Japanese Scoring - Problems Understanding

Hello all, hope you are all well.
Firstly, apologies if this is something that is very basic, I am completely brand new to the game, started playing this week.
The issue I have with the Japanese Territory scoring is, when someone plays in my territory near the end of the game when there is absolutely no way they are going to secure any of it, so I have to counter, take whatever stones they do play, it is then reducing my score because of all the stones I’ve had to put into my own territory. This I just do not get, compared to say Chinese scoring.
Does this mean I should just do the same thing in their territory, to make them use stones, and thus decreasing their score? Is this what I should be doing? It just seems to be a bit of a waste, when there’s basically no chance of actually securing anything, it’s just spoiling.
Your help is greatly appreciated, and if I’m not getting it at all, please put me straight.


Give the search function some credit. :slight_smile:

Adding a stone to someone’s territory simply adds 1 to their captures. Provided there are no moves left that generate points for either player, under Japanese rules, all moves lose points unless they require an answer (e.g. someone plays atari on a stone at the border). When answered, the difference is still 0. Most moves inside someone’s territory (at the end of the game) will lose points, others need to be answered. All of them are either a display of poor understanding of the game or poor etiquette.


hi, Richard!

the catch here is that as soon as you have identified that an enemy stone or enemy group inside your territory cant do anything to save itself, you can just leave it alone. there is no need to remove the stones off the board by playing the moves. the stones are assumed dead an will be removed and added to your prisoners after the game has ended.

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I see, maybe this is where my problem lies then, identifying stones that can’t do anything to save itself. And, I presume that the only way I’ll learn such a thing, is from practice.

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This is why I always use Chinese rules when teaching beginners. As soon as both players have a basic understanding of life and death, there is hardly any difference. But before that Chinese rules avoid needless discussions. In case of disagreements, just play on and kill those lonely stones, doesn’t cost you. Under Japanese rules it does.


Do not apologize :smiley: It is a common question and it is better to ask, then play nonsense the rest of your life :smiley:

The misundersting comes from not knowing (or realizing) these rules:

  • Stones have to be able to make 2 eyes for them to be considered alive
  • You do NOT have to physically capture every last stone that is in your territory. After both players pass stones that cannot possibly create 2 eyes will be prisoners anyway

It’s really not that hard, you can play it out until it becomes clear. Follow my logic: :slight_smile:

  • Opponent played a stone in what you thought was your territory (+1 point for the prisoner if you manage to kill)
  • You responded, to make sure it is dead (-1 of territory that you filled = no change in score - basically nothing happened)
  • If your opponent still thinks he can live with that sone he plays there again (+1 point for you)
  • feel free to respond (-1 point for you = no change)
  • If your opponent realizes he cannot live there he will stop playing there
  • if he stops playing there, you stop responding. Nothing changes.

It is the same across both rulesets. you do not need to capture every stone in your territory for it to be counted as dead (not in Japanese, not in Chinese scoring) The score only changes in Japanese if you keep responding there even after your opponent stops playing (which is nonsense to do in both rulesets). Which I guess really is “easier” in Chinese, but it only means that Chinese rules allow you to play even if you do not understand the game :smiley: (that is kind of a simplification of course, but I believe there is some truth to it). I think that it is very good when you are forced to seek answers to these questions. :slight_smile:


More than some truth, if you ask me. But for me that is a good thing. Let’s compare go to gomoku for example. In gomuku you will very quickly learn that having an open chain of 4 stones will ensure a win. That’s a lot easier to understand than the 2 eyes concept in go. But you can happily play gomoku without even having understood this simple strategy, there is not the slightest problem. In go however, playing without understanding the concept of 2 eyes can be a problem. And it is somewhat less of a problem with Chinese rules.

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good punishment for such useless plays is pass or tenuki. I once passed such a desperate invasion and won by 0,5 point (ie by the extra prisoner by opponent gifted me so nicely :smiley: