A Quick Question (actually three big questions about setting up a go club ;) )

I have finally started a Go Club at my high school (I am a high schooler btw), with four experienced players and twelve novices who largely have never played. So this brings me to my three questions:

  1. What is the best way to teach new players quickly and effectively to get them started playing their own games live and on OGS

  2. How should I go about convincing more reluctant people and people who just haven’t heard at all that this club could be something they’re interested in. Keep in mind these are high schoolers so they aren’t the most open minded to a game that could potentially damage their ‘social standing’

  3. Any suggestions for what meetings should be focused on to get a balance of learning as well as playing?

Sorry for the large amount of questions, I just wanted some advice from potentially more experienced individuals



Of course as in any teaching system, there are probably several potential approaches. These are my personal opinions based on some experience teaching go to children, nothing more.

1. Quickly is correct.

  • 9x9 only (For starters)
  • stick to the complete essentials (where to place the stone, alternate moves, captures and possibly liberties, no suicide, some idea about scoring or general goal) and then let them play. Save the lectures for later when they actually want to hear them. Ko can wait, seki can wait, they will find out on their own.
  • If I see interest I sometimes mention how the “no suicide” rule can provide an immortal group, but this too can wait.
  • I guess observe your “prey” and adjust accordingly
  • lot of people might tell you to use Chinese rules. While I have my reservations to how Chinese rules are percieved, it is hard to argue that they are a bit easier to understand. Something to consider. But certainly stick to only one ruleset, do not mess with their heads too soon

2. Being a tech heavy generation I usually had some success with the modern applications.

  • last game to “resist” computer dominance, neural networks… It is quite fascinating. But some of the historical aspects are quite alluring too.
  • There are several series/movies/books about go. If you can convince them to watch/read some (or screen them during some appropriate lecture) they might catch on
  • You have close to 20 players already though, maybe focus more on them instead of spending too much effort on potential new ones? They might bring their friends on their own, and it would be the most natural way…

3. Personally I would be carefull about too much theory in the beginnings.
Show some cool tsumego/tesuji/concept/most common mistake from past games add some fun fact and move to playing? I have never actually run a regular meetings club, so I don’t really know, but I don’t think they will be too interested in complicated lectures at the start. You can always add more, when you see they are getting more interested about the technicalities :slight_smile:

Of course best of luck. Send us a picture sometime (at your first group tournament for example :stuck_out_tongue: )

Yeah, it was three… We can cope with numbers in the vicinity of three… :smiley:


Just make sure

  1. You’re always there
  2. Someone else can sub when you aren’t
  3. To bring snacks
  4. To start regular events, something to look forward to.

The first two points just mean that if there isn’t a rock-solid foundation, i.e. if people can’t 100% rely on the fact that someone’s gonna be in room X at time Y, it will fall apart.

Everything else will probably depend on the members. People are very different.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that if you try to push people to get results - even if they wanted results and wanted to be pushed, there’s a 90% chance they’ll quit.

Members who stay on for more than 3 months are likely to stick with it, so then it’d be useful to have something to help them motivate themselves. Maybe an inhouse ladder or whatever. It would be ideal to compete against other school clubs, but in all likelihood you’re the only club in your region.

On the topic of how to approach the actual game, I’d consider using NZ rules.
They’re the most consistent and easy to explain.


In this thread

there was a really good link:

which i would recommend for teaching beginners


One of the oldest board game in history.
It can improve memory, logic, reasoning, deep level thinking skills, creative skills, asthetics, etc

Like AdamR mentioned 9x9, and just let them play. Whether it be losing or winning, it will act as motivation to keep them playing.
Then occasionally offer lessons, maybe once a day or once a week for very short sessions

And if they really like this game, tell them to read up on some go books like Learn to Play Go series by Janice Kim (don’t mention to everybody, do it as in secretly one by one lol)
And let them do tsumegos daily, can get sdk within a month easily (like put up one in classroom everyday)
Players tend to love the game more when they find they improve so much
The numbers(rank) rising up and up is very similar to rpg games where they level up and grind nonstop just coz they love the higher levels(rank) status
Stats do matter, you can even list everybodys rank+name
Players can have competitions with similar strength
And once a guy improves rapidly, it will cause the catfish effect, others will study go more seriously to catch up to that guy


It sounds like you are off to a good start, 16 are quite a lot of participants. it is also good to have some experienced players there already. If you think they would like it, you can try to involve them in the teaching rather than having them play each other all the time.

definitely that :smiley:

Unfortunately there is never any guarantee such endeavours will succeed.

