Curious to see how go might be played without a center point, John Goodell didn’t just theorize about it; he produced 3,000 go sets sans center point. They didn’t catch on, but Goodell’s lifetime of promoting the game earned him the American Go Association’s first Edward Lasker Distinguished Service Award in 2002; he died in 2004 at the age of 94. A longtime St Paul resident, he’s been honored this week at the US Go Congress with a prominent display of memorabilia celebrating his life as a go player and promoter.
Goodell (second from right) learned the game in the mid-1950′s while doing customer research for a department store. His idea was to see if board games would help elicit more reliable information from customers. Although that didn’t work, he became deeply involved with go, leading the US team to the second World Amateur Go Championships in Japan in 1964, as well as serving as president of the AGA from 1962 to 1964. Perhaps most famously, he once imported two tons of go stones and distributed them across the country.
John Goodell said that go is “almost like meditation. When you play go, the world goes away.” And though he played the game for more than half a century, he never entered a tournament, where “You play to win; but winning and losing is of almost no consequence.”
A St Paul documentary filmmaker, Goodell was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974 for “Always a New Beginning.”
Click here for more information about the history of the American Go Association.
Nearly twenty videos from the US Go Congress have been posted so far on the AGA’s YouTube channel as part of the E-Journal’s expanded coverage this year. They include Crazy Go, Lightning Tournament, US Open Masters Rd6: Tong Yulin 4p vs Mark Lee 7d, US Open Masters Rd 5: Cao Youyin 3p vs Tong Yulin 4p live commentary by Cho Hyeyeon 9p, and USGC 2015 – Wang Chen 7d interviewed by Kevin Hwang. The videos have been extremely popular, usually with well over 100 viewers for the live streams and some of the videos have now been viewed over 2,000 times.