Which rule set do you think is better, Chinese or Japanese?

I was just asked this by @GlacialNoivern and found it hard to answer in a tiny pm box. So here’s my answer. Feel free to add your own everyone.

If I am sitting down with a friend over the goban with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea (with honey) then I prefer Japanese Rules. In such a situation there is all the time in the world to explore Life&Death scoring problems and so on. Likewise, in any real-life tournament where there is sufficient arbitration available, I prefer Japanese Rules which despite it’s complexity, feels more elegant in execution to me.

However, when it comes to the online environment, I much prefer Chinese Rules. With Chinese Rules it is infinitely easier to resolve a scoring dispute by simply using ‘Resume Game’ and slogging it out (with Japanese Rules this is problematic if the opponent passes while I make extra moves). I prefer to resolve matters myself without calling a mod. I particularly prefer Chinese Rules for any tournament I am running or involved in that may include beginners.


I prefer territory scoring; if someone really wants to play inside my territory (especially after everything else is settled), it’s not for free.


@Kosh I am a little bit confused by your first paragraph.

As a game unfolds, what life&death problems wouldn’t you explore, and what moves would be less elegant with Chinese rules?


Please also REPLY to the discussion (in addition to voting)

Which rules do you prefer (select all to indicate no preference)

  • AGA
  • Chinese
  • Ing
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • New Zealand
  • Tromp-Taylor

0 voters


With all the discussion in the previous posts, I can only come to the conclusion that despite the popularity of J rules, it could result in lots of disputes. Even if these disputes were given a ruling under the J rules, it seems that many people still think that’s only a ruling under the stated rule, but it doesn’t necessarily means it’s fair.

And it seems that the C rules can solve them quite easily.

My vote goes to the C rules.


I prefer Chinese-style rules (most area scoring based rules sets). Ing is an exception (that I don’t like) due to the complicated and difficult to understand ko rules.

I actually used to prefer the Japanese rules, since I had believed that they were more elegant. However, the more that I learn about how to figure out what’s alive/dead/seki, the less aesthetically pleasing it seems. There just seems to be too much complexity needed just to make territory scoring work, while also trying to respect historical precedent for various tricky situations.

Eventually, I’ve come to realize that area scoring rules can be made incredibly elegant in their simplicity, which is really exemplified by the Tromp-Taylor rules.

There are some edge cases, where Chinese and Japanese rules behave very differently, and although they might rarely occur in games, I prefer how they are handled under Chinese rules, since it seems that more strategic considerations are involved. I discuss a particular example here:

Dispute resolution under area-scoring rules is also so much easier, which is a big plus for online games.

I created a poll, but I hope everyone that votes still posts with discussion as @Kosh requested.

@andysif, I noticed a typo in the poll that I had to fix, but I saw that you had cast a vote already. Fixing the typo seemed to cause all of the votes to reset. So, you have to vote again. Sorry about that.


I like AGA rules a lot because the rule set is fairly simple and easy to interpret.



I would prefer for area scoring (Chinese, AGA, Ing, etc) to be the quasi standard on Go servers, because I feel it’s the easiest to explain when teaching the game, but I’ve learned with and I’m used to territory scoring (Japanese, Korean), so I prefer it because it’s familiar.

I’m not well versed in the exact differences between all the specific rule sets, so I usually just distinguish between territory scoring and area scoring.


I don’t really care. If the rule is my own choice I will chose the less confusing one (to avoid debates). I like the superko rule too which is officially but not really in use in the Chinese rule. So AGA maybe?


Chinese rules.
-Simple and expedient
-More inclusive


Japanese are obviously superior unless you enjoy filling dame.

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Dame don’t have to all be filled under area scoring rules either. If there are just an even number of inconsequential dame left, then both players can safely pass to end the game without changing the score.


I like playing the first rules ever made.Chinese.Go started in China plus they are easy to under stand.One of the worse rules of the Japanese is that the game if ended by passing then a third party decides which groups are alive and which are dead making it unfair Because they can say a live group is dead and so that player loses.


Japanese rules are confusing.So i like playing Chinese rules.I looked at something ing posted and it showed there rules vs Japanese rules and in it There were problems that the Japanese rules had that no other rules did.You dont haft to play the most popular rules and i dont because they suck.I hope i dont confuse any one please tell me if i do.


I do not really agree that that is how it works… And in any ordinary game I would say you are still required to identify which groups are dead/alive regardless of ruleset.

Would you share the link? :slight_smile:

I prefer Japanese, perhaps largely out of habit, and because I feel they put the most emphasis on “perfection” and I find them easier to count (though again it may just come down to habit). I really have nothing against Chinese rules though. And they mostly came out the same anyway :smiley:

Regarding bent 4 it is my belief that it is rather important to know the bent 4 shape regardless of rulesets, so I do not mind that Japanese specify it.

And admitadely I am still unclear on what the official stance about superko is under Chinese (if there is any)

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The third party is only for real life tournaments in Japan.I made the mistake of saying posted i actually found it in a ing rule book sorry. though I found this at senseis library. www.senseis.xmp.net/?Chinesesuperko .I found a site that tells all of the different rules britgo.org/rules/compare.html.

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Just read about Tromp-Taylor. Seems like a nice distilling of the Chinese rules.


Me too! I think if it weren’t for tradition (and maybe some NIH) the world would use those.

The basically seem to encapsulate the spirit of the game.


Hey GreenAsJade.You are apart of the ogs team so how why dont you and the other ogs People put them in ogs so people can play them.


Something interesting… I had just today read an article about the decline of Bridge and the rise of Poker in competitive card games.

Part of Bridge’s decline is being blamed on the complicated rules for bidding and scoring i.e. Many potential new players are turned off by the effort required just to figure out who wins.

My personal opinion is that Japanese Go scoring rules suffer a bit from “Bridge syndrome” where the Chinese rules (and Tromp-Taylor!) make it simple like poker. Whoever has the most chips at the end is the winner.