The Chinese Rules Of Go


Although the normal size of a Go board is 19 by 19 lines, itis possible to lớn use smaller sizes. A quick trò chơi can be played on a13 by 13 board without losing the essential character of thegame. The following examples all use a 9 by 9 board.

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We recommend that beginners learn thebasics on a 9 by 9 board, moving up to a 13 by 13 board after a few games và only playing on a 19 by 19 board if you can playa complete game within 15 minutes & are comfortable with some of the strategic concepts.


These images show boards at different sizes - the dots are the handicap points (see below)

The rules

A game of Go starts with an empty board. Each player has an effectivelyunlimited supply of pieces (called stones), one taking the black stones, the other taking white.The main object of the game is khổng lồ use your stones to form territories by surroundingvacant areas of the board. It is also possible khổng lồ capture your opponent"sstones by completely surrounding them.

Players take turns, placing one of their stones on a vacant point at eachturn, with đen playing first. Note that stones are placed on the intersections ofthe lines rather than in the squares and once played stones are not moved. Howeverthey may be captured, in which case they are removed from the board, & kept bythe capturing player as prisoners.

Diagram 1

At the over of the game, the players count one point for each vacant point insidetheir own territory, & one point for every stone they have captured. Theplayer with the larger total of territory plus prisoners is the winner.

Diagram 1 shows the position at the over of a trò chơi on a 9 by 9 board, duringwhich black captured one trắng stone at a.

Black has surrounded 15 points of territory, 10 in the lower right corner & 5towards the vị trí cao nhất of the board. Black"s territory includes the point a formerlyoccupied by the trắng stone black has captured. Adding this prisoner, đen has a total of16 points.

White"s territory is 17 points, so white wins the game by one point.

Capturing stones and counting liberties

The empty points which are horizontally và vertically adjacent to lớn a stone, or a solidly connected string of stones, are known as liberties. An isolated stone or solidly connected string of stones is captured when all of its liberties are occupied by enemy stones.
Diagram 2 Diagram 3 Diagram 4

Diagram 2 shows three isolated white stones with their liberties marked bycrosses. Stones which are on the edge of the board have fewer libertiesthan those in the centre of the board. A single stone on the side hasthree liberties, and a stone in the corner has only two liberties.

Diagram 3 shows the same three stones of Diagram 2 each with only one libertyleft và therefore subject to lớn capture on Black"s next turn. Each of these whitestones is said khổng lồ be in atari, meaning they are about lớn be captured.

Diagram 4 shows the position which would arise if đen went on to lớn play atb in Diagram 3. đen has taken the captured stone from the board, and in a realgame would keep it as a prisoner. The same remarks would apply to theother two trắng stones, should đen play at c or d in Diagram 4.

Diagram 5


Stones occupying adjacent points constitute a solidlyconnected string. Two examples of such solidly connectedstrings of stones are shown in Diagram 5. It isimportant khổng lồ remember that only stones which arehorizontally or vertically adjacent are solidly connected;diagonals vì chưng not count as connections. Thus,for example, the two marked black stones in the topleft of Diagram 5 are two separate strings, not a single one.

Several strings close together, which belong to the same player, are often described as a group. So these two strings khung a group.

Diagram 6Diagram 7

Capturing strings

As far as capturing is concerned, a stringof stones is treated as a single unit. As with isolated stones,a string is captured when all of its liberties are occupied byenemy stones.

In Diagram 6 the strings of Diagram 5 have both beenreduced khổng lồ just one liberty. Chú ý that the black string inthe vị trí cao nhất right is not yet captured because of the internalliberty at f. The two stones at the top left of Diagram 6can each be captured independently at g or h.

In Diagram 7 we see the position which would result ifBlack captured at e & White captured at f & atg. The remaining đen stone could be captured at h.As with the capture of a single stone, the points formerly occupiedby the black string have become trắng territory, và vice versa.

A player may not self-capture, that isplay a stone into a position where it wouldhave no liberties or form part of a stringwhich would thereby have no liberties,unless, as a result, one or more of thestones surrounding it is captured.

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Diagrams 8 and 9 illustrate the rule governing self-capture.In Diagram 8, trắng may not play at i or j, since eitherof these plays would be self-capture; the stones wouldthen have no liberties. However, if the outside libertieshave been filled, as shown in Diagram 9, then the plays atij become legal; they fill the last đen liberty ineach case, and result in the đen stones being captured andremoved from the board as White"s prisoners.

Diagram 8Diagram 9
Diagram 10

Life và death & the concept of eyes

In Diagram 9, white was able khổng lồ play at i & j becausethese plays result in the capture of the adjacent black stones.Since White"s plays capture some stones, they vì chưng notcount as self-capture.

