Basics: How area is same as territory

I think that outside of go jargon, “area” does not imply “territory including border fortifications”.
I’d say that “territory” implies ownership and some sort of guarding, while an “area” may not even have an owner or a clear boundary.

If I were to coin an alternative for “area” (as used in go jargon), which suggests ownership and guarding, and which might also suggest inclusion of some sort of fortified border like a thick wall, I think I would pick “domain”.
At least that term has equivalents in French, German and Dutch.


But I thought the domain of Go was an ordered set of Gaussian integers? /jk


I think that the usage of the words “territory” and “area”, within English discussion specifically about the game of Go, is quite consistent, which gives an impression that I think is somewhat different than general English usage.

As a native American English speaker, I think the terms “territory” and “area” are somewhat ambiguous and might carry confusing connotations for those first learning about Go and not aware of their more precise, well-defined usage specific to Go discussion. When I first started learning the rules of Go, the usage of the words “area” and “territory” were at first confusing to me, as they seemed ambiguous and even possibly suggestive of something different than what they mean. However, I did quickly become accustomed to what they specifically mean to Go players.

In general English usage, the word “area” relates to both the abstract mathematical concept as well as various practical measurements of area, i.e., in every day life. In this latter category, there are many common examples of practical area measurements that don’t include the area occupied by the surrounding walls, such as measuring the floor area inside of a building, or the usable area of a garden enclosed by a wall. On the other hand, when building walls on land, one usually needs to situate that wall fully within one’s own territory (since one usually does not have the right put a wall up on someone’s property). Thus, measurements of one’s territory (in the sense of land) would include the parts occupied by the wall. Of course, these are just examples, and one could find cases where it is the other way around (corresponding to the notions used for Go), but my point is just to illustrate the broad usage of these words in the English language are not necessarily consistent, and could cause confusion to someone beginning with Go.

Maybe some other possible phrasing could be clearer for beginners:

  • Territory = surrounded or enclosed space
  • Area = occupied or controlled region, or footprint

My thought exactly, but more articulate

The only word i can think which includes walls and inside could be citadel ? (Bigger as castle)
With it, there is no doubt that the stones around are included.
Do you have citadels in USA ?

citadel of Carcassone


Would fort Sumter count?

I feel like I more remember wooden fortifications in history books, but clearly there was some stone too

I don’t think the word “citadel” would be clear at all. It doesn’t really convey to sense of measuring space, and wouldn’t really help to clarify the notion of including the walls. Many Americans might be confused by what “citadel” even means, as it is not so commonly used.

At the end of the day, the words “area” and “territory” aren’t terrible, it’s just that these words alone (in general English usage) don’t always clearly indicate whether or not one should count the border.

Linguistics pedantry aside, I do wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of the original post. I think it definitely worthwhile to teach the similarity and near equivalence of area and territory counting, especially to beginners. Rather than encouraging new players to try to think with either a territory or an area mindset, it is more helpful to show them that both perspectives give essentially the same result. After all, it’s not like we have “territory fuseki” vs “area fuseki”. It’s worth having a flexible mindset to approach the game.

Of course, there nuanced details between the two concepts, within the context of considering an entire set of rules, but tackling these very technical distinctions are better delayed to at least when a player has reached an intermediate level, as these details may be off-putting and confusing to beginners.


I think @Groin meant it as a joke? Lol
Imagine saying “let’s calculate our citadel”.

The only citadel I can think of is the Black Citadel in Warcraft

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The second could explain the first. A culture thing. For me a citadel is like a huge castle, how i would not include the walls? There could be more doubt if you include the inside ot just talk about the fortification.

Well it’s not part of the physics or maths vocabulary but there is a strong sense of delimited protected space. Does area or territory be more clear on mesurement?

I hope you don’t picture some horrifying crime each time you kill a group.


I like “citadel”, but I think the term is not that common in Dutch. Especially children may not know the word. But I regularly use the metaphor of “castles” or “walled towns/cities” myself.
I always use territory scoring when explaining/teaching go, so then I say the courtyards (protected living spaces) inside castles score points, and prisoners score points as well.


In non-go-jargon English use, for me area is a geometric term, territory an ecological one. An area is just an area, but a territory is an area that belongs to someone (usually a roving animal of some kind who will attempt to defend it from competitors). Clearly, this has nothing to do with the go-jargon senses that have been settled on.


That’s funny. I’m not a native English speaker, but the English term “area” (as go jargon) invokes a meaning more similar to “territory”, like “region” or “zone”: a fuzzy geographical indicator as in “the San Francisco Bay Area” or “Area 51”.

I didn’t think at all about the geometrical meaning of “area”, which I would translate to “oppervlakte” (surface area, or just surface, literally “upper plane/plain”) in Dutch.

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I could as easily have said geographic instead of geometric, and it would be inclusive of the senses you are describing (for me, geometric is the more general, and includes geographic implicitly, but whatever).

For me the point of the distinction (in general, non-jargon use) is that a territory necessarily has an owner (possibly collective and not individual) of some kind, while an area is just an area.


Is English your native language?


The word “area” also has another commonly used meaning in English: (from Google) “a subject or range of activity or interest”. For example, this may be used in phrases like “areas of expertise”, “research areas”, “area chair”. In the last example, the word “chair” is also used in an abstract, metaphorical sense.


When translating those more figurative expressions using “area” into Dutch, I’d say “area” would usually be translated to “gebied”, which is the word we use for “territory” in Dutch go jargon.

In Dutch go jargon we don’t use the Dutch word for “surface area” (as used in geometry/mathematics).

I think we’d just use “Chinese scoring/counting” versus “Japanese scoring/counting” to label these different scoring/counting methods in go.

Also, the Japanese take on go has a history of more than 65 years in the Netherland, including the jargon based on it, while the Chinese take on go has only become a bit more influential in the past 15 years or so, and it seems to hardly have gotten a foothold here yet.