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


AHA! And my crusade to “debunk” this “myth” is back on! (comedic overplaying). It was already discussed in another thread but this statement is in my opinion complete misrepresentation. And i hear it quite often :frowning:

As Vsotvep was already explaining - ignorable invasion costs you AT LEAST one point in Chinese rules just as it would cost you at least a point in Japanese rules (in Chinese rules opponent claims that point by plaing a bigger avilable mover or by filling a dame). UNLESS (and it is a big unless) all borders are completely finished and every last dame filled. In this aspect I do not think the rules are easier for beginners, just misintepreted to seem that way. And I think it is rarely the case that one would attempt a sensible invasion after all the dames are filled.

(the same thing was discussed recently elsewhere and it is true that in other aspects Chinese can be easier for beginners. a good point was made that Chinese are easier to solve honest disputes for beginners. You can just play it out on the board without being afraid to change the result. THAT I agree with and is a good point, just saying this particular aspect of how you are losing points when playing ignorable moves is maybe more appareant in Japanese :slight_smile: )


So, I have always used AGA rules when introducing go to new players, but I am not sure how I would do it with japanese rules. The problem is that people need to know what’s the goal of the game before they play, and to me that means being able to decide who won a finished game. How do you do that with japanese rules ? I wouldn’t know what to say that doesn’t amount to “at the end of the game I’ll tell you which of your groups are dead”, which sounds too much like calvinball to me.

The way I go about it, I explain in this order:

  • basic play (alternating turns, each player puts 1 stone on the board when it’s their turn)
  • liberties and captures
  • scoring, assuming that players agree on which groups are live (I say we’ll get back to that later)
  • illegal moves (suicide and ko)
    then I say these are all the rules, but there are very basic strategies you need to know too, and show them how to capture a group with an eye, and how you can’t capture a group with two eyes. at this point I circle back to deciding about which groups are live and explain that both players will normally agree on this because at that stage of the game they can see which groups can’t possibly make two eyes to live, but it’s OK if they don’t see it as we can always play it out.

And then it’s time to start playing.


Incidentally, had anyone had any games that was a win in chinese and a loss in japanese?

I believed i had had 2, and both involved a KO in the middle of the game. We have filled every dame I would have won by 0.5 using C rule (as indicated by the score estimator, which should be quite accurate at the end with every dame filled) but turn out losing by 0.5 when actually scoring under the J rule.


Ignoring the word “sensible” here, this seems to be a very common strategy (online) for those players who don’t count and notice at the end of the game that they’re losing… (at least in anything below or at mid sdk range, I guess it doesn’t happen so much in dan games)


I wonder why no one has voted for the Korean rules (except for violaine indicating a lack of preference by voting for everything), when the Japanese rules appear to be quite popular.

I’m not too sure about the exact differences, but I believe the Korean rules are extremely similar to the Japanese rules.


Differences between Chinese and Japanese rules were also previously discussed in this thread:

I thought that discussion would be relevant here.


I hope it’s more a desperate attempt as a strategy in itself! If only resigning could become more popular, because this way of refusing the loss benefits mostly to the one refuting, and mostly weaken the intuition of the abuser.


all i know for sure is if i spent the time worrying about rules and reading this thread on studying a couple of Joseki instead, i would win a little more regardless of ruleset. :joy:


A bit of Kant or Freud in your life won’t harm your everyday efficiency.
A bit of understanding on how the rules are same or differs won’t harm your Weiqi strength.


Go seigen,One of the best go players in the world lost a game because the third party said one of his live groups was dead.This only hapend because They were using Japanese rules.He shoud have won that game.Any comments.


https://senseis.xmp.net/?IngRules. Click full text. Go to page 44.There you will find The difference between Ing Rules and Japanese rules please tell me if you have a problem.


I’ve read a lot of threads that try to compare Chinese and Japanese rules. As one would expect, the focus is usually on the rule differences. But I’m curious if anybody else here notices a change in the way a game feels when playing the two different rulesets? Do you have a different mentality as you play with one ruleset over the other? I only have 600-ish games under my belt and have been playing since the end of October 2018. About 100 of my games were using Japanese rules. So I’m definitely a newbie here. But, so far, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way a game experience feels to me during play, depending on the ruleset being used.

In general, when I play Japanese games, I stress more each turn because I am tracking and weighing the consequences of more elements of gameplay. I remain on edge, worried about potential failures and what they might cost me. With Chinese, I am only ever considering where to place my stones for the greatest effect on the current turn. In Japanese games I find myself trying to prevent captures of my stones more often than in Chinese games. In a Chinese game, I am more likely to try to let one of my groups be captured, in order to gain a strategic advantage on the board. Under Japanese, giving up stones will cost me, so the advantage gained isn’t always worth the number of points my opponent earns, as a result of my maneuver.

