 5000 per year. The population of Chinese in Malaysia is about 6.5 million. In that light, the numbers do not look that bad.

The recent warming of ties between China and Malaysia, together with large Chinese investments in projects like the Melaka Gateway port project, will probably see more Chinese moving to Malaysia in the near future. China wants to find a reliable partner in the Straits of Malacca, and since Singapore is firmly in the US camp, Malaysia is the second best option.

will probably see more Chinese moving to Malaysia in the near future

That is the running joke here in Malaysia.

The Malays have a slogan whenever they are pissed with the Chinese: "Balik Tongsan" or go back to Tongsan or Chinese Mountain.

Nowadays, with Najib so firmly embedded into Xi Jingping's ass, we retort back: "Oh yeah, well Tongsan is already here, mutherfarkers. "

What about the Oxford study?

It's quite bad if the one moving out is the richest or the smartest folks :/

Zheng He introduced Malaysia and Indonesia to Islam during the treasure fleets

He didn't. There's already an Islamic presence in Malaysia and Indonesia before the Ming dynasty, which is why Zheng He, a Muslim was chosen to lead the fleet down to southeast Asia in the first place.

However he did help expand the influence of Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia, and now this is beginning to hurt the Chinese communities in these regions.

Zheng He got absolutely nothing to do with Islam in these regions.

I don't see any Muslim connection here tbh. There's a common theme of discriminating against those that do better than the native majority group. You can find examples all over the place, but it is definitely a hallmark of Chinese in South East Asia.

What’s causing Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese brain drain?

Almost half of Chinese have reported a strong desire to leave the country

Cathy Chin left Malaysia for Australia feeling she had been treated as a “second-class citizen” because of her ethnicity.

“Malaysia is a beautiful country but the politics is sickening. Religion is put first, scholarships given on religion and ethnicity,” said the registered nurse, who is ethnically Chinese.

“Every country has its own political and welfare issues, Australia included, but I feel that I get more rights as a second-class citizen here in Australia. My religion and ethnicity do not come into play.”

Unfortunately for Malaysia, Chin, a 28-year-old with two degrees, is far from alone in feeling this way. According to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the home minister, of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship between 2006 and 2016, 49,864 were Chinese.

Those figures were underlined by a recent study that found almost half of ethnic Chinese had a strong desire to leave Malaysia. Not only that, but the researchers from Oxford University found that across ethnicities, the Malaysians with the strongest desire to emigrate were those who had at least completed secondary education – 17.3 per cent for Malays, 52.6 per cent for Chinese and 42 per cent for Indians. The survey also found that only 7.2 per cent of Chinese respondents felt the government’s economic policies were “very fair”.

For Clementine Lee, 26, another ethnic Chinese Malaysian, moving to Shanghai meant better work opportunities, more money, and the kind of preferential treatment often bestowed upon expats. Lee is a public relations manager. Like Chin, she has two degrees.

“Malaysia is getting more backwards and religious,” she said, citing the persecution of transgender women by Islamic authorities, laws governing conversion and apostasy, and the recent tabling of a bill in parliament that would enable sharia courts to hand out harsher punishments.

Ethnic Chinese in Malaysia have long complained of discrimination. Various politicians have exhorted the Chinese to “return to China”, pro-Malay groups have urged them to “be grateful”, and state-linked media have produced advertisements depicting the Chinese behaving inappropriately during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. And, in 2013, when the last general election saw increased support for the opposition, one newspaper ran a headline asking apa lagi Cina mau (what more do the Chinese want?) With another election looming, there is a danger both race and religion could again be exploited as politicians court the ethnic Malay vote.

Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese and Indians are generally crowded out of the education system. Up until 2001 a quota system kept most university places for Malays. Now universities have internal quotas. There is a widespread belief that non-Malays cannot get government scholarships due to race.

Analyst Hwok-Aun Lee, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said the disparity between groups, with Chinese indicating a much greater inclination to emigrate, was not healthy for Malaysia. “Chinese Malaysians on average have greater means to emigrate and have largely ingrained the ethos of self-reliance. They are also more likely to have emigrant family and friends who may encourage the decision and provide moral and practical support,” Lee said. He said that academic high-achievers who head abroad “often express the sentiment they were not given a fair chance, or felt undervalued”.

However, the deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said: “Brain drain is about many factors. But with many countries being more closed about immigration policies, those who emigrate from Malaysia may find fewer opportunities and more discrimination in other countries.”

Professor Rajah Rasiah, of the University Malaya’s Department of Development Studies, said peoples’ feeling of being politically disadvantaged was one reason driving migration, while perceptions of creeping Islamisation, as well as the nature of politics in Malaysia, may also have an influence. He said there needed to be opportunities for people with skills and experience to return to Malaysia and work. He said state-run firms “must emphasise merit and be subject to performance standards”. Rajah said Malaysians in successful positions overseas were willing to consider returning. “However, they have made it clear that unless the state shows a passion to welcome them back as real Malaysians, and offer the same privileges as for the others, they will not return when they are still productive,” he said.

The number of Malaysian professionals overseas returning home has dropped by more than half since 2013, according to statistics from national talent enhancement agency TalentCorp. One of its initiatives, the Returning Expert Programme, facilitates the return of professionals abroad, to address Malaysia’s shortage of technical experts. In 2016 there were only 398 returners, 55.8 per cent lower than the 900 in 2013 and far below the target of 800 returners. In 2015 and 2014 there were 616 and 606 returners respectively.