How to "teach" another newbie?

Disclaimer: I used “teach” in the thread title because it’s shorter than “help understand the basics and how to move forward, preferably also install the love for the game”.

We have some wonderful threads for Go teachers and strong players in general on how to teach Go, but for example I can’t intentionally play slowly or influence the direction of the game (for reference, I’m 20k give or take).

I would appreciate any advice. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, I remember that one, very good article. But, for example, I obviously can’t end up with a negative score on purpose.

You can look at some website and online videos and copy how they teach it. Just the basic rules is okay and then just try to play. You can let the new player have extra stones too. Maybe the small boreds are easier for new players. The normal size bored is scary for new players maybe.


I just think being open about the extent of your knowledge and just sharing your genuine enthusiasm is all you need to do.

I started “teaching” others (kids mostly but I don’t think it makes too much difference) when I was probably not 15k.

Explain the rules with a few practice games on a small board and they’ll understand that you can thrash them. It’s an opportunity to explain that you can give them 9 stones and have an even game but you can take 9 stones from someone who could take 9 stones from someone who would probably lose taking 9 stones from a pro player. It’s one way of thinking about the depth of the game.

And as the get the hang of it you might find them a genuine challenge and it’ll be great for you both.

Some of my students overtook me in fairly short order and I think that can be quite motivating in itself.


At first I read it as “you can find them [someone that will be] a genuine challenge [to them]” and I was “mean :slightly_frowning_face: , but also fair :woman_shrugging:” ). :rofl:


I’ve been writing articles aimed specifically at beginners, so I’ve thought about this a lot.

Because this game is so complex, and relies on understanding so many different concepts - for me, it makes sense to break it down to the simplest building blocks, and then try to introduce them in order. For me, that would be

  • introduce the basic rules
  • give some examples of why it takes 2 eyes to make life, and demonstrate a few false eyes
  • introduce the concepts of sente and gote, and show what can happen when a player ignores that
  • explain the purpose of settling one’s stones after a sente/gote exchange
  • introduce the concepts of efficiency, and show why the order is corner > sides > middle

After that, I like to play games where we only play the first 50 moves - basically each player only gets 25 stones, and you explore some of those ideas as you try to play a balanced opening. If the person you’re teaching follows in the footsteps of the students I’ve encountered so far, they will probably start out over-focusing on one corner, and allow you to establish a lead in the first 50 moves, so you can use that as a teachable moment regarding balance, knowing when to tenuki, etc.

I feel like this material is already a LOT for a beginner to absorb, but I still feel this should be the basic foundation before you get into contact fighting, capturing races, etc.


I hardly know most of those myself, though…

I like the “play the first 50 moves” idea. It helps get a feeling of how the opening works, and there are enough stones on the board to compare between games. I could work with that.

I feel overwhelmed trying to explain something I don’t really know, and basically I’m worried I will pass on my own mistakes and shortcomings instead of helping.


The articles are always there if you want to read them ; )

1) Sente and Gote

2) Settling your stones

3) Playing a balanced opening

1 Like

I think sente and gote is too much for teaching the first time player. It will be best to make it fun not explode his head. Maybe those things he can learn after playing for a few days. Also maybe don’t talk about ko unless it comes up in the game or after a few games then tell him about this rule.

I think teaching only the most basic rules will be better. If they think it is an interesting game they will look for learning more strategy by nature.


Don’t worry about being the perfect teacher. Just try to share in the enjoyment of the game with them. Eventually, you will both start learning together and from each other.


Yes very true! Maybe the most important thing is to learn the basic rules quickly and play as soon as possible. I will feel very boring if I have to take an hour class before I can ever play.


Start on 9x9 and give them enough handicap so that they have a real chance. For a 20k against a raw novice, perhaps they need about 3 or 4 stones handicap on 9x9. If they win, great!

Only use about 5 minutes to explain the most basic rules so they can play. Don’t explain ko or seki unless it comes up (probably not in the first game). Maybe explain basic eyes after or during their first game, but not neccessarily.


Teach the less possible. Wait to explain the ko to have one in the game (avoid to create one )

Play, that’s most important.

Help to finish boundaries, for life and death when necessary.

Don’t teach concepts tactics (like Shicho, sente, etc… ). Restrain yourself to not do it !

With all the respect i have to @tonybe never teach as he says before having played many games in different sessions.

Remember that a beginner is in a need of seing (liberties, cut and connect, biggest to take. …) much much more as to think.
No thinking without seing.

Let him feel he has intuition and try to keep him focused on the global ask him where is the biggest is ok for the think side and… the goal of the game !


I will just say that sharing with (teaching) someone else is a fantastic way to learn as well. Definitely a win win, and a good idea at any time.


This is an amazing observation.


This observation applies to experienced players as well.


It occurred to me that there is another “practice” that is important, which I think we all take for granted, but beginners to turn based strategy games may not immediately pick up on: reading.

For a beginner, I don’t mean “deep reading” I just mean that in addition to an intuiton that a move will be good based on shape, board position etc, it is vital that beginners ask “what will my opponent do if I play here?”. And ideally “and what would I have to do then?”

In teaching go we get excited and enthusiastic about elements of play that are special to Go, forgetting that a newcomer may not have the basic “how to think in these sort of games” under their belt.

If a person isn’t asking these questions, the consequences of their moves will continue to be a frustrating mystery… a newbie can certainly teach this “way of thinking” to another newbie, IMO.


No one linked this one yet?


Well im self taught. With only the booklet that came with the game and what i saw on you tube i play fairly well depending on who im playing though i always lose on a 9×9 bord dont know why