Endgame etiquette

Hello all, my first post here!

At the end of this game, there was an undefended cut in white’s position at D2: 2021-04-06. Is it normal to play out these situations until all cuts are defended? I see AI and other players doing this, but in this case black is behind in the race to capture the C2 group, so if white defends preemptively, he is just filling in his territory unnecessarily.

So white passed, and black had the choice whether to threaten, e.g. at C1, in which case white can answer and play out the sequence, saving the white group. In this case black saw he would lose the capturing race and so he passed too. But the position looks unresolved to me (as a beginner), so just wondering if there is some kind of etiquette in this situation.


There’s no etiquette as far as I’m aware. If it’s actually necessary to defend, you definitely should defend. If it’s not necessary to defend, it will cost you points to defend under Japanese rules, thus defending it is not good strategy.

So it’s up to your skill to know if you should defend it or not. If you feel unsure and have points left to defend it, I’d suggest to do so. In this case defending doesn’t seem necessary: the white group in the corner has 3 liberties, and whatever the black cutting stone does, you can keep it at only 2 liberties.

Similarly, it’s up to your opponent’s skill whether they play out the cut or not. If they do and fail, they will not lose any points as long as you keep responding. If, however, they play a move and you can read out that you don’t need to respond, then it will cost them a move, and thus would be bad strategy.

As you get stronger, you’ll have to play out moves like this less and less often, to the point where many strong players don’t even need to play the endgame to know who will win the game. However, it’s never necessary etiquette-wise to stop playing (as long as you’re actually trying, of course; stalling the game without trying is just holding up your opponent).


…until the dame is filled, then it is necessary.

Thanks for the comprehensive answer, that really clarifies things for me.

it’s never necessary etiquette-wise to stop playing

And presumably it’s never necessary etiquette-wise to keep playing :slight_smile:

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Indeed. If the game is at a state where everything is settled (according to you), passing is never wrong. If the game is still unsettled, passing can be a bit weird and rude, so I’d recommend resigning at that stage if you believe you’re behind, or to play on if you believe you’re winning.


just a little add-on about rules.
What was said before is relevant when you use the Japanese rules (which is quite common on OGS).

With the Chinese rules ( less common but almost all the bots here use it for example) you better finish all the moves, including the neutral ones (called dame in Japanese) , meaning the ones who don’t give points between the boundaries.


… at least until you have developed the skill to count the dame and thus can tell when they are even or not!


yes but not only, with some bots better make clear everything.


not to mention that if there are still dame to play and you keep passing but your opponent is playing the dame he is cashing a point each time. Better be clear with a newcomer.

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I think your reading is correct here. Black’s stone at D2 is dead since it cannot manage to avoid capture, and Black should not be able to capture White, if White does not make any mistakes.

In principle, Black could continue playing, but it just prolongs the game and hopes for White to make a mistake.

If Black does not play another move in that area, White should not as well (if aiming to maximize the margin of victory under Japanese rules). If Black passes, White does not need to play more stones to prove that Black is dead. Instead, Japanese rules considers the hypothetical play out (without changing the final board position) to judge that the Black stone should be dead.

It actually gets very tricky (with tons of rare and weird edge cases) to determine life and death at the end of game under Japanese rules.

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… if you are a pedant about them that is :wink:

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Well, it does require an incredible amount of attention to detail and analysis to follow the Japanese rules precisely under various situations.

However, it is absolutely required if one wants to get some situations correct. Otherwise, one would not really be playing by the Japanese rules.


The best thing to do:

  1. Just play as you think the rules are
  2. If there’s some weird endgame dispute, either report the game to a moderator or post it on the forum
  3. Yebellz will come save the day when the Japanese rules are weird
  4. In the worst cases, consult Robert Jasiek

For in-person play, it can definitely be part of the etiquette in some places, even with Japanese rules, to fill out the dame at the end, as it makes manual counting a bit easier. This is obviously not an issue online when you have semi-automatic counting.

Yeah - I wonder if this is one of the contributors to online frustration when people feel the urge to needlessly fill the dame online, because it makes sense IRL.

I prefer filling dame, even online. Not because it makes sense IRL, but because it gives the game a richer and fuller sense of completeness.


But Japanese rules require dame filling, just ask @yebellz


… only vs a pedant…

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Even this pedant (myself) often does not fill in all of the dame when playing with Japanese rules on OGS. In most cases, my opponents indicate a laziness to fill out the remaining dame (by passing early), so I simply pass as well, and we score while assuming that the dame had been filled.

I’ve written about dame filling in other posts:


Kind of resume:
Beyond the worries on etiquette, differences of rules, ability to see weaknesses…
To answer directly to the OP, play the dame in each of your games until being a strong SDK and have some mastery of the rules and endgame calculation. That’s how I see it.

About etiquette and dame, the one I know is it’s too late to resign in the dame. Please let’s count that finished game.