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A Kid's Guide to Playing Go


Although the game Go dates back perhaps 4,000 years, it hasn't changed much since it was first created. Go is a game that requires skill, and it's similar to the game of Chess. To play go, you need to analyze the board and the pieces to make your best moves.


It's likely that Go originated in China. One myth says that an emperor invented Go as a way of teaching his son. Go was considered an important part of the "Four Accomplishments," and Chinese gentlemen had to master the game.

  • Although Go probably originated in China, it gained popularity in Japan. Go schools were founded in Japan, and the schools were huge rivals.
  • Go was also popular in Korea and Taiwan, and professional players have played and still play in important tournaments in these countries.
  • Go reached Europe in the 1800s, and it was played in Germany and Yugoslavia.

How to Play

Two competitors play Go on a board divided into a grid. Nine marked points are positioned on the grid, called star points. The star points are markers used for handicap stones. The player with the black stones gets 181, and the player with the white stones gets 180.

  • Play starts with an empty board. The player with black stones goes first and then the white player. A move involves placing a stone at a point where lines intersect, and players can place stones on any free intersection. Stones aren't moved from the board unless they are captured.
  • The object of Go is to get control of the most space on the board. The winner is the player controlling the most territory on the board. After claiming a territory on the board, a player might expand it by invading the opponent's territory.
  • Stones can be captured by surrounding an opponent's stone on all four sides. The stone is removed and placed in a prisoner pile. It's possible to capture more than one stone at a time.


Equipment for Go is minimal. Players only need a board and stones.

  • The board is 19 inches by 19 inches, and it has a grid of horizontal and vertical lines printed on it.
  • The stones are white and black, and they have a flat surface so they sit on the board without rolling.
  • Players keep their stones in wooden bowls while they play.

Tips for Learning

Anyone just learning the game of Go should concentrate on mastering the basics. Players often succeed in the game by using typical patterns and strategies.

  • The best opening moves involve placing stones at the four corners of the board.
  • Placing stones on the sides of the board and moving toward the center is a common strategy.
  • It takes time and practice to become a successful Go player. Even so, kids can learn to play Go successfully.


  • A Beginner's Guide to Go - Go is a two-player strategy game that involves the careful placement of stones on a board.
  • Why is Go Special? - Go is unique because it's simple yet challenging to gain territory on the board.
  • Learn to Play Go - Learning how to capture an opponent's stones is one of the most important parts of the game of Go.
  • How to Play Go - The player with the black stones gets to go first when playing Go, and you place your stones turn by turn onto the board.
  • How to Teach Go - Those just learning to play Go might start with a smaller game board, because this makes it easier to learn strategies and patterns of play.
  • Go: An AddictiveGame - This story tells about a famous game of Go that took months to play.
  • What is Go? - Players work to gain control of the board by capturing an opponent's stones and claiming territory of the grids.
  • What is the Real Object of Go? - The object of Go is to build walls around intersections, claiming territory so an opponent can't move stones there.
  • Play Go Now - Players who are good at the game of Go understand how to use mathematics as they devise their movement patterns and strategies.
  • The Basic Rules of Go - Go has been used as a means of training people in classical education, and it used to be considered a martial art.
  • Principles of Go: General Strategy and Tactics - Players usually divide a game of Go into three different parts: the opening, the middle game, and the end game.
  • Basic Strategy - Gaining territory in Go is more important than capturing your opponent's stones.
  • Improve Fast in Go - Your stones are like your money when you play Go, and the territory you gain with your stones is the return on your investment.
  • What is the Game of Go? - Learning how to play go helps you be creative and analytical.
  • Introduction to Go (PDF) - Playing Go can be easier than Chess, because there are fewer rules to learn.
  • Mastering Go - With almost an endless number of moves you can make in Go, you have to think carefully before you make your move.
  • The Chinese Rules of Go - The Go board has 19 vertical and parallel lines, which make 361 intersections where you can place stones.
  • Go Game - Go might be the oldest board game in the world.
  • The Game of Go - Many people find the game of Go relaxing, and the rules are very simple.
  • Go Board Game - You want to place your stones on the board so your opponent can't capture them.
  • Go a Go-Go - The ancient Chinese may have used the game of Go to train their military.
  • An Entire School Dedicated to the Game of Go - In South Korea, some kids attend a school that is dedicated to mastering the game of Go.
  • Across China, Go Museum Traces History of Traditional Chinese Board Game - Some old Go boards are displayed in museums.
  • The Rules of Go (PDF) - Four people might play Go if they form teams of two players, each player taking turns to move the stones.
  • Rules of Weiqi (Go) (PDF) - Players can either play one stone on a turn or can pass play to give up a turn.

Learn about the author: Ben Thompson