General questions

Hey i tried googling for the best go playing country but i didnt get any go related topics, just pokemon go and counterstrike go.

Also curious if go has the largest active playerbase when compared to chess and shogi.

The active Go playerbase is smaller than for chess but larger than for shogi.

The strongest Go-playing country is either China (PRC) or (South) Korea, depending on what metric one uses. Japan and Taiwan follow (relatively) closely behind, and then the USA and various European countries.

North Korea is somewhere in that list as well.

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Hello froglife,

well “best go playing country” is a bit of an ambiguous question.

Korean and Chinese players are currently the strongest in the world Japanese are also up there - if that’s what you mean.

Generally Go is much more played in eastern countries, while chess are more traditional in the west.

Active playerbase is probably quite hard to measure reliably, but AFAIK Go is usally regarded as the most played board game in the world. But who knows…


If I can derail, how are we defining game here?

If we mean table game, I think Go’s active worldwide playerbase probably falls behind chess, xiangqi, mahjong, and several card games.

In general, I feel there’s often exaggeration when promoting Go, which isn’t really helpful.

In a tagline like “Go is the oldest and most popular game in world, with a history of over 4,000 years!” all statements made, as far as I can tell, are false.


And that makes it stand out from all the other marketing messages everyone is constantly bombarded with in what way? :wink:


I wouldn’t be so proud of being the same as



Yeah i get that chess is a western thing but there isnt any numbers for worldwide comparison of chess and go?

Im in america and i can admit to have never seen or heard of go until just recently hulu reccomended hikaru no go. Im so lucky to of learned of this game

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Out of curiosity I checked for Germany. In ORGANISED chess we have 45 times more players than in organised Go. For every organised Go player we have one chess CLUB in Germany.

And that in spite of myself having switched from Chess to Go. :wink:


I tend to say that go is about 3000 years old and that there are about 30 million players worldwide. Do y’all think those numbers are exaggerated, or are those reasonable estimates?


I think some of the places where I might have come across Go never really made me notice that it was a game that could be enjoyable. (eg looking at you A Beautiful Mind and Tron Legacy )

Only came across it when a friend in college brought in a Go board and it was pretty much the same time the AlphaGo games started.

For what I heard go is known but not that popular in eastern countries too. The only exception could be Korea maybe, I didn’t check. In Japan clubs are full of old people from reports of travelers. In China it is still a thing for children mostly. For adults you better avoid south, and in other towns/cities you will find just one or two places to play, like in a western country. Take Shanghai, there are much more places to play in Paris.

In my own impression, through the centuries, go never been a mass game interesting a big part of the population, I think it’s just inherent of the game, a bit too abstract to be enjoyable for everyone.


I couldn’t say about the playerbase except how it seems relative to other games.

In terms of history, let me quote Wikipedia’s article History of Go:

The earliest written reference of the game is usually taken to be the historical annal Zuo Zhuan (c. 4th century BC), referring to a historical event of 548 BC.

It is also mentioned in Book XVII of the Analects of Confucius and in two of the books of Mencius. In all of these works, the game is referred to as (弈).

Chinese archaeologists have discovered a broken piece of a pottery go board from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD) in Shaanxi Province. This is the earliest discovery of an existing board unearthed in China.

So, the first (disputed) written evidence of the game is 2,300 – 2,400 years ago and references an event taking place around 2,550 years ago. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Go was being played several centuries before, so an age of 3,000 years is plausible but not evidenced.

When dealing with sources as old as this, there’s also debate over the interpretation of the material. How do we know that 弈 is Go? In what level of detail is the game being described that makes this clear? As we know, language is a slippery thing. You couldn’t blame a historian for relying on the archeology and and claiming a conservative estimate of 2,000 years old.

I think a phrase “2–3,000 years old” is most uncontroversial. The 4,000 years claim is pure speculation.

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Chess is a eastern thing too. If you consider xiangqi (much more popular as weiqi btw) Shogi, and even western chess …

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From the sound of these posts chess has more players worldwide than go

I actually switched from chess to go, once i found out go existed i couldnt stop playing.


I’ve read that FIDE claims there are 600 million chess players worldwide and that the BGA estimates there are 60 millions go players worldwide. If there is any truth in those estimates, there are 10 times more chess players than go players. And this doesn’t even include xiangqi and shogi.

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600 million chess players doesnt seem right

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Well, what’s a ‘player’?

People who have touched chess pieces at least once in their life and sort of know the rules? Might be 600 million. People who know the en passant rule? I too would doubt that number.


Yeah i agree

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I don’t think that shogi has anywhere near as many players as Go.

As I understand, shogi has very poor diffusion outside Japan. From what I’ve learnt, there isn’t even a single non-Japanese shogi professional.

My suspicion would be that the active playerbases of table games rank something like this:

  • gambling card games (combined)
  • mahjong
  • (international) chess
  • xiangqi
  • mancalas (combined)
  • Go
  • shogi
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They might be more monopoly players as go players

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