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There are different rule sets for Go. These often have to do with whether or not unoccupied territory is counted during scoring. While of course it doesn't really matter who wins, the Japanese rule set is slightly subtler than the Chinese or Korean sets. However, we won't get into that here. These are the basic rules.

1. The game of go
Go is a game in which two players compete in skill on a board ("goban"), from the beginning of the game until the game stops according to point 9, to see which can take more territory. A "game" refers to the moves played until the "end of the game."

2. Play
The players can play one move at a time in alternation, one player playing the black stones, his/her/its opponent the white stones.

3. Point of play
The board is a grid of 19 horizontal and 19 vertical lines forming 361 intersections. A stone can be played on any unoccupied intersection (called an "empty point") on which Article 4 permits it to exist. The point on which a stone is played is called, unsurprisingly, its "point of play."

4. Stones that may exist on the board
After a move is completed, a group of one or more stones belonging to one player exists on its points of play on the board as long as it has a horizontally or vertically adjacent empty point, called a "liberty." No group of stones without a liberty can exist on the board.

5. Capture
If, due to a player's move, one or more of his/her/its opponent's stones cannot exist on the board according to the preceeding article, the player must remove all these opposing stones, which are called "prisoners." In this case, the move is completed when the stones have been removed.

6. Ko
A shape in which the players can alternately capture and recapture one opposing stone is called a "ko" (literally: "eternity" or "infinity"). A player whose stone has been captured in a ko cannot recapture in that ko on the next move.

7. Life and death

  • Stones are said to be "alive" if they cannot be captured by the opponent, or if capturing them would enable a new stone to be played that the opponent could not capture. Stones which are not alive are said to be "dead."
  • In the confirmation of life and death after the game stops in Article 9, recapturing in the same ko is prohibited. A player whose stone has been captured in a ko may, however, capture in that ko again after passing once for that particular ko capture.

8. Territory
Empty points surrounded by the live stones of just one player are called "eye points." Other empty points are called "dame." Stones which are alive but possess dame are said to be in "seki." Eye points surrounded by stones that are alive but not in seki are called "territory," each eye point counting as one point of territory.

9. End of the game

  • When a player passes his/her/its move and his opponent passes in succession, the game ends.
  • After stopping, the game ends through confirmation and agreement by the two players about the life and death of stones and territory. This is called, unsuprisingly, "the end of the game."
  • If a player requests resumption of a stopped game, his/her/its opponent must oblige and has the right to play first.

10. Determining the result or What happened?

  • After agreement that the game has ended, each player removes any opposing dead stones from his/her/its territory as is, and adds them to his/her/its prisoners.
  • Prisoners are then filled into the opponent's territory, and the points of territory are counted and compared. The player with more territory wins. If both players have the same amount the game is a draw, which is called a "jigo."
  • If one player lodges an objection to the result, both players must reconfirm the result by, for example, replaying the game and examining the moves.
  • After both players have confirmed the result, the result cannot be changed under any circumstances. And who cares anyway. It's a game.

11. Resignation
During a game, a player may end the game by admitting defeat. This is called "resigning." The opponent is said to "win by resignation."

12. No result
When the same whole-board position is repeated during a game, if the players agree, the game ends without result.

13. Both players lose

  • After the game stops according to article 9, if the players find an effective move, which would affect the result of the game, and therefore cannot agree to end the game, both players lose.
  • If a stone on the board has been moved during the game and the game has proceeded, the game continues with the stone returned to its original point of play. If the players cannot agree, both players lose.