Go Symbol The Cambridge Go Society Go Symbol

How to play Go: Introduction

This short course will introduce you to the rules of the Oriental board game Go. The rules of Go sometimes seem confusing at first sight but they are, in fact, very simple once you have played a few games.

One potential source of confusion is that slightly different versions of the rules are used in different countries. In practice this makes absolutely no difference to how the game is played or to what the final outcome is in 99.9% of games. The purpose of this page is to help members of the Cambridge University Go Society. They will therefore teach you the rules and conventions that are used in the United Kingdom.

At the start of each academic year the Cambridge Go Society gains 10-20 new members who have never played the game before. To teach them the rules we hold a series of 4 half hour talks at the start of our Tuesday meetings. This page contains the first of these lessons

You should be able to learn all the rules you need to play Go in this course. This is quite a lot to take in in half an hour so at the end I will summarise the important points. Once you have played a few games you will probably find that it all becomes second nature.

First of all I will show you the equipment used to play go. I will then show you that a move in the game consists of putting a counter of your colour on the board. Once a piece has been put on the board it is never moved. It can, however, be removed if it is captured, so I will then explain exactly how stones are captured by being surrounded.

Once I have shown you that pieces can be captured I will have to show you that not every single stone is destined to be captured in the end. I will then tell you about a simple game called 'capture go' which is useful for making sure that you understand the rules of capturing and how to stop your groups being captured.

I will then finally be able to tell you what the real point of go is: that is, to take territory. I will explain precisely what this means and how you work out who has won when the game ends.

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