Under Japanese I am also concerned about:

  • Playing in a manner that ensures I can claim large open swaths of territory
  • Trying to plan in order to prevent dead stones
  • On the lookout for opportunities to capture prisoners
  • Struggling to decide whether I should try something bold or new, on account that a failed attempt could lead to dead stones on the board

Under Japanese, each turn I look at the board, trying to figure out how things might progress. I worry that the stone I place now, despite it being a good move at this moment, might become a dead stone in the near future. The game could theoretically progress in one of many different ways. Since my opponent could surprise me with an unexpected move at any time, there is no way to be certain how the gameboard will evolve. And therefore, no way to protect myself against placing a potential dead stone. However, under Chinese rules, I don’t have to worry about dead stones. The only thing I ever have to consider when placing a stone, is if it will be effective this turn or not.

Under Chinese rules I do not hesitate to reinforce a wall or to close a gap. Under Japanese rules I constantly consider whether it will be necessary to play it safe by reinforcing/closing. Because if I don’t place a stone in my own territory, then I get an extra point for owning that territory during scoring. But if I don’t protect myself, it could leave me vulnerable to my opponent. Many of my Japanese games had me winning towards the end of the game. But as my opponent begins to test these different spots in my defenses, I am forced to reinforce/close within my own territory, and I end up losing the game by 0.5 to 2 points. Those losses are so frustrating. Under Chinese rules, I simply would have won, because I don’t lose a point for placing stones within my own territory.

I often see other people argue that Japanese rules are better because they force you to play in certain ways. Which in turn, teaches you good habits and makes you a stronger player. Despite whether that is true or not, the idea that I am being forced to behave in a particular fashion is an issue for me. Eventually I will learn good habits on my own, naturally, in an organic fashion. How and when that takes place should be my choice. I do feel that Japanese rules force me to change certain aspects of how I play and think about the game, in order to have the best of victory.

One final thing worth pointing out is that Go is often described as beautiful, because the rules are so simple. Yet the situations they produce on the board, are so profoundly complex. I have noticed that Japanese rules contain a lot of extra rulings that the other rulesets do not have. In this way, they are the “kitchen sink” approach to rules when compared to most Go rulesets. While I agree that adding rules to any system can introduce additional layers of strategy, complexity, or expand possible tactics, I do not feel that Go needs it. Go, in its simplest form, is beautiful.

When I play with Chinese rules I feel noticeably more relaxed. As if any move that I make is acceptable. Obviously I can make a foolish move or a smart move, but I don’t stress out as much worrying about how the game will be scored at the end. In Japanese games, the way the game will be scored is constantly on my mind. Now I realize that a solid Go player is probably analyzing all of these possibilities and more. But for whatever reason, when I play Chinese, the gears in my head do not turn the same way. I feel more free and safe to explore any path, no matter how seemingly futile, that I desire. And in doing so I often learn new strategies and move possibilities that I would have otherwise missed out on.


Hmmm, well going through this and another thread I kind of get the feeling there is some huge misunderstanding or myths about Japanese ruleset among beginners :smiley: (just my feeling, maybe I am wrong)

First off, yes, sometimes we like to discuss technicalities and those special cases, but in VERY VAST MAJORITY of sensible games both Chinese and Japanese rules will have the same result. So I am not sure that having to change your style of play under whichever ruleset is a justified feeling.

The fact that in Japanese rules a prisoner gains you a point is simply a counterbalance to the fact that in Chinese rules even your alive stones (not only territory) count for one point. So if in Chinese you play a stone and that stone dies, you do not get the one point that stone would have brought you if it lived. In japanese since stones alone count for nothing, a dead stone is -1 point to achieve “basically” the same effect (you are still shy 1 point under both rulesets :wink: ).

The same is true for playing inside your own territory. UNLESS EVERY LAST DAME is already filled, playing inside your own territory loses you at least one point in both rulesets. The difference is again only cosmetic. While under Japanese rules filling your own territory costs you a point directly. In chinese you just lose the chance to get +1 point for a stone placed on a dame or anywhere else. It is +1-1 and the result is again same. Unless all dames are already filled in which case it should however be too late to worry about potential captures as your opponent should have made use of these before filling neutral points.