A different situation is shown in Diagram 10. The blackstring here could only be captured if trắng were able toplay at both mn. Since the first of these plays would beself-capture, there is no way that white can carry out thecapture. These two separate spaces within the group areknown as eyes.

Any string or group of stones which has two or more eyesis permanently safe from capture & is referredto as a live string or live group. Conversely, a string of stoneswhich is unable khổng lồ make two eyes, và is cut offand surrounded by live enemy strings, is called adead string since it is hopeless & unable lớn avoideventual capture.
Diagram 11


In Diagram 11, the đen string at the bottom is indanger of being captured. To ensure that Black"s string hastwo eyes, black needs lớn play at o. If white plays at o,the đen string will no longer be able to lớn make two eyes,and cannot avoid eventual capture; trắng can always fillin the outside liberties và then play at p & at q. Blackplays at p or q would only hasten the string"s death.

The đen string at the top left of Diagram 11 is alreadyalive even though there is a trắng stone inside one of itseyes. Since trắng can never capture the đen stones, theWhite stone caught inside the string cannot be saved.

In the course of a real game, players are not obliged khổng lồ complete the capture of anisolated dead string once it is clear lớn both players that the string is dead. We gọi this a hopeless string. InDiagram 11, once white has played at o, the situation may be left asit is until the over of the game. Then, the hopeless strings are simply removed from theboard và counted together with the capturing player"s other prisoners.

Diagram 12

The ko rule

At the vị trí cao nhất of Diagram 12, black can capture a stone byplaying at r. This results in the situation at the đứng đầu ofDiagram 13. However, this stone is itself vulnerable tocapture by a trắng play at u in Diagram 13. If Whitewere allowed lớn recapture immediately at u, theposition would revert lớn that in Diagram 12, và therewould be nothing khổng lồ prevent this capture & recapturecontinuing indefinitely. This pattern of stones iscalled ko - a Japanese term meaning eternity. Two otherpossible shapes for a ko, on the edge of the board & inthe corner, are also shown in this diagram.

Diagram 13


The ko rule removes this possibility of indefinite repetitionby forbidding the recapture of the ko, in this casea play at u in Diagram 13, until trắng has made atleast one play elsewhere. đen may then fill the ko,but if đen chooses not to vị so, instead answeringWhite"s intervening turn elsewhere, white is then permittedto retake the ko. Similar remarks apply to theother two positions in these diagrams; the correspondingplays at w and v in Diagram 13 must also be delayedby one turn.

Diagram 14

Seki - a kind of local stalemate

Usually a string which cannot make two eyes will dieunless one of the surrounding enemy strings also lackstwo eyes. This often leads to lớn a race to lớn capture, but canalso result in a stand-off situation, known as seki, inwhich neither string has two eyes, but neither cancapture the other due to lớn a shortage of liberties. Twoexamples of seki are shown in Diagram 14. Neitherplayer can afford to play at x, y or z,since to vị so would enable the other lớn make a capture.

The kết thúc of the game

When you think your territories are all safe, you can"t gain any more territory, reduce your opponent"s territory or capture more strings, instead of playing a stone on the board you pass & hand a stone khổng lồ your opponent as a prisoner. Two consecutive passes ends the game.

Any hopeless strings are removed & become prisoners. If you cannot agree whether a string is dead or not, then continue playing; you can then complete capture of disputed strings or confirm they are alive. (Playing during a continuation does not change the score as each play is the same as a pass.) Since black played first, trắng must play last and may need lớn make a further pass.

Now you know how to lớn play. However there are a few other things you should know:

The handicap system

As remarked in the introduction, one of the best features of the trò chơi of Go is itshandicap system. A weaker player may be given an advantage of anything up tonine stones. These are placed on the board in lieu of Black"s first turn.Once all the handicap stones have been placed in position it is White"s turn khổng lồ play.

Through the grading system, any two players can easily establish the differencein their strength, và therefore how many stones the weaker player should take inorder to compensate for this difference. Since a player"s grade is measuredin terms of stones, the number of stones for the handicap is simply the differencein grade between the two players.

There is an established pattern for the placement of handicap stones, shownby the dots which are marked on any Go board. This is shownin Diagram 15 (Black is facing the board from the bottom),for each of 1 khổng lồ 9 stones handicap.

Diagram 15


Black has a natural advantage in playing first. So in games between players of the samestrength, it is usual lớn compensate trắng for the disadvantage of playing second by addingpoints to lớn White"s score. These points are called komi. From experience the value of playing firstis about 7 points, so this is the normal kích cỡ of komi.In tournaments, komi is often set at 7.5 points lớn avoid draws.

In a 1 stone handicap the weaker player is đen but no komi is given khổng lồ White.

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This page is part of the online version of our Play Go Leaflet.