Isaac’s Go Corner
Fellow Citizens of Port Katherine! It has delighted me to see the slow spread of interest in Go around town (the board game played on a grid with black and white stones). It is my hope that interest will continue to spread, and to encourage that I am willing to give 10d to anyone who can beat me on a standard 19x19 board. I would also be delighted to play a regular, noncompetitive game for free (or a predetermined wager outside of my original offer, if you’re feeling saucy).
A few people mentioned that they were intimidated by the size of the board, so I’m also putting in effort to bring in 3 boards next time, each of a different size (19x19, 13x13, and 9x9).
Go is one of the oldest games in the world, and has been played for thousands of years. Travelers have brought it all over the world on sailing ships, but it is believed to have originated somewhere around Tojima. Some believe the stones have fortune telling properties. In the past, Go has been used to teach military strategy to aspiring Tacticians. Even today the game is lauded for having simple rules and concepts, but extremely complex strategy.
How to Play
The rules of Go are simple. There are two players, represented by the stones (one player takes Black, the other White). Black always goes first. The players alternate placing stones on the intersecting lines on the board (not within the squares) with two goals in mind:
- Surrounding areas of the board to collect “Territory” (each empty line intersection is a single point of territory)
- Capturing your opponents stones by completely surrounding them.
Stones do not move or leave the board unless they are captured. At the end of the game, each player tallies up how many points of territory they have, and how many opponents stones they have captured for their final score.
In the above diagram, Black has 16 points of territory, while White has only 11, so Black wins by 5 points. Neither player captured stones in this example.
When a stone is placed on a line intersection, it has “health points”, known as “Lines of Liberty”. These exist in the form of the lines jutting out from the stone. In order to capture a stone, or group of stones, you must fully cut off its Lines of Liberty.
The single White stone in the above example started life with 4 lines of liberty. In the first image, 3 of those 4 lines have been cut off. In the second image, Black finishes the job by cutting off the final line and capturing the stone. Sometimes though, groups of stones can be a bit more complicated:
The above shape of White stones had a total of 7 Lines of Liberty, and like in the previous example, Black has already surrounded 6 of the 7 lines. In the final image, Black captures all three stones by cutting off the last Line of Liberty.
NOTE - Simply surrounding the opponent’s stones with a ring your own does not capture them, so long as the stones still possess Lines of Liberty. Playing within an opponent’s territory is actually an excellent strategy to reduce their total points!
I love Go, and I love that people have been trying it. There are a few more complicated rules I didn’t mention here because they are easier to explain in person, but this is literally the complete basics you need to start playing. Feel free to approach me in the Tavern if you’d like to play or learn more. Also, feel free to grab the boards and play yourselves without me - That is why they are there!