Basics: How area is same as territory

The various common rules of go can be separated in two categories: area rules (including the Chinese rules) and territory rules (including the Japanese rules)


Using area rules, you count everything on the board (the triangle in the dia.). You discard the prisoners, they have no use.

Using territory rules, you only count the empty intersection inside the boundaries (the quadrate in the dia.). You keep the prisoners and put them back on the board at the end of the game.

How these set of rules give the same result?

Let’s start from the territory. With some carefulness of who play the last move, and because we put back the prisoners on the board, we can say that there is the same quantity of black and white stones on the board.

So if we add these quantity of stones to the territory counting (the emptyness inside) we get the same difference of points.

Now we have all the stones on the board and the emptyness inside: that’s the area counting.

At reverse:

When we count inside an area, there is no difference if an intersection is occupied or not so we can add or remove stones as long as the boundaries are kept. So we can arrange to have the same quantity of black and white stones on the board.

Now we can deduce the stones from the counting. Now we get the counting of territories only (the emptyness); that’s the territory counting.


Well understanding the equivalence may help not only to accept it but to elaborate on the differences between specific rulesets. Like the required same quantity of stones inducing the 1 stone pass in AGA rules. Like the seki counting differences. Like the handicap stones included or not in the scoring. Like handling extra passes.

I hope this to be useful to the players who are getting some interest on rulesets. That should come sometimes after discovering the game although not that essential in the beginning (IMHO not recommended because there are other things to enjoy first!)


I’ve always found the terms confusing because “area” and “territory” have similar meanings. Like when you draw a square and find its area, you don’t really care how thick the borders are.

In Chinese it’s much easier. One is 数子 which is to count the stones, and one is 数目 which is to count the territory.


I think ultimately it’s just a matter of convention. I see “stones” as a gloss, and I think stone scoring, which is different than either area or territory

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Stone scoring is different from area scoring? I thought they are the same

Stone scoring is the one where you count only the stones, not the surrounded territory, so group tax emerges


I did same. But that’s maybe because I’m a foreigner so my perception of English words could be a little bit biaised by my own other languages.

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I don’t think it has that much to do with the normal meaning of the terms, as they’re technical terms for Go in this context. In principle, the terms could be completely different. Say, parity and non-parity scoring for territory and area scoring respectively, since the move count parity matters at the end of the game for territory, thus giving the more precise results. As long as everyone understood those terms in that context, they’d be no better or worse than territory and area

I have no reason to doubt that Sadaharu gave the correct technical Go terms in Chinese


I feel like the more I grok the differences between rulesets, the more I feel that the important distinction is not territory vs area, it’s ugly-complicated-end-of-game-and-repetition-related-arcana vs elegant-superko-and-play-it-out-rules


Think of a beginner. The area vs territory seems much more accessible ideas to start, based on the goal of the game. Differences between rules can be kept aside for a while.


Yeah, but I’d rather get to tell a beginner: “if you’re not sure why I want to score the game like this, we can just keep playing” than “trust me, this is dead”, so I do think there’s still an advantage for beginners with simpler rulesets

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Well the point of the thread is just to bridge both sets of rules anyway. Not to start debating on the pros and cons of each.

For this I’ll give link asap to some opened threads which would be the convenient place to contribute.


Not an exhaustive list but already some places to read and contribute if you are interested in rules matters, there are much more (search)and it’s even possible to start a new thread.

Please keep the thread on topic here.


As far as I’m aware, both “area” and “territory” usually translate to “gebied” in Dutch. When we use “territorium”, I’d say it’s typically used for the territory of territorial animals.
So in the context of go, we typically use “gebied” to mean “territory”. I don’t know which term area scoring proponents would use in Dutch.


In french i would maybe prefer zone as aire.

I used the very accepted consensual area/territory because it’s what i found everywhere. Sensei lib, books, articles… Seems to be adopted.


Sure, in English go jargon the terms and their distinction is clear, so there won’t be much confusion. I just wanted to point out that this may not be the case in other languages.

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The fact is having two different words to describe if the boundary is included or not may be not common in all languages or not so clear. Maths don’t help much as boundaries have like no thickness… Something like territories[ territories] ? Maybe physics?

I wonder if we can unify the rules one day, just like the theory of everything in Physics which will unify general relativity and quantum mechanics.


I expect both to happen roughly at the same time! :stuck_out_tongue:


What if the real rules are the friends we made along the way?


As a non-native speaker I always felt the English word “area” is a slightly more general and open term, while “territory” is narrower and carries an additional sense of strong ownership.

So these words seem a nice choice, with valuable hints about their differences (sekis, dame, and the insides of strong walls).

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