04/02/2013 05:54 pm ET

How An Ancient Board Game Becomes A Cutthroat Battlefield In NYC

In dingy basements and private clubs, an ancient Asian board game becomes a cutthroat battlefield for brainiacs.

It's a cold night in January 2012 and Peter Armenia is sitting on a Flushing-bound seven train, anticipating culture shock. For two decades, Armenia has played the ancient Chinese game of go, always wondering how his skills would hold up at a traditional Asian club. Tonight, he's finally getting his chance.

"I'm ready to lose and embarrass myself," says Armenia, a slender forty-eight-year-old man with short salt-and-pepper hair.

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