3 Ways to Play Go

Table of contents:

3 Ways to Play Go
3 Ways to Play Go

Go (or sometimes called igo in Indonesia) is a board game where two players try to compete for territory in order to win. This game is considered to be the oldest board game in the world. The rules are simple and can be understood in a few minutes. Many experts consider Go an art because it has almost unlimited variations and can even confuse the computer. Understanding the basics of the game and how to play it is easy, but to be able to play well, you have to be patient and practice a lot. Read the guide below to understand the basics of this ancient, but interesting and creative game.


Method 1 of 3: Go Boards And Seeds

Play Go Step 1
Play Go Step 1

Step 1. Use a 19x19 board

The most common boards have 19 horizontal and vertical stripes. If you don't have a board, you can draw it on paper.

  • There are also smaller boards like 13x13 or 9x9 which are used for quick play and/or teaching.
  • On the board, there are nine bold dots on the third, nine, and 15th line rows. These dots are called star points and serve as reference points or markers for handicaps.

Interesting Facts:

In 2015, an automated system called AlphaGo learned to play Go and managed to beat the human champions!

Play Go Step 2
Play Go Step 2

Step 2. Prepare 361 black and white seeds

The number of seeds matches the game on a 19x19 board and represents the number of dots or crosses on the board. If you are playing with a smaller board, use fewer seeds.

  • Black has 181 grains and white 180. Black gets one more grain because it always gets first turn.
  • Collect the seeds in a container or bowl (separate for each color), and place them next to the board.

Method 2 of 3: Game Rules

Play Go Step 3
Play Go Step 3

Step 1. Move alternately

Usually, black gets the first turn.

  • Your seeds can also be placed sideways, as long as they remain at the crossroads.
  • Seeds that have been placed cannot be moved (unless they are eaten, which means they must be removed).
Play Go Step 4
Play Go Step 4

Step 2. Gain and fight for territory

There are two ways to do this:

  • a region is an empty space bounded or surrounded by seeds of the same color. The bigger the territory you circle, the more points you get.

    The edge of the board also serves as a boundary

  • You will lose points if you place seeds on your own territory.
Play Go Step 5
Play Go Step 5

Step 3. Eat the opponent's seeds

Connect your seeds to each other to eat the opponent's seeds.

  • Connected seeds are those that are right next to other seeds of the same color (horizontally and vertically).
  • Cage your opponent's seeds to eat them. If eaten, remove the opponent's seed from the board and place it in a separate place (not in the seed bowl).
  • There can be no empty squares within the boundary line.
Play Go Step 6
Play Go Step 6

Step 4. The game is over when all territories have been claimed

Both players cannot move anymore and the game is over. Count the points (or dots) protected by each color.

  • Put all the seeds eaten in the opponent's territory as a sign of deduction of points.

    In other words, the seeds eaten are worth two points, one point from deducting your opponent's points, and another from the territory you gain

  • It is this rule of eating your opponent's seeds that makes this game challenging for intelligence. Although the main goal is to gain territory, each player must play quite defensively at all times.
Play Go Step 7
Play Go Step 7

Step 5. Know the terms

Since this game is an ancient Chinese game adopted by Japan, there are some words or terms that you should know.

  • Liberty, i.e. adjacent points.
  • Atari, which is a condition where a seed can be eaten in the next turn.
  • The eye, an empty dot surrounded by seeds.

    You cannot put your seed in an eye surrounded by your opponent's seed

  • Suicide, which is putting the seeds in an edible position.
  • KO, which is a condition where the seeds that will eat the opponent can be eaten back, and create a cycle of eating each other that can't be stopped. You cannot eat your opponent's seeds immediately after KO.

Method 3 of 3: Start Playing

Play Go Step 8
Play Go Step 8

Step 1. Find an opponent to play with

To be able to learn, look for an opponent who is an expert and can teach you.

  • You can search for opponents playing live or online. To be able to play live or face to face, look for the Go community in your city. To play online, you can search on the Go server below.
  • IGS
  • KGS
  • DGS
  • Yahoo
  • MSN Zone
  • Go shrine
  • 361points
  • Break Base
Play Go Step 9
Play Go Step 9

Step 2. Start the game by selecting a color

For games with handicaps, the better player usually takes white, and black may place two to nine handicaps on the star before the white turn begins.

  • For a balanced game, the player's color is determined at random. Since black takes advantage of the first turn, white is usually compensated called a komi, which is a number of points that are added when the game is over.
  • The number of points awarded varies, but most tournaments award around five to eight points. Sometimes the points awarded are also not round like 6, 5 to avoid a tie.
  • Players going west generally follow Japanese rules, with the commi being set at 6, 5.
Play Go Step 10
Play Go Step 10

Step 3. Place the first seed

The first seed should be placed by the black, and is usually placed at the star point at the corner of the board.

  • This initial step shows which territory the player wants to claim.
  • The handicap seed is considered the first move or move in the game.
Play Go Step 11
Play Go Step 11

Step 4. Place the seeds alternately

Remember, place the seeds at the point or intersection of the lines, not in the box.

  • Each player may fit if they feel they don't need to or can't make a move. Pas signifies the desire to end the game and count points.

    If both players match, the game is over

Play Go Step 12
Play Go Step 12

Step 5. Define your strategy

Generally, there are two choices: claim as much as possible or invade your opponent's territory and eat their seeds.

  • If a player takes the liberty of any connected group belonging to the opponent, that group dies and is lifted off the board.
  • The exception to the above rule is if you are in a KO condition, which means you have to make another move first. This knockout rule was created to prevent unfinished play.
Play Go Step 13
Play Go Step 13

Step 6. End the game when both players agree

Black and white must decide that they no longer need to make any moves.

The player who claims the most territory and the opponent's seeds wins. The seeds eaten are placed inside the opponent's territory, thereby reducing the points

Play Go Step 14
Play Go Step 14

Step 7. Calculate game points

You can calculate area or area. Both are valid ways if both players claim the same number of passes.

  • In calculating the area, count the number of surviving seeds and the area they have. Then add a commi to the white.
  • In calculating territory, each player fills the opponent's territory with eaten seeds. The points are calculated based on the blanks in their area. Then white adds the commi.
  • The two calculation methods usually give the same result, but sometimes they differ by one point.


  • For beginners, it doesn't matter if you often lose, but make sure you know why you lost, and try to improve from there.
  • Stay calm no matter the game situation at that time. Sometimes people can lose in a tough game just because they are afraid and end up losing concentration. Don't worry, if you fall behind or your opponent makes a difficult attack, at least find a way to minimize the damage. If you can't win anymore, give up honorably, because there are usually very few opportunities to make a move that could turn the tide, especially if your opponent is experienced.
  • Try playing demonstration games with good players. Demonstration games are games where a good player will make certain moves so you know how to respond correctly.
  • Read more detailed rules, as well as game strategies on various websites on the internet.


  • While Go's rules are often called simple and natural, there are different rules that are defined by some countries and organizations. This makes playing online a bit complicated because server providers usually don't make the games integrated with their own set of rules. Find a server that suits you, or play with other people in person or face to face.
  • Online games are usually very fast-paced, so focus on the game when you start playing.
  • Respect your opponents, be it when playing face to face or online.

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