Does the learn to play go section need more explanations?

The thing is that (I am afraid) many people nowadays get quickly discouraged by long explanations. The tutorial is minimalistic explaining the very basic of rules on purpose I believe. Does it prepare you well for being a good player? No. Not at all. But it does not drive people away and prepares them as quickly as possible to be more or less able to play. But perhaps a link to some of the more thorough tutorials for those interested would be nice.


Yeah but to be fair it needs some explanation.

It doesn’t have to be a long explanation, literally even the first picture used here in the website linked by @Kaworu_Nagisa already says as much as a paragraph for explaining the idea of liberties.

Put that or the second picture beside the problems and you’ve already improved it somewhat. Put the single word “lives” (maybe easier to interpret than liberties) beside the image and it’s already improved.

You could do the same thing, put a picture of groups that have eyes - number or mark the eyes - write the word “eye” beside them, and say two-eyes are can’t be captured.

It’s already a minor improvement and it doesn’t involve long explanations.


In general I find the tutorial section very well presented and I agree with and like the minimalist approach. The issue I find with it is, if you take the very first tutorial as an example, it says “Capture the white stone”. But for someone who doesn’t know the rules, it doesn’t explain what capturing is or how to do it. A simple line explaining how to capture I feel is necessary. Something like “To capture a stone you must have a stone on all four of its surrounding intersections. Capture the white stone.”. No long paragraph, just a simple explainer.


DISCLAIMER: This thread is quite old, but I came here to open a new one about the tutorial needing explanations and it seemed similar enough to bring this up

As a beginner, it definitively needs some explanations. Or, a lot of them.

I’m a complete beginner, and I first found this website and tried to learn to play using the tutorial. I found confusing several things at every step. The computer was reacting to me doing things and most of the time I didn’t understand why some things worked and why some things didn’t.

There is also the issue that after making the right move the tutorial jumps automatically to the next lesson, so I hadn’t the chance to analyze the board and realize what is happening.

These are some pointers that I found unclear about the game:

  • How do I win? Like, really. How is it decided wins at the end of the game? What is my objective? Capture as much as possible?
  • The capturing rules.
    • The tutorial says that you have to surround pieces, but it doesn’t feel clear when are they surrounded. I understood it through another source: I think they called it “liberties”, and that only the connections marked by the lines mattered. I still feel that the pieces could “escape” through the diagonals.
    • When there are situations like “concentric circles”, which one takes priority? Sometimes the system tells me a move is suicidal, but later that same type of move is the winning move? For example, the last move of the “Snapback 1” puzzle is putting a black stone in place totally surrounded by white stones. Why isn’t that black stone captured immediately?
  • Seki: The whole concept is a bit confusing, I think it’s related to my last question. I thought it happened when the “borders” were mixed and either black could capture white or white could capture white. However, we get to Seki puzzle 4 and black is completely surrounded by white, and apparently there is a winning move that could help capture some white pieces… but they are still completely surrounded, it feels like there are just some holes to fill. And it may be related with the “two eyes” from earlier, but it’s explained as a different concept.
  • “Stone Removal Phase”, where you can remove obviously dead stones from play." As it can be understood from what I’ve said earlier, I can’t tell when dead stones are “obviously” dead. Isn’t this done automatically by the game engine?
  • Ko: All of it.

I think talking about these situations is helping me analyze them and get a better understanding, but I still feel very confused and not confident at all. And most importantly, more people will come behind me and have similar issues.

EDIT: Added a pointer about the stone removal phase


I’m considering making a puzzle set for beginners to learn the rules and basic capturing and life and death. Maybe further than that if I’ve time.

There are already beginners puzzles except the ones I’ve checked don’t explain capturing so you already would need to know how that works when trying them.

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Those are all fair complaints, the tutorial is designed to be as brief as possible to stick to the modern way of not reading manuals :slight_smile: but yeah, I think we overdid the brevity a bit.

Anoek is on board with some improvements and the tutorial is actually on our github, so any coder is welcome to try and improve it. Just please stay true to the minimalistic idea The idea is to be able to play as soon as humanly possible. For longer explanations there are other sources, possibly we can link to those at the end of the tutorial or something. Anyone willing to help out (@shinuito @KillerDucky), who is not willing or able to code the stuff, just PM me, I will try to do it myself one day, but no promises on the timetable, lately I am having trouble finding extra time :slight_smile:

Welcome to the forums @xitoshi and thank you for searching before starting a new thread :slight_smile: appreciated.

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Just to make sure I understand you correctly, this is the general approach we’re aiming for here?

Well we don’t have to be THAT brief I guess :smiley: :joy: :rofl:

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Hey, I recognize your name! I just finished the basic lessons on your tutorial website ( and I now feel more confident!

Some differences that I liked:

  • It was helpful that it was clarified why some moves that looked suicidal, weren’t. It feels silly but recognizing when it is completely full and you can capture was not obvious (I’m not sure if I can actually figure it out, but I feel more prepared xD).
  • For the “ko”, it was helpful to have a visual aid on the board of where the movement was not allowed. I still don’t understand it fully, I think it is “capture the capturer”, but for some time I thought it was “don’t put a piece on a position that was just captured” or “capture the last piece put”
  • Also, it was very helpful to have a representation of the problem it is avoiding and a simple situation at the beginning. The current tutorial here starts by asking you to “capture by exploiting the rule”, before the rule is understood.
  • There is more information about why the failed states are failed states. I liked exploring the other possibilities to better understand what was going on.
  • I like that the rules and the strategy are separated. I haven’t seen any mention of the two eyes while explaining the rules, for example.

