Different Counting Method, different Strategy?

Even bent4 is almost always the same really… But very good to study thoroughly once you encounter it. It is an amazing situation :slight_smile:


to sum up: there can be small differences in score, depending on how the game is counted, for example in case of an uneven number of dame. usually the outcome of the game (who won and who lost) is unaffected by that.

gameplay and strategy generally do not change. a good move is a good move!

(there are probably some extremely rare cases where a different ruleset changes the best move on the board involving board repetition, seki or suicide [allowed by korean rules], but likely youll play happily for years without encountering a relevant case [i havent, i think… :slight_smile:], especially since im not really sure those differences are implemented on ogs.)


When I wrote this I thought of one particular pattern that occurs fairly regularly in 9x9 games. I skimmed through the last 50 games in my profile, but I did not see the pattern. Hopefully you will know what I am talking about :sweat_smile:.

I’ve created a Demo board (Jump to Move 19) to show the concept. When you are defending at the sides, sometimes, because of your shape, you have no choice but to play within your territory by an extra stone (bottom example). Usually you can shore up the side with two stones (top sample).

When building shape, if you are aware of this potential pitfall, then you can prevent this from occurring, by placing your stones in a way that prevents this from occurring. It is one of the mistakes that I am trying to train myself to recognize and avoid. Still a work in progress :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

i wouldnt call that playing inside your territory, but defending a cut :wink:. if its necessary to play a move then theres no choice anyway. not playing there would lose more points than just the 1, therefore you would always defend the cut regardless of the rules applied.

Well yes, in a world of perfect play, there will be no differences between strategy and tactics per ruleset, minus small side cases like suicide, seki, and rare ko fight configurations. But in the eyes of a beginner who is still prone to making a lot of mistakes, there is no concept of perfect play.

Which is why I recommend that they be ultra aware of their territorial border. Here is one example of how Japanese Scoring might be more difficult for a beginner to grasp.

1 Like

And if that beginner is basing move choices on the ruleset in use then they are not likely to make any fewer mistakes. However if they consider strategy and tactics without reference to ruleset then I think they have a chance to avoid beginner mistakes like wasting moves inside settled territory.

For the very beginner I would say that it’s a red herring to think about ruleset and instead you should focus on the principles of the game.


I think you hit the nail on the head here.


The primary problem I have noticed with beginners is that they do not spend any time studying the principles of the game. They have no understanding of right or wrong moves, good shape or bad, and even concepts like dead stones and territory can be a reoccurring mystery.

In this way I think that the differences between Area and Territory scoring can be significant. If the user does not understand the differences then scoring can seem unpredictable and be extremely frustrating. I’ve seen many discussions where this particular topic is attributed to why many people initially are turned away from Go.

Since counting with Area Scoring is easier for someone with little to no experience playing Go, I continue to believe and advocate that Chinese rules are more forgiving. If for not other reason than playing inside your own territory will never affect your score. Playing in your own territory instead of making a good move does affect your score, but they don’t understand this yet.

It is a very basic concept, and once you figure it out, it seems silly that you ever sweated over it. But for those who do not yet understand, it is often a big enough hurdle to discourage a person to flat out quit. Which makes the topic significant in my opinion.

No, the differences between the rules do not affect the general strategy of the game.

In the vast majority of games, the best play (at any particular point) and the final result of the game is the same. Even the score margin (difference between the players’ scores) is typically either the same or different by only one point.

The biggest affects from the differences between the rules only come up in very rare situations, such as those involving complicated combinations of ko and/or seki formations.


Woow, overall Really big thanks for all the answer.

I ask this because I have tried to find the discussion in an online forum but did not find a satisfying answer. But this time I can understand little bit more

Thank You,

this is an enlightenment for me

Got The Point,
so i should learn more and more about go :grin:

1 Like

I believe this has been discussed at length in other places, but area scoring is in no way more forgiving. It is an illusion that playing in your territory does not cost you points and this is only really the case if you play in your own territory after the game has basically finished already. Playing in your own territory is just as bad under Chinese rules and under Japanese rules: it wastes a move and gives your opponent one extra point.

The extra point in territory scoring is in the reduction of your territory, the extra point in area scoring is the point that the next (living) stone of your opponent gives them.

Except for the difference in valuing dame points, there really is no difference between Area and Territory methods. That people seem to believe playing in your own territory is free under Chinese rules, seems to me to be a good reason not to teach Chinese rules to beginners.


Yeah, I keep trying to explain to people that playing in your own territory, while 0 points, still comes at the opportunity cost of not playing somewhere that gets you point, thus actually losing points in comparison to playing somewhere else.

1 Like

I mispoke earlier. I was tired, in a hurry, and did not reread my post before submitting it. The sentence read:

Since counting with Area Scoring is easier for someone with little to no experience playing Go, I continue to believe and advocate that Chinese rules are more forgiving. If for not other reason than playing inside your own territory will never affect your score. Playing in your own territory, instead of making a good move, does affect your score, but they don’t understand this yet.

