Category Archives: Rules

Chin-San Qualification at Moscow Education On-line

Department for Go and Strategy holds an assessment using Chin-San system in Holiday Inn Sokolniki.

MOSCOW Education Online 2011 Exhibitionvisitors may pass the test composed of the most ancient Chinese games those lived so far.

The problems are composed by the staff of the Russian school for Go and Strategy. We invite you to go through the assessment and have a certificate of the game knowledge.



Go step by step with “Voskhojdenie”


Igor Grishin: Timur, in the short rules description there was one that we had held back saying it was not significant for beginners. May be it is high time to tell about it?

Timur Saitov: Certainly, Igor! This rule is called the rule of Ko. Let’s take a look at the stone marked with a triangle.

Diagram 33

If white takes it …

Diagram 34

… the stone will be in the position with only one breathing space. If black captures it there will be the same situation as two moves before. Here black and white can capture stones forever. To avoid this there is a rule of Ko (which means “Eternity” in Japanese): moves that lead to the repetition of the same situation on the board are prohibited.

But can black capture the white stone after all? Yes, he can. But. to do this black should play somewhere else thus creating a new situation on the board. So, this disputed stone can be captured, but only if you have played somewhere else before.

Igor Grishin: Wonderful, Timur! Having learned the rules our readers can easily say that they play with the strength of 30 kyu. Kyu – is the degree of mastery of Go that shows your strength and understanding of Go. The degrees can be student’s ones- kyu, and master’s ones – Dans. With the increase of your mastery your kyu will decrease. The “strongest” kyu is the 1st one. Dans, on the opposite, increase with the increasing of your mastery from 1st to 9th.

But the thing is that kyu and Dans are not just ranks.

What do we have next?

Timur Saitov: Igor, let’s speak on where people can play Go. Go can be played in Go clubs or online:

KGS. Kiseido Go Server

It is rather a big server. There are a lot of players there. To play there you need to download a client software. To make it work you will need to install Java on your PC. If you want to have a rank and want your games to be saved on the server you need to register. The most interesting thing is that it supports Russian language.

IGS. The Internet Go Server

It is one of the biggest Go servers. Thousands of players play there at the same time. The language is English. Most of the players are Japanese, Koreans, and lots of Americans. But there are only a few Russians. The interface is rather convenient.


Only Japanese people play on this server. There are only few people playing. You can play without any client software, but in order to register you will need to sign in as a guest and only then you will be able to register. It is not very easy to do, but some people may like it.

Igor Grishin: But some people still prefer to play live Go, using a wooden board. I admit I’m one of them.

Timur Saitov: Yes, of course, Igor. Live Go and Internet Go can be combined. Moreover, I’ve got some simple questions for our readers I’d like to ask. Here they are:

1. What is more interesting personally for you: to play or to work?

a. No doubt, to play is a lot more interesting!
b. Working is much more interesting for me!

2. How do you prefer to play: alone or together with your friends?

a. I love playing alone!
b. Playing alone is boring – together is much better!

3. Do you get upset when you lose a game of Go?

a. Yes! A lot!
b. Not really, it’s just a game, you know!

4. What do you like best: to finish up a game or it is not so necessary for you?

a. Every game should be finished!
b. It doesn’t matter, if you ask me

You can send your answers to these questions as comments to or to the game forum

Igor Grishin: You’ve got nice questions, Timur! It makes me want to pick out one of the choices or sometimes even both of them.

Timur Saitov: Your answers, Igor, and questions of the kind can be found on Internet site of Go Master’s Questions and Answers. I do recommend our readers to visit it. The address is As far as I know, it was you who started this genre in Russia. And it became very popular among masters and beginners of the game. So everybody can feel where the wind came from. By the way, Igor, would you mind saying a few words about your own method of teaching and self-teaching of Go?

Igor Grishin: Why not if it helps any!

The aim of the game of go is to divide the board space between black and white. The idea of Go is to take your eyes off the board.

The nature of the game of go is competitive. The nature of Go is self-perfection.

Why do we play Go? Because it’s interesting! The game of Go is rich, extraordinary, unique among all other board games, right?

Why do we study Go? To become Masters of Go!

A True Master of Go is a person who left the bounds of the game itself behind. He stepped outside the game…. He stepped outside the result…

Why? Because only there, outside the board, Go begins to realize itself. Go improves and educates all the human evolution centers. It helps us to see new opportunities in our life. Go helps us to build our life, our country. It teaches us, while pointing out the main things, gently and with care treat all the minor and secondary things.

