End Game Scoring Examples

Hi, played my first couple of games now and promptly became very confused over scoring.

What confused me was not the clean surrounds (i.e no invasions) but what occurred if there were a few invading pieces. As an example if I had surrounded nine points and my wife plonked a stone in this territory then for me to surround and capture it would take (at worse assuming no more stones played by the other side) 4 stones to capture it. This would then mean I only had five points at the end? and logically taken to an extreme if both players ‘played’ out that zone then it would end up being around half the size.

So I was wondering if there were any good tutorials on how to calculate the end game.

Thanks for any help.

Stones that aren’t part of a group which encloses two eyes OR a group that is undead in seki are dead and they are removed from the board at the end of the game.

To get an estimate of the score during the game, count each point of likely prospective territory as 1 point and each intersection occupied by a (probably) dead stone as 2 points (1 pt of territory, 1 capture).

To simplify scoring (under Japanese rules), dead/captured stones are used to fill the opponent’s territory.

Sensei’s on counting.

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Thanks! So an invasion of an existing (so already surrounded territory) is only really useful if the invader is allowed to form two eyes.

That makes things a lot simpler though naturally i will have to pick up the exceptions to the rule…

To try and put it simply, under Japanese rules (which I assume you are using) you DO NOT have to capture stones that cannot survive. Anything that cannot prevent capture is considered dead when you count the game.

This may sound as a source of confusion at first, but after some games, players will naturally see this in most cases.

If you are not sure whether a group can live or not, I recommend to simply not pass (it would make no sense to pass If it can live inside your “territory” as you have to surround it to establish clear borders anyway.

And if you do not mind being a test subject, I am (very slowly) trying to put together a simple and understandable interactive tutorial for beginners. Unfortunately the scoring I feel is one of my weakest points currently. https://laughing-bose-96dbf5.netlify.com/puzzles/5/ but If you identified what parts confused you or are not clearly explained, it would be a great help :smiley:


Thanks, I did have a look but though it was good generally it would not have answered my specific problems. Whilst slowly searching back on the site though I found two replies you made to (what appears to be) an identical issue and your answers there covered it exactly (especially the second posts comments about the +1 for each prisoner essentially making it neutral to white to carry on playing - as that was also something I found confusing).

If you could include examples involving those two comments (where not already addressed) then it would be very good…

Forgot the link - earlier answer

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The site also has a really neat feature that can help in this regard - if you open any game, and look at the toolbar on the right side, you’ll see a little widget that looks like a spedometer:

If you click that, it will give you the current estimate as to what the score might be, based on what the site’s AI thinks might be securely defended on both sides.


Because scoring a game of Go includes lots of complex elements, this score is not always correct! It is useful as a guide or a shortcut, but you still have to pay attention and make your own judgment about things.

  • If you try and auto-score a game that is in the early stages, you’ll see big chunks of the board that are simply not scored, even though one side might have more stones in there. The AI is basically saying that there are too many gaps in the group’s defenses right now, and there’s no way to tell if it might get invaded in the future
  • Most of the time, the site AI is pretty good about detecting dead stones and false eyes (i.e. groups that can’t make 2 eyes and will end up dead). However, if the dead group in question still has a lot of liberties that haven’t been taken away, the site might falsely believe that group is alive, etc.
  • The site AI will use either Chinese (count stones and empty spots) or Japanese (only count the empty spots) scoring rules based on how each person set that game up, so you’ll see some variety, but really - all that matters is how far ahead one side is over the other. It doesn’t matter if the score is 135.5 to 128 or 35.5 to 28, one side still wins by 7.5 points.

It’s also a good tool to use in the middle of your own games, as a way of seeing

  • which areas need to be secured before they can count as “yours”
  • which areas of your opponent’s need to be approached or invaded so they don’t get too big, and (most importantly)
  • as you get towards the end of the game - does it make sense to work and sweat through the endgame if you’re going to end up 20 points behind anyway, and you might as well just resign and start a new game :wink:

Good luck!


Lastly - I just read your original post, and realized you were playing on an actual goban with stones, rather than online. Here are a few tips that will make it easier to score your games by hand.

Note: this is the “easy version” that assumes you have no seki on the board (seki isn’t very common in beginner games - usually something you see in more advanced games).

Also, this works best when both players have

  • completely secured all of their frameworks/moyos
  • filled in any dame points (empty intersections left on the board that do not give either side any additional points, nor cut anything off or put anything in atari, etc)
  • resolved any lingering ko situation on the board.

Once that is done, and you have both passed because there’s nowhere else left to play:

  • each of you takes your captured prisoner stones from your respective bowls and fills in points or spaces in your opponent’s territory (i.e. white stones go in white’s moyos, black stones go in black’s moyos)
  • do the same thing with any captured or dead stones on the board (i.e. white stones already trapped in a black moyo get picked up and put in one of white’s moyos)
  • while keeping the borders separating white and black’s areas un-touched, see if you can shift a few stones around inside of each of those moyos to create more rectangular spaces. That way, rather than having to count each empty intersection, you can just say, “well, I’ve got this rectangle here that’s 3 spaces by 5 spaces, so that must be 15 points”, etc.
  • count up the empty points - add 5.5 to white’s score for komi, and you’re done!