But what I want to say is:

I continue to believe and advocate that understanding how the game is being scored is more straightforward under Chinese Counting. If for not other reason than playing inside your own territory will never affect your score. Playing in your own territory, instead of making a good move, does affect your score, but they don’t understand this yet.

The point I was trying to make was about counting. I did try to allude to the fact that playing in your own territory does cost you a point, in the case that there are still territory gaining moves left on the board.

In terms of the illusion that playing in your own territory is free under Chinese rules being a good reason not to teach that ruleset, I completely disagree. If someone is being taught the rules, then this situation is easily remedied when the teacher explains it to the student.

I disagree, especially concerning Japanese rules. An excerpt from my upcoming mini-guide on the differences between Chinese and Japanese rulesets:

If you are interested in learning about how the wording of rules can create these sorts of situations, Robert Jasiek analyzes the 1989 Japanese rule set in exhaustive detail. Here he provides one of the best known examples of why wording matters in a Go rule set.

Well, if you disagree, you’re flat out wrong. Let’s a assume a game ends, all dame have been played and all dead stones are removed from the board and both players passed once each. Then:

Territory scoring is Territory (of your colour) - Prisoners (of your colour) + Komi = Score.

Area scoring is Territory (of your colour) + Stones on the board (of your colour) + Komi = Score.

The total number of stones that have been played are Stones on the board (of your colour) + Prisoners (of your colour). Hence, if I add the total number of stones to the Territory score, then we get the Area score. Since the total number of stones that have been played are equal (perhaps one less for white), the total difference in score is equal.

Note that I’m talking about the difference between territory and area scoring, not about the difference between Japanese and Chinese rules.

It is worth noting that the addition of passing stones in AGA rules makes it so that you can count Territory Scoring and get the exact result of Area scoring, the difference, as I stated above, usually only counting for 1 point difference.

Now, this does not make the rules the same, particularly surrounding superko.

I am aware that both forms of scoring are mathematically identical. In this way they are completely equal. But there is a human factor to territory versus area scoring. Authors write of it, ruleset creators write about it, rule set nerds discuss is all over the internet. Human perception is a big part of Go and of rulesets. The perception of certain situations leads to certain behaviors and interpretations.

As someone who teaches newcomers to Go (locally and a handful on OGS), I see this on a regular basis. I also hear similar questions on a regular basis. I’ve also spent the better half of a year researching rulesets and asking questions in various Go venues all over the internet. It needs to be clear that my reasoning includes “human perception” as a valid point when discussing how Area and Territory are not equal. Area is simply easier to understand. Territory takes longer to wrap our head around.

That is my primary point about how they are not equal. Obviously Japanese, as a territory ruleset, has a lot of unique issues related to the ruleset that makes it unique, and does not necessarily represent Territory Scoring as a whole.

Hence my use of the word illusion.

Getting better at go means understanding the illusion and not be influenced by it. Since being influenced by illusionary advantages makes you a worse player.

AGA rules have their own kinks. Like Japanese, I learned of this on Sensei and began researching it further. There is a reason my guide does not include AGA in it, as it has some grey areas, just like Japanese. Unfortunately, Robert Jasiek did not do a thorough evaluation of the AGA rules :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Indeed. Unfortunately, Go appears particularly difficult for people to wrap their heads around initially, myself very much included. Which is why a teacher introducing Go to someone greatly helps retention of new players in the Go community.

I agree with this point:

However, I do not support the argument made here:

I think there is value to teaching beginners about both area and territory scoring, and how they essentially give strategically equivalent objectives, for the sake of dispelling these illusions and misconceptions. Area scoring and territory scoring are really just two ways of looking at nearly the same thing, so maybe giving both perspectives would help a beginner better understand the objective of the game.

  • Area score = territory + your living stones.
  • Territory score = territory + stones captured from your opponent.

Understanding that these two systems give nearly equivalent results might help beginners with better understanding the strategy of the game. I could also argue that focusing on only the territory scoring perspective might create the detrimental misconception that capturing is a bonus to be prioritized (over the efficient control of territory).

Also, when teaching that unnecessary plays inside one’s own territory is bad, I think too much emphasis is placed on the loss of a single point. Except at the end of game, the loss from essentially passing (by wasting a move) is much larger than one point.

Further, I think a difficulty in teaching Japanese rules to beginners is that one is forced to simplify away much of the complexities in determining life and death (necessary under Japanese rules), which may lead to an incomplete understanding that causes further confusion later when dealing with more complex situations. Resolving a life and death dispute under Japanese rules is quite complicated (to do properly), while under area scoring rulesets, disputes are straightforward to settle by playing on.