Alternative handicap systems

Or to generalize upon my previous idea…

After playing each move, black may choose to immediately take a shot of liquor, which will force white to skip their next turn.

Another way to change the balance in a game is to combine it with another game/sport, for example…

Perhaps we could combine Go with darts. As a handicap, White has to throw darts at a paper copy of the board on a wall in order to play their moves. Or maybe both players have to play by throwing darts, or maybe it is something that Black can force White to perform by taking a shot.

Maybe we should just start a new topic: Go Drinking Games!


Another way to remove the need for komi…

Le Mans Start Go

To begin the game, the players line up at a fixed distance from the board, say 100 meters. At the sound of a starting gun, they race to the board, and the first player that is able to place a stone gets the advantage of the first move, in a game without komi.


I couldn’t find a tongue-in-cheek emoji, so I use this one instead.


Don’t know if this is already mentioned …
If you don’t want handicap and komi, the difference in strength could also be compensated by less time for the stronger player.
This time handicap should be related to the difference in rank; the bigger the difference in rank, the more time handicap for the stronger player.


Just an example:
if every kyu difference between the players is awarded a 2% reduction in time for the the stronger player;
than a match between a 6 kyu and a 12 would imply that the 6 kyu would get 12% less time than the 12 kyu.
In a 9 x 9 AST (5 minutes) that would mean that the stronger player would have 36 seconds less than the opponent.


  1. 2% is just the first thing that came up when I wrote this. This 2% is not backed up by any form of go science whatsoever.
  2. I don’t know if OGS is capable of supporting such a time-handicap system.
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I’ve done this kind of handicap before, but the problem is that thinking during your opponent’s time is quite useful, so it doesn’t feel like blitz too much. In fact, I think this will only be truly a handicap if the difference in rank is small. A blitzing 1d will probably always outplay a 10k with unlimited time.


If you want to even it up with drinking, the players drink for every stone captured. So if the stronger player wants to win without getting too drunk they better not capture too many stones :slight_smile:

Also kos get slightly sillier the longer they go on


since I don’t see it mentioned I’ll just add this one:

play with analysis turned on, and very relaxed time settings (eg Fischer 10m+1m, max 10m)
stronger player doesn’t use analysis, must read normally, and must play briskly
weaker player can use analysis, and can take as much time as the clock allows

I’ve combined this with traditional handicap playing with some friends and it can be challenging in a good way. if the weaker player is trying their best to think through the moves and analyze, they will make tactical blunders much less frequently, and you can focus on the strategic

this probably only works up to a point (maybe dan level reading is too strong) but it worked well for around 10k (me) vs brand new player with 9 stones (my friend).


Simple system: the stronger player plays one-colour Go, the weaker plays the normal two-colour.

I played and lost a game against a mid-dan using that once.

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In online games, I actually usually challenge myself to capture as few stones as possible (killing is not capturing) and I succeed in most of my games to capture fewer stones than my opponent :wink:.


What do you think about randomly assigning black handicap stones on the 3rd and 4th lines? Perhaps using a probability distribution that is weighed a little more heavily towards the corners.

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I say that you still have to drink if you want to mark the stones as dead after the game ends.


Combining two ideas from earlier in this thread:

Every time white plays a capturing move, black gets two moves in a row.

In other words, if white’s previous move took one or more black stones of the board, she has to pass this move.

(I originally thought of this as a symmetric variant, but I don’t like the case where black uses one or two of their 2 consecutive moves to capture, no matter how you resolve it it seems inelegant.)

Between approximately equal strength players, I would instead give black a traditional handicap of ~9 stones but white gets two moves in a row whenever black captures. Which side would you prefer in that game? I suspect white might be favored, but hard to say before playing a bit.


I’ve heard something very similar to this idea discussed either in this thread or elsewhere on the forum.

King’s Order Go (also “Queen’s Order” Go) is a variantof Go in which one or both players is a monarch (King/Queen) and has a three chances to order other player to play somewhere. The monarch must announce on his or her turn that the monarch intends to use an order. The monarch then gets to choose the other player’s next move for them, forcing the player to move in a harmful place and effectively granting the monarch two turns in a row.

That page has links to Korean professionals playing both the one- and two-monarch variants.