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The girls get barefoot and pregnant.

Charlotte squeezed back.

The entire room sat in tense silence, save for scattered quite comments in the audience, until the employee returned with a game board held aloft, top side out of sight, and the announcer spoke again.

"We're ready to begin." The announcer intoned. "Tonight's game is a classic that even so sees comparatively little play here in the west. I give you, the eternal eastern contest of wit, Go."

The employee lowered the board to the table, revealing a large wooden grid of squares and two large piles of black and white stones.

"We understand that some of you may not be as familiar with Go as with last night's game of Chess. Allow us a moment to remind you of the rules.

  1. There will be no handicaps, so the board will start empty.



  2. Black makes the first move. You'll notice, once again, that it's ladies first. For the far table, age before beauty.



  3. On your turn, you may place one of your stones on an empty intersection on the board.



  4. You may pass at any time.



  5. A stone or connected group of stones is captured, and removed from the board, when all intersections directly adjacent to the stone or group are occupied by the enemy



  6. No stone may be played to recreate a former board position



  7. Two consecutive passes ends the game



  8. At game's end, the player with the most territory wins. Your territory is all the intersections your stones either occupy or surround.



"Begin."

McCurdy looked at the black stones in front of him and smirked. After a moment's consideration, he placed his first stone dead-center.

Frank breathed a small sigh of relief. He'd never played Go before, but one of the articles he read earlier had covered it briefly. In particular, most strong positions started three spaces from a corner. Unless this guy just happened to be a Go expert, the "tic-tac-toe" strategy meant he likely didn't know the game either.

Frank placed his first stone three spaces from the near left corner, as he'd read, and waited for McCurdy's next move.

It quickly became clear that Joe McCurdy was no Go expert. He started the game by attempting to rope off the entire far left corner of the board (his near right), which Frank suspected would prove impossible to defend. Rather than attack right away, Frank elected to secure some territory of his own. As McCurdy built his wall stone-by-stone, Frank cordoned off a triangle by placing stones diagonally, first up and to the right, then down and to the right. He finished both diagonal edges of the triangle before his opponent even reached one edge from the center.

Rather than finish the triangle now, Frank decided to go on the offensive. He could always complete the triangle later, he reasoned, and it should be difficult for McCurdy to take from within. He began carving a path toward the center, placing stones every other intersection from the forward tip of his triangle. Of course, he could have immediately placed stones adjacent to the center, but Frank suspected those would be easily captured. The alternating strategy, he reasoned, would spread quickly, but any stone black stone placed in the gaps would already be half surrounded by his whites.

Unfortunately, Frank miscalculated.

When Frank was three hops from the center, McCurdy counterattacked. As expected, he placed a stone between Frank's leading piece and the one preceding it. Frank quickly responded with a third white stone on the black piece's left, leaving only one open vertex on the right to prevent it from being surrounded.

McCurdy saw it too. Crude though he might have been, he clearly wasn't stupid.

Frank's adversary placed another black on the remaining side, creating three open spaces where there had previously been just one. Frank responded by placing blocking the next space to the right, but he needed at least two moves to capture.

McCurdy took the opportunity to counterattack, placing his next black stone in the top left

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