Go teaches us to see and to think.

Seeing means new levels of perception… Levels that we have never reached before.

Thinking means giving life to new ideas… Ideas that come true along the way.

Masters are not necessarily champions, not necessarily the strongest players. Who are they then? Master is the one who left the border lines of victories and losses and helps others to do so.

That’s why Masters of Go are always ready to crush their strength for the true purpose of mastery. If they can’t crush the strength with one single strike, they are able to chop it gradually with constant attempts, trying steadily and irreversibly. It draws themselves together with themselves, together with other people, and consequently together with Go. This is called an Achievement in Go. The one who keeps telling everybody around about his strength, about his rank and so on is extremely far away from the strength and from Go, and from traditions.

But to crush your strength you need to try to gain it first. For this we use the game of Go and, competing in the game, train our abilities and polish techniques acquired at the Go school.

How do I teach Go.

I work as a teacher since 1989. I began as an instructor of martial arts. I trained children and grown-ups. For both of the categories there should be its own approach. Only few of the teaching techniques are universal. I’m always in the process of a constant look-out and try to give the material that gives birth to creativity in all of my students, including myself.

During a year I can teach 3 adult students. No more.

In my Go teaching program I try to reveal the form and the contents of Go on the way to the mastery. Studying according to my program, an industrious student reaches the strength of 1-st Kyu – 1-st Dan in a year. The method is simple, and it doesn’t need learning books by heart or using complicated calculations. We try to achieve the very systematic learning, building not less than 5 elements connected between each other. The systematic approach is the key to the problem of Go. Usually I switch between the pentads according to the individual peculiarities of my student. Afterwards, we try to make all the elements cooperate.

But personally I think that the achievement of one or another rank in Go is not the main point in the practice of Go. One can chase the rank in his childhood, or if he has truly decided to spend a lot of his personal time and resources. In all the other cases the rank itself will not bring any satisfaction at all. To come in Go, spend you time, but not to understand the idea… Why have you been going for that? Isn’t that a strange result?

I try to convince people that the chase of this kind of result isn’t necessary.

Go is a special instrument which is used for cultivating some kind of substance for it to become mastery. To come in Go and not to gain mastery can be compared with the situation when a person, who had come to the shoe shop bought only someone’s shoe-box. Mastery is something more than rating.

There is a saying in the East that one should study only with a good teacher.

A good teacher and his student both always make great efforts to find out why the student needs it. A good teacher is not always the strongest player in the world. The strength always shuts one’s eye and prevents one from seeing. And it happens everywhere. The strength is sharp. The temptation of it is endless. Mastery is like a tableland in the up-hills. It is the tableland where you can live, see friends. You can make hikes up and down. To the side where there is more or less strength. Your expeditions you choose yourself, preparing a great deal for them. You can always come to your tableland – you are not a condemned wanderer who is trying to climb yet another mountain starving to death.

Mastery connects us with people, strength – with the spirit of fights.

It is hard to find yourself in my class. If you have found my name in a commercial you’d better find out whether I teach the course myself or it is one of my students only with my signature under the course.

It is good to study two or three times a week during two hours. But it is right to arrange an experimental course (5 lessons) and then a one-year course if you’d like. You shouldn’t give yourself less time. It can badly influence your nervous system, and besides it will not speed you up. Studying with a teacher you should trust the system your teacher has chosen. That very man has already taken the responsibility for your success. There is no need now to spend your energy on doubts and compares.

All the available resources are to be spent on the system. It is good if you can practice such strategic principles as “not to step out from the school for ten years”, “not to pull the sprouts”. Learning is something more than giving the very energy you need. One should study only on the key field. The key field of your improving. The field itself is always hidden from humans. Learning is an alliance of the student and the teacher the aim of which is the victory in the war. In the war for self-educating.

Timur Saitov:
Thanks, Igor. I think that our readers will appreciate your ideas, and those ideas will help to uncover the non-playing aspects of Go. In conclusion I’ll take the risk quoting the follow up steps of the beginner according to the recipe of the club “Voskhozhdenie”. I personally like those points:

1. Start from the easy looking through the history of Go. Just for self-educating…
2. Find a club, talk about the conditions, have a ride to it and look around to see what happens there – it takes time. But it will pay in the long run.
3. First look more. It is not necessary to think about the Game itself.
4. If the soul would like – find and buy a set.
5. The set should include a board, bowls, and stones. Otherwise it is not a set.
6. Now you can drink good tea and softly put the stones on the board. You are already in art!
7. Think and find the environment where your art will improve.
8. It is good to get some books. Of Masters.
9. Without a system your path is curvy. Try to find one. Who will you be studying with? With a teacher or with friends online?
10. Start a very delicate propaganda among your friends. It is easier to create in a friendly atmosphere…
11. Let yourself go to some far away competition. I would like to sharpen your attention. You are not a tourist. You’re a member of the ancient Brotherhood. Of the Game of Go.

