How to Play Game GO

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Go board

In this article, I will introduce you to the basic rules of board game Go and show you how to play. The object of the game is to get the most points. You receive points by either capturing opponent stones, called prisoners, or controlling empty territory on the board.

Setup Guide

Layout the board between two players. The board is typically a 19 by 19 grid but you can plan a smaller one. If you are a beginner we recommend you start on a 9 by 9 grid. The weaker player takes all the black stones while the stronger player receives the white stones.

Play starts with black then turns alternate. On your turn, you may either place one stone of your color onto any vacant intersection on the board or you may pass your turn and hand one of your stones to your opponent. When there are two consecutive passes the game ends and points are scored.

At the end of the game, players receive one point for each captured prisoner and one point for each vacant intersection inside a territory they control. Intersections include every crossing of lines on the board including edges. The empty intersections which are horizontally and vertically adjacent to stone are called liberties. Stones of the same color that occupy adjacent liberties create a string. Only stones that are horizontally or vertically adjacent are solidly connected.

Diagonals do not count as connections. Strings also have liberties. Several strings close together which belong to the same player we often describe as a group. An isolated stone or solidly connected string of stones is captured when enemy stones occupy all of its liberties. A player may not self capture, that is, play a stone into a position where it would have no liberties or it would form part of a string which would thereby have no liberties. The only exception is if as a result one or more of the stones surrounding it is captured.


Two vacant spaces within a group or string are known as eyes. Any string or group of stones which has two or more eyes is permanently safe from capture and is referred to as a live string or live group. A string of stones that is unable to make two eyes and is surrounded by a live enemy string is called a dead string. Players are not obligated to complete the capture of an isolated dead string once it is clear to both players that the string is dead. We call this a hopeless string because it is unable to avoid eventual capture. You may leave hopeless strings as they are until the end of the game.

KO rule

Ko describes a pattern of stones where capture and recapture could happen infinitely. The KO rule removes this possibility of infinite repetition by forbidding the recapture of the ko until at least one play has been made elsewhere. When you think your territories are all safe and 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 and hand a stone to your opponent as a prisoner. Two consecutive passes end the game.

At the end of the game, we remove all hopeless strings on the board and make them prisoners. If you cannot agree whether a string is dead or not then continue playing so you can complete the capture of disputed strings or confirm they are alive. Playing during a continuation like this will not change the score as each play is the same as a pass. But, since black played first white must play last and may need to make a further pass. Each player counts their points from prisoners and captured intersections they control and whoever has the most wins.

Handicap System

One of the best features of the game of Go is its handicap system. We may give a weaker player an advantage of up to nine stones. We place these on the dots 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 to play.

The established pattern for the placement of handicap stones follows these specific Arrangements. Similar to dots on a die, a one stone advantage grants the opponent a position of playing black. Black has a natural advantage playing first in games between players of the same strength it is usual to compensate White for the disadvantage of playing second by adding points to White’s score. These points we call komi. The value of playing first is seven points so this is the normal size of Comey. In tournaments, we often set komi at 7.5 points to avoid drawers.

GO Game on the Market

The board game GO is on the market in many versions. The one that I refer to in this article I link to here:

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