Teaching go to kids in Europe

Hello go community !

I love this game, I like to teach, and I would love to share my passion my teaching young children (7+) in Europe, more precisely in France. Teaching is rewarding and I’d be glad if I could help spread knowledge of the game around me.
I know it’s going to be difficult because parents don’t know the game and it’s going to be a hard time convincing them to have their kids spend some some time on it but I want to try (I hope convincing children will be easier!!).

I’m wondering :

  • Am I strong enough (I’m just a modest 10kyu player)
  • is there a methodology to teach? Can it be learnt online?

Any recommendations, ideas, shared experiences are most welcome!

Thanks a lot.


I’ve never succeeded at making anyone play Go so all I can tell you is that you probably shouldn’t try to convince anyone. It never works.

If “Go as Communication” is to be believed, there are more kids who’d enjoy playing capture Go than there are kids who’d enjoy the actual game of Go. I would be surprised if you could get more than 1% of all kids at any given school to play.

On the brighter side, it’s good to have a relatively weak adult player, because kids will enjoy beating you.

As for the approach… no idea, but you can probably reach out to the FFG for teaching materials. I suppose it helps to be funny.


I wonder if it helps to bring a cool appealing contex into the introduction experience. I got into Go in highschool because I was fascinated with zen, Japanese culture, Aikido, taoism…

And I read the hokey spy novel Shibumi by Trevanian ( the main character has mystical experiences while playing Go. ) and I thought “sounds cool! I’ll have some of that please!”
So far that hasn’t exactly panned out; but you know, the ol’ bait and switch, it got me playing Go.


I could be wrong, but torture, assassination and esoteric sex don’t seem to be terribly appropriate topics for

young children.


I completely agree. I was just suggesting giving them something to attach learning Go to. Not Shibumi. The book is definitely not appropriate young children.

BenGoZen had a nice blog post about how to “teach” (or rather introduce) go to new players:


this is really awesome

Thanks everyone for the feedbacks. French federation does offer some help and training. And I think BenGoZen is article is just great (could be applied to many other disciplines I guess!).

Yes, get in touch with the French Federation. They have had great success with go programs in schools.

@regisrain, that is an extremely wonderful idea. I (believe it or not) am actually a 15 year old player from the United States so this really stands out to me. Here are some of my thoughts:

It is very important to note that @smurph is indeed correct concerning the amount of children who would actually be willing to learn the game. He has certainly got a good point concerning the patience most children have is simply not generally adequate. Most kids, (myself included) want to win games immediately and don’t care about simply enjoying the game for what it is (at least in my experience). I started playing when I was about 10 or 11 simply because I was getting tired of chess and I loved deep strategy games. I must admit, the first learning curve is very frustrating (from 25 kyu to 15 kyu), and I was stuck in this zone for the first three years I played. Just a year ago the game clicked to me and with lots of practice and some study I improved at the game. I am around 6 and 4 kyu on OGS and around 2 kyu to 1 dan on the Fox Go Server. I strongly believe that if you can push the kids through this learning curve they will enjoy the game just as much as I do. This game is very different from what most are used to and it is confusing to catch onto at first. I have tried teaching some of my younger siblings the game but without much success, although they have a thorough understanding of the rules and basic direction of play.

This probably isn’t very much help, but it is important to realize that it will take a lot of effort and patience that could be rather difficult at first, but I am all in favor with this idea. With some talented youngsters that are patient and motivated I am sure this will work, and undoubtedly you will receive a lot of joy and pleasure from such a project. I wish you the best of wishes with this, as I can assure you that if I were French, I would surely join this club and love to participate. Thank you for working to spread the game out even further!

‘Goboard’ (@_GoBoard)


My belief is that Go is a game for brain teaser maniacs, so I don’t expect any (western) child could be convinced to play Go unless he’s a very strange (western) child. :smiley:

But children learn by imitation, so it’s useful to have someone to imitate: I play Go, hence my daughter is curious about Go and actually learned to play and had few games, also on OGS.

