Beginner question on how to decide on which stones to remove


I have recently started playing and there is this question that has been bugging me.

This is a random game from OGS (between players I don’t know). It was agreed to end and I added in the numbered moves for the sake of this question.
clearly the stones 2, 4, 6 are dead. But what if black claims otherwise and demands white to capture his stones to prove death? wouldn’t this require white to decrease his territory by like 11 points(12 if you include j15 - the white stone there is actually just the mouse pointer) just to capture the three black stones? Wouldn’t this sort of a thing change outcomes of close games?

I can’t see why you cannot randomly put in stones in territory where you can definitely not make two eyes just to force your opponent to capture 4 liberties per stone to reduce his territory by 3 for every stone you sacrifice. Is there some rule that prevents this from happening or is it just bad manners to do so?

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Yeah, this is quite a common question and actually kind of problematic in online go.
Basically, if black insists those are alive the game is resumed and every time white plays there, black should answer (thus the score is not changed because white loses a point for territory but gains a prisoner).

If however black does not answer or fills a dame it is usually best to report the game to a moderator, who will decide / explain and if needed punish the cheater.

In higher rank games this is usually not a problem because both players see those are dead and have enough honour not to try to cheat (and also know their opponent will not let them… ;-)). In real life such disputes can be solved on a separate board (so not to disturb the score) or every time black does not react to white’s inside play he is forced to hand over a prisoner.

Claiming those stones are alive even if black knows they are not is not only bad manners, but basically cheating and should be reported. If this is a beginners game just try to explain to your opponent or call a moderator anyway and he will explain for you… :slight_smile:


If black wants to be a troll she can refuse to accept the stones are dead. In such cases a moderator should be called.
In no way can white be forced to remove stones to prove they are dead, they are dead, because there is no way for them to live.

Ofc there can also be sincere disagreements about the status of a group, then it is best to play the sequence in question. If both players continue play then usually white doesnt lose points because for each stone placed she gains a prisoner.


and just to be thorough it also kind of depends on what rules you are using. In chinese rules for example both the surrounded territory as well as the stones themselves are counted as points, therefore playing in your own territory does not lower your score.

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For the most part you answered your own question, “I can’t see why you cannot randomly put in stones in territory where you can definitely not make two eyes just to force your opponent to capture”

The answer being you can’t force your opponent to capture your already dead stones by simply disagreeing they are dead You already know that a group needs two eyes to live that is apart of the rules of go, if a group can’t make two eyes or lives by seki, double ko or whatever the case may be they are consider dead.

Personally I’m not sure why so many beginners ask this.

No, no, no: as soon as you have made unconditional life with your group(s) AND there is no room to live for your opponent, you could just pass, no?

Heh, I for one would be rather perplexed if it were advanced players who’d ask this :wink:


Well I mainly say this because one of the first things you learn in every tutorial(almost) is that a group needs at least two eyes to be counted as alive(seki, double ko ) and that if a group cannot get two eyes it is counted as dead and all dead stones get removed from the board at the end of the game.

This is a pretty common question though, but to me personally at least when it is worded like this, it feels like someone is just asking if they can bend the rules. Seeing as how Go is a game of mutual trust/respect(thats how I see it anyway) technically yes both players have to agree that the game is over and that stones are dead before the game can end.


and as trohde says

Black has to make 2 eyes first, before he can claim to be alive with some stones, otherwise they are dead.
That means Black (!!!) has to proof that he can live and reach to eyes.
And while trying he sets stones they will soon become prisoner(points) and White can respond for each setted stone without changing the score.
(…or White is makeing a mistake and it was right for Black to try)

And when Black claims to live but refuse to proof it (and wont accept the automatic result), then its time for a moderator.

This is the problem with the Japanese rules in online-go and why I recommend beginners to use Chinese rules. You can always call a moderator though, there’s (almost) always some online and they will quickly come to save the day =P. In some cases the other player is not trying to cheat and they do believe their group is alive (due to some fake eyes). In that case, you can talk to him, show variations, and/or call a moderator. Anyway, in any case chinese rules make things simpler here in my opinion.

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There’s a nice feature on Chinese Go servers called ‘force scoring’. It is made available after move 350, which essentially forces the game to end. The score will be done using a strict algorithm.

It’s surprisingly handy, and you can just pass until move 350. Maybe we need something like that here?


Ok I can’t resist to answer this one, since I think there’s a way to approach the counting that is more comprehensible than those you’ve gotten so far. It doesn’t matter who plays first, no one is forced to respond, or leave over a prisoner: (And two eyes are not a rule of Go, but rather a consequence, so you can’t really use that as an argument to why a group is dead.)
As others have said, in Chinese scoring, stones on the board count. Then it doesn’t matter if white plays more stones.
However, in the Japanese scoring system stones on the board don’t count. The problem arises when both have passed but you can’t agree on a group; continuing will alter the score. But before continuing, the trick that makes all other special rules unneccessary is that you should use this state when doing the counting, i.e., when you both passed the first time. In your example, keep on playing until the black stones are dead. Doesn’t matter how many stones anyone puts down. White have proven them dead. Now, remove the extra stones that you played since you both passed and count the disputed stones as dead. In this way, close games won’t be affected by resolving group status.
Unfortunately, OGS has no feature for this, so this is why a moderator has to step in as explained earlier.


I guess I like Gobian’s way of looking at things. And I like to think of two eyes as a consequence rather than a rule. And I like to think that you should be allowed to do anything that is in the rules of the game to gain an advantage and not be restricted by things such as honour (ofc don’t take this argument to mean you should be allowed to kill your opponent). So the other responses did not (quite) satisfy me. Although I get the point - there is usually a clear answer to the question whether a stone is dead or not, I wanted an algorithmic way of doing it and an algorithmic way of resolving arguments (the fact that ogs doesn’t have them implemented is not the point).

I was searching for the answer and I keep coming across people saying use Chinese rules. So why did people in Japan have to invent rules that made things more complicated? If I am not wrong the game originated in China right? Do the Japanese rules have some advantage? And also I came across this link: can someone explain what the analysis phases do? and what happens when there is a group that gets killed or lives depending on who plays first and the players both mistakenly think that they have won the battle and later find out after both passing that they were wrong when they start arguing with each other?

PS: I understand knowing all this is not as important and I am having fun with the game, but I am asking so that I know everything there is to know about the rules.

Ok wow :smiley: I am not sure I would like this opinion being spread here - or indeed anywhere. So you would consider it OK if your opponent who is angry he lost kept playing every legal move in the game on the last second of his Byo yomi because HE CAN? There is nothing in rules saying he cant make the 20 min game into 12 bloody hours until you resign or time out… God damn it this idea scares me. No honour, really? Really REALLY? wow

Well, yes, I think so. I personally find them faster to count (although that might me just that I am used to it). But in general japanese rules put more emphasis on players’ judgement and reading skill. Meaning in chinese rules once the borders are more or less created you can invade like a crazy barbarian just hoping your opponent will miss something and eventually lose patience/focus/group. In japanese rules if you invade without any real potential, your opponent can just ignore and you lose points. I just find such play more meaningfull I guess.

I assume you are talking about seki? Again kind of depends on the rules, but if both players realize playing there first means losing the group it is usually proclaimed to be neutral (no points or just the eyes are points.)


As an example. here’s a game I played recently where this issue actually arose:

I won by 1,5 points, but to actually kill my opponent’s group I had to put at least 7 stones down. If he moved first, he would have died, so he believed it was seki. A moderator stepped in but gave him an unsatisfying explaination of why I won. (I later explained my understanding of resolving disputes in a private chat, and it made more sense to him too.)
So, what to do about the group? Who has to move first? Doesn’t matter. Can he prove that it’s alive? No, because then he would die. Ok. can I prove that it’s dead? Yes, I can, by putting a few stones down. Then we go back to the state where the game ended and consider them dead. (If no one wanted to move first, then it would actually be a seki.)

I cant even figure out what group the dispute was about :smiley:
Did black (13k) think the upper left black L was alive in seki? :open_mouth: He even says you would have to play twice to kill it. So he must understand that it is killable and thus clearly not seki, right? What am I missing? :smiley:

Just a quick answer about the advantages of Japanese rules comparing to Chinese: you don’t have to fill dames. Since dames do not count for territory scoring, you can simply leave them alone and pass. Using Chinese rules, instead, you have to fill all dames because each stone count as a point, so if you pass when there’s a dame left you’re actually giving your opponent a point if he fills that dame.

That’s why Japanese invented their rules: games are a bit faster. As a downside, each player should have a better understanding of life and death to agree upon the final result.

As far as I understand in manual scoring on a real board players still have to fill all dames before counting by Japanese rules.
I think manual scoring is easier by Japanese rules though.

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< pedant >Japanese 1989 rules require that you fill dame. Live stones with dame liberties are considered in seki.< /pedant >


Yes, it’s the top left, maybe I wasn’t very clear about that.

Yes he agreed that it was killable, just not dead. To kill it, I had to put a few more stones down, and since I was only 1,5 points ahead, he figured that actually killing the group would make me lose the game, so to him, it was mutual life. And I can understand him, since groups can change apparent status many times during a game. I totally agree with those who think that Japanese scoring may seem a little strange, but maybe it has something to do with emphasising reading skills as you suggested. But there surely must be something more to it?

Maybe I’m retarded but I really do not understand it then.
He saw it was killable. If I am counting right (which doesn’t really matter) it would take four stones to kill the upper left group safely. And he/she can obviously see that. It would take even more stones to completely kill all the white stones in blacks’ territory… It’s the same idea.
So at this point it’s not a problem of playing out the sequence on a separate board, but just the matter of knowing the rules… Right?

EDIT: I am not sure what we are talking about anymore :-D. I guess we can all agree that Chinese rules are a bit simpler in this regard, but simpler doesn’t mean better. And I really do not find Japanese to be that much more complex. You do not have to surround every stone in your territory for it to be considered dead. That’s all this is about.

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