When should you play on a bigger board?

I agree with this.

When I’m teaching friends, I start with 5x5 and then stick to 7x7 for a while for exactly this reason.

9x9 is a great game. The main reason to expand the board size from here is if you’re stagnating. If all your 9x9 games are feeling the same, bigger boards are a nice way to get some new ideas and face different challenges.

But it’s also fun coming back to after playing with bigger boards. For example, 9x9 is a great playground for experimenting with endgame tactics (like delaying a response to local sente). The stakes feel lower because you’ve invested fewer moves to get there, and it’s much easier to review afterward to see if you had the right idea.


Logically a 9x9 is a much better tool to learn but i still oppose the fun side. It can be quite a deception to learn that you lost on move 2 compared to this huge open space on the big board where so many things can happen. Even in building some view on how to proceed a game, it’s as important to manage a kind of big fight on 9x9 as to have multiple places to try something, interconnection between them will come later anyway. Whatever what you understand (which is almost nothing at the start). I introduced the game on different sizes and the fact is that a majority of beginners felt happier to try the big board.

I’m not saying that 9x9 is not enjoyable but very quickly, with a bit of guidance if necessary, beginners can enjoy better full games on 19x19 between them, even with “slow feedback loops”, ataris left on some chains, groups dead but then alive (or the reverse),etc… They are building a vision more as strategic plans and they do have big fun even if they win more by chance as by good knowledge of fundamentals.

The biggest problem I met with teachers is how they offer far too much of their knowledge and they can’t restrain themself to let beginners experiment on their own. And that’s something i fear even more with studies about 9x9 being more efficient to teach.
I give them time to get these fundamentals, no hurry, it’s almost like i regret myself that time of play with so few constraints.


It really depends. If you are working to become a pro, you will definitely need a strict study/training programs.
Otherwise… While its an amazing and interesting game… Its a board game, play what you feel like.


I have a playlist going through each size teaching strategy from 25k to 5k


I don’t think slow feedback loops are a bad thing once you reach a certain level.
Just like in life, we should learn to think ahead instead of hoping for instant gratification, and Go is a good tool to teach that. Smaller boards tend to have more killing and only on bigger boards can you experience overall judgemental skills and thinking far ahead.

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Sure, but I suppose the question is at which level that is.

For a 30k player on a 19x19 board, when confronted with some mishap, it’s just about impossible for them to figure out (correctly, in hindsight, by themselves) the actual cause many moves earlier.

I don’t mean to say that players should only start playing on 19x19 after reaching 10k, but for 20+k players it can be quite a challenge to understand what’s happening on a 19x19 board, especially when confronted with a much stronger opponent.


I thought I had already mentioned it, but I guess not

My view is that players should not play 19x19 early… if they don’t want to

They shouldn’t stick to 9x9… if they don’t want to

9x9, 13x13, and 19x19 are all wonderful board sizes in their own right, each offering an experience the other two cannot replicate

If a new player is enjoying 9x9, they should keep playing 9x9: it’s a worthy game in its own right

If a new player wants to move up to 13x13 and stay there, they should do so: it’s a worthy game in its own right

If a new player wants to play the “real game”, they should: it’s a worthy game in its own right

Ultimately, if a player’s goal is to get better at a certain board size, they should primarily practice that board size, but I don’t think we should put any limits on what beginners play


At some basic level, it’s same on a 9x9

Let them enjoy playing fair games between them.

If there is a limit to put, it’s about those advices some give them systematically to start on 9x9


I’m fine with tentatively starting beginners on 9x9, I just disagree with pushing it on them. I think faster feedback is a genuine benefit of starting on 9x9. But I ultimately want a beginner to be able to play what they find fun or exciting. And if they try 19x19 and realize they’ve bitten off more than they could chew, there’s nothing stopping them from going back to 9x9 or 13x13 until they’re ready to take another stab at 19x19


I appreciate 9x9 for different reasons as an attempt to understand go quicker on a reduced size.
And those reasons may be valid for a beginner too.
1 it’s handy on a mobile.
2 it doesn’t take long to play a game.

Another side advantage is that when you introduce the game you can change your lonely 19x19 goban into two, three or four 9x9 so you can have 4 people playing at the same time which is good for my ego and which is good for each to be able to try instead of watching just one between them playing.
I teached a bunch of couples like this (not only but often) and some did follow by playing between them after that.


I find the different virtues of different board sizes all interesting too and think there’s no harm in a beginner trying all of the sizes, and seeing how they feel.

And I think this in the article is beautifully expressed.

After all, I think you can enjoy the real thrill of Go on the 13×13 or 19×19 board.

Go is, after all, the freedom to play anywhere on this wide board, and I think that’s a big attraction.

At least, since I was a child, I found that very appealing.

However, on a small Go board, your opponent’s stones will hit yours quickly, and you’ll find yourself in situations where you have to follow your opponent’s moves.

On a 13×13 board, even if your opponent comes here, you can say, “No, I’m going over here”. I think you can feel that freedom.

I started on 19x19 and self-taught myself from 30k to KGS 6d solely on 19x19s for the most part many years ago.

