Determining who has won is very hard?

It seems to only be a draw if it is claimed by the player whose turn it is. There is also a 75-move rule that obligates the arbiter to apply a draw. But in practice, chess games are rarely ended by the 50-move rule or the 75-move rule.

I think Japanese style encore in go (rewinding) is also rare in practice, at least in OTB games between non-beginners. I’ve only had one tournament game where my opponent demanded an encore to make me prove that his bent-four group was dead (IIRC me and my opponent were around low-dan level at the time, and I considered his demand to be trolling, an abuse of the game rules).

But group status disagreement can be a genuine issue in unsupervised/online games between novices who have difficulty recognising group status. That’s why I’d recommend novices to not use Japanese rules for their online games or unsupervised OTB games, so they can just play it out when in doubt.


otb, yes; same with 3-fold (but not 5-fold iirc, so you don’t actually avoid the problem). But isn’t it normally automatically claimed online, and likewise with 3-fold? I see the “you must claim” as a reasonable compromise to make it easier to play a legal game otb, not an inherent part of the conceptual rule

A similar formulation of Superko would make sense for Go: if you believe your opponent’s last move violated Superko, pause the clock and call an arbiter (or go back together over the game record outside a tournament setting) to adjucate if the move violated Superko based on the game record. If you play a move before making a claim, the move move stands, even if later found to have violated Superko. Add in some escalating penalties for false claims, and I think you have a robust rule that brings Superko into otb play in a practical way

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One advantage of online play is that Illegal moves can be prevented automatically. But it is an issue in OTB games between raw novices: not placing stones on intersections, playing out of turn, violating a ko ban, suicide, leaving breathless stones on the board, moving stones, taking stones off the board while they still have liberties, etc.
It all happens in novice games and I usually can’t keep track of all games at once to prevent all of it, although there may be more experienced children around who can help in my place.
Still, sometimes a game is so far away from a legal position that I need to void it.
My standard “sanction” for making an illegal move, is to just have them take it back and play elsewhere.

IME with my youth club (always using Japanese rules, albeit not to the letter), it still only happens rarely that novices disagree about group status while scoring their games.

Players weaker than ~35k may still need some help to finish and score their games, so I can work around group status issues and perhaps explain a bit about eyes while I’m helping.

Players weaker than about 25k love to capture stones and they are not aware or don’t care that this may lose points and sente. So they tend to take dead groups off the board during play anyway and there is rarely a dead group left on the board when the game finishes.
Though they may be confused by seki and I might explain a bit about that when it happens.

I think only around 20k level, they might finish the game while doubting if some group is dead or seki and I may need to provide some explanation to clear things up.
Only very rarely a disagreement persists and I need to actually have them play it out with pass stones or rewinding. This only happened a few times out of many thousands of games played in the club over the years. Some of those were bent-4.


Your impressions are understandable. Complaints about the Japanese rules are always in fashion. Also, compared to games with such well-defined rules as in Chess, the details of Go rules can be a culture shock.

However, your points in particular demand a caveat or two.

First, if there is a disagreement about life and death under Japanese rules, whatever you do to determine the status after the end of the game; you always score the end position and not the try-out variations. So there is no loss of points.

I also want to add that Chinese rules are not immune to discussions on what is dead. For all their faults under an academic microscope, Japanese rules are very practical, especially in that you can always determine life and death locally. If you get a bent four in the corner shape, it is always just dead. Under other rulesets, you need to consider all possible continuations on the whole board to find whether there are unremovable ko threats somewhere else.

