How to Play Go — Beginner’s Guide

What is Go? How to Start Learning the Game of Go?

Go is an ancient strategy board game that was invented in China more than 3000 years ago. The rules are very simple, it only takes 5-10 minutes to learn them. The depth of the game however is fascinating. A few basic elements and principles turn into something magically complex right before your eyes…

We suggest that you start your journey into the game by watching some films centered around Go. You can find them here: Movies and Books about the Game of Go. Once you get in the culture and spirit of the game, it will be easier and more enjoyable to play and make progress.

The Go Fundamentals Trilogy

We’ve created three courses that will teach you the rules and all the basic game principles you need to know. One typically starts playing Go on the small 9×9 board, then moves on to the medium 13×13, and finally to the classic 19×19 board. These three courses follow the same structure: 9-13-19. The goal of this trilogy is to make sure you feel confident when playing on the big board and to help you understand everything that happens in your game.

Skill Tree — More Practice!

In our courses there are practice sections with Go problems (quizzes) between lessons. They are meant to help reinforce the newly acquired knowledge and test your new skills. Surely those quizzes won’t be enough so we’ve created the Skill Tree for some extra practice. It contains a lot more Go problems and those are structured for your convenience. We recommend that you play around with it regularly and solve at least 5-6 quizzes every day.

Try solving problems on your first try, as if this position actually arose in your game. Don’t play a stone until you read the solution to the end.

Don’t get stuck on one skill only, keep moving forward and revisit your previously learnt skills from time to time.

Don’t Forget to Play

Go is a game, first and foremost. Our suggestion is to dedicate 70% of your time to playing and spend the remaining 30% on courses and quizzes. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. What matters is that you play more games, especially at the start.

You can find links to Go servers for online play in Go resources.

Your Roadmap

It’s easy — watch lessons, keep cracking quizzes in the skill tree and play games. If you’d like a slightly more detailed plan, then

  1. Start by learning the rules.
    Solve at least 20 quizzes in the skill tree.
    Play 20 games on 9×9.
  2. Continue with the course on 13×13.
    Solve 30 more quizzes in the skill tree while you are at it.
    Play 20 games on 13×13.
  3. Now that you’ve gained some confidence, you can finally move on to the course on 19×19. (That’s where it all begins!)
    Solve most of the quizzes on the basics of Go in the skill tree.
    Play at least 20 games on 19×19.
  4. Complete the 19×19 course.
    Solve through the rest of the basic skill tree.
    Play 30 more games on 19×19.
  5. After a little break, go through the 19×19 course again.
We guarantee that after a thorough and diligent completion of this plan, you will become at least 12 kyu (OGS or KGS). Otherwise we’ll give you a free personal online lesson.

General Tips

  • Watch the lessons as many times as you need. Nobody is watching behind your back.
  • Try solving Go problems on your first attempt.
  • Go is primarily about people, not about the board and stones. Don’t get carried away playing against AI too much. If there is a Go club in your city, that’s wonderful. If not, try to find a friend, someone with whom you could play and study the game together — it’s more helpful and fun in terms of practice and progress.
  • Try playing against stronger opponents. Sure, this way you will be losing more games but you will be learning faster as well.
  • Don’t strive for victory too much. Learn to accept losses gracefully — it’s a unique and important experience. After a lost game ask your opponent to show you the biggest mistakes you made.
  • Before playing a game, solve one or several quizzes, this will help you warm up, focus and get in the right mood.
  • Don’t forget to get enough sleep and rest. Our brain is particularly good at learning new information and acquiring new skills during sleep.
  • Have fun with Go. If you are tired or seem to have lost interest, take a break and check out our Motivation section.

Got Any Questions?

Go is one of the most complex games in the world, so it’s natural if something doesn’t make sense right away. That’s exactly why we started a Discord server. Join it, we have a very friendly community there. We’ll be happy to help you and answer any of your questions. Or just come in for a chat 🍻