Five stages of the game

I once heard a Chinese professional in an AGA video comment that while in Japan and the West, a game of go is generally subdivided into opening, midgame and endgame, in China it is more common to subdivide the game into five stages. I seem to remember that after the opening, the second stage was called “deployment” (sort of preparing for the “midgame proper”), does that sound about right? Can anyone provide some more context on these traditional “five Chinese stages” of a go game? :slight_smile:


I might include the transition from middle game to endgame as a separate stage (which I consider one of my weaknesses). If you keep fighting (a bit) too long, you can easily lose like 10 points.


Huang Xiwen (黄希文) talks about the five stages of the game in his Go Classroom Ladder books 《阶梯围棋教室》

He lists the five stages as:

  1. 布局 Fuseki
  2. 序战 Initial battle
  3. 中盘 Mid-game
  4. 终局战 Late game battle
  5. 官子 Endgame

I haven’t read the book, so I can’t really say for sure what his exact definitions of these are, but probably pretty straightforward. There are links here to download all four volumes (Baidu cloud), but not sure if they still work: 阶梯围棋教室:586围棋提高法 – 天祺围棋


I was also influenced by a new document attributed to Huang Longshi in which he says the “War [as in Sun Zi’s Art of War] has nine grounds; go has five.”

Fairbairn, L19

I think he interpreted those “grounds” as geographical, but perhaps they were really temporal.

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  1. Pre-game confidence
  2. Opening
  3. Mid-game
  4. End game
  5. Cry yourself to sleep


  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Open with modern AI joseki
Start a complicated fight
Request undo
Request undo
Curse opponent in the chat


Lets make this a post game stages:

  • Denial: my opponent is not stronger than me
  • Anger: my opponent was cheating with AI
  • Bargaining: if I used AI …
  • Depression: i am such a low moral person
  • Acceptance: well, the whole world is using it, so i will too. :joy:

Five stages of kibitz:

  • Comment about 3-3 invasion
  • Someone asks what a “tasugee” is
  • Comment about tengen being the best move
  • Request a ko fight
  • Call Black weak one move before White resigns

Alternative ending:

  • dan calls kyu dumb for suggesting a move; pro immediately plays move kyu suggested

I count nine:

  1. Limbo
  2. Lust
  3. Gluttony
  4. Greed
  5. Wrath
  6. Heresy
  7. Violence
  8. Fraud
  9. Treachery