Igor Grishin: Timur, let’s give a list of the Internet sites, that can be useful for beginners and strong players or will help them to find answers to the questions we haven’t looked through here.

Timur Saitov: Ok, here are some sites in Russian:

The game of Go for beginners
Russian Go portal
Go Forum”>
Go in Korea
FAQ on the game of Go
Go teaches us to see
Go Federation News
Classic Go in Diagrams
Go kindergarten
Dances on Goban
Jokes from the Master of Go
The Go Federation
Snail slowly climb up the hill of stones
the game of Go and the Tea club where you can play

Wish you all the best success in mastering the wisdoms of the game of Go. Wish you success in the path of Go.

Special thanks to Sania Mamleeva for wonderful pictures here.

Go step by step with “Voskhojdenie”

//… continuation …//

Igor Grishin: Timur! The beginners are usually taught on the prohibited moves, can you tell us about them?

Timur Saitov: With pleasure, Igor. So, the here are the prohibited moves.

//Diagram 18//

If black puts a stone on the crossing marked A, it will appear for us that it is already captured and should be taken off the board. This kind of move is a “suicide” and is prohibited. But…

//Diagram 19//

… if we change the position a bit, in this situation we see that the stones marked with triangles have only one mutual breathing space. Now, if black puts a stone in the place marked ‘A’ he will capture white stones (see Diagram 20).

//Diagram 20//

The two white stones become prisoners and are taken off the board.

//Diagram 21//

It appears now that a “prohibited move” is allowed if you capture your opponent’s stones (one or some – it doesn’t matter).

Igor Grishin: Thanks, Timur! Then tell us, please, about eyes. What is it?
Timur Saitov: Two eyes is an attribute of a group that can’t be captured.
Now, when we know that with some particular circumstances prohibited moves are allowed , it would seem to us that any group can be captured, but it’s not so. There are groups of stones in Go that can’t be captured. Let’s take a look at the group of stones in Diagram 22.

//Diagram 22//

Theoretically it can be surrounded with white stones like in Diagram 23

//Diagram 23//

… and after putting a white stone in the only vacant point …

//Diagram 24//

…the whole black group will be taken off the board.

Igor Grishin: Such point is called “an eye”.
Timur Saitov: Yes, you are right, Igor. Now let’s add some more stones to this group.

//Diagram 25//

White can surround such group, if black plays somewhere else and do not answer the white’s moves. (Diagram 26).

//Diagram 26//

But to capture this group one should put stones both at A and B points. If white moves at A blacks still have a breathing point at B which means that you can’t move at A. This is a prohibited move, as if white moves at A he does not capture anything. So, to capture this group you should make two prohibited moves. Unfortunately, you can’t do that according to the rules of Go. Consequently, this group can’t be captured. They say about such group that it has two eyes. A group with two eyes can’t be captured and taken off the board in any way.

Igor Grishin: Yes, Timur, eyes is a special feature of Go. You told us about it simply and precisely.

Timur Saitov: It was a pleasure for me to tell you about eyes, as they give life to stones in Go. Here are some examples of groups with “two eyes”. I placed them on an empty board; and without any – of white stones (Diagram 27). Academically, I should say. But I hope that the reader will understand that it’s not necessary to build eyes without any threatening opponent’s stones in the neighborhood. This is done, so to say, in case of emergency.

//Diagram 27//

Igor Grishin: There are real eyes and false eyes…

Timur Saitov: Yes! I think it will be very interesting for our readers to get to know about the so called false eyes.
Question. Does the group in Diagram 28 have two eyes?

//Diagram 28//

In B point there is an eye no doubt. It seems as in A there is another one.
But, is it an eye?

//Diagram 29//

If white surrounds the black group we will see that a stone, marked with a triangle, is under a threat of being taken off.

//Diagram 30//

Indeed, the stone can be captured by white. Consequently, now with move B…

//Diagram 31//

… white can take off the whole group.

