End game

Greetings all, during the end game. when my opponent is winning and I will lose a level. I notice some areas where there is no chance of living but he has to respond to them. they say it is a lost cause but when all is done; instead of a loss it turns into a draw since the winner has to win with. over 50 pts to gain a level. Is this true or my imagination?

It’s probably your imagination for two reasons.

You can’t gain any score by playing in areas where you have no chance of living.

While placing a stone there might reduce his score, it also increases his score.

The scoring system works so that playing dead stones cannot have a positive effect.

Rating does not depend on the winning margin, only on “win” or “loss”.


Under the japanese rule, when you play inside the territory of your opponent you give him a prisoner (so you lose a point) and if he answers he lose 1 point too. So that doesnt change the score.
Now the problem comes if he can play somewhere else in a more useful place. So you lose a point (the prisoner)at least (playing somewhere else can bring him even more points).

So now playing forcing moves inside your opponent territory is understandable when you discover the game, it can help to understand what happens but later it has a lot of drawbacks that you will not find anymore players doing the same.

Let’s consider a game that you recently finished.

In this game you are white. Your opponent is black. You play the last useful move that was played in this game:

But now instead of passing, black and white both played several moves inside their territories:

13: Black passes; 15: Black passes; 16: White passes.

How much did the score change, from the first diagram to the second diagram, by playing this sequence of about 15 moves in eachother’s territories?

Let’s take a look:

  • Black gained 4 points of prisoners by capturing 4 white stones, namely moves 2, 4, 6, 8 by white;
  • Black lost 4 points of territory by answering the white moves by playing inside their own territory, namely moves 3, 5, 7, 9.

All in all, the score didn’t change with moves 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, since Black gained 4 points but also lost 4 points. In conclusion, the four white moves inside black’s territory were useless, they neither helped white nor black.


  • Black lost 2 points of territory by playing stones inside their own territory, namely moves 1 and 11;
  • White lost 3 points of territory by playing stones inside their own territory, namely moves 10, 12 and 14.

These moves were bad, Black lost 2 points for no reason, and White lost 3 points for no reason. The score changed by 1 point in favour of Black.

However, both players also missed an important fact: White could have gained 3 points of territory by closing a small territory in the centre:

If White played move 2 of this diagram, then White would have gained 3 points of territory, corresponding to the 3 marked spots on this diagram.

You can easily spot the missing points of territory during the counting phase, after the game:

Black territories are marked in black, white territories are marked in white, and neutral points are unmarked. Notice how there are “neutral points” that are almost surrounded by white in the centre, but White forgot to close that territory so didn’t get any points there.

In the end, Black won by about 30 points, so the handful of points that were lost by White at the end of the game don’t matter too much. But if the game had been closer it could have mattered.