Go game

Go Game Rules

Go is a strategy game that’s thought to have originated in China around 4,000 years ago. It is played by two players on a board that’s usually referred to by its Japanese name goban.

Objective of the Game

The objective of Go is to occupy as many territories as possible.

What You Need to Play

  • 2 players
  • 1 board called goban, forming a grid of 19 x 19, 13 x 13, or 9 x 9,
  • Black stones
  • White stones

How to Play

  • Each player chooses a color; the black stones always take the first turn.
  • Players take turns placing their stones on the goban, but a player may also pass if they don’t think that placing a stone would result in a profitable outcome.
  • The stones can only be placed on the intersection of the lines (referred to as points).
  • A point can be occupied by only one stone.
  • Once placed, a stone cannot be moved.
  • Each player will then try to connect their stones to form territories and capture enemy stones.
  • The empty points which are connected to a stone are called liberties.
  • When a stone has only one liberty left, it is in a position that’s called an atari.
The white stone is in atari
  • A stone or group of stones is captured when it has been surrounded from all directions by opposing stones.
  • Captured stones are removed from the goban and kept by the player who captured them as prisoners.

The Suicide Rule

The suicide rule dictates that a player cannot place a stone on a point that’s surrounded by enemy stones from all four directions, unless doing so would immediately cause the capturing of an enemy group of stones by taking away the final liberty the group had.

The Ko Rule

The ko rule prevents unending repetitions as it dictates that a player cannot make a move that would return the game to a previous position.

Forming an Eye or Eyes

  • If a group of stones of the same color surrounds an empty point, they are said to form an eye.
  • Groups of stones that have managed to form two eyes cannot be captured.
Black has succeeded in forming two eyes and therefore this group can no longer be captured

The Ladder Formation

  • When a player finds themselves in an atari position and tries to escape, sometimes they may form a ladder formation. 
  • A ladder is a sequence of moves in which an attacker chases a group of stones in atari in a zig-zag pattern across the goban. If there are no intervening stones, the group in atari will eventually hit the edge of the goban and be captured.
While trying to get out of the atari, the white player finds themselves in the ladder formation.
  • A ladder is only favorable if the player in atari has a stone placed far away and they’re trying to reach and connect to it by forming a ladder.

The Seki Position

  • A Seki occurs when neither player can place a stone without being captured.
If the white player places a stone, they will find themselves in atari. Same thing for the black player

Balancing the Game

Hoshi or Star Point:

  • A hoshi or star point can be seen on an empty goban.
  • They are used when a beginner plays against an experienced player.
  • The beginner player starts by placing stones on the star points before the experienced player is allowed to play. These are called handicap stones.


  • Because the black player always starts the game, they are always one step ahead of the white player.
  • To balance the game, an amount of points called Komi is awarded to the white player. The number of points the white player gains can be 6.5 or 7.5 points.
  • The Komi points usually include half a point to prevent ties.

End of the Game

The game ends when both players pass their turns consecutively or when a player resigns.

After the game has ended because both players have passed their turns consecutively, all the dead stones are removed from the goban.

Dead stones: After both players pass their turns causing the game to end, the stones that are left on the goban and aren’t able to escape capture are considered dead stones and are captured by the opposing player.


There are two main scoring methods for the game of Go. The outcome of both methods is usually the same.

  • Area scoring: Each player’s score is the number of stones they have on the gob, plus the number of empty intersections surrounded by their stones.
  • Territory scoring: The score of each player is the number of empty points surrounded by their stones, plus the number of prisoners they have.
    • Don’t forget that any dead stones removed at the end of the game are considered prisoners.