Video Tutorial for the Game of Go - Part I, Overview (WeiQi, Baduk)

Uploaded by GoshawkHeron on 27.04.2008

Welcome to the tutorial for the game of Go.
This is part one in which we will give you an overview of
how the game works, to introduce you to what Go is
and why it appeals to so many people.
This part is for anyone who's curious about Go;
if you plan to become a Go player yourself we recommend that you also continue on to
parts two and three of the tutorial.
Go is at least three thousand years old and is the oldest board game still played.
It originated in China and from there spread through the rest
of Asia, where it has historically been considered one of the
four treasured arts that any cultured person should pursue.
Though the roots of Go are ancient,
it's still a fresh and vital game today.
It's popular across Asia and has
a growing following in the western world as well.
And even after thousands of years of study
dedicated to the game, today's Go professionals
are constantly trying out new moves
and working out new ideas.
Go starts with the simplest of materials
and the simplest of rules,
and from those simple beginnings builds
something of intricate and subtle beauty.
To play the game we use a board,
on which is a grid of lines,
and some black stones, and some white stones.
The number of lines in the board can vary
but there are three commonly-used sizes:
On a board with nine lines in each direction
a game could take five or ten minutes.
On a 13x13 board a game might take half an hour.
The official-size board is 19x19,
on which a game will probably take an hour, or more.
The player with the black stones plays first
and places a stone on a "point",
the intersection where two lines meet,
not inside the squares like checkers or chess.
All the intersections on the board are valid points
including those on the sides and in the corners.
You'll see that some points have a dot on them;
these are called the "star points",
but are there simply to help orient you to where you are on the board,
they don't have any special meanings in playing the game.
Once a stone is played on a point it doesn't move around,
it stays on the same point unless it gets captured,
which brings us to: the rules of Go.
You can think of Go as having three main rules.
Rule number one deals with capture.
When a stone is on the board the empty points
directly adjacent to it are called its "liberties".
So this stone has four liberties.
Notice that we only count along the lines, not diagonally.
If an opponent's stone takes one of those spaces
the black stone now has three liberties, then two
(of course, in a game, white doesn't get to make all these
moves in a row; we're just illustrating the rule here)
then one.
When the last liberty is taken the stone is captured;
it's removed from the board and kept as white's prisoner.
Rule number two says that any stones of the same color
on adjacent points
are counted together for the purposes of liberties.
So these two stones form one unit which has six liberties.
If they are all eventually filled in by the opponent's stones
the two black stones are captured as a unit.
Any number of stones that are on adjacent points
are treated as one unit. For instance, this is a single unit,
and if you count the liberties you'll see there are fifteen.
But again, we don't count diagonally as being adjacent.
For instance, these two stones have no special relationship in the game;
they're simply two single stones, each with the standard four liberties.
Rule number three says that when you play a stone
you count its captures before you count its liberties.
This sounds complicated but it's easy to understand once you see it work.
In this case black cannot play a stone in the center space of the white stones;
there are no liberties there for black.
But if we surround the white group with black stones
the situation is different.
Now the center space becomes the last white liberty.
When black plays there, by rule number three
the capture is counted first (after which, of course,
the new black stone has plenty of liberties.)
And that's pretty much it for the rules of the game
(aside from one special rule that we'll get to in part two);
everything else about Go follows from putting these
simple rules into action.
The foremost implication that derives from the three rules
is the concept of life and death.
The black group in this example is
unconditionally alive; by the rules of the game
there's nothing white can do to capture it.
This is because it has two separate empty spaces
that guarantee that these stones will always have a liberty.
White can't play a stone in either of the empty
spaces because the existence of the other empty
space means that the black stones still have a
liberty and therefore rule number three doesn't come into play.
We call these empty spaces "eyes", and this
brings up what's probably the basic tenet of Go:
"Two eyes is alive".
The example group here is a trivial case;
living groups will end up having all kinds of different shapes,
and their eyes will end up having different shapes,
but the basic principle remains the same.
This group, however,
it is not yet alive. Even though there's actually
more empty space the middle of this group,
black has not yet divided it into two eyes
to make life. If it's white's turn
a play at that same point means that
this group is now dead;
there's nothing black can do now to save it.
Let's look at why.
Black can't even try to capture the white stone
because this just reduces the black group to one
liberty and white can just capture it immediately.
But if black just tries to ignore it
white can just wait as long as necessary
and then force the issue.
Black can try to struggle by capturing,
but white just plays here again,
and the liberties just keep being used up
until finally the group gets captured.
So here we see the flip side of life and death:
"One eye is dead".
So, at the end of a Go game each side will
end up with some living groups around the board
and perhaps some captured stones.
Take this game for example:
the main part of each side's score
comes from counting the amount of open territory enclosed by each side's groups.
The points surrounded by black's groups are shown by the circles.
You may notice that there are some white stones inside black's territory;
at some point in the game both sides recognized
that these stones could not be saved by white, and
neither side wanted to waste any more moves there.
There's an implicit agreement that the stones
are dead and at the end of the game
they're counted as black's prisoners.
The circles here are white's points.
You may also notice that white has not divided the empty area into two eyes.
Again, both sides can see that there's plenty of room there for white to make two eyes,
no matter what black does, so neither side
found it useful to waste moves in that area.
So we take the surrounded territory for each player
and to that we add the number of prisoners that the've captured during the game
to get the total points for each side.
So now you can see that
the object of the game is not capture;
capture is just something that may happen during the game.
The object of the game is balance;
you get the same number of moves as your opponent
so you must spread your stones out to enclose the greatest amount of territory but
not let them get so far apart that they're separated
and can't come together to form living groups.
It's this skillful balance and efficient play
that will win games.
Also, since balance is not a cut-and-dried notion,
the main skill use in the game is not calculation.
Though calculation is sometimes used in a game,
the main skill developed through Go is judgment.
This explains why Go has been so respected in Asia for millennia;
balance and judgment are the real things that a Go player should take away with them
when the match is over.
This concludes the overview portion of the tutorial.
We hope that it has given you a general appreciation for the game.
If you plan to become a Go player yourself
you'll want to continue on to the next segment
which will give you some essentials for preparing to play.