//Diagram 32//

If black connects they will have only one eye left at B, this means capturing as well.

//… to be continued …//

Go step by step with “Voskhojdenie”

… continuation …

Igor Grishin: 10 rules of playing Go (or Weiqi) on the board

1. In the beginning the board is clear.
2. First move is by black, then in turn.
3. A stone is put on a vacant crossing and doesn’t move
4. Players need to divide the board between each other enclosing parts of the board with their stones. Compete in who can enclose more.
5. If one stone or group of stones is surrounded with opponent’s stones and has no connection with vacant crossings, it needs to be taken off the board. Captured stones are kept till the end of the game.
6. There are some forbidden places where one can’t put his or her stone. These are the places where there are no vacant crossings or allied stones nearby but only your opponent’s stones. Self-capturing moves are also prohibited.
7. You can put your stone in “prohibited” place if you capture one or more opponent’s stones with this move. Then the opponent’s stones are taken off the board.
8. You can’t capture a single stone right after it had been used to capture your own single stone. You have to make at least one move somewhere else before such “re-capturing”.
9. The game is over when there are no more segments to be enclosed to make them yours.
10. The winner is the person who has the largest sum of enclosed territory and prisoners.

Timur! I’ve got ten rules.

But some of the rules are not clear enough, do you think? In reality playing is much easier. It is a lot harder to word it. Let the reader try himself, may he can explain the rules easier.

By the way, I have a lot simpler formula that our kids use when instructing beginners.
It sounds like this:

“Go – is a very interesting game,
we begin on a clear board,
first move black, then in turn,
a stone is put on a crossing and can no longer move,
the aim is to divide the board, enclosing it,
stones can be captured,
the captured stones are those that have no more “branches”,
the one who has more territory and captured stones wins.
There is only one rule, that we haven’t mentioned, but we can play without it for now.
Let’s play!”

In my perspective, it is a lot better not only to play Go, but to learn Go. However you call the thing you do so it will be for you. At that occasionally happens so.

That’s why I decide to work out my …

10 rules of how to play Go in life

1. First you have no ideas as well as stones.
2. Life moves first.
3. A stone is a deed and it almost can’t be changed.
4. Playing with life, you should build a territory, where your control is as real as life itself.
5. Your stones-deeds can get surrounded and taken off the board, especially, if they are most precious for you. Life never surrounds useless stones.
6. There are times when deeds are not possible. You will be able to understand it yourself.
7. The moves of reality may become surrounded. If this happens, it’s your serious achievement. But you should be able to determine: was it a sacrifice or you’ve taken stones that were of big value.
8. A ko-fight with reality is as real as everything else.
9. It’s easy to realize when the game is over. If you are still alive – the game goes on.
10. Life usually wins, but according to the theory there should be exceptions.

Timur Saitov: Igor! I’ve never met those rules in any of the books. I only saw the ten commandments of Go. I think I’ll take the risk of giving them here.

The ten commandments of Go

The one who is craving for victory will fail.
If you invaded in the opponent’s sphere of influence, be tolerant.
Look behind before you attack.
If you give up a stone, continue fighting.
Give the lesser things, take the greater things.
If your stones are in danger, give them up without hesitating.
Refrain from scattering.
Whenever your opponent attacks you, fight back immediately.
If your opponent strengthens himself, do the same thing.
If you are isolated with no hope to escape, choose a peaceful path.

I took those from the book of the famous Japanese Master, Otake Hideo.

Now I would like to pass over to the topic of breathing, capturing, and connecting.

Diagram 5

Usually a stone has four breathing spaces. They are marked with crosses in the diagram. If a stone is on the side, it has only three breathing spaces. And if a stone is in the corner it has only two of them.

Diagram 6

White puts a stone by the black one. Now the black stone has three breathing spaces.

Diagram 7

Now the black stone has only one breathing space left. And if white puts another stone…

Diagram 8

… the black stone will lose it’s last breathing space and, according to the rules of Go, it should be taken off the board. The stone is taken off by the player who has covered the last breathing space. Without taking the stone off the move isn’t finished.

Igor Grishin: So then stones in Go die of suffocation?
Timur Saitov: Right you are! It happens just this way.

Diagram 9

Surrounded or “suffocated” stone is taken off the board. For each stone that is taken off you get a point at the end of the game. Situation when the stone had only one breathing space left is called atari in Japanese. This means that a stone or a group of stones may be captured with the next move. To capture any group of your opponent’s stones, you should “cover” all the group’s breathing spaces.

