UCI Go Club members (clockwise from top left) Hongkui Zheng, Shengjie Zhou, Yige Lu and Yuancheng Yuan are the 2017-18 Collegiate Go League champions. Peng Chen / UCI

The UCI Go Club defeated its rivals from UCLA to win the 2017-18 Collegiate Go League tournament final on April 28. UCI took two out of three games in the three-hour match, which was watched by more than 17,500 online spectators at Twitch.TV. On the first board, Shengjie Zhou, a UCI junior majoring in psychology, beat UCLA’s Chengyi Huang by 0.5 points. On board two, Hongkui Zheng, a UCI graduate student in materials science & engineering, won when Ying-Ngai Yu of UCLA resigned. UCI’s Yige Lu, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, resigned to Lionel Zhang of UCLA on the third board. A player resigns when he or she has no more possible moves.

“We feel very fortunate to have won the prestigious Collegiate Go League tournament in a hard-fought match with UCLA,” said Zheng, founder and president of the UCI Go Club. “I could not be happier and prouder to be bringing back a trophy with ‘University of California, Irvine’ on it.” Zheng said his club is now getting ready for the fifth annual World Collegiate Go Championship, which takes place at Cambridge University in July, and will compete in another large tournament in Los Angeles in October.

UCI Go Club members are able to keep up with their studies while competing on the world stage because match games are played online through the KGS Go Server. “Playing Go online is quite different from in-person, because we cannot see each other through the internet,” said Zheng, a seventh dan player, the highest amateur rank. “It’s beneficial, though, because we are less influenced by emotional changes, so we can be more peaceful and dispassionate to think about the best move.”

Go is an abstract strategy board game invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. The two-person game is played on a 19-by-19 grid. One player uses black stones, the other white. Pieces are placed at the intersections of lines on the board in turns; the object is to capture the opponent’s stones by surrounding them. Despite its relatively simple rules, Go is extremely complex, with trillions of possible legal board positions.