How to Play
You have decided to learn GO. Learn how to play here...
So you decided to learn how to play Go.
You are about to learn how to play a game that by any objective game theory standards is the greatest game that has ever existed. What makes a fantastic game? I think most people would agree that if you can create a game with an almost infinite set of possibilities, along with the ability for personal skill, style, and creative genius to thrive, ALL WHILE having the FEWEST number of arbitrary rules that would constitute the perfect game. Well, Go wins in all those categories and second place isn't even close. Go has 4 rules. And from those 4 rules exists more possible games than any other strategy game, and something like Chess for example, isn't even close. The amount of possible Chess games is around 10^120th. Go's game tree complexity is somewhat disputed but the number most would agree upon is ~10^700th.
The object of Go is to surround more of the intersection points ("Territory") than your opponent.
The standard Go board size is 19x19, however beginners learn the game starting on 9x9 and 13x13 training boards.
Players take turns placing stones, black and white, on the intersections of the board. Black plays first.
Each stone has "Liberties", which are the adjacent points on the board. This includes strings of stones. Diagonal points do not count as "Liberties". If all of a stone or chain of stone's liberties are filled by the opponent, the stone is "Captured" and removed from the board.
Rule #3 (This is the tricky part, but you'll find it really cool soon)
A player may not commit "Suicide", meaning they cannot place a stone on an intersection which has no surrounding "Liberties". For example a space where one stone has just been captured. There is one exception to this rule which makes the game truly beautiful and complex: You can commit suicide IF and only IF you simultaneously capture your opponent. Like so:
But wait! Imagine for a moment a situation in which both players can simultaneously capture and be captured... It looks like this:
This is called "Ko" which is the Japanese word for eternity.
In this situation a player CAN commit suicide because they capture the opponent’s stone (and of course remove it from the board when doing so). Now you may be wondering, "Couldn't that just go on forever, each player taking turns capturing each other's stones forever?” It's a good question but the answer is NO! The way around this is just awesome. A player must play elsewhere in order to CHANGE THE BOARD POSITION before capturing back. This leads to moves called "Ko Threats" which you will get the hang of later on. Trust me though, it's pretty damn cool.
So here is something interesting; from all this we can say definitively that if a player has a group of stones that has TWO places where their opponent can't play (called two "Eyes") because of the suicide rule, then they can never be captured! Because their opponent would need to play two moves at once to capture while committing suicide! A group like that is called "Alive" and a group that can never create two eyes is called "Dead".
Read over this rule #3 a few times. It's the only hard part I promise.
The game ends when both players "Pass" and agree there is nothing left to do on the board. At this point "Dead Stones" (stones that could not make Two Eyes) are removed and placed in your opponents territory along with any captured stones. The players count who has more "Territory" and determine the winner.
Also By Ju Yeon Ko
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