Your comparison with Chess is a bit skewed. If you really wanted a good analogy for the position in your initial post, you should determine the winner in this Chess position:

You will be faced with similar difficulty here, because the game is not finished. :wink:


I think this is a strawman. In Japanese rules you need to consider a bunch of things because you can’t just play it out and there are a bunch of special cases to consider. In NZD and similar rules, you just play it out. No extra rules to worry about, and you don’t need to consider all possible continuations any more than you needed to to play the first part of the game

It’s Japanese rules that add an extraneous rule regarding unremovable ko threats, not rulesets like NZD which just let the game be the game

Before I read the last paragraph, I thought this was going to be some trick question with an answer like “White wins because Black’s last move was Nd6d4, so Black loses by illegal move”


You can play it out under Japanese rules, just do it after the game. :wink:

One more nice thing about territory scoring rules is that you will count in the double-digits and not triple-digits. So even when playing under Chinese rules, you should estimate territory in your head to save time.

Then there is just the convenience of not playing out all the dame.

The hypothetical play to consider life and death under Japanese rules is considerably more complex than just playing it out. One aspect that a lot of people don’t realize is that this hypothetical play applies a different ko rule. In >99% of the cases, it doesn’t make a difference, but there do exist rare cases where the distinction does matter.

With techniques such as equivalence scoring (such as suggested by the AGA rules), manually counting up the area score is just as convenient as counting up the territory score.

Under area scoring rules, the players can leave an even number of unimportant dame unfilled.


No difference here as you count only 1 color in area scoring in the final scoring.

During the game you can use territories estimation at will, and keep area scoring for ending the game.

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I think there is some difference. With a typical (19x19) game of about 240 moves, both players typically have some 60 points of territory after filling in prisoners, so the total counting task is about 2 x 60 = 120 for territory scoring, and you’d be comparing 2 numbers of 2 digits for the end result.
With area scoring, you’d count the territory and stones of 1 color, so the total counting task is about 60 + 120 =180.

Ok fair enough then you introduce yourself the second argument on convenience:

Area scoring don’t need to keep track of prisoners.

Sincerely i don’t think one kind of rules is more convenient

You could skip tracking prisoners, but then you’d lose the option to use territory estimation during the game.

True, I think people will just prefer the system they are used to.

Of course. I was refering on the final counting.

Oh, I misunderstood. You meant to say that filling in prisoners is an extra effort in territory scoring that area scoring doesn’t have. That is true, but in most games the number of prisoners is not very high.

Let’s not lose sight of the topic at hand. :slight_smile:
We are discussing the determination of the winner from the perspective of a novice amateur player.

Indeed, Japanese rules are illogical, have edge cases and are often criticized. Some of this criticism is warranted for sure, but often also exaggerated or disregarding the context. Often I see it followed by praise for some other ruleset like Chinese rules, because they are so much easier to use, free of contradictions and beginner-friendly (they are not).

Do you prefer to have local solutions to life and death or to have no distinct phase of hypothetical play? In fact this is like considering the difference between a manual and automatic transmission car. You can argue which is better and more beginner-friendly, but in the grand scheme of driving, this is just a minor facet among a sea of much greater challenges.

There is little point in dissecting rulesets in front of beginners.


Another thing is that because of the prisoners aspect which allow you to add or remove stones at will it’s much easier to build rectangular shapes and such for an easier counting.


I suppose that after some practice, it may take less than a minute (maybe just half a minute when you try to do it quickly) to score an OTB 19x19 game by area scoring as well as by territory scoring.


I suppose it’s sort of unavoidable here in the OGF :wink:, especially when the topic is how to score a game.
At least we haven’t gone into linguistics (yet).


That’s an advantage of Territory Counting, which can be had with Area Scoring via pass stones as AGA implements, so it’s a strawman to claim that as an advantage of Territory Scoring, when it is accessible to both

Which requires extra rules regarding reverting to the position, unlike Lasker-Maas, which accomplishes it with only one minor rule change

In Area Scoring you don’t have to play out all the dame; you can leave an even number left

Incidentally, while there is nothing requiring Territory Scoring rulesets to require playing out dame, Japanese rules do require playing out dame, yet another reason to disprefer them


that statement contradicts explanation of how to score game with too early double-pass by gennan

I am stumped by this argument both for and against. :sweat_smile: In my confusion, I can only refer to my most recent post: it doesn’t matter to a beginner. That is the point that I want to contribute to the discussion. :slight_smile:

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