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 Post subject: What is Big Brother Malkovich?
Post #1 Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:26 am 
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Big Brother go is a non-consultation version of team go. It is usually played with two or three players per team. The players should differ in strength by about 5 ranks. That is, as an example, a team might have a 7K, a 2K, and a 3D.

To make a move, the weakest player on a side plays a stone. The next strongest player - his 'big brother' - looks at it, and either says that it is ok, or moves the stone to a better location. If he chooses to move the stone, he must give the other team a prisoner for having done so. The next strongest player on the team then has the opportunity to correct him - and also has to give up a prisoner if he does. When the strongest player on the side has finally made his decision, the team is done, and then the other team starts their move.

It can be very educational. If you consider the number of prisoners that could accumulate, you can see that big brother has to let the majority of younger brother's moves stay as played. The weaker players get to play the game mostly the way they want to, but the really bad mistakes get corrected.

The elder brother usually offers some explanation of why the move needs changing. This is one of the fine points of the game, for if he says too much, younger brother is getting advice on his next move. If he says too little, younger brother cannot learn as much.


The term 'Malkovich' comes from the movie 'Being John Malkovich', in which people can visit the inside of another person's brain. It is a go game - usually played on godiscussions - in which the two players make about one move a day, and describe why they are doing it. Comments by both players and spectators are usually hidden from the players until the end of the game, so as not to influence their thought processes.

It started with a post by JoazBanbeck on godiscussions that looked like this:

"One of the things that I would like to be able to see is a match between two high dan or pro level players in which they
described their reasoning processes prior to making a move. I imagine each player saying something like the following
to his audience: 'This group that he threatened can live because of this, this and this ( draws diagram ); so my biggest
concern is the safety of this group over here. Now joseki is thus ( draws another diagram) but because of the bleep
over there, a less popular joseki like this will be better...etc...etc.' He might take a hundred words or so and
a handful of diagrams to describe how he makes the decision.

That's probably going to remain a fantasy.

However, it occurred to me that if I want to see a bit-by-bit decision process that pros use, a beginner would like the parallel opportunity: to see how someone at the high kyu or low dan makes his decision.

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