Go is a two-player strategic board game that originated in China more than 4000 years ago.


The objective of Go is to have a higher score than your opponent after both players have passed a turn.  Your score is the addition of the intersections that your stones are surrounding plus the number of your opponent's stones you have captured.


The board is a grid of 19 horizontal and 19 vertical lines forming 361 intersections.  Smaller boards (13x13 and 9x9) are also used by beginners or for quick games.

Liberties and Territory

There are several main concepts used in Go: Group of stones, Liberties and Territory :

  • A Group of stones are stones of the same color which are horizontally or vertically adjacent to each other:

All white stones forms a single group.
The black stones form two distinct groups.

  • Liberties are empty intersections horizontally or vertically adjacent to a stone or a group of stones of the same color:

  • The groups of intersections surrounded by stones of one color are territory of the player who uses that color:

A group of 6 intersections at the top left corner is a territory of White's.

A group of 3 intersections at the right side is a territory of Black's.

A group of 6 intersections at the bottom left corner is not a territory
of either player because it is not surrounded by stones of one color.


A game begins with an empty board.

One of the players uses black stones and the other player uses white stonesBlack plays first.

The players move alternately placing one stone on one unoccupied intersections at a time or passing a turn.

There are two restrictions applied to placing stones:The Ko rule and the prohibition of suicide moves.


If the opponent's stone or group of stones has no liberties as a result of player's move then they are captured, removed from the board, and counted towards the surrounding player's score:

The group of black stones at the top left corner has only one liberty.  Placing a white stone there results in capturing the entire black group because it totally deprives it of liberties.  White receives 5 points for capturing 5 black stones.


Placing the white stone in the specified place does not capture the group of black stones because this group has another liberty.  However, White can capture the black group on his next turn, placing a white stone on the second liberty point of the black group.


Suicide moves

A stone cannot be placed on any intersection where it would remain without any liberties or would leave some group of player's stones without liberties, unless placing this stone results in a capturing of enemy stones.


Black cannot place a stone where the transparent black stones are shown because such moves will leave a black stone or a group of black stones without liberties.


Placing the white stone at the top of the board where the transparent white stone is shown leaves the group of three white stones without liberties.  However, this move is allowed because it captures the group of black stones.  After removing the captured black stones from the board the group of three white stones at the top gets liberties.



You may not, as a result of a move, return the board to a position that it was at one turn previously.

This situation occurs when a single stone is captured and the opponent has the option to place a new stone on the same point, capturing the same stone that forced the previous capture.

Placing the white stone results in capturing a single black stone.  If Black were to place a black stone on the same intersection it would result in capturing the white stone and returning the board to a previous position.  The Ko rule prevents such repetition.


Komi, Handicap and Button

To compensate for an advantage of the first move, the player who uses white stones can get some additional points, called komi.  The value of the komi is agreed upon by both players before starting the game.  The commonly used values are between 5.5 and 7.5.  Non-integer values are used in order to avoid draws.

If there is a large difference in skill between the players then the handicap can be used to compensate for the difference: the weaker player plays with the black stones and he is allowed to place several stones before his opponent makes his first move.  The number of handicap stones is agreed upon by both players before starting the game.  The commonly used values are between 2 and 9.

The button a special token which is worth 0.5 points. It can be used to break ties as an alternative to non-integer komi. At his turn, instead of making a board play or passing, a player may take the button, provided that none of the players has taken it before. Taking the button lifts any restriction on taking a ko.

End of Game

The game ends when both players pass on their turn.

At this point the players decide which stones would be certainly captured if the game were to continue.  Those stones are called dead, and they are added to the captured stones before counting the final score.

If both players do not agree on which stones are dead, the game resumes.

After coming to an agreement the final score is counted.  Scores consist of three elements: the number of empty intersections that your own stones surround (without interference from opposing pieces), the number of opponent's stones you have captured (including dead ones), and, for white, the komi points.  All of these are added together to get the score.  The player with the higher score wins the game.

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