Here is a Milton Bradley-esque Guide to the Game of Go and How to play. Included will be Objectives, Materials, Starting the Game Turn Order, Ending the Game, and Scoring the Game. For all italicized words, see the glossary in back. There will also be a section on what counts as alive and what counts as dead.
The Game of Go: How to Play!
- The goal of the game is to end up with more points than you opponent. This is a combination between territory and prisoners
- 1) game board. It should be a grid composed of 19x19 lines, 13x13 lines, or 9x9 lines. Any other size is possible however, so 7x7, 10x10, or even 25x25 if you would like.
- 2) go stones. They should be Black and White, although any two colors would do, and they have to fit comfortably on the intersecting points of your go board.(see images on the side)
- 3) Optional materials: a go clock. This is very similar to a chess clock, and can be substituted with one. This piece of equipment is used if you want a game with a time limit, such as a tournament game, or just for fun.
3 Beginning the Game
- 1) The player who is better gets the White stones, and the other player takes the Black stones.
- If the two players are of even rank, or do not know their ranks, you participate in the little ritual of nigiri, or squeezing. The older player takes a handful of white stones, and keeps them concealed in his/her hand. The younger player picks up one or two black stones, guessing if White took an odd or even number. The White player reveals the number of stones he has taken. If the younger player has guessed correctly, he/she gets to choose what color he/she is, and if he/she did not, the older player gets to choose what color he/she is. Once this is decided, the game begins!
4 Turn Order
- Black gets to begin. On a players turn, they can put down a single stone on the board. The stone can go anywhere on the board, as long as it is played on an intersection point. There is one limitation on where you can put stones: if there is a place with no liberties (liberties are the intersecting points the radiate directly from a stone. A single stone has 4 liberties, one above, one below, one to the left, and one to the right), you may not play there. (see diagram)
- One a stone is put down by a player, it cannot be moved or taken back. The only time it will be dealt with again is if it (and any stones placed immediately next to it) have no more liberties, at which point it is removed from the board into the capturing players prisoner pile.
- After Black has moved, his turn is over. If you are playing with a clock, remember to press it, so your turn ends there too. It is immediately White's turn. White again may place one stone on any free intersection point, as long as it is not illegal as described above.
- On any player's turn, if they feel there is no move at all that will get them point, they may pass. And on that note, we move to ending the game.
5 Ending the Game
- The game can end in two ways: resignation, and mutual passing.
- Resignation: at any point in the game, a player may decide that he is loosing so badly there is no hope of winning. At this point he may declare his resignation, and the game is over, with him losing and the other player winning.
- Mutual Passing: when both players feel that there are no moves that will get them points, they should both pass in a row. When both players pass in a row, you begin scoring the game. If there should be an dispute in the scoring (stones that one player thinks are alive and one player thinks are dead, or maybe a border that has not been filled), they may go back and deal with it. More on "dead" groups to come. The game now enters the scoring phase.
- The idea of scoring is very simple. Each prisoner you have captured is one point, and each empty intersection that you have a complete wall around counts as a point. Edges count as a wall for a player if he has a solid line extending from one part of the edge to another. You may either add up your territory and you captures, or you may use your captures to fill in the opponent's territory, the difference between the scores will stay the same. White also gets an additional 6.5 points to make up for the fact that Black went first. To practice counting a score, please look at the diagram. Remember, Each side has one captured stone, and White gets 6.5 compensation points (komi)
- Notice that the half point stops any tie games. The player who has the most points wins. In our example, Black wins by half a point.
7 Scoring Difficulties: Life and Death
- Many people when they begin the game have problems telling when stones are dead and when stones are alive. Here is the general rule, "if a group of stones has two or more places the opponent cannot play, it is alive. If the group can be reduced to just one place that would be suicide, you opponent can take away all liberties but that, and then fill in the one place. I will show several examples of basic life and death in the diagram.
- 1) atari: the state of having one liberty
- 2) komi: the 6.5 points White gets to make up for Black going first.
- 3) liberty: the empty intersection points immediately radiating out from a stone or a ::group of stones
- 4) nigiri: the method by which you choose who is Black and who is White.