Could we get rid of the ko rule altogether?

What if

  1. we would get rid of the ko rule and instead
  2. we would add the rule that after repeating a position multiple (three?) times, the game would be a draw?

Would the game of Go still make sense then?
What would change at amateur level?
What at pro level?

I can’t really wrap my mind around this question.


Also we could say that it’s a draw if there have been no captures in the last fifty moves… A strange new variant


To me ko is interesting. Eliminate it will make the game more dull


Besides the implications for longer cycles, this has most immediate impact on resolving simple kos.

It would essentially give the players the option to cycle a simple ko in order to produce a draw. If they both really need to win that ko, but only one player does not mind settling for a draw, then it seems that player has the advantage to win that ko.

If neither wished to settle for a draw (and understood that the other would not want a draw either), then I guess they could still fight for it like a regular ko, except, that they would only need to find a ko threat when they are about to repeat it a third time. I think it would be like a ko fight in slow motion, with a bunch of extra ko captures in between playing ko threats.


I think it would make sense to declare the game a draw already when the position occurs for the second time, to avoid those slow motion ko fights.

It would lead to a lot of draws. If one player is ahead on the board, or is higher rated, they would generally like to avoid a draw. But if the other player is content with a draw, this means that they can win any ko, so they can play much more aggressively in general. For the first player to win against this huge handicap would require their initial advantage (in terms of position and/or rating) to be quite large.

Between pros, I would expect more than 90% draw rate under these rules.


Ko rewards a solid style of play . It’s awesome to see a game where the solid style is behind but can launch some invasion which succeed with successive kos. I think of one of Shusaku’s castle game, the only one in which he looked to fall behind (dont ask me exactly which one)


I like your explanation!
As soon as you get behind in the game, all the potential ko situations on the board will “swing over” to your favor. You can win them all or you will get the draw.

Having said that, I don’t really comprehend how big of an advantage that would be. Interesting that you estimate more than 90% draw rate among pros.

It’s confusing that even after understanding some basics of the game, I’m still very uncomfortable handling kos and I’m still avoiding them like the plague.

But kos are fun! Right? Ko is important strategical tool to have, because losing a ko fight can gain you 2 moves in a row somewhere else. Because kos, we dont force every sequence till the very last sente move hence that would be waste of ko threats. Just the possibility of ko arising later means that we leave positions just marginally unsettled in hopes that we can gain something more later.

Ko is what makes go such a fun game ^^

ps. i think that european pro Pavol Lisy (Palko) is master of using kos as a strategical tool. If you go thru his games you can see how often he makes a ko in order to lose it, since losing the ko means gains on some other part of the board. The madness of what he puts on the board is both inspiring and scary at the same time xD


It’s absolutly normal. Mastering kos is more common at some high level. Strong players use it much more often so in my opinion it is just a matter of time before you advance in this knowledge.


That’s a pretty interesting idea, actually.

Ko is a key part of Go’s incredible depth and richness. Why would you want to get rid of it, rather than looking forward to when your skills develop so you can enjoy and appreciate this wonderful game at new depths?

“If you’re scared of ko, don’t play Go” as the saying goes.


There is superko in Chinese rules on OGS. Same full-board position just can’t happen twice, so no special rules about ko like in Japanese.

I usually play under Japanese rules, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a game (in over 30 years) where it would have made a difference whether ko was played under Japanese rules or some superko rules.


I’ve had this difference count in a trade-2-for-1 where the 1 threatens to capture, which works differently as a ko threat in superko rules since recapturing the 1 after capturing the 2 woud be superko. It’s a positional superko, not a situational superko, though.

I might be misremembering or have played badly though, it doesn’t seem to be a ko threat as I think about it right now. But then, it’s still beer week in my city…


On proposing to get rid of ko,
All the players responded, “No! No!
It will ruin the game.
It just won’t be the same.”
So that’s that. Now get back to Go!


Maybe people missed that this is in the “Go Variants” category and took it as feature suggestion? :sweat_smile:

I do think this idea makes for quite an interesting one-sided handicap. Something like:

  • No regular ko rule
  • If a position is ever repeated, white wins
  • Black gets two stones handicap (no komi)

That might make for an even-ish game, and could easily be played on OGS (black will just have to refrain from capturing any simple ko - longer cycles are as we know extremely rare).


That’s a variant to play with full beginner to avoid for some time to explain the subtilities of ko threats. Charge on you to change the rule later.