Go Symbol The Cambridge Go Society Go Symbol

How to play Go: The equipment and the basics

Go is a game of skill for 2 players. It is played on a square grid that looks something like this:

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The moves are played on the points where the lines cross, not in the squares, so this is a 9x9 board. I strongly recommend that you play your first 10 to 20 games on a 9x9 board. After that you should play for a while on a 13x13 board. Only when you are really happy with the rules and the basic tactics is it worth moving to a full sized 19x19 board. The reason for using a smaller board at first is that the games do not last as long and so you will be able to play more games. You will learn much more from playing four 9x9 games that from playing one 19x19 game.

If you look closely you will notice that go boards are not absolutely square. they are slightly longer in one direction so that when you look at them sitting at a table they become slightly foreshortened and look square.

The game is played using black and white counters called 'stones'. Black moves first and play then alternates until the game ends. When it is your move you may either take a stone of your own colour and put it on any empty point (with one or two exceptions the will be explained in due course), or you may pass by saying "I pass". The game ends when both players pass consecutively. For example the first three moves of a game of go might be played at the points numbered 1, 2 and 3 in this diagram.

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(This, by the way, is how games of go are normally recorded.)

Stones may, of course, be played right at the edge of the board or on the corners like moves 1 or 2 in the next diagram but it is normally bad to play this near the edge of the board at the start of the game.

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