Rules of the Game

Basic Rules

  • The Game - Placing Stones
    • Go is a game for two players. The board consists of 19 x 19 lines (intersections). The players take turns in placing stones on the board. One player uses white, the otherone uses black stones.

    • Each vacant intersection may be occupied by one stone. (The only exception results from the prohibition of 'commiting suicide').

    • Stones once placed may not move. They can be taken off the board by the opponent, after they were hit.

  • Object of the Game
    The object of the game is to use one's stones to form territories, by surrounding vacant areas of the board, to capture or hit ('kill') as many opposing stones as possible

    Territory These are vacant intersections completely surrounded by stones of one's color, also with the help of 2 edges of the board.

    Captured Stones A stone is captured if it's inside the opponent's territory.

    Killed Stones A stone is killed, if it's completely surrounded by opposing stones without any vacant intersections, as the white stone(s) on the image to the left is (are).

  • Prohibition of 'Commiting Suicide' It is not allowed to place stones on intersections where they would be completely surrounded by opposing stones, except one hits a stone of the opposing color and therefore abolishes this situation.

    In this situation White is not allowed to place stones on the red marked intersections.

    Here, White is allowed to place a stone on the red marked intersection.
    Attention: Mind the so called 'KO-Rule'!

  • Ko-Rule
    Especially because of the above mentioned rule, it might come to situations with no way out (as can be seen on the image above). Stones can be placed in a way that White can hit a black stone by placing a stone on the vacant intersection. After that, Black can also hit a white stone in the same way. Now, White could start again hitting a black stone and so on... This is prohibited by the KO-Rule. The KO-Rule says, that it is not allowed to create a situation that is similar to the situation immediately before. In our case, Black is not allowed of hitting back immediately but has to make another move before, so White gets the opportunity of protecting his stone.

  • End of the Game
    The game ends by agreement. At a certain point of time it is only possible for one or both of the players to make moves that are prohibited, or place stones inside their own territories. In this case, a player is allowed to pass. If both players pass close on one another, the game ends.

  • Scoring
    In principle,intersections within a territory and killed stones of opposing color are scored. Scoring starts by taking the captured, opposing stones off the board and putting with the killed stones. The number of these stones is added to the number of vacant intersections in one's territory. Each captured or killed stone and each vacant intersection in one's territory counts one point. The player with the higher score is the winner.

Little Go-Encyclopedia

Liberties These are the neighbouring, vacant intersection of stones or chains.

TerritoriesVacant intersections, surrounded by stones of one's color.

Captured Stones A stone is captured, if it's inside opposing territory.

Killed Stones A stone (or a group of stones) is killed, if it's inside opposing territory with no more vacant intersections. Killed stones are taken off the board by the opponent.

Chain or wall: A chain (wall) is built by stones along a closed line which can even be dejected.

Start of the Game
First of all, lots are drawn to share colors. The winner gets the white stones and Black places the first stone. If he has got a handicap too, Black places also these stones (up to nine stones).

If the both players are different in strength, a player can get a handycap up to nine stones. These stones are placed on the marked intersections, drawn on the board. If only eight stones are the handycap, the square does not comprise a stone in its middle.

Starting a game of Go requires careful planning of the about first 30 moves. At this point of time each player tries to build his intended territories.

Tip: It is useful to concentrate on the edges, where territories can be marked out more easily. After that, one should try to build walls.

In the middle of the game the main problem is to mark up territories.

Tip: It is not always useful, to react on an opponent's move immediately. Sometimes it is even more useful to start a counterattack in another area. Experienced players, always watch the influence of a move on the whole board's situation.
As,at the end of the game, captured stones count as much as killed stones, one should not try to kill captured stones during the game. The player would waste too much of valuable time.

At the final stage the players try to conquer as much territory as possible, because intersections inside territories are counted as valuable points.

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