Rules of Go

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This is an in-depth discussion of the rules of go.

There has been a certain amount of variation in the rules of go over time, and from place to place. This article discusses those sets of rules broadly similar to the ones currently in use in East Asia. Even among these, there is a degree of variation.

Notably, Chinese and Japanese rules differ in a number of respects. The most significant of these is the scoring method, together with attendant differences in the manner of ending the game.[1]

While differences between sets of rules may have moderate strategic consequences on occasion, they do not change the character of the game. The different sets of rules usually lead to the same game result,[2] so long as the players make minor adjustments near the end of the game. Differences in the rules are said to cause problems in perhaps one in every 10,000 games in competition.[3]

This article first presents a simple set of rules which are, except for wording, identical to those usually referred to as the Tromp-Taylor Rules,[4] themselves close in most essential respects to the Chinese rules. These rules are then discussed at length, in a way that does not assume prior knowledge of go on the part of the reader. The discussion is for the most part applicable to all sets of rules, with exceptions noted. Later sections of the article address major areas of variation in the rules of go, and individual sets of rules.


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