Probably a Stupid Question

As a newer player to the game I’ve been trying to find the answer to the question of how captured stones play in to scoring. Do they or is it all about territory?


I presume you mean captured stones, instead of captured songs?

If you’re playing under territory counting (e.g. Japanese rules), you count the number of empty intersections and remove the number of stones that your opponent captured from you. Usually on a real board you do this by first filling in the empty black territory with black captured stones, and similar for white, and then count whatever is left.

If you’re playing under area counting (e.g. Chinese rules), you count the number of empty intersections and add the number of (alive) stones on the board. Captured stones don’t matter here for the purpose of counting. Because area counting counts basically every intersection on the board, you only have to count the area of black (since white owns the rest, assuming no seki is present on the board).

As long as there is no seki on the board and both players passed an equal number of times, then these two methods of counting usually result in the same score difference ±1 point.

Here’s a nice example of territory / Japanese counting and the same game counted using area / Chinese counting.


Captured stones count as points. If you have 70 points of territory and have captured and removed 6 stones of your opponent, then you have 70+6 = 76 points.

Not a stupid question! The same thing confused me when I started playing. So you might want to edit the topic title from “Probably a Stupid Question” to “Beginner Question about Scoring of Prisoners” or similar :slight_smile:

(Note: The following assumes that dead stones are removed from the board as prisoners after both players pass.)

Simplest explanation is “territory scoring” (e.g. Japanese rules):

  • Black score = black territory + number of white stones captured
  • White score = white territory + number of black stones captured + Komi
  • Highest score wins
  • “Result” is the score difference, e.g. black wins by 10 points

(Note: Komi is compensation points to white to make up for the disadvantage of playing second, typically around 6 points)

Alternative is “area scoring” (e.g. Chinese rules):

  • Black score = black territory + number of alive black stones on the board
  • White score = white territory + number of alive white stones on the board + Komi
  • Highest score wins
  • “Result” is the score difference, e.g. black wins by 10 points

Notice, prisoners count in territory scoring but do not count in area scoring. However, as noted by @Vsotvep above, these two different scoring methods usually end up the same (or possibly out by 1 point). This is because a captured stone (which is plus one point in territory scoring) is the same as one less alive stone on the board for the other player (which would be one less point for that other player in area scoring). So, basically, don’t worry too much about the difference. If you’re trying to work out who’s winning during a game, probably easiest to look at territory + prisoners (less to count than territory + alive stones).

Why are they different sometimes?

The difference of one point occurs when white passes first, because then black has played one move more, so has one extra alive stone on the board, which is one point extra in area scoring but makes no difference in territory scoring. Larger differences can occur in rare situations with multiple passes or unusual positions.

It is not a complete story, since area scoring usually has one point more komi (7.5 vs 6.5) than territory scoring. And since there is an odd number of intersection without seki or anything else, black is supposed to fill the last dame. This is balanced out with one extra komi. It is usually the other way around that cause the difference with even hands

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Welcome in the forum @GoOnAJourney .
There are no stupid question here, just answers which try to be clever.


and then answers which try to be cleverer.


You’ve both misspelled pedantic / pedanticer


pedanticer or pedanticier?

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Maybe pedancier

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Also some answers are merely clev, rather than clever than another.


I’m bit confused if my english doesn’t always sound like english of a native speaker but:

I wrote clever, not cleverer. I didn’t want to compare.

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All the comments after yours were also trying to be clever :wink: you did nothing wrong.


I was specifically trying to be pedantic


You!? Never! :rofl:

I was trying to be both clever and self-referential.


So meta