Handicap alert

It would be great to have a handicap alert like “this is a handicap game, please put the handicap stones first” at the start of the game.


But but but… it’s sitting there saying “it’s your turn”, isn’t it?


I think many players somehow don’t notice this out of habit and expectations that it’s the other player’s turn to play after they’ve played their first stone, and don’t check the text in that area, as it’s not usually helpful on move 2 in a typical Japanese handicap or even game.

(& the text length being recognisable as something one often sees, is easy to scan past & dismiss if one has seen it many times before in games)

Depending on the player and their experience, they may not even know some rulesets allow free placement of handicap stones.

(and thus not expect it or know what to do)

Something like the bots sometimes show in the chat of handicap games, with a big, bold message to replace the “Your turn” with “Waiting for Black player to place all handicap stones…” might work and draw more attention with the length.

( or make the “…” move like a loading screen’s “…” or draw attention to itself some other way )


It’s not enough. Should explain what to do for all people not familiar with or not expecting free handicap stones placement.


If you really want to confuse Black while you’re waiting, you can request an undo of their first stone.



One more testimony.


I wonder if changes to the UI of the game board would help.

One idea: (assume free placement of 3 handicap stones)

  • When you play the first, it has the number “3” on it.
  • When you play the second, it has the number “2” on it.
  • Then you place the last one, they become normal stones.

Another idea:

  • Stones don’t get submitted until you place all handicap stones.
  • If you’re using “Submit move” button, it’s not available until you’ve placed them all.
  • If you’re clicking/double-clicking, the stones stay semi-transparent until you’ve placed them all.
  • EDIT: Idea is partly that the server (and the opponent) doesn’t see anything until you’ve selected the full placement. Optionally, UI could let you freely undo (by clicking on them) some of the stones until you’ve placed all of them.

Could do both.


If out of habit you don’t read the instructions on the page (or anywhere else) you will have to face the consequences.
A new text as suggested above will not help or maybe temporarily help. The problem is that players don’t read it.
After a few loses due to this, they may start to wonder what they are doing wrong and maybe learn from it.
Maybe, or maybe not.


Interesting, i dunno exactly how to proceed.

I guess the problem is linked to the use of default settings. Some players came to play with always nothing to chose, as the traditional placement is made automatically by the server at this stage for Japanese kind of handicap.

So we have to catch the attention that it’s not a bug either, there is something to do they didn’t realize yet.


After 100 NZ handicap games in a row I still have to force myself to slow down and check the little handicap marker before I place a stone. I think a pop-up message would be completely reasonable.

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First looks good. Pretty nice idea!

I’m afraid second would generate bugs reports.

I’m still advocating a message on top (can come with the first)


On the second proposition

I am not for it, as It’s quite a modification of the usual way to proceed. (I mean in the respect of your opponent, you are not supposed to elaborate the starting position like that)



I actually think that replacing the “your move” text with “stone placement” or “handicap stone placement” would help and wouldn’t be a major change. Could even be written in red.
I suspect most people look at the board to see whose move it is knowing where they played the last stone and if it has the circle on it. (Do free placement handicap stones have the circle? They shouldn’t…)


I didn’t know that one was needed. Aren’t handicap stones placed by OGS automatically before the first move, as with other servers?

It depends on the ruleset, like everywhere else; if OGS is unique in this regard, then it’s only in being more faithful to the diversity in rulesets available

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You should try Chinese rules out!


I see. If I discover which rulesets don’t work intuitively, I’ll avoid them. Currently, I select Japanese rules even though I can’t remember all the special cases, because it seems to work. Chinese rules make no sense to me, because I want to believe that the goal of go is to surround the most territory and to take the most prisoners, with equal priority.

Is this like an April’s fools thing? Claiming that Japanese rules are more intuitive than Chinese, and implying that territory scoring favors taking prisoners more than area scoring?


With free placement you can still put your handicap stones at the same places as with automatic placement (japanese rules and alike).

You seem quite confused with what are other rules but you can restrict yourself to the japanese ruleset anyway. The difference between both sets of rules is simply if you want to count the whole area you are occupying (stones and emptyness) or just the inside (emptyness). Both give almost the same result but i let you check more in details if some day you get more interest into this.
Happy gaming!