Method of Counting: Japanese vs. Chinese rules

If only it was possible to combine the simplicity of the Chinese rules with the practicality of the Japanese counting method!

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If you look at the description of how Chinese counting was done in the 19th century in the link I posted above, you will see that it is not so complicated as it seems at first glance (at least of you have a Go set with a complete set of stones).

Just remove dead stones and fill out the territories of one side and then remove the other sides’ stone and group the ones that are left in rows of five and see if the person has 181 stones on 19x19 (85 on 13x13 and 41 on 9x9) and add the komi to white if you are a modernist who uses stuff like that.

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I heard that Chinese pros use territory scoring to evaluate positions during the game, but I don’t have a reference for that. Maybe it’s faster?

I see, thanks.

Is it faster to count the 3 dead stones, or the 200 live stones?

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I see that Ing explains the group tax described in his rules:

(7) The law of conservation of territory requires that breathing points be territory.

We do not know what counting system was used in China before the Han Dynasty because no game records remain. Territory was denoted by the word tao (way) in the Han Dynasty and the word lu in the T’ang Dynasty, which are equivalent to Japanese me ; all three characters mean the same thing. The traditional Chinese counting system did not distinguish between stones and spaces, but required every group to have two breathing points which were not counted as territory, creating in effect a tax on groups: the player with more groups had to give up one stone for every excess group. Japan did not use this rule, but counted all surrounded spaces as territory. It is to Japan’s credit that their practice has become the world standard. China gradually abandoned the group tax under the influence of games with strong Japanese players who visited Peking when Wu Ch’ing-Yuan was a boy. I learned wei-ch’i at that time, so I was painfully aware of the confusion of counting systems. Older players demanded group tax. The younger generation used a different system under which Black gave up half a stone when he played last. This chaos of counting systems is what impelled me to spend eighteen years studying the rules of wei-ch’i.

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I think the meaning of “give up one stone” is not completely obvious. If two breathing points are required by group, then the player with more groups should logically lose 2 points of territory per excess group, not just 1.

But I think that’s what “give up one stone” means. With Chinese counting you only need to count the points of one player, since the points of the other player are deduced automatically so that the total is 361. If you add or remove one point to the player whose score you’re counting, then it automatically removes or adds 1 point to player whose score you’re not counting. So you only need to “give up one stone” per excess group.

Relatedly, the komi in Ing’s rules is expressed as “4 White stones in Black’s territory”: effectively White is stealing 4 points from Black’s territory, which corresponds to a difference of 8 points.

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It’s not really working like this. You will count areas made of stones and emptyness as a whole . Mostly multiplying with some adding. In Japanese counting you have to count at times not so geometric empty points, and keep track of prisoners. And you still spare half of the counting in chinese (one color only )j
I won’t say a preference, what is better xy or 2+2+2+2… ?

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I disagree.

  • You can’t “spare half the counting” during the game, when there are still 200 neutral points on the board. You need to count for both players. It’s only when the board is full that you can afford to only count on player, with the assumption “every space belongs to one player”.
  • You don’t need to keep track of prisoners. For most of the game you can count them on the board. If you have a shape that looks like a ponnuki on the board, normally you can remember whether a stone was captured there or not. And you don’t want to count stones captured in a ko, since it’s going to be the same number for both players.
  • I see no reason to believe that the shapes are going to be more “geometric” when counting stones+territory than when counting just territory (except on a small board like 9x9, where counting with Chinese method is indeed much faster than with Japanese method). In fact, many stones will not be involved in surrounding territory, but will be in weird shapes like crosscut, keima, surrounding an eye, surrounding an opponent’s group, etc. Counting all these stones during the game would be a huge waste of time.
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(Edit: wrong about half calculation)
You can get prisoners count from the board, but you still have to process it. Whatever.
The reason why it will be more geometric is because your area with the boundaries are larger, and you don’t care about what is inside.

How do you estimate the score in practice for this board position for instance?

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Well white has sure points.
Like 5x5
+7 in the left and 6x5 so 62.
Black has like 20 on the left.

So yes you cannot deduce black from white as long as the game is not finished, unless you can easely calculate how big is the space not yet shared, and that can be difficult like here.And to calculate this you’ll have to take black areas in consideration too, so one cannot say you spare half. I agree.
This board besides show well the difference between multplying and adding. Bigger numbers don’t make it slower, as doing 2+2+… more often is slow too. Of course you can make some multiply sometimes too. For me it’s comparable.

So with a very messed position, with just a few eyes here and there, japanese counting will be more appropriate and at reverse, the chinese way will, when less messed up.

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I know but this explains exactly the counting described in the book from the 19th century above were the player with more groups at the beginning of counting gives up a stone per group.

Yes, all the chinese pros I’ve seen use the japanese way to estimate the board when commentating pro games. There is no reason to believe they do things differently when they play.

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Chinese rules are complicated, and it takes someone at about 7k level to count, and you can just put your stone at your own territory and nothing will happen, Japanese rules are easy to understand, and almost everyone who played go before can count at a real life board, but Chinese rules is very satisfying to count.



How so? The principle of Chinese rules are much simpler than Japanese, and can be expressed in much less rules.

It’s not a surprise in my view that western rules designed in modern times all decided to go with area scoring as a basis (AGA rules, BGA, French rules, New Zealand…) even though the game was imported from Japan.

It is hard to count with Chinese rules in real life because you can just put stones and remove stones in your territory which can cause some confusions if one is not experienced

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Bent five in a corner and bigger eye are not simple to understand. The Chinese rules makes it much easier to deal with such a situation and in any case you can use territory counting during the game to get an idea of who is in the lead. The end game becomes much more interesting with Chinese rules since there are no dame and the actually scoring is easy. You just remove the dead stones, fill out the territory of black with stones, remove white’s stones from the board and arrange the stones left in group of tens to see how many more or less points they have than 180.5 (add komi to white if used) to determine the winner.

I wonder if this is really the case. How many mid-SDK players know the proper procedure to capture a bent-4-in-the-corner group before scoring the game under Chinese rules?