Reflections on a single stone

Wait… Checkmate? in baduk?? Maybe I’ve been playing this game all wrong; that would explain my terrible skill at it…

None the less this short film by the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts is beautiful! I love it, everything about it! And I do understand the use of the word “checkmate” in the subtitles (I’m not sure what the actual spoken word is, as my knowledge of vernacular Chinese languages is worse than my knowledge of Ancient Sumerian), and the sentiment that is expressed through it. Once a stone is put on the board, it is final: unless it is captured by the opponent, it cannot be moved or taken back; the moment the man says “I have no regrets” despite his move being the wrong one, that moment I think reflects what baduk tries to say about life.

It kinda reminds me of this one scene in this K-drama that I’ve watched (and fell in love with); the series – set during the Joseon Dynasty – is called Moon Embracing the Sun [해를 품은 달] and in it the young protagonist, like other young girls of the higher castes, are called up to participate in the selection process for a new Crown Prince. Secretly the Crown Prince and her had already met and fallen in love… However, the selection process is rigorous and if not selected she would never be able to marry, or lead a life. She uses a baduk rule to explain herself; the sentiment really being that once a move is made, it cannot be changed, whether in life or on the board. Once a stone is placed, whether it be the right or wrong move, one must continue the game and accept it, rather than give in to regret should it not work out.

Perhaps it is a bit cheesy (though, I would related it more to another food illustrated sentiment), but somehow I do find that it shows the depth of the game; there is such simplicity, but such complexity… Or, in true nerdy fashion, IDIC… Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations… all in the monochrome movement of stones on a board.


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