Ready, set, Go

January 3, 2022


First-year University of Richmond student Silvia Chen has been playing Go as long as she can remember.

“My dad showed me the pieces when I was only a month old,” she said, “and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Chen attended school in China specifically to train in Go from when she was 2 until she was 15.

Go is an ancient Chinese boardgame, played with two opponents, who each have a set of stones, one black and one white. Players use these stones on a board similar to one used for chess, but rather than placing stones in the spaces, they’re placed on the intersections. The opponents proceed to try to surround each other’s stones on all sides with their own. When a stone is surrounded, it is removed by the opponent.

The game ends when both players decide there are no more moves left to make, or someone resigns. The points are tallied by counting the amount of space captured on the board. The more space a player has, the more points they get. But the number of stones that the player loses to the opponent are subtracted from the final score. Whoever has the highest score at the end wins.

When Chen was 11, she won a national championship for young players, even though she missed the first round because she took her secondary school entrance exam that same day.

“That competition is really memorable to me because I did a lot of things that day,” she said.

She went on to start a Go team at her high school, which also won a national championship in 2019.

But Go isn’t the only thing she’s passionate about. Chen won a national research competition called China Thinks Big for her work in studying bipolar disorder in adolescents in China. She interviewed her peers who deal with bipolar disorder and created an online support group for them.

“People with bipolar disorder are not crazy,” she said. “They have a disease. They need to be treated respectfully. They need to be loved. And I feel like it’s one of my purposes in life to do this research and help them.”

Chen learned her perseverance, drive, and passion to help others from Go, and hopes to share that with the University community by starting a Go club on campus, and introducing others to the game. 

“In Go, you always have to look at things from your opponent’s standpoint,” she said. “I feel that way about life: Look at things from someone else’s point of view.”