9x9 -> 13x13 -> 19x19

9x9 -> 13x13 -> 19x19 seems like an obvious progression for a total beginner like me.

Two questions:

  • Does it actually make sense to learn the game this way, or these are totally different games with skills which couldn’t be transferred from one board size to other?

  • What is the clear and reasonable criteria when one should transition to bigger board?


Play on whatever board you find to be the most fun, until you don’t find it fun anymore, then try another one.


First obvious thing is that if a size suits you for fun, then that’s what you would play.

But if your goal is actually to play “standard” or “proper” Go at 19x19 then…

my experience, just coming out the end of this, is that:

  • 9x9 is good for learning the rules
  • It’s worth trying 19x19 when you know the rules, to get a feel what you’re going to need to know, and where it is all going. This will illuminate what you focus on in 9x9.
  • Return to 9x9 to learn “life and death”. 9x9 gets right down to counting straight away.
  • 9x9 has strategy that doesn’t apply in bigger boards, so if you focus on being “good ranked” at 9x9 you will learn some throw away things
  • The only point of playing 13x13 is if you want smaller shorter games. Otherwise you might as well go to 19x19 and learn the principles in the environment where you want to apply them
  • All the study material/advice/videos are in 19x19 - another reason not to worry about 13x13

I agree with GreenAsJade. 9x9 is good for one more thing, though: playing lots of games quickly. A big part of go is just playing games, feeling out what works, what doesn’t, what you thought would work but is actually a big mistake, etc. On a 19x19 board, or even 13x13, these mistakes can take 20 or more moves before it becomes clear that they were a mistake. If you’re newer to the game you won’t associate those events. On a 9x9, that mistake becomes apparent much sooner.


What pbgarden says is true … with the caveat that there are many different kinds of mistake you can make, only a few of which 9x9 even exposes you to.

That’s why I reckon once you have some confidence “fighting”, then it’s time to find out what other kinds of challenges there are on 19x19.