What time settings can I use for my 19x19 live games?

I’m new to go. But I have been around the past three months on this website playing live 9x9 games.

What are the rules concerning time restrictions in a ‘regular’/‘normal’ go game (19x19)?
I have tried to search for an answer quickly online, but couldn’t find anything on time limitations. On the English Wikipedia page it said that a game of go ends if none of both players want to play another move (meaning no time restrictions?).

When I look at the open challenges for live 19x19 games on this website, I usually see games with something like 15 minutes main time - the most I have seen was 30 minutes main time. I find this strange, because I have the idea that go games usually take a couple of hours.

From what I know you are quite right. Proffesional games usually take several hours. I believe in average the time clock is somwhere about 120min for each player with some overtime (when main limit is exceeded the player still has several seconds for each move). Although there are also blitz tournaments as well as games spreading for more days.

The games you see here (the short ones) are educational. many people think it is better to play many games quickly to learn your obvous mistakes and hone your style then play one weak game for a long time. Also sometimes you just dont have the time…

Also below the quick games there are usually several challenges for correspondence games which take several days and one usually makes only a few moves per day.

However, if you want to play a long game of 19x19 And there is none available just crate your own a someone will probably join you :slight_smile: Choose whatever suits you…

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You can maybe experiment and see how long you wait for games. I like long games, but at 25-30 min main time and 5x30 byo-yumi, I rarely wait for more than a minute before I get a challenge accepted, and it’s a comfortable pace for me.

I’m willing to say plenty of people would play even longer time settings as well, it just may take a bit longer to find those opponents.


It’s true that pro games are longer, but most live games on OGS tend to be between 10-30 minutes + periods.

I personally prefer 15 minutes + five 45 second periods (byo-yomi). I feel like 45 seconds is better than 30, as the extra time makes moves feel less rushed / allows you to read out more complex sequences while still keeping games reasonably short.

Also, once you’ve played a few 19x19s, blitz games are also a fun way to discover your bad habits and improve your quick reading. Try 2 minutes + ten 10 second periods at first, then move down to five periods or less.


I think you need to understand byo-yomi. You say that many games here are 15 mins main time. This is true but most of the game time is not main time.

A 15 min main time game will usually also have 530 byoyomi. This means 5 periods of 30 secs. However, if main time has finished and you make your move within 30 secs, it does not use up any of these additional periods. So if you keep making moves within 30 secs, the game can go on as long as you like. Only when you exceed 30 secs for your move does it use up one of these 530 periods and of course 5 means you can do this 5 times.

An alternative is to take a look at Fischer time which is available here. It does not use byoyomi periods and instead adds to your clock every time you make a move.

The general point is that 15 mins main time games do not in practice take only 30 mins for the game ( 15 mins each). In practice they take a lot longer because of byoyomi.

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I wouldn’t say they always take a lot longer, but the OP certainly should be aware that byo-yumi can make the game much longer than 30 minutes. In other words, if you only think you have a half hour to play, you may not have time for 15m 5x30 byo-yumi.

A couple months ago I was looking at time settings to make correspondance games end a bit quicker than the typical settings, and decided canadian byo-yumi may be the best way to go. Under Canadian once the main time runs down you have a certain time to play a number of moves. Seems most people on OGS just use standard Japanese byo-yumi, but I see many people playing with Canadian on KGS.

I personally like playing with the default Fischer time: you start with 2 minutes, and get an extra 30 seconds per turn, accumulating at most 5 minutes. It means you’re supposed to make moves in 30 seconds, but there’s enough leeway to take your time at important decisions. It’s also cool that it works pretty much the same for any board size.

According to Wikipedia, “an average game between experts lasts about 150 moves”. A game of that length, at that speed, would last at most one hour and nineteen minutes. In my experience people are usually faster than that though.

You are right; there are no rules concerning time restrictions. Just like in chess, people like to add time restrictions when playing online or when playing in tournaments. If you play a live game with friends or at your local go club, you probably won’t find anyone suggesting a timer, and you are free to play without a time limit online as well, though few people would be willing to do that with a stranger for fear the game could drag on beyond what they are interested in playing.

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Thank you everyone for your answers. I think I get it now. So go has no rules concerning time limitations: players can choose them as they want and can even play without time limitations.

The only thing I’m still wondering about is what exact time limitations pro’s use. (Adam3141 said 2 hours overtime per player with several seconds for each move after that.) But I don’t need to know that now. :slight_smile:

@ Adam3141, seberle, avjventi: thanks, I found your answers are quite informative and clear

@ S_Alexaner, Swabby8, Avjenti: thanks for the information

@ Halibut, thank you for your extensive explanation. Actually, I already understood how byo-yomi works, because I’d been using this time setting for my 9x9 games

@ BozoDel: “I personally like playing with the default Fischer time: you start with 2 minutes, and get an extra 30 seconds per turn, accumulating at most 5 minutes.” This means, that if after the main time, if you take 30 seconds per turn for 6 turns, and the game is not over yet, you would loose?

“I personally like playing with the default Fischer time: you start with 2 minutes, and get an extra 30 seconds per turn, accumulating at most 5 minutes.”

This means, that if after the main time, if you take 30 seconds per turn for 6 turns, and the game is not over yet, you would loose?

No, there is no main time, just the 2 minutes initial that can go up to 5 minutes. Usually the first 4 moves are rather fast (take all corners), so you have at least 3 minutes for the first real ‘decision point’.

After that, your clock will raise slowly to 5:00 minutes if you play at a speed above 30 seconds/move and down to 0:30 minutes if you play slower, at that point you need to speed up and get your moves in at 30 seconds intervals. This still gives you more leeway than 30s byoyomi since you can do 1 move in 10 seconds and another in 50 as many times as you like, whereas byoyomi even a single 31 second move would cost you a whole byoyomi period. And the 5:00 minutes you can build up equal 10 byoyomi periods.

Well, unfortunately it’s hard to say because even with pro tournaments the times vary significantly. So I dont think anyone will give you a definite answer. I can imagine average times will even differ depending on country. That said, I still think two hours should be somewhere in the ballpark area of pro games. That is 2 hours for each player (4 in total ;-)) and some form of overtime (which you say you don’t need to know about but it’s quite important. You at least need to know that after the two hours are up, the game is not necessarily over.)