A Beginner's Introduction to GO


I. What is Go?

Go is a board game for two players. It is a game of pure skill, like chess, checkers, or even tic-tac-toe (3-in-a-row). There is no element of chance in Go -- no dice or cards. It is one of the world's oldest games. It was invented in China at least 2500 years ago, and it may be closer to 4000 years old. It is played by about 25 million people all over the world, but is most popular in the Oriental countries of China, Japan, and Korea. The rules are very simple, and the game can be enjoyed by beginners. But it is probably the most difficult game in the world to master. The best players in the world devote their entire lives to studying it, and there are still many things that even they do not understand. There is a very good handicap system in Go which allows players of different skill levels to play each other and enjoy the game. It can also be played on boards of different sizes, so that beginners can play smaller and simpler games than experienced players.

In the pages that follow, the rules of GO will be stated and explained (with lots of examples), some of the basic principles will be outlined, and a complete sample game will be presented. This "Beginner's Introduction to GO" was originally a 25 page printed document, and it was intended to be read in sequence. By clicking on the "Next Page" links at the bottom of each page, you will be able to read it that way. For impatient readers, or those who already know something about GO, you may navigate more quickly using the table of contents above. If you would prefer to read a copy on paper, a complete uncompressed PDF version (293k) of the original document is available.

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