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Beginner's Go Glossary

Here are some simple terms you'll encounter as you start your journey with Go. Start at the beginning and read straight through! More detailed glossaries are available at the British Go Journal, Sensei's Library or Learn Baduk.

The Game Of Go

Go, Baduk (Korean), Weiqi (Chinese), iGo (Japanese) - Most popular names for the ancient game of Go.

Goe, Wei-chi, Wei Chi, Paduk, "The Surrounding Game", "The Way of Go", "The Teachings of Go", "Hand Conversation", "Talking with Stones" - alternate (anglicized) names referring the the game of Go. More Go names.

Stones and Stone Arrangements

Stone - playing piece. One player plays Black Stones, one player plays White Stones. Can be made from a variety of materials including clam shell & slate, glass, plastic, and stone (agate, marble), magnetic material. Sometimes plastic stones have metal inserted for weight or magnet inserted for metallic boards.

Board - the playing surface containing the grid. Can be made of a wide variety of materials including wood, paper, vinyl, cloth, leather, cardboard, magnetized.

Grid - the horizontal and vertical lines printed, painted or etched on the board. Stones are placed on the intersections, including the sides and corners.

Star Points - dots on the playing grid in specific symmetrical locations used for reference and handicap stones. Common grid sizes, referring to the number of lines, are 9x9 (beginner), 13x13 (intermediate), and 19x19 (advanced).

Handicap - A certain number of stones placed on the board before play to equalize the play for differently-skill players. Handicaps do not significantly change the style of play, they simply give both players a challenge regardless of relative skill level.

Komi (Compensation) - the number of points given to white for playing second, designed to balance the score between players. The value generally used is 7.5 (the .5 prevents a draw). In AGA rules, komi is 0.5 for a handicap game.

Connected - a player's stones adjacent along grid lines (not diagonal) are considered "connected"
Chain, Unit, String - more than one stone, all connected along grid lines (not diagonal).
Group - one or more chains that cooperate, such as living or dying together.
Liberties - a stone or group's open spaces along the grid lines
Eye, eyespace - internal liberty, group of surrounded spaces
Atari - a group or stone's position of having only one liberty

Capture - a group is captured when it has no liberties.

Life/Death, Alive/Dead - condition of a group of stones on whether they can survive to the end of the game.

Two eyes - a group having two eyes, one way to guarantee life and avoid capture.

False Eye - an arrangement that looks like an eye though the enclosure includes unconnected stones. Sometimes mistaken for an eye, this can often be compromised.

Stone Placement and Tactics

Connect - to play along a grid line adjacent to your own stone or group

Attach - a stone played along a grid line adjacent to the opponent's stone or group
Cut, Connect, Run - basic moves for placing stones

Ladder, Net - basic methods for capturing opponents stones

Ko, Double Ko, Ko Fight, Ko Threat - moves characterized by both players' single stone sequentially in Atari . There are special rules around Ko, and for more advanced players there are strategies around Ko involving a Ko Threat.

Tenuki -  playing somewhere else. Black plays tenuki by not answering White's last move locally, but instead adding a move in another part of the board.

Describing the Game Arc and Problem Solving

Opening (Fuseki) - the opening moves of the game. Generally characterized by moves in the corners and sides with players staking out territories.

Middle Game (Chuban)- The middle of the game. Generally characterized as after Fuseki and before Yose and containing approaches, responses, and Ko Fights.

Endgame (Yose) - The period of play near the end of the game. Generally characterized by connecting or otherwise safeguarding remaining groups.

Tsumego - Go Problems based on determining or ensuring life-and-death
Joseki - studied isolated Fuseki problems: "Corner Moves".

Level 2

After you've learned the above go terms, try these.

Sente - The root meaning is playing first. Can apply to a player, move, or position. Describing the ability to play anywhere without having to respond to your opponents move.

Gote - opposite of sente. A move, state, or position that has lost or will lose the initiative.

Hane - "Turn the corner", playing at a diagonal from your existing stone attached to an opponent's stone.

Moyo -
is an area where one player has a large influence, and which potentially could become that player's territory.

Miai - denotes that there are two different options such that, if one player takes one, the other player can take the other. It typically does not matter which player gets which option, but sometimes each player has only one of the options.

Tesuji - a clever play, the best play in a local position, a skillful move, or a special tactic.

Seki - mutual life; where two live groups share liberties which neither of them can fill without dying.

Dame - neutral point. An empty point (or area) between forces of the two sides, often of little or no interest to either side.