Stone placement

The history nerd in me couldn’t help to wonder when did this custom evolve and become part of the norm?

I saw Song dynasty stones that are flat on both sides instead of curves, but there were older stones that are irregular in shapes, so did players at that time be able to hold them as we do today? This is one of the oldest stone sets uncovered in a tomb from the 3rd century AD.

Although a lower bound can be confirmed that this custom was already formed at the latest in the Tang Dynasty (7th to 9th century). This is a painting with a lady holding a stone with the gesture. Haven’t been able to found something earlier than this, and this custom certainly could be much older.


In that painting, it looks like she might have her index finger over her middle finger, which seems more awkward and difficult than middle over index. Or, maybe, it looks like her middle finger is curved away under her palm, and maybe she is using just her index finger to slide a stone into place or just point at it.


This is the highest resolution I can find (弈棋仕女圖, if anyone can help find a better resolution copy would be grateful)

It looks like she was holding a stone between the fingers.


Ok, so I think that clearly shows index over middle, and rules out the alternative possibility of the middle finger curved away. However, I find it quite awkward to hold stones that specific way, and it’s much easier for me to do middle over index.

How do others hold stones?

How do you hold a go stone?
  • Middle finger over index finger
  • Index finger over middle finger
  • Thumb and index finger
  • Something else (please comment)

0 voters


I was taught middle over index. But if someone has a long index finger like the lady in the drawing, I think it’s equally valid (and I just tried, it felt weird but definitely doable).


And one thing interesting is that this drawing doesn’t specify to be the game of Go, and from the board position, it might actually not. So there is a possibility this custom might come from other games and got transferred to Go.

1 Like

I was going to make the same comment. I think the player in the picture had an anomalously long index finger (variations in digits do occur, such as six fingers). Alternatively, the artist may have been ignorant and drew the position incorrectly (not from life).


The artist, not being a go player, might also have misunderstood the finger position and drawn it incorrectly.


@Conrad_Melville @Feijoa Ya, it’s possible, we know little about who made it. The Go board table also has inaccuracy (it’s 17x16, missing one line), and the stones are way too small. It could be this is not Go, or just the craftsman is not familiar with the game, or it’s a variation. Or even the model herself was a person who didn’t know how to play and just posing.

The Go board table style is pretty accurate compared to actual board from this era and regions though, as well as clothing and decorations (and this is just part of a larger artifact, drawing on a large wooden screen).


medial cuneiform and intermediate cuneiform :foot:

with intermediate over the medial :smiley:

1 Like

In the early 1970s I learned go from Bruce Wilcox, who was a co-worker at Intermetrics. His technique for placing a stone, using two fingers, caused a nice “click” sound against the board which helped make his play impressive. He tried to show me how easy it was to make the click, but I didn’t practice enough to get it. Perhaps someone in this forum could teach the rest of us how to do that?

I mean are you talking about

Or like 18:52 in

Or how white places stones instead of Black in

Or do you want to place stones like Fujisawa Shuko (Hideyuki), which are not all placed equally forcefully

Compare any of the early placements of white to the slide at 13:20 and then to forceful slam and slides at 15:14 or 15:51 :slight_smile:


No. I watched the first two links, and they just show throwing the stone down onto the board from a distance, making a “clack” sound. What Wilcox did was to place the stone slowly unto the board, clicking it at the last moment, which made a “click” sound. Added: I just watched the last two videos, and they don’t show what I’m referring to, either.

Watch and listen carefully, you can see and heard 3 different types of stone placing. A gentle touch almost no sound, like slide in, normally slide in from one side of a group of stones; A force placement strait down that makes hard contact, usually in a wide open spot of few or no stone nearby; A nice click using fingers, coming in from an angle, withdraw the index finger to making the curve side click, normally right next to an existing stone, it’s also a technique that doesn’t disturb the stone by aiming slightly off using the edge of a stone in order to contact the bottom of a stone at the exact spot. This can also be hard or soft, doesn’t have to force the click.

I agree that this is not consistent placing of stones. But several times, I do hear a double-click that is pleasing.

Still, it is not the Wilcox technique in which the stone is carefully placed then clicked distinctly, both using the same motion.

I happen to have no idea what this is, so I probably can’t help, unless Wilcox mentions in his book or someone else made a video about it.

Maybe someone else who comes along will know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the make of the stones (yunzi, plastic melamine , glass, slate/shell) and the board (shin kaya, kaya, birch, beech bamboo etc) all play a role.

Edit: unless this person is also mentioning the same thing

And someone there suggests it’s probably the sound of stones hitting each other and not the board.


And on that Reddit link, the OP seemed happy with a video someone linked (video below), which is at about 34s, if the time stamp doesn’t work


You mean using the index finger as a support and press down with the middle finger like a seesaw motion?

Iyama used a different technique than Ichiriki, especially when he needs to place a stone inside a group of stones, it’s particularly noticeable.

1 Like

That’s a clever technique, to press on the adjacent stone. But it is not what I saw Wilcox do, and try to teach me. It involved just the stone you are placing, somehow pressing and holding its edge until it “clicks” onto the board. Doesn’t matter what materials the board and stones are made of.

I watched the first few moves of this 11 hour video, and saw the correct use of two fingers, but this was quiet placing, not the click or snap that I’m trying to describe.