Recently I began playing 9x9s after a long break (around 1,5 years ago); and I’d have to agree with this.

A 9×9 board is not easy just because it’s small. It’s so difficult that even professionals can’t master it.

So, the idea that “I’ll get good at the 9×9 board before moving on to the 13×13 board” doesn’t hold up. It’s not like that at all.

Regardless of whether you can do well on the 9×9 board or not, I recommend trying the 13×13 or 19×19 board as soon as possible.

It’s interesting to me to see commentaries to the effect that 9x9 is easier to understand, because from my perspective the 9x9 is actually far more complex, and it has many things happening “beneath the surface” which are a bit like a mix of the opening, midgame and endgame + interlaced cause-and-effect all at once.

When I have reviewed for DDK and beginners, I actually found it much harder to even give clearer commentaries on 9x9 due to the interlaced cause-and-effect actually making it more complex in many ways than the 13x13 or 19x19, even though ( or rather, because of the consequence of the fact that) the board is smaller.

Interesting counterpoint to bigger boards potentially being viewed as “too much” in some way, I find-- and other players have expressed–that even at the DDK and SDK levels, they find the 9x9 a lot more stressful as it’s a lot less forgiving of mistakes–there are often mistakes which lose the game that one doesn’t predict or understand ahead of time (or even afterwards), and easy to lose (or get stuck into losing positions) very early on.

In my experience it’s much easier to get a sense of global view and flow even on 13x13, and I’ve felt much more able to teach DDK or beginners basic key concepts this way, which simply don’t show up on the 9x9, as there isn’t enough space to do so.

The reviews that the DDK and beginners who have improved more, tell me were the most helpful to improving in general, were often on 13x13 or 19x19, as reviewing 9x9 just doesn’t allow one to comment as clearly on global moves/flow or areas in the same way (and 9x9 opening and “gloal view”
is typically actually very interlocked and complex, without as many clear areas).

On 13x13 cand 19x19 there are also many beautiful shapes which the 9x9 doesn’t have room for, or would appear rarely, such as the modified table shapes, table shape, horse’s head and other ways of playing lightly which I felt inspired by myself as a beginner; and which I feel are an intrinsic part of the beauty of Go too, to experience and see how the stones can move like this.

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On the 9x9 it’s not possible to see much more than a sole 2- or 3-space extension, nor easily experience the same expansiveness, or things requiring more space, like multiple shimari, or approach+side extensions also reducing the opponent.

But it’s possible even on the 13x13.

So, I think the 13x13 at the least, is actually rather worth a beginner’s time and I often prefer it most for teaching games with DDK who aren’t complete beginners (the pace is still relatively fast and it’s a much clearer instruction canvas of both local and “global view” concepts and tactics).

And why not try all of the sizes, at least once or twice, and try them again every once in a while along one’s journey, to gain something from the experience ? :slightly_smiling_face: There’s no need to limit oneself :smile: ^^


Yeah, that’s one thing I love about 9x9, and the avoidance of it is one thing I love about 13x13

I’ve been playing more 9x9 the past few months, and it’s really interesting to learn how to properly evaluate opening moves and to recognize big moves while correctly judging what cuts you can hold and what board splits will give you enough. Definitely not easy to explain to a beginner, but then again neither is 19x19, though for different reasons


I would love to help. Not sure how to go about it though! What can I do?

I ll try to resume and give some advices but your federation may provide you longer advices, starting materials (go sets), a video of presentation and so on. It’s their job to promote go, don’t be shy to contact them.

Then some suggestions

  • Find a potential public. A library, a cultural center, a school.

  • Find a motivated people for go in this place (a social worker, a professor/teacher). This can help a lot for further steps.

  • Plan a presentation of the game (and advertise on it)

  • The day give a few words on the game, a video (short too) and give the rules (very short, nothing about life, ko, sekis…)

  • distribute 9x9 boards and stones and let them play. You mostly will walk around helping to finish the games (closing boundaries, putting prisoners away and counting) and if necessary, help for situations you didn’t cover before (like kos)

  • when you finish the session, take contacts reference and propose another day.

Last when promoting, you ll quickly feel that there are 2 categories of people, the quite motivated and the one who don’t want to go further. Pushing the second into the first tend to be useless.


The French go Federation has an online league that works roughly as follows:

  • In September, three online tournaments (U12, U16 and U20) are organized. The tournaments are in 5 rounds, and 1 round is played every Monday at 19:00. If a played is not free at that time, the game may be rescheduled.
  • According to the results of the tournament, 24 players are selected (about 8 in each category). Four leagues A, B, C, D of 6 players are formed according to their strength.
  • In each league, a Round-Robin tournament is organized: one game is played every Monday at 19:00. If a played is not free at that time, the game may be rescheduled.
  • At the end of the tournament, the last two players of league A go to league B, the first two players of league B go to league A, etc.

Organizing such tournaments is only possible if you have a way to contact all U20 (or U18 or whatever) players in your go federation.

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Thank you for the advice! I’ve moved country recently, and this Saturday will meet local players in real life for the first time. I’ll investigate possibilities :smiling_face:


Oh you found players already, that’s great! Have a nice Saturday then!