However, there might be a mismatch of expectations. I was looking for a longer tutorial like that on the Learn Go website, while the tutorial here was indeed faster and several of the concepts could be easily understood.

In any case, thank you all for your work! I came here a bit annoyed by my confusion, so I centered on the negative stuff. My apologies for that : )

Unfortunately, it’s more difficult for me to notice the positives, just because the negatives are more obvious, but I’ll give my best:

  • The capture tutorial was very easy until Capture 5. That was the one that confused me about the illegal moves. The position itself is very clear once you know the explanation, and I think many people could figure it out. But from my experience, I think that it would be beneficial to make it more explicit :sweat_smile:
  • The “defend” positions used in the exercise are very good. However, I needed some reflection to understand why they worked, and that’s where the tutorial jumping immediately to the next puzzle felt a bit overwhelming.

I will stop there because Examining the whole tutorial again and thinking all the possible feedback is becoming a bit too much. In general I like the positions and many puzzles feel very intuitive, and I just feel the need for more time to digest what is going on and why.

I hope this was helpful!


I don’t know if I like the minimalistic style to be honest, so I’m not sure I’m the person to help out, even if I can figure out the code. Realistically if we wanted to be as minimal as possible we’d get rid of seki puzzles altogether from the tutorial.

Explanations along with puzzles/testing out ideas, similar to your site or the interactive way to go, is more up my alley.

Or here’s an idea in puzzle set form.

I’d probably still like to cut down the wording a bit, but people can always skim it and just play with the diagrams. @xitoshi feel free to have a look through those ‘puzzles’ and see if they help you. The first few are just explanations really. I might add life and death puzzles and other things about killable eye-shapes.

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Actually playing around with the puzzles. OGS also doesn’t really implement the ko rule properly if a stone is recaptured the first time in a puzzle. I thought it was working but it isn’t now.

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can there just be a short simple explanation about the game?
i tried but failure to understand is not my problem
i fail the tutorial
so in my own opinion
the description about this game isn’t clear at all
because there is too many explanations about this game
even i use my brain too think too hard to understand this
the examples will never make others understand what you are talking about


I think this is where a human teaching the game can come in handy. It’s very difficult to learn the rules to any game just by reading a manual, no matter how well written. Want to discuss over a 9x9 game?

I sent a correspondence challenge, but I’m happy to play all in one session if we’re online at the same time.


Everyone want to understand
but noone can from the beginning. Just get the rules clear and go make experience by playing… many games.

The rules:
:warning: No need to read all!
There are different ways to explain the rules and
different ways to understand them, so find yours!

Let’s start with another tutorial quite appreciated
playgo tutorial

Here you have a list of go resources (many are free to download).

go resources

And finally this topic with more to explore

Welcome and good luck.


Most resources in the list shown by Groin are not for beginners.

Better start with

Also, this free book explains the basic rules and the concept of eyes on pages 6-11 of the English version.

Both are already linked in go resources under:

  • Interactive Tutorial for Beginners
  • A Go Guide From a Beginner

Yes, but the list of go resources is so long that a beginner won’t notice which ones are appropriate. It would be better to make a separate short paragraph that lists resources for beginners.

By the way, for French speakers:

  • : règles, cours et exercices pour débutants.
  • FulguroGo : vidéos expliquant les notions fondamentales. On trouvera également sur cette chaîne des bases avancées, des parties de pros, des commentaires de parties de niveau kyu et dan,…
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I had the will to offer as many possible choices as possible, some may prefer a more extensive approach like offered by River Mountain Go 1 (30k-20k) or a more cultural (CJK) Falling in love with Baduk… There are even more interesting input for a full beginner there.

The topic i linked has good panorama but lacks
of links. Links are in “go resources”.

Maybe we should rewrite a “for full beginner only” list of resources.

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I think this website (also mentioned above) is very helpful for a larger tutorial.

It’s hard to really explain the game, but let me try to provide a simple gist.

The object of the game is to control more of the board than your opponent. You play by taking turns placing stones on the board. Once placed, the stones do not move. However, they could be later removed (captured), if they are completely surrounded by the opponent. Stones can wind up in a position where they are not yet captured, but in position where they cannot avoid being captured, and hence are considered “dead”.

A core aspect of strategy is to place groups of stones into “living” formations that securely surround territory, in a way that prevents the opponent from capturing those stones or invading to create their own living groups within. Since these formations are created one stone at a time, much of the play tends to involve sketching out which areas one is trying to claim or threatening to take away from the opponent. Some moves might also aim to undermine the opponent by aiming to capture their stones, and some moves might be defensive aiming to secure one’s own groups from being captured. To achieve the objective of controlling more of the board, one must essentially try to securely surround as much territory as possible. Good strategic play requires finding the correct balance between ambition and safety.


The mechanic [how to play] of the game is supra simple, a bit hard to find a game with more simple one (no movement, capture, same pieces).

But the goal [how to win] is quite not obvious. You can use an image like let’s share the cake. Still when you want to see how it works, you need to use concepts, and a bit of strategy/tactics already.

Note that this is pretty unusual as most board games at reverse have a easy goal (like mat the king) but much more complex mechanism (movement, capture, different pieces for ex)

Another tutorial (rules only!)

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