Diagram 10

In this picture black stones surrounded a white stone. This means that white stone should be taken off the board.

Diagram 11

As you can see in Diagram 10 and 11, the easiest is to capture a stone in the corner. To do this you need only two moves as it has only two breathing spaces. A stone placed in the center of the board is the hardest to be captured, as it has four breathing spaces.

If you don’t want a stone to be captured, like in Diagram 9, you should increase the number of breathing spaces, for example, by putting a stone by the first one.

Diagram 12

Two stones have six breathing spaces (can you count them?) and it is harder to capture them.


Such adding of a new stone to a stone on the board is called connection of the stones. Two connected stones are considered a group.

Diagram 14

In the diagram there are two stones. They can be captured separately.

Diagram 15

But being connected those stones are very difficult to capture.

Diagram 16

Beginners may think that the two stones are connected, …

Diagram 17

…but in reality they are not connected as they can be captured separately.

… to be continued …

Go step by step with “Voskhojdenie”

by Igor Grishin, Timur Saitov.
Go School “Voskhojdenie”. Moscow, 2006.

translated by Peter Trofimov, Max Yatskar.
Samara, 2006

Timur Saitov: Hello there!
Igor Grishin: Greetings!
Timur Saitov: So, what is Go? I’ll begin with a joke of yours, by the way.

The Master of Go was asked:
- Master, how do you make your living, even though no one knows what Go actually is?
- I answer the question ‘What is Go?” – the Go Master replied, – and as no one knows what it is, I have enough money.

But in fact, Go is a logical-strategical game, a kind of those “intellectual” ones. It first appeared in China, then it traveled over to Japan and further to Korea and so on. From those Eastern countries it was exported to us. The age of this wonderful game may approach 5000 years.

I’ll tell you a parable:

“A Sage, contemplating the stream of the river near his house, was putting out white stones on a flat cut of a tree-stump every day, creating inimitable pattern.

Everyone has one’s own way to understanding the things…

Maybe he thought, that contemplating the beauty, he will be able to reach the essence of all the things, copying a passing painting of harmony, he might understand everything?

At the same time there was another Teacher, who was obliged to point out on people’s imperfection and defects. He traveled around the world with a sack of black stones and in front of every worthy person he put out some black stones, which were one’s flaw that were crossing his or her way…

So, once upon a time, in the early morning, the Sage arranged himself by a piece of wood and was going to get down to his usual business, when right in front of him appeared a strange man. He laid on the board a black stone, symbolizing the Sage’s flaw. The Sage started meditating trying to find the only defect of his. At last he figured it out and the only thing he was to do is to put out a white stone in return. So the game of Go began: the black stone pointed out the disturbance of harmony, while the white stone restored it.

When both of the sages finished playing they were both relieved and faded away”.

How does Go look like?

A set of Go consist of the following contents:
A board – the field of the game, including 19 vertical and 19 horizontal lines.

N.B. Lines, not squares like in chess.

The field looks the following way:

Boards of 9×9 or 13×13 are very often used for beginners.

The “pieces” in Go are called “stones”. The stones are of two colors, there are 180 stones of each color. Usually the two colors are black and white, but some of the sets contain stones of different colors (for example, red and green). Most common form of stones is lenticular form, but flat stones are also popular. Black stones are usually made a bit bigger than white ones, because black stones look like they are a bit smaller. The stones are made of plastic, glass, ceramics, pottery, sea shells, and even semiprecious stones. The stones are stored in bowls. The bowls are made of wood and are decorated with ornaments.

The Basic Rules of Go

Go is played by two players at a time. One of them plays with black stones and another one plays with white stones. First the black player moves, then white and so on. As soon as a stone is on the board it can no longer be moved (but under particular circumstances it can be taken off the board).

The aim of the game is to surround as much territory as you can with your stones. The territory is all the vacant crossings of the lines. The side crossings are counted as well. As soon as there are no more useful moves left both players say “pass”. The game is over.

Diagram 1

There are six white stones in this diagram that surrounded 9 points in the corner.

Diagram 2

There six white stones on the side surrounded 4 points of territory.

Diagram 3

In the center white stones have only 2 points, but they still used six stones.

From all these examples we can come up to a conclusion, that to surround points in the corner or on the side is much wiser than to do it in the center.

Diagram 4

Here is an example of a finished game. The game is meant to be over when all the territory is divided between the players. Black has 16 points and white has 17 points. White won by a point.

… to be continued …