All the best!

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can get sdk within a month easily

I would advise against perpetuating this nonsense. Over 50% of all players will never reach SDK.

Having a folder with printed tsumego lying around is useful though. Likewise, I would recommend you provide a printed version of the books River Mountain Go Part 1 and Part 2.

you can even list everybodys rank+name

Only for an opt-in ladder. I recommend free games as the default.

@AdamR mentioned “9x9 only”. I’m not so sure. For the beginners’ games, fair enough, but…
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” That is, have some people play on the 19x board somewhere so the others can kibitz. :slight_smile:

Technicality: The “no suicide” rule doesn’t yield immortal groups, as there’s nothing to prevent you from filling, say, the first of 2 eyes.


You have many good answers already but I can’t help chip in with my limited experience. Firstly, it’s great news that you have started a club - an achievement in itself - and you clearly care to make it work well. With motivation and enthusiasm like that you are most of the way to success!

In terms of your questions:

  1. The rules of Go are simple and can be explained in not many minutes. The difficulty is in ending the game. I like to let children just play with minimal knowledge (black starts, stones on intersections and do not move) and then explain things as they discover them for themselves (capture mainly, sometimes ko, point out when they have made territory and discourage playing there). Then explain eyes and passing. Then make them play and score their own 9x9 games. Once they can figure out when to pass and score a game unaided then they can play and learn with anyone. It doesn’t take very long. (I’m assuming you are playing with physical equipment here - I guess it would be different if not as capture and scoring is done for you)

  2. As others have said, best not to try and convince reluctant people! you have more people already than most go clubs I know of! Your enthusiasm for the game is a great way to get people interested anyway and if the ones you’ve got already have fun playing then word will spread. Having said that, in the UK we have badges for junior clubs - you get a “play go” badge for turning up a few times and then there are badges for 35k, 30, 25, 20, 19, 15, 10, 5, 1k and 1d. In my school clubs they are super popular and help both with motivation to advance to earn the next badge and also with attracting interest in the rest of the school. Another thing that’s great is if you can get a team together to participate in tournaments. I don’t know how it works where you are but competition with other clubs is a good way of generating general interest and new members.

  3. Mainly playing. Playing and thinking is learning. The stronger players can explain things as and when they arise and maybe make some comments about finished games. I try and set up tsumego but as long as people are having fun then it’s all good. Once they get the basics they will often be motivated to do their own learning and ask for what they want to learn about. And set up a ladder, you have enough players and I assume you play on OGS so will have an external grade anchor too.

Finally, I would get in touch with your national Go association as I’m sure they will be keen to support new clubs if they can. It might not be directly but even with information or contacts it can be useful.

Keep up the great work!

I wish you all the best in your efforts to promote go.

I think others have already answered your questions at length (to be fair, they aren’t really “quick”), but I just wanted to second the recommendation about for BenGoZen’s How to “Teach” Go article: http://bengozen.com/teach-go/

It is great to hear that you are doing this! I too am a high schooler but due to the fact that I live in a fairly small city and would probably struggle with such a task, I have never attempted to do anything go-related outside of the family. Indeed it seems that it can be difficult to have success with this task, but it can work, and if it does it it is a very rewarding experience. Thus being said, I don’t have a lot of personal suggestions but here are some thoughts:

This is unfortunately very accurate. Some very talented players that work hard can achieve this in a month, but most don’t even reach the SDK’s. I personally believe that anyone is capable of reaching this level, but most players just don’t put in enough effort or they just give up before this level is reached. There are some DDK’s that have been playing for 10+ years and have played thousands of games, but are still DDK. I think that this is just due to a lack of studying. Playing is the most important thing, but studying is what “aids” in getting you to a more advanced level. Such DDK’s might be perfectly happy with there level though, and that brings me to my point: I strongly encourage you to not tell other beginners anything associated with a go rank. This may sound strange but the reason is because you want everyone to enjoy the game for what it is and it is easy for a teen to think: “I am only a 20 kyu, and this guy that has been playing just as long is already a 15 kyu.” “I am not good at this game so I quit.” Eventually rank must discussed and when that time comes you must explain how little its importance is. Also clearly illustrate the fact that everyone learns at different speeds.

