The Rules of the Game

Rules of First Capture Go

This slightly simplified version of the game of Go can be learned in a couple of minutes and is surprisingly challenging and enjoyable.

1. The game is played on a board marked with a grid of intersecting lines. Any size between 5 X 5 lines and 19 X 19 lines will work, but for beginners a 7 X 7 or 9 X 9 board is best.
2. The lens-shaped playing pieces are called stones, although they are often made of glass or plastic. The traditional colors are black and white.
3. The game is for two players or two teams.
4. Stones are played alternately by the players, and the one with the black stones goes first.
5. Stones are placed on the intersections of the grid, including on the edges and in the corners, and not in the squares formed by the lines. There are 81 places to place a stone on a 9 X 9 board.
6. Once it is placed on the board, a stone does not move, although it can be captured and removed from the board. (See #8 below for the rule of capture.)
7. Stones of the same color that touch each other along a line form a group and function as a unit.
8. As long as a stone or a group of stones is connected along a line to at least one empty intersection, the stone or group remains on the board. Thus, if, during play, a stone or group of stones is completely surrounded by stones of the other color, the stone or group is captured and removed from the board. Note that you can in effect cause the immediate capture of your own stones in some situations.
9. The winner is the first player to capture one or more stones.
10. You cannot play in such a way as to repeat an identical situation on the board. This is called the rule of ko, which is a Japanese word meaning eternity, and can be briefly explained here.

Go Game India

These rules appear in "The Rules and Elements of Go" by James Davies. They assume familiarity with the equipment used to play go, for which one may refer to Elements of the game below. Notes: The words move and territory are used differently here than elsewhere in this article; play and area, respectively, are used instead. A clarification to rule 5 is added in parentheses. The board is empty at the onset of the game (unless players agree to place a handicap).

  • Black makes the first move, after which White and Black alternate.
  • A move consists of placing one stone of one's own color on an empty intersection on the board.
  • A player may pass their turn at any time, but must sacrifice one of their prisoners (captured pieces).
  • A stone or solidly connected group of stones of one color is captured and removed from the board when all the intersections directly adjacent to it are occupied by the enemy. (Capture of the enemy takes precedence over self-capture.)
  • No stone may be played so as to recreate a former board position.
  • Two consecutive passes end the game. However, since black begins, white must end the game.
  • A player's territory consists of all the points the player has either occupied or surrounded.
  • The player with more territory wins.
  • These rules rely on common sense to make notions such as "connected group" and "surround" precise. What is here called a "solidly connected group of stones" is also called a chain.