Play Go Now!

A Guide for the Complete Beginner

Step 1: Learn The Basics (15-30 minutes)

"Go is an activity in which two people who love puzzles take turns giving each other presents." -- Jim Conyngham

"Go is equally comparable to music, boxing and mathematics." -- Noriyuki Nakayama 8P

Go is a two-person strategic board game, invented in China millennia ago (Confucius wrote about it), and still played today just as it was then. Wildly popular in Asia, it is oddly unknown here, one of the West's best-kept secrets. Welcome to a small but growing "in" group who have discovered the ultimate mind sport!

Go is the essence of simplicity. The rules and object of Go can be stated in nine words: "Take turns placing stones; control more of the board." That's it! But without further understanding of the meaning and implication of those words, new players often find the game a little confusing.

Go is also the essence of complexity. A player can place a stone on any of the 361 intersections of the board. As a result, the number of possible positions far exceeds the number of subatomic particles in the known universe! If you seek quick mastery, look elsewhere. But for those who are looking for a game with fathomless depths of understanding, worthy of time spent, you have come to the right place. If you still aren't intrigued, have a look at The American Go Association's "Top Ten Reasons To Play Go."

Learning to play is easy, with multiple programs and demonstrations to choose from:

  • a visually based interactive tutorial, is a good place to begin.
  • The Learn to Play pages on will give you an introduction that will display without Java or Flash.
  • The KGS Go Server also has a Java tutorial, and it's a great place to get online and start playing too.
  • Igowin will help you get started and then play against you on a 9x9 board.
  • Smart Go is both a computer opponent, and a study aid, available for a 14-day free trial. See below for more on these programs.
  • Next: Lose 100 Games As Quickly As Possible »


    Our video library can teach you how to play, click here for more help »