Introduce Go to kids?

Primarily addressing parents from English speaking cultures, specifically Australia / Great Britain / North America for optimal cultural similarity…

At what age did you successfully introduce your children to Go? I know kids can start very young in the Asian countries but I feel the Western societies are a bit more laid back and possibly an older child would be required for the patience to learn the game.

Speaking obviously of a simplified version of the game, such as 9x9 capture go or the like, I was wondering if people who have gone before have any thoughts / advice / experiences on the topic?

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What do you mean by “successfully”? :slight_smile:

My daughter is 9yo ad she looks very passionate for the game, but I don’t know how long this will last. :clown_face:

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Basically just not hating the game or being bored lol

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t make people like things.

Unless they’re controlled substances.

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3-5 years at the very youngest, I think. Go can be made fun at almost any age, by adapting the form to suit the child’s capacity.

For example: My nephew is 3 and he loves to play “checkers” with me on a jumbo mat like the ones they have at Cracker Barrel. Our games consist of taking turns placing our pieces anywhere on the board, then once all the pieces are on the board we begin to stack them one by one. Once the stack is complete he knocks it down and we separate the pieces to start all over again.

There is almost zero strategy involved, but you should see how thoughtfully he considers each placement, and how excited he gets when it’s time to demolish the tower of checkers.

I suspect by 5 we will be transitioned into a 9x9 game of Go, perhaps with simplified rules for counting.


Simplified rules for counting: count only live stones, play until no one has any legal moves left (or would risk capture). Komi depends. :stuck_out_tongue:

Chinese rules, sort of.


Maybe you do this already, but when playing with your nephew remember to include plenty of mock outrage at seeing the tower destroyed. I think toddlers enjoy that almost as much as the actual knocking down.

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Oh yeah. There is always a cheesy Darth Vader “Nooooooo!” when he sends them flying


So this popped up on my feed today…

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I haven’t had a great deal of success in getting my 8 year old daughter to play go. When she was between 4 and 5, she had fun moving the stones around, but as soon as she realized that there was strategy involved and stuff to be won and lost, she balked. Maybe I can get her back into it around 10-12 yrs old, but for now she’s having none of it.

Having said that, I have come up with a fast-game variant that I use to introduce new players. The idea came to from playing against GnuGo when was 20-24kyu - time and time again, I’d already lost the game by move 50 because I didn’t know how to play a balanced opening

So, in my quick game variant, each player ONLY GETS 25 STONES.

This forces you to think in terms of playing a balanced game rather than duking it out for a single corner, and it introduces the basic concepts to folks quickly, so that they can start to grasp the idea of whole-board play. Plus, it only take about 5 minutes per game.

It’s a handy tool to have around because playing a whole 19x19 game is often too intimidating to beginners.


How do you determine the winner?


This sounds fascinating! I’d love to play you some time to see what it’s like. : >


Vsotvep - it’s mostly for demonstration, so the “winner” would be agreed by mutual discussion. Just looking at the board around move 50, it’s often easy to see that one person is ahead while the other would have an uphill struggle.

Honestly, this is one of those things that only works in situations where there is a BIG gap in skill between the 2 players - like an 8-12 kyu difference. Players who are evenly matched - or who know how to play a balanced opening - wouldn’t really be able to tell who is ahead by the 50th move.

However, in situations where one person is teaching or introducing someone to go, these types of skill differences crop up a lot, so this miniature version is useful in describing the broad-brush strokes of the game without getting mired down in the nitty gritty of joseki, capture, contact fighting, and all the other skills one would need to learn to become a well-rounded player.


sure! as long as we played an un-ranked game and we both agreed to stop and resign after move 50 :slight_smile:

let’s set it up!

is this you?

if so, I will send you an unraked correspondence game challenge, and we can figure out a time to try it out


Yup, that’s me! : >

Cool, I’ll send you a game challenge, and we can work out a time to play.

I am most available 9am-5pm Pacific time. How about you?

should we post the results of our experiment so people can see what happened?


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In case anybody wants to check out the results of the 50 STONE CHALLENGE you can see our moves here