And yes, bribing with food is extremely effective, especially with teens like us. :grinning: Good luck, and I hope you spread the game far!

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Never had the chance to play small board. What my friends and I did were fighting at one corner, then moving to the next. Once all four corners were gone, the fight moved to side, then another side, eventually to the center, sort of treating the 19x19 board as a four 9x9 board. Along the way, we naturally developed the concept of corner, side and center. lol

Invariably they are shy about playing because they worry that it is so complex. So I tell them, “I can having you winning your first game within three tries.” The challenge tends to peak their interest.

Then I break out a 3x3 board and explain liberties, capturing, suicide and that the game is over when neither player is willing or able to move… Then I tell them the winner is the one who has the most stones on the board at game end, and hand them some black stones. I don’t bother with komi and they will win their first game usually within a very few quick games. On a 3x3 board it feels very much like tick-tac-toe so it isn’t so threatening.

Once they win, I use a 5x5 board, then 7x7. At some point in here, when we are just filling in territory for “points” I suggest that we just take it as obvious that the area over there is their points and this area over here is mine, because playing just to fill in is boring. Just like that, I have introduced Chinese scoring. Throughout this learning phase, we continue to play without komi and with them moving first, so they will tend to win more often that not. (That’s a real boost, you wouldn’t believe how much more motivated someone is when they win a reasonable number of times.) Every time they win, I suggest we move to a bigger board.

As the board gets bigger, they start finding it harder to win. When they beat me on a 9x9 board without komi (I’m only 12-15kyu myself,) they are hooked for sure and I will explain all the rules I haven’t covered up to that point (usually ko has come up by then, but sometimes not,) especially komi and I will encourage them to play on OGS.

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Agreed. I like teaching Chinese when possible because of all the arbitrariness with Japanese and removing dead stones. (I actually joke that Japanese is just trying hard to be like Chinese, but without all the work


My country’s education system never had clubs, and you have already recieved some very helpful answers, so I think that I have only few things to add from my teaching experience.

What is the best way to teach

For high school kids, I have yet to find “the best way” … everyone seems to have their own way of learning and a good idea is that the teacher has to adapt to the student and not vice-versa. Despite that I have noticed some general things that might help you :
A) Funny examples - even utterly ridiculous ones - tend to leave a lasting impression. If that cannot be done, then try to keep things lighthearted and avoid turning the learning process (or the goal ) into a chore.
B) Aiming for ranks might be an incentive for some people, but it might also alienate others who are not so good or might not be learning as fast. Go provides the ability to play handicap games, but it is not always easy for a young person to accept that they need a handicap to play against another person their age.
C) Keep them guessing. It is nice to have a program, but it is also nice to have surprizes between the scheduled activities.
D) Get people out of their shells. A lot of young people are afraid of losing, so they are afraid of trying new games and activities. Modern education systems are designed around the notion that “everyone is a winner”, but board games tend to have a definite winner. Go is so educational that even a defeat can be “marketed” as a victory (getting better, by learning from your mistakes), but imho the best thing that games can offer is the idea that you might lose, but you can still have a lot of fun … So, just have them make accounts on OGS and make them play and point out that, for the time being, winning or losing should not be an issue. Seeking fun is a beginner’s most stable (and most recurrent) desire. Noone really wants to strive to become better in an activity that doesn’t bring them joy.

If you want to give them a beginner’s book, you can try this one : https://www.gobook.eu/
It is free to download (so, it won’t cost you anything) and it is written with a beginner’s mindset (the aforementioned “fun first” idea), plus it re-inforces the idea that you do not have to know everything to spread the word about Go or have fun playing. :slight_smile:

Good luck with the club!


Solution 1): Go with the basics first, of course. make them sit next to you and let them watch the game, how you play and keep explaining about very basic points.
Solution 2): For the people who haven’t heard about this game at all,but might have some interest in online gamings, get them know the benefits of joining your onlyfans free club apart from just the knowledge regarding the game. For say, the chance to interact with new folks or some experts whom you may know. This way, they get the chance to explore their social standing, and not actually damaging it.
Solution 3): As I’ve already mentioned in the 2nd point,social interaction would help balance the learning and playing experience.

How is your club going?

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