How to get started 19*19 game

Hello everyone,

This is Andy, a Go beginner, from China.

In the past few months, I’ve learned the basic rules and skills of Go, like the capture skills, a few common sense, and the solutions to certain types of live-death puzzles, etc., from online Go courses. And I practiced a lot, such as I’ve resolved more than 2000+ puzzles including the death-life (死活) puzzle and the 手筋 puzzle. However, I’m still struggling in starting a Go match on board 19*19. The board is so big that I’ve no idea where my next move is supposed to be. Normally I play against a beninnger level AI, called GNU.

And I use a stronger AI Katago to do retrospectives on my replays. I noticed my win rate drops below 10% after a dozen steps in every single game. It seems I never had a chance to win.

I realized I just learned a few fragments of Go and I have no idea how I can put them together. Obviously, I don’t understand Go at all.

Do you have any advice that can help me out?
did anybody encounter a similar case? how did you overcome it?


I wrote this 19x19 FOR BEGINNERS guide with exactly this type of player in mind. If you go down to the bottom of the first article, you’ll find links to the subsequent articles, or they’re all cached on the OGS community resources page

There’s a lot to learn so take your time with it - good luck


Post some games you played here and get some advice and feedback on your moves so you can get real explanations of why different moves are good and bad. Find other real people (online or otherwise) who are also beginner-level, play games with them, and then get them reviewed by stronger players. :slight_smile:


Hi tonybe, actuallly, I’ve already gone through your article, every single including Q&A^ ^
I really appreciate it.
I found one solution according to your article, just practicing as many as possible? like lose 1000 games first?

lately, I’m watching the commentary of alphaGO vs Lee Sedol and Kejie by Michael Redmond as you recommend. I‘m’ just not sure how much I can absorb.

Therefore, I’m writing this post for advice.

thanks for your reply.
I’ll try to play against real people first.

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You can go through some books on opening, I guess if you read Chinese there are a lot of good stuff. Books with fundamentals are what you call for, but "in the beginning " (Ishi press) is a bit outdated. Opening made easy by Otake is another choice although less focused on fundamentals.
Next is to check a bit on joseki, as this is where games start but no need to go too exhaustive just some common ones you see we play here. Most important is to understand what’s going on in each, with variation.

Note: a katago AI will give same impossibility to win for our best ama players so no worry that’s normal.

The problem today is that AI broke a lot of the opening theory so you have to build your own with what is emerging, like checking some articles here or some puzzles. If you care the classic openings before, you can read lightly a opening dictionary (/NihonKiin translated in Chinese) to get a feeling on what’s going on.


Don’t look at the AI - it is meaningless at the beginner level.

If you look at DDK games AI graph, it often oscilliates between +/- 99% for each player.

When it says you have <10% chance to win, it means against a strong player. Of course you have <10% chance to win against a strong player. That doesn’t mean you will not do well against another beginner…


You’re absolutely right - the intro article offers very little in terms of practical advice. Its purpose is to help beginners un-ask the question – to try to let them know that what they are about to learn may have very little in common with what they’ve learned before.

In subsequent articles (Sente and Gote / Settling Your Stones) I try to help beginners learn the language and patterns of the game through examples - hoping that they will then try those same tactics and ways-of-seeing in their own games.

The articles are meant to build upon one another, so that lessons learned in the Playing a Balanced Opening article are developed further in the Stages of the Game article. No single article can possibly tackle the breadth and range of that topic - but hopefully by going through the examples, and examining why each move in those sequences was necessary - players can begin to learn the language of the game, and develop new ways of wrapping their heads around elements that were once invisible or mysterious.

In my humble opinion - the 19x19 game is not something anyone can grasp all-at-once. There are too many elements at play, too many factors to keep track of. But - by starting with the simplest elements, and adding complexities one by one, my goal was to break this confusing process down into manageable pieces.

If you’re looking for the next steps, I say read the Sente and Gote article, and then the Settling Your Stones article. When you play your next 3 games against GnuGo or human opponents, focus just on those elements.

Are you utilizing the sente available to you as efficiently as possible? Are you pursuing small victories in one area when bigger moves are available across the board? Do you find yourself responding too much to your opponent and losing the initiative? Once you’ve put out the immediate fires, are you settling your stones in that area, or are you leaving lethal cut points that can wipe out your earlier gains?

Good luck


Try this video – professional Michael Redmond explains the 19x19 board in half an hour.


Play, try things, play, get (very) short reviews to see what you could do better. Play is most important.


At the level of beginner → 15k or so (even right through DDK, actually), I’d also recommend the old Nick Sibicky lectures.

This link has an “oldest videos first” preference:

Also, if you’d like reviews of your games then upload the SGFs to GoKibitz and one or more stronger players (roughly 5k–3d) will comment on them. You can also get reviews right here on the OGS forums.


Thanks for your reply. noted, will try.

understood. I’ll start to play against real human beginner.

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thanks for your detailed explanation. Will try

thank YOU! Will watch it today!


Katago also has score estimate graph - its more useful

did you try 9x9 or 13x13?

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yes, I tried 9x9 before.
I can win 2-3 games out of 10 against the same AI, GNU.

I’m feeling 9x9 is more like a separate game rather than the junior form of 19x19.
At specific areas, 9x9 might be harder and deeper than 19x19 in my opinion. It forces players to have close combat and strive for extreme calculation.

in general, 19x19 game is both wide and deep. And the 9x9 might go even deeper at specific area.

from my point of view, playing 9x9 can help me practice the ability to resolve life-death puzzle but it’s not that efficient for me to learn the 19x19.


Very true.

9x9 is a knife fight in a cupboard

19x19 is a grand battle.

There are various suggestions of how to make the transition in this thread.

If English language videos are not a problem, Dwyrin’s Back to Basics have been a fantastic help for many people (noting that lots of other people detest his presentation style).


thanks a lot. I will read the thread and watch the videos you recommend.

Then I see your main problem - you need to play with humans
you solved enough tsumego to replace 9x9, but 19x19 is still very big.
13x13 may help to transit from tiny tsumego to 19x19

stop reading and watching, play humans