I’ve lately had the pleasure of teaching Go to several beginners, and I’ve been looking for ways to streamline the process. Many online resources recommend beginners first try playing online games on OGS.
I’m inclined to agree- compared to the other servers, it’s very user-friendly.
From my teaching efforts, a few things have become clear to me. The rules of Go’s gameplay are the model of elegance. However, to a beginner, our modern scorings systems are confusing or even incomprehensible.
The most common beginner questions you will see on reddit are questions about scoring the game. The players are often using Japanese rules, and they don’t understand concepts like territory, eyes, or life-and-death. It puts them in the frustrating position where game-scoring is a subjective process that depends on their understanding of game strategy. When they can’t agree with their opponent on what the score is, they rely on reddit users to referee the game. In other words, it’s very difficult for beginners to even get through an entire game.
For these reasons, I used to prefer teaching beginners Chinese rules - but even then it’s common to see games where territories aren’t fully sealed off from opposing stones.
That’s why I’ve switched to teaching stone counting. It’s objective, and very easy to understand (one stone = one point), so they can play independently. The core game strategy isn’t affected, and it even has its roots in Chinese tradition. The best part is it actually forces the players to ‘play it out’ for every group of stones on the board. This can be tedious for an advanced player, but it’s not for a beginner - for them, this process is still new, fresh, and interesting… And of course, by playing this way, they can get a better sense of the strategic concepts necessary for modern scoring systems.
I know that OGS is a first-destination for beginner players. Because of this, I think it would be of great benefit to provide them the option of scoring by stone-counting.
I’m of the opinion that this should be standard teaching practice in non-Asian cultures where people do not have a cultural familiarity with the game - but I digress.
Even I’m wrong, and it’s a bad way to teach, I think it would be neat to have that scoring system available.
Any opinions on this?
Is it possible to do?