In 1971, a Chinese and an American ping-pong player became friends. This resulted in mutual invitations to visit each others’ countries, and eventually to a visit to China by Nixon. The situation later became known as “ping-pong diplomacy“: sports or games paving the way for greater ties between antipathetic entities.

US relations with China are warmer today, but they could still use a little help. So it’s nice to hear that on Obama’s last trip to China he brought them an American-made Go board with glass stones. And it’s nice to hear that during China’s current visit to the US, some of the guests in attendance were members of the American Go Association.

The US is now sending a delegation to the Mideast; let’s see if they can get the Israelis and Palestinians to play Backgammon.