22. Go Board Maintenance and Care: How to Choose, Maintain, and Respect the Equipment

Go Board Maintenance and Care: A 5-Step Guide to Cherishing Your Equipment

One of the pillars of the game of Go is the board itself. Ensuring its longevity requires consistent care and attention. A well-maintained Go board not only offers an enriched playing experience but also becomes a cherished heirloom passed down through generations. Here’s the first part of our comprehensive 5-step guide on Go board maintenance and care.

Step 1: Selecting the Right Go Board

When starting on the journey of Go, it’s crucial to begin with the right equipment. The board you choose sets the tone for your entire experience.

  • Material Matters: Go boards come in a variety of materials. Traditional boards are crafted from woods like Kaya or Agathis. These woods, while expensive, are prized for their durability, aesthetic appeal, and the pleasant sound they make when stones are placed upon them. But for beginners or those on a budget, bamboo or plastic boards are practical alternatives.
  • Thickness and Size: The board’s thickness can vary, with the traditional being around 4.5 inches thick. However, there are thinner, portable versions available for those who play on the go. Additionally, considering the size of the board – whether you’re beginning on a 9×9, transitioning to 13×13, or diving straight into the full 19×19 – is paramount.
  • Grain and Finish: A high-quality Go board will have a fine grain and a smooth finish. When choosing, run your fingers over the surface. It should feel smooth, with no rough patches or inconsistencies.

Expert Tip: If you’re committed to the game, investing in a high-quality board from the outset can be cost-effective in the long run. While they may have a higher upfront cost, their longevity, when cared for properly, offers immeasurable value over time.

Step 2: Cleaning and Nurturing Your Go Board

Regular cleaning not only keeps your Go board looking splendid but also ensures it remains in optimal condition. Over time, dust, dirt, and oil from our fingers can accumulate, leading to a less than ideal surface for play.

  • Routine Dusting: A soft, lint-free cloth is all you need for everyday cleaning. Gently wipe the board to remove any surface dust or particles. Avoid using a wet cloth as moisture can damage the wood.
  • Deep Cleaning: Every few months or after intense sessions, a deeper clean might be in order. Prepare a solution of mild soap and lukewarm water. Dampen a cloth, ensuring it’s not dripping, and wipe the board gently. Immediately after, use a dry cloth to wipe off any moisture.
  • Natural Oils for Nourishment: Woods like Kaya benefit from occasional oiling to keep them from drying out. Natural oils like camellia or walnut oil, applied thinly with a soft cloth, can rejuvenate the wood’s appearance and feel. Ensure that the board is completely dry before placing any stones.

Expert Tip: Always move the cloth in the direction of the grain when cleaning. This prevents the wood fibers from lifting and keeps the surface smooth.

Step 3: Storage and Environment

Where and how you store your Go board is crucial to its longevity. The environment can play a significant role in the board’s condition.

  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Continuous exposure to direct sunlight can cause the wood to fade and dry out. Always store the board in a place away from direct sun or bright lights.
  • Stable Temperature and Humidity: Woods like Kaya are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Extreme fluctuations can cause warping or cracking. Storing your board in a stable environment away from radiators, heaters, and damp areas is recommended.
  • Vertical Storage: When storing for longer durations, it’s a good idea to keep the board vertically, ensuring even air circulation. This reduces stress on the wood and prevents potential warping.

Expert Tip: If you live in a particularly dry or humid area, consider investing in a dehumidifier or humidifier to maintain a balanced environment for your Go board.

Step 4: Go Stones Care

Go stones, be they made of glass, slate, shell, or other materials, are integral to the game. Their unique tactile feel and clink as they’re placed on the board are a part of Go’s tradition. Taking care of them is essential for a complete Go experience.

  • Routine Cleaning: Over time, Go stones might accumulate oils and grime, especially if they’re frequently handled. To clean, simply soak them in lukewarm water for a few minutes and then gently scrub each stone using a soft cloth. Avoid any abrasive materials or strong detergents.
  • Drying: Once cleaned, spread the stones out on a towel and let them air dry completely. Ensure they are entirely dry before storing to avoid mold or moisture damage.
  • Storage: Store Go stones in breathable pouches or bags. This prevents them from getting scratched and allows any residual moisture to evaporate.

Expert Tip: For slate and shell stones, be particularly gentle. Over time, the natural layers can become fragile.

Step 5: Maintaining Your Go Bowls

Bowls, traditionally made from woods like Mulberry or Jujube, serve as both functional storage and aesthetic companions to your Go board.

  • Cleaning: Similar to your Go board, the bowls should be cleaned with a soft, lint-free cloth. If needed, a slightly damp cloth can help remove stubborn grime. Ensure the bowl is dry before placing stones inside.
  • Natural Oils: Applying natural oils, like camellia or walnut oil, will nourish the wood and give it a protective sheen. Always test a small patch first to ensure the oil doesn’t darken the wood more than desired.
  • Storing Bowls: Keep your bowls in a dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. If they come with a pouch or case, use it for added protection.

Expert Tip: If your Go bowls have intricate carvings or designs, occasionally use a soft-bristled brush to dust them, ensuring that no particles accumulate in the crevices.

Concluding Thoughts:

The game of Go is as much about tradition and aesthetics as it is about strategy. By following these comprehensive care steps, you ensure that your Go set remains beautiful, functional, and ready for countless games in the future. Whether a seasoned player or a beginner, respecting and taking care of the instruments of this ancient game will only enhance your experience and reverence for Go.

Leave a Comment