What is the most popular rule set?

What is the most popular rule set for go? AGO? Japanese? Chinese? And what are the main differences?

Go Rulesets

I don’t know about most popular, but AGA is obviously the best because it’s 'Murican.

(I’d guess Chinese, though, just from population size.)


What are the main differences and benefits over most common Japanese rules? (edit: most common in Europe)

BTW, I didn’t even know about AGA rules before you mentioned it :slight_smile:

My facetiousness aside, my understanding is that AGA is meant to make area and territory scoring produce the same result. Kind of a bridge between Japanese and Chinese rulesets.

But really though, 'Murica.

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This is exactly why it’s crap unless you guys really MAGA. If not… all bets are off :slight_smile:

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It would have to be a flip between Chinese and Japanese, from my experience both ogs and tygem favor the Japanese rule set

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I live in europe, we use the Japanese rule set over here. (as far as I know)

Japanese rule-set, I think. As far as I understand manual counting by Chinese rules is more complicated.

the japanese rule set seems the like the way it’s supposed to be played. Sure the chinese invented go, but the japanese rules just make so much sense. It’s like physics or something.

Among the Chinese method of counting points (though it’s not a pain online of course) and this idea of giving a stone away when you pass in most rule sets, Japanese rules are the simplest so I stick to it.

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There are no European rules.

Japanese rule set, together with the name (Go), game terminology and pretty much everything else is embraced by the Western world as the default rule set used for most places. Exceptions are America which has it’s AGA ruleset, and China and certain Asian countries that use the Chinese counting.

I prefer to count Chinese most of the time as I don’t have to keep track of prisoners (especially if you don’t have a Go bowl) and you only need to count one side’s points to know the score. I prefer Japanese for handicaps as I don’t have to account for the handicap stones in the score count (unlike Chinese).

I listed this off the top of my head and I sure as heck am too lazy to check for exceptions. But if they do exist, they are few and far in between.

I personally prefer New Zealand rules, which is a area scoring rule with situational superko. I feel it’s one of the simplest rulesets (Tromp-Taylor rules are based off it and are probably slightly simpler for computers). While Territory scoring (Japanese/Korean) are fairly popular, probably more so than any individual area scoring ruleset, if not all of them, Ing rules are sometimes used in tournaments, and bots almost always use some form of area scoring.

For a comparison between the popular rulesets, the BGA has a great page describing the main differences.

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I never took my time to familiarise them. But I’ll say that Japanese is the most popular ruleset, and I’m sure Chinese/NZ/AGA will be too if OGS made it their default option :slight_smile:

In real life Japanese would be too, because it’s easier to count just territory and captured stones (without having to count your stones on board also).

I never said there was.

All I said is that in Europe, Japanese rules is the most common to be used in a game.

No that’s not what you said. You said that “we” use Jspanese rule. I live in Europe, too and “we” don’t.


I don’t know about the most popular, although like @rowan I’d also bet on the Chinese rules because of the population size. But, although I always choose to use Japanese rules, in my opinion the rules that make more sense are the Chinese ones (AGA is fine too), mostly for beginners. These rules are more “natural” and require less knowledge to fully understand.

Full post

Actually, I feel that if you are a beginner and you are playing online, you should use anything but Japanese rules. Let me explain:

My friend started playing Go quite recently. He came to OGS to play against other players, and then there was this one game where his opponent made a huge group crossing the entire board. This group had one eye and one or two fake eyes, and was surrounded only by groups that were alive. So, it was essentially dead. They went to counting, but his opponent refused to accept that group was dead, so my friend had to keep playing until all of its liberties were gone. Only THEN his opponent resigned. In this case it was fine, because the points he was losing by playing in his own territory while his opponent was passing didn’t change the outcome. But what about when the game is so close that it actually makes a difference? The only solution is to accept losing a game you’ve actually won or call a moderator. Playing in a real board is fine, but playing online has this problem.

Also, japanese rules are harder to explain to a complete beginner. You explain that your points are the stones you captured + the empty intersections that are surrounded by your stones. But then, there are opponent stones in what you surrounded, so is it yours? Okay, it’s yours if your opponent stones are dead (+1 extra point for each dead stone there). So, how do you know if your opponent stone is dead? Oh, you must notice he doesn’t have two eyes (and doesn’t have space inside the territory it is enclosing to make two eyes). “Nice, so what if I’m not sure, can I play there to kill it for sure?” “Only if the group is not dead yet, otherwise you are just taking away your own points”.

Chinese rules: your points are all the stones you have on the board + the territory they are enclosing. “What about enemy stones inside the territory you are enclosing?” “Yours if they are dead, his if they are alive” (and no point for captured stone). “What if the situation isn’t so simple, how do I know if they are dead?” “Well, if you are not sure, you can just play there and try to kill it… actually, if it’s alive there are still intersections around it for you both to play, otherwise you are not losing anything anyway”. This makes things easier for beginners because they can just play and see for themselves without being punished for that.

Not saying I don’t like Japanese rules (I don’t really enjoy having to fill the dame or seeing my opponent try everything inside my territory without being punished for that), just saying that Chinese rules seem more natural.


Being able to play out disputed positions without drawbacks is certainly an advantage of Chinese however it’s a misconception that you can try everything within live territory without punishment. It’s actually the opposite. If it’s at the end of the game with no moves worth points on the board, no matter how much you pass in Chinese rules when your opponent plays a ridiculous invasion, you don’t gain extra points. You do get an extra point for every move you ignore in Japanese though.

How is that a misconception? You don’t lose points by playing in your opponent’s territory (and he doesn’t get points for that either), so you can indeed try everything without punishment… (in chinese rules, that is).

Another problem I have with japanese rules is this: https://online-go.com/demo/211681
You say that black is dead? So prove it! But you will lose points if you try to do so. To solve this and many more problems that arise from the fact you lose a point by playing in your own territory, japanese rules are extremely complex. With other rules if you don’t agree with your opponent about something on the board, you can just play it out without changing the result, leaving on the board only groups that are alive and territory that is 100% enclosed by stones of only one color. Much simpler imo…


This. You were not talking about Chinese but Japanese here. If not, your English needs more work.