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«Official AGA Rules of Go», AGA Rules Committee

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September 1, 1991


{The following are the American Go Association Rules of Go for amateur play. Unless specifically stated otherwise, these rules are in effect at all AGA sanctioned events. The rules themselves are given in boldface; comments and examples are given in ordinary type [and surrounded with curly braces or parentheses]. Illustrative figures are [interspersed].}

Any paraphrase of these rules which is identical in content is acceptable as a statement of the AGA Rules of Go so long as it makes reference to the more complete Official Rules given below. (By "identical in content" we mean that the result of applying these paraphrased rules should give the same result as would the Official Rules in every situation.)

{These rules are supplemented by the Official AGA Tournament Regulations governing time control, player conduct, the role of monitors, etc.}

1) The Board and Stones:Go is a game of strategy between two sides usually played on a 19x19 grid (the board). The game may also be played on smaller boards, 13x13 and 9x9 being the two most common variants. The board is initially vacant, unless a handicap is given (see Rule 4). The two sides, known as Black and White, are each provided with an adequate supply of playing tokens, known as stones, of the appropriate color.

{For recording purposes, the horizontal lines on the board are designated 1,2,3,…,19, starting from the bottom as seen by Black. The vertical lines are designated A,B,C,…,T (skipping 'I'), starting from the left as seen by Black. Points on the board are identified by their coordinates, c.g. A-1, C-3, T-19, etc.}

2) Play:The players alternate in moving, with Black playing first. In handicap games, White moves first after Black has placed his or her handicap stones. A move consists in playing a stone of one's color on an empty intersection (including edges and corners), or in passing. Certain moves are illegal (Rules 5 and 6), but a pass is always legal (Rule 7). Points are awarded for controlling space in a manner described below (Rule 12). The object of the game is to end with the greater total number of points.

3) Compensation:In an even (non-handicap) game, Black gives White a compensation of 5 1/2 points for the advantage of the first move. This compensation is added to White's score at the end of the game. In handicap games, Black gives White 1/2 point compensation. This avoids draws.


4) Handicaps:The game may be played with a handicap to compensate for differences in player strengths. The weaker player takes Black, and either moves first, giving only 1/2 point compensation to White, as in Rule 3 (this is known as a "one stone handicap"), or places from 2 to 9 stones on the board before the first White move.

{The nine intersections corresponding to the horizontal lines 4, 10, and 16 and the vertical lines D, K, and Q are called star points, and are ordered as follows: (See Figure 1.)

1st star point Q-16 5th star point Q-10

2nd star point D-4 6th star point D-10

3rd star point Q-4 7th star point K-16

4th star point D-16 8th star point K-4

9th star point K-10 (center point)

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Figure 1

The handicap stones are traditionally played as follows:

2 stones on the 1st and 2nd star points

3 stones on the 1st through 3rd star points

4 stones on the 1st through 4th star points

5 stones on the 1st through 4th star points and the center point

6 stones on the 1st through 6th star points

7 stones on the 1st through 6th star points and the center point

8 stones on the 1st through 8th star points

9 stones on the 1st through 9th star points

Unless otherwise specified, handicap stones shall be placed in this fashion. Handicaps greater than nine stones and handicaps on boards with fewer than 19 lines are not standardized.}

If the players have agreed to use area counting to score the game (Rule 12), White receives an additional point of compensation for each Black handicap stone after the first. (Black would otherwise gain an additional point of area for each handicap stone.)

5) Capture:Stones of the same color are said to be connected if they are adjacent along horizontal or vertical-not diagonal-lines on the board. A string of connected stones consists of those stones which can be reached from a given stone by moving only to adjacent stones of the same color. A string of connected stones is surrounded by stones of the opposite color if it has no empty points horizontally or vertically-not diagonally-adjacent to any of its member stones. (Such adjacent empty points are known as liberties of the string.)

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