If Go Were Going To Evolve, How Would It, And Why?

I recently posed the idea that Go, as we know it in modern times, is not the same game that was played 2500 years ago. @Mekriff then shared his thoughts about how Go likely evolved over time. He ended with the statement: “classic games evolve the unfun parts out over time.

If Go were to continue to evolve, say moving the clock forward 500 years from now, what would it look like? What sorts of changes might have taken place? Is there anything that needs to change?


by the way, that statement was paraphrasing from Richard Garfield et. al’s “Characteristics of Games” (A great textbook on games and game designs) chapter 6 “player effort” section 4 “Busywork”

The actual quote is “In general, games (and game genres) tend to evolve over time to reduce busywork.”

But of course, both I and a youtuber Rym Decoster (who I actually stole this quote from one of his pax panels, can’t find which one though), noted that it’s most prominent in classic games (which have had time to evolve), and typically “busywork” is “unfun”


Closing the territories prior to ending the game is busywork.

Maybe we will find a way to more easily avoid that?


Games can be lost in a mismanaged yose, or borders wrongly estimated. Unless the game is very decided, learning to navigate yose is an important skill.


Hmm. I think the game that we have right now is quite well-balanced, internally logical, and elegant. The most simple change I can think of is that if strong bots help top humans massively improve their game, they might start finding 19 x 19 too easy and move to 21 x 21 or even larger boards. In the same vein, if 19 x 19 opening theory becomes too effective we might see the return of set stones, not necessarily in their ancient placements, just to change the game.


Serious Answer 1: A gradual switch to New Zealand Rules, which I think are awesome and without peer. They are very concise/elegant, avoid most of the edge cases which require difficult rulings (Japanese being the worst in this department), and use komi of 7 (see next answer).

Serious Answer 2: Integer komi (7). Modern AI has made a rather strong case that 7.5 is the correct tie-break komi, but that it slightly favors white. Therefore it makes sense that with komi of 7, AI should expect a draw. If this conjecture is correct, then I believe it would be best to use this as komi so that best play by both players does not end in one of them winning. Draws should still be quite rare, even at high levels.

Biased Answer: Widespread adoption of Thue-Morse Go (TMG). Komi is a rather inelegant solution to the first player advantage which turns every game into a handicap game: one player starts out behind and must make up the deficit. In TMG, first player advantage should (possibly; this is just conjecture at this point) reduce to negligible amounts by the end of a typical game. It also introduces more texture to reading and gives rise to emergent whole-board tactics which depend on the interplay of sente threats across the board. :asterisk:

:asterisk: If you think the TMG is just a ha-ha, then go read it again.


I’m not a fan of TMG personally. I think it actually creates more busywork than is actually nessisary. Unless it can be embedded in ogs as a rule set. But playing on a board with no computer assistance, TMG is wildly impractical in my opinion. It also changed fundamentally the game itself I think.

That being said… The two most logical changes that are likely to occurs is a change of Komi to 7 points. This because I personally think a draw should be a viable option. I’ve out some considerable thought in to this on my end. And it seems to me that a ‘draw’ result… Should be allowed. It, in and of itself is an elegant thing. To draw, to be even, to be of equal footing in a game. I can’t think of anything more wonderfully elegant.

But the other more serious change is that I expect board size to change in the coming years. With AI making the game of Go that much more accessable to higher level play, it seems that there should indeed be a way in pro players can further distinguish themselves from mature players.

That being said though … I don’t actually think the board changing size, will effect much change. AI will continue on its was and indeed be able to smash pro players on any board size. Especially with how the AI currently works.

It would be far more. Likely that the shape of the board would change to allow for more players. Hexagonal for three players, and octagonal for four… While still maintaining a square grid on the board. Thus making the ‘corners’ less valuable or easy to score points on.

