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What is Go?
Last update December 8, 2013
Go is a game played on a board, using small oval markers called stones. The name "Go" is the Westernized version of the Japanese name for the game, which is Igo. In China, the game is called Wei Qi. In Korea, it's Baduk. In any language, it is great fun and an invigorating challenge.
Go predates chess, although it only began to make inroads in the American psyche in the 20th century. Although the basic rules are simple and can be explained in just a few minutes, a player can joyfully spend the rest of his/her life improving their game.
Unlike chess, Go has a handicap system which encourages interesting competitions between players of unequal strength, without changing the basic nature of the game.
Typically, Go is played by 2 persons, using a Go board, a set of white stones, and a set of black stones. The players sit on opposite sides of the Go board, which is marked with a grid of 19 by 19 lines. Each player places one stone at a time on one of the intersections of the 19 by 19 grid. The game is won by the player who ends up with the most points. A standard was of counting points is to count the number of unoccupied grid intersections within the boundaries of a player's territory, and then subtract the number of the player's stones which were captured during the course of play.
The best way to get started playing Go is to find someone who knows how to play and who can help you learn the game. You can check the AGA website for a club in your area. You can also find players online at several online Go sites such as KGS or IGS. Yet another option is to download a free program called IGOWIN that provides a tutorial and plays 9x9 Go on a Windows computer.
For an excellent explanation of the rules, please see http://www.usgo.org/resources/whatisgo.asp, or http://senseis.xmp.net/?BasicRulesOfGo.