So I don’t suggest proposing Go to children but just to play in front of them. If they see you playing they will ask you: what are you doing? May I try? May I throw your stones all around? May I mess all your wonderful and precious kaya&slate&shell set with my crayola? :crazy_face:

Sometimes they don’t even ask. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


“…very strange (western) child.” I am indeed very strange, you couldn’t be more correct there. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Have those kids watch Hikaru no go, and simultaneously put go sets on display on a conveniently available nearby table. Wait for their interest to rise, answer their questions about the game and the material. If another player is available, you could even have some game and ask kids to place stones for you for a short (9x9) game (use a fan for maximum effect :wink: ).

Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll get to watch Hikaru one more time, so no time lost here :smiley:

  • Have them play against each other as soon as possible
  • Explain each move intent while playing (“translate” the game in meaningful terms, but keep it short and simple. ex : I want this corner / attack this group / defend / counter-attack and so on)
  • Give them 2 or 3 options for each move, making the intent clear : you can attack here, reinforce there or take some point this way. Which one do you want to do ?

I have established school go clubs in two schools and would be happy to discuss further with you if helpful.
I think it’s much easier to set up something that will be sustained if you can do it as part of school. Our club is at lunchtime and so the children can come and play Go (or chess) or play outside so it’s flexible. Only the ones who want to play will come and play. In primary school, we have about 40 children registered and about 20 play each week. In secondary it’s fewer but they play more often and more consistently. 9 to 12 years old is the perfect age range I think but we teach from 5.
In terms of actually teaching, with young children you can teach the rules quite easily and then they often figure out a lot themselves playing each other on 9x9. You can then help with particular stages (two eyes, when to pass, ko, etc.) And after a while the ones who are better can help beginners. And then their parents!
Anyway, that’s probably enough for now. Message me if that’s better.


Yes, that has been my experience at our local library where I play IRL. Adults and children stop and watch a little and query us because the game looks really strange to them. It has high curiosity value. One boy about 7 or 8 came back (with his mom) a couple weeks later and was promising in 9x9, but we haven’t seen him again unfortunately.


Hand out OGS badges? :slight_smile:

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Badges are super popular with kids


Because you aim to teach in France, I too think contact with the French federation is the way to go. I know they even delivered go teachers training diploma! Not sure how things are working there now but I know that go is educative activity recognized for children ( like chess, bridge…) by the state since few years ago so you can get some money.


This was a pretty pessemistic answer. I’m sorry you’ve had such a daunting experience trying to convince and teach people to play Go
Instead let’s try and build up our fellow go player who is trying to spread knowledge!

Regisrain I wish you the best of luck!
When talking to parents perhaps you could explain the developmental benefits for children learning this game. You can also gather information to provide to the parents about the game itself, and such benefits it has on the mind of all ages, especially the young and the elderly.

As for the children themselves, don’t get discouraged if not everyone takes the Game up with enthusiasm at first as I believe it takes a certain kind of person to be interested in the game of Go. Like not everyone finds chess, or sports in their interest

Many other patrons have already given good ideas to start your research and approach, so I won’t repeat them.



The easiest way would be to actually wok with kids and introduce it that way. The kids that will go for go are the same one’s that will go for chess. And if you have a lot of fun playing it they will to. And the skill level doesn’t really matter. I’m crap. And if they want to get better they will. And if they play because it’s fun to beat you. It won’t matter. Kids enjoy what adults enjoy and the kids that don’t like chess or strategy games usually like other kinds of games.

Rambling on. What’s worked so far for me is outwardly being really joyful when playing and sort of overacting a bit when good moves are made groaning happily and complementing. Atari games. Because so far i only had one kid that enjoyed the full game but that kid loves to play games. And pretending like the game is really, really not complex at all until they catch on. And then just casually say that you’ll get better as you practice but unlike football or other sports you get better by just playing… which is a nice lie :smiley: