Comparing and contrasting to chess - rules complexities


The rules of chess are unambiguous. When it is your move:

  • You cannot move into check. Doing so would not be a legal move.
  • If you are in check and there are no legal moves available, you are in checkmate and have lost the game.
  • If you are not in check and there are no legal moves available, that is stalemate and you have drawn the game.

The position posted on is therefore an example of a misapprehension. Many people think checkmate involves being able to capture the king or some such, just that the game stops immediately before hand. The metaphor may be useful for teaching purposes but it’s just not the case.

Talking of which, the next example was about capturing the king! Well, the Go rules @GreenAsJade posted above covers that quite succinctly:

It should be noted that (especially for tournaments) there would need to be a further layer of rules and proprieties concerning things like clocks and time, physical disturbances, ambiguous placements, getting unfair advice, and so on. (What Barry Phease succinctly dubbed “not rules of the game, but rules about playing the game”.)

I agree, the Chinese rules are logically simplest. Funny how I play Japanese rules OTB all the time, maybe because it usually doesn’t matter and I feel like it involves less counting?


Totally agree.


Funny thing, everyone debate on the rules but not a word about the goal of each game. For me the rules are intrinsically binded with the goal.
I would say the two games are opposed in this as More complex rules in chess as in go lead to a much simpler goal in chess as in go.


I thought about torazu gomoku and experimented a bit. In the end, we can read it out by the same logic as torazu sanmoku: play out the situation without ko threats, do not let white refuse to place the last stone for balance, and you get 5 points for black.

I confused myself a little because the discussion page on Sensei’s Library gives two different positions for comparison. Only the one that you show is actually torazu gomoku though, so all is fine :slight_smile:

By the same principle, we can have even more “points without capturing”, as you point out. I would agree with that as well.

Could you please quote the exact phrasing where someone questions the “combinatorial support” of it? It is probably a misunderstanding.


Got to admit I can’t find any. I guess I just remembered the phrase “…the rules makers did not understand Honinbo Shuwa’s thinking behind his ruling on torazu sanmoku.” But you’re right that Bill didn’t make any comment on combinatorial theory specifically (and if fact it’s pretty hard to see what he is trying to say now that I read it again.)


Go has simpler rules than Chess if you play Chinese rules. The only reason to agree on life / death at the end is to save time. If you don’t agree, keep playing until there every move is either suicide or would expose you to capture (seki). Simple. The Japanese attempt to dictate how to determine life / death is what makes Go complex. I’d favor Japanese rules if they dumped that part and said resolve disputes by playing it out.


Actually they don’t dictate any specific life / death situation in the Japanese rules. Just like in Chinese disputes about life / death is resolved by confirmation through playing out the position on the disputed life / death situation. The main point is that during confirmation they disallow playing ko-threats. As a consequence this means that, for example, bent four is dead if both players pass. The only way it is not dead, is if you could play ko-threats, which is not allowed during a life / death dispute.

Something like bent four is therefore not part of the rules, but a consequence of the rules. See here: the dead shapes are examples of how applying the rules result in certain shapes dying, but not part of the rules itself.

In Chinese rules it doesn’t matter if you play a position out hypothetically or not, since playing in your own territory doesn’t lose you points, but in Japanese it does. Therefore confirmation is merely hypothetical, and the board is returned to the end position after the life / death is confirmed.