Just my thoughts though.


maybe an dynamic, expanding Go Board?

you start your first 10 moves on 9x9, then the next 2 lines are unlocked, and you’ll play 10 moves on 11x11. repeat until 19x19



Id play this game for sure. It sounds fascinating.

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So right now the way I stand is I can’t point to any major point of busywork, either in opening, midgame, or endgame.
Although I can imagine beginners feeling opening is “Incomprehensible busywork” – the type of busywork where all the options feel so arbitrary that you might as well pick randomly (this might even extend to SDK at times).
And the more you know about go, endgame (or even some of the facets independently) might transform over time from “incomprehensible busywork” to “interesting play” to “pure busywork”.

I can imagine the beginner one is easier to manage (since you can just give a predetermined opening like ancient chinese go or Tibetan Go – translating the latter to a 19x board.)

But eliminating parts of yose seems like quite a difficult task, and it might be more important to add in some “spice” to it for higher players (like Environmental Go).

But typically how these games change and evolve is to make “house rules” that begin to be played more often in some areas than the “official” and spread that way.


I would genuinely like to see games, and players, evolve towards “freedom” rather than imitating alpha go and bots.

Playing go how you want to play, and if that means the black hole or great wall opening, then so be it. Just as long as you love to play it and enjoy it, and know it well.


I think the game might be improved (evolved) when someone finds a better way for us all to navigate the difference between “skillful play to win in endgame” and “slavish closing of the territories when the result is clear”.

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Actually I enjoy the wind down of endgame moves. Even dame. It’s like walking after a run or reading at the end of the day or in a real life game, you can transition smoothly into starting to discuss the game even while filling neutral points.

No. More than that. It’s like completing a work of art. (Except on a bad day.)


That sounds like “counting” to me lol.


This was my first thought as well. Feels tedious at times.

I’ve come to realise that my attitude to it is shaped by the fact that I play almost exclusively correspondence.

I don’t think I mind in live - it doesn’t take long.


I will concede; when I played corr, playing out 80 moves of endgame at 1 move per day was very frustrating… with live play you barely even notice it


The vast majority of the games I play are correspondence games. Im currently in two tournaments I think.

End game can be a pain in the ass at times. But generally I don’t have a problem with it. The worst thing about having a long game is generally playing low DDK players who don’t know when to resign.

I don’t begrudge them at all, they are learning and I for sure was as bad as they were at some point. But, having to go through in excess of 100 endgame moved that need not have been played… Isn’t terribly fun unfortunately.

That being said, I don’t think endgame constitutes busy work. Endgame can mean the different between winning and losing the game. Especially if there is KO involved and the game is very close.

So while endgame can sometimes be a pain. It’s a total nessisary and vital part of the game I think.


Beautifully said, thank you (and I cannot but quote the whole of it :wink: ). Exactly my feelings, except when it’s very clear to me that I should resign! And if it’s my opponent who is (again: clear to me) losing, I don’t mind them playing to the end just the same. Seems like … respect for the game itself, for its depth.

Mh… can’t be—I also play almost exclusively correspondence. Only live games I play are in Real Life.

OTOH, when somebody asks me, in a game they’re losing, whether it’s okay if they resign, my reply is, “of course it’s okay, it’s not honourless to resign when you strongly feel you cannot win the game.”
At my current rank this usually happens when win/loss is ~20–30 points or more, both when I’m winning or losing.
Note: I do not count. I have to take off my shoes when I want to count to twenty.


I’m not clear what you mean by “can’t be”.

I’m pretty sure my attitude is shaped by the fact that I play mostly correspondence.

For sure it’s interesting that you also play mostly correspondence and don’t share the same attitude. You obviously have a more relaxed less “results focussed” approach to your play.

However, for someone like me, who wants to know the result of the tournament, or move on to the next step in the ladder, the drawn out dance of a foregone yose in correspondence is unwelcome busywork for sure.

That being said, I don’t think an evolution in Go is likely to be driven by the correspondence experience :slight_smile:

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