Auto handicap not putting down the stones?

I thought auto handicap would put the stones in the conventional places automatically but it seems that’s not how it works. Instead black gets to put them wherever they want.

Example here: Tournament Game: Auto handicap 19x19 (66764) R:4 (xinix vs DaSeynhaeve)

Is this the way it’s intended to work or a bug?

Japanese rules: stones are placed on hoshi automatically.

Chinese rules: the player chooses where to play the stones.

These are also the rules in real-life tournaments, as far as I am aware.


A place you can read on rules is sensei library.

For ogs’s implementation of rules, see Play Go at! | OGS

Fixed handicap placement for japanese, korean, and aga rules.
Free placement for chinese, new zealand, and ing sst rules.


Auto refers to the number of handicap stones being determined by the server automatically according to the difference of player ranks.

It doesn’t refer to the placing of the stones, that is usually called free vs fixed handicap placement and varies by ruleset.


I was surprised to read here that AGA uses free handicap stone placement, so I went and checked the (official complete rules) and this segment appears on the topic:

"The handicap stones are traditionally played as follows:
2 stones on the 1st and 2nd star points
3 stones on the 1st through 3rd star points
4 stones on the 1st through 4th star points
5 stones on the 1st through 4th star points and the center point
6 stones on the 1st through 6th star points
7 stones on the 1st through 6th star points and the center point
8 stones on the 1st through 8th star points
9 stones on the 1st through 9th star points

Unless otherwise specified, handicap stones shall be placed in this fashion. Handicaps
greater than nine stones and handicaps on boards with fewer than 19 lines are not

So while it seems like AGA rules allow for free placement with an explicit prior agreement, the default remains fixed placement.

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Someone recently told me “The only practical difference between AGA rules and French rules is that AGA uses positional superko whereas French uses situational superko”.

Looks like this was false and there is a second difference, the placement of handicap stones.

(not to mention the adjective “practical” is dubious when it comes to the difference between positional and situational)

Thank you, everyone, for the helpful replies! I’m still new to the game and the rule set diversity can be overwhelming sometimes.

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In practice, the differences between rule sets don’t matter much. When playing on OGS, I only check the rule set when the game is almost finished.


Here is a list of the biggest differences between rulesets. They’re actually quite small and don’t matter that much. So, only keep reading this post if you’re interested.

  • With Japanese rules, seki are worth zero points whereas with Chinese rules, any eyes you have in a seki do count as territory. This also means that in Japanese rules, if your opponent has a dead stone inside your eye in a seki, you should capture the stone during the game, otherwise it’s going to be considered part of the seki and worth zero point.
  • With Japanese rules, dame (“neutral intersections”) are worth zero points whereas in Chinese rules, playing a stone on a dame is worth one point. However, if there is an even number of dame remaining, then even in Chinese rules you can’t win extra points with dame, since your opponent is going to play a dame for every dame you play.
  • In Japanese rules, if you play in your own territory, then you lose one point of territory. In Chinese rules, if you play in your own territory you don’t lose any point. However, if there is an odd number of dame left and you play in your own territory, then you will lose one point compared to if you had played a dame.
  • In Japanese rules, if there is a triple-ko, then the game is annulled. In Chinese rules, a triple-ko is handled with the simple rule “you’re not allowed to repeat the position” so a triple-ko plays kinda like a regular ko (except a bit more brainburning to keep track of)
  • In New Zealand’s rules and Ing rules, you’re allowed to play a “suicide move”, that is, a move which removes the last liberty of a group of your own stones. It’s practice, it’s almost-always bad to do this, except in a few special cases where it can be a ko threat, so this really has no impact.

Last but not least:

In American, British and French rules, in real life (not on the internet), your opponent is allowed to choose “Chinese-style counting” instead of the more usual “Japanese-style counting”. If this happens to you during a real-life tournament, I strongly suggest to call the tournament referee before counting the game, so they can supervise the process.
(It almost never happens, unless some prisoners were accidentally lost during the game, but you never know.)
Note that only the counting method differs, not the result; with these rules, the two counting methods will produce the same result.


Even though officially Chinese rules use (a variant of) superko, I learned that in practice the game is usually voided in case of triple ko in China, as under Japanese rules.