Are there resources for playing against handicap on 9x9?

I play a lot of 9x9 handicap games and the handicaps go both ways. I end up seeing similar positions a lot. I’m wondering if there are resources on handicap opening play. Or if anyone is experience with these sort of things, maybe you could help me learn!


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‘The Second Book of Go’ by Bozulich has a fairly good chapter specifically on handicap Go. A little dated now perhaps but given that Go is ~4000years old, relatively new. :grin:

Edit: My apologies. I overlooked that you were talking about 9x9. I’ll leave my post up though. The book is still good for 19x19 and others seeing your thread title may find it useful.

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To my understanding, there are already astoundingly few resources for 9x9 at all, with handicap 9x9 being a rather small subset, I’d be surprised if even 1 or 2 resources existed at all… but good luck with the search <3

It’s a shame @Francisa isn’t around these days to field such questions. I wonder if @trohde or @mark5000 might be names at the top of the list for people who might know if such resources exist?


I’m not aware of any books on handicap 9x9 and I doubt that exists.

There are a few books/chapters on handicap Go on 19x19 though, and some concepts carry over:

  • GO - A complete Introduction to the Game (Cho Chikun), p.91 “Handicap Go”
  • Kage’s Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go (Kageyama Toshiro)
  • other stuff:


I think the closest you can get is looking at how very strong players handle handicap 9x9. I’ve played a few matches against Mantis to see how many stones I could give it and win (5), but if you want a large corpus of games, you might want to check the game history of Christoph Gerlach’s (6d EGF) KGS account, he used to play lots of these with his students.

At least that is good for the “how to play handicap Go on 9x9” portion. Now taking a handicap on 9x9 implies that you’re way weaker than your opponent (two stones handicap on 9x9 equals about 8 stones on 19x19.), so naturally most games you want to look for mistakes black made and/or how white created and exploited weaknesses.


All I know straight outta my head is this:


I adjusted the title to hopefully resolve this dilemma.


9x9 is a peculiar board to play handicap. Very hard to win as white. If you’re black, just play solid and win. If you’re white…

General principles are the same: keep sente, make complicated position with a lot of weak groups, sacrifice, don’t worry.

I’d imagine to win as white you need to make a kill, so probably you need to be forceful and aggressive with one of the opponent’s groups to get thick and kill the other group.

I played a little bit of 9x9 handicap. With two handicap stones I still tried to play a normal game, but with three stones it didn’t work without special strategy. One of the things I tried is attach underneath as the first move. Worked better than usual, still hard to win though.

Maybe we should see some of your games to see what can be improved?

Why do you want to play 9x9 handicap anyway? That’s not what people usually play.

Am I stupid or KGS doesn’t let me view anything?

Apparently KGS’ database is damaged. Earliest records you can view now seem to be from January 2004.

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Consider studying the games of the 2020–21 Salt Cat Mad Handicap 9x9 tournament.

(dedicated thread)