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Go Etiquette

​Go: The game of Go is an international mind sport. It originated from China thousands of years ago. Its official name is “Wei-qi” in Chinese, “I-go” in Japanese, “Baduk” in Korean, and “Go” in English.

Common Go etiquette for before and during the game:

  1. Before the game: Bowing to each other is a formal global greeting before playing the first move.

  2. Komi: Black has the advantage of playing the first move. To compensate White, the komi rule began in the mid 20th century. Komi will depend on the rule set that is used. During scoring, White receives 7.5 points in AGA rules, 3 and ¾ stones in Chinese rules (equivalent to 7.5 points), and 6.5 points in Japanese and Korean rules.

  3. Nigiri (choosing for color): Nigiri will only happen in an even game. In professional tournaments, the player who holds a higher dan level grabs a random number of White stones in one hand, and places them on the board. The second player chooses odd (by placing one Black stone) or even (by placing two Black stones down) on the board. If the parity matches, the guessing player will take Black; otherwise, White. In certain rule sets, the player that guessed correctly can choose.

  4. First Move Rule: The player who plays Black stones should always start the first move in their upper right corner.

  5. Avoid bad habits: 

  • Making noises with stones or in other ways.

  • Taking a stone without the intention of playing a move.

  • Sliding stones on the board.

  • Dangling and swinging stones on the top of board.

  • Throwing stones onto a Go board or into a Go bowl.

   6. Do not break the rules:

  • Talking and discussing game variations during the game.

  • Talking about other people’s game next to the players when the game has not finished.


Common Go etiquette for ending and after the game:

  1. How to Resign: In some situations, one player has an outstanding lead which the other player thinks they cannot recover from. If the latter player decides that it is not necessary to continue to the end, then the player may say “I resign” with a clear voice, press the clock when it is not their turn, or placing 2 stones on the board to indicate resignation.

  2. Clearing up Stones: After the result of the game has been determined, the players should stop the clock, clear up their stones from the board and place them back into the bowl, put the cap on the bowl, and place the closed bowl of stones at the center of the board.

  3. After the game: In professional tournaments, the players will bow to each other once again. Due to players’ language backgrounds often being different, saying “thank you for the game” is considered optional (as the other player may not understand). In western countries, it is common practice to shake hands and say “thank you for the game”.

© New York Go Association

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