It is also not true that you cannot play out disputes under Japanese rules. It is easier under Chinese, no doubt. But not that hard under Japanese either. You just have to make sure all dames are filled (which you would do under Chinese anyway) and then you can play out anything, you just need to remember that both players play the same number of moves (I played, you play). That way anytime you play inside your own territory your opponent either gives you a point by adding an extra prisoner, or by filling a point of his own. No problemo! (just to be transparent that is NOT an official method, just a simple technique you can use in friendly games)

I am also not sure about Japanese rules containing lots of extra rulings… What do you mean by that? There is the infamous bent four rule, but to my understanding that’s pretty much all of it. Otherwise anything that can be captured is considered dead, just like under Chinese rules… Or am I misunderstanding something?

I personally do not care about rulesets (and usually fail to check them as a result). As mentioned they give you the same result almost every time and if they don’t it is a good indication that you are probably doing something wrong. I agree that Chinese seem more forgiving in some aspects, but I am not sure it is a good thing. Basically they sometimes allow beginners to play something very nonsensical without the feeling of reprocussions, which I am not convinced is a good thing.


I’m quite interested to know which game that was, it must have an interesting board position


Think GlacialNoivern was referencing one of those, it was about having to fill a ko or not, I am not aware of any games where referee just said some group was not alive.



In fact you can prove that the two rules are equivalent under “usual circumstances”. Seki where the opponents have a different number of eyespace are very rare (I don’t think I’ve ever had one in my games), and in a normal game neither player will pass before the end of the game. If we assume all dame are filled at the end of the game (necessary in Chinese, optional in Japanese), then it doesn’t matter anymore if one player passes more than the other either.

Only handicap is really significant, although you could just argue that this means the handicap is slightly more powerful in Chinese rules (or actually a lot more powerful since you can choose the starting position as well)

So in other words, it’s mathematically provable that your different playstyles is just illusionary. :slight_smile: Perhaps you could experiment under which of the rules you play best, and choose that mindset to play all your games regardless of the rules.


I guess you should also assume something like this doesn’t happen: https://senseis.xmp.net/?Samsung2004Dispute


While this works in many cases, it is not foolproof to achieve the same result as the official Japanese rules. For example, consider a bent four in the corner when there is an unremovable ko threat (e.g., from another seki) on the board. Playing on to settle the dispute would behave very differently from applying the adjudication procedures of the official rules, which apply a different ko rule when considering the hypothetical play out during life/death confirmation.

Forcing both players to continue playing stones could also be problematic. What if one player runs out of legal moves that do not reduce a living group to a single eye? In fact, one player could abuse this system by playing out a bogus dispute to force their opponent to eventually fill in eyes. Even if one player has more territory, if they have it spread out over more groups, then they might have to reduce a living group to one eye before their opponent does (i.e., this is analogous to the “group tax” affect of the antiquated “stone scoring” method).

An alternative would be to require players to give their opponent a prisoner whenever they pass (i.e., “pass stones”). If we also disregard the special confirmation phase ko rules of Japanese rules, and simply adopt the superko rule (for both normal play and resumed play for dispute resolution), and count eyes in seki (in order to avoid needing to further resolve what is in seki), then we will have essentially reinvented the AGA rules, which behave quite differently than Japanese rules (in the tricky cases). The AGA rules is an area scoring (Chinese-like) rule set that adopts some unique procedures (namely pass stones and requiring white to play last) just to make the territory counting agree with area counting.

Well, the 1949 version of the Japanese rules apparently did list dozens of special rulings to handle all sorts of tricky, disputed cases, with bent four in the corner being just one of them. The 1989 version distilled these rulings into a specific procedure for determining life and death during the confirmation phase. There is no longer a specific “bent four rule” in the 1989 version, but the ruling for this case is a consequence of this procedure. Actually, a basic bent four in the corner is one of the simplest tricky situations to consider. Check out the many examples of other tricky situations in the lengthy commentary that is part of the official Japanese rules.

The difficultly lies in defining what “can be captured” via a set of rules, and then understanding and correctly applying those rules in all cases. As a consequence of how the Japanese rules define life/death/seki, by basically forbidding ko threats other than pass during the confirmation phase, there are several tricky situations that behave quite differently under Japanese rules than Chinese rules. I think you might be oversimplifying the potential complexity of the Japanese rules. Sure, in most games, things are straightforward to work out, and behave quite similarly to Chinese rules, but things can become very complex in various edge cases. In Chinese rules, the tricky cases are settled by continuing play (while applying the same ko rule), while under Japanese rules, a player can appeal to adjudication and apply special ko rules during the confirmation phase in order to make captures that they otherwise would not be able to do in normal play under the normal ko rules (e.g., capturing a bent four in the corner, when there are unremovable ko threat(s) elsewhere on the board).


Yes, indeed. I should have specified that it is in no way an “official” method. Just simple technique for beginners to figure out what would happen that works ALMOST always. (I will add that to the original text) Yes, of course you can cheat it, like you can find a way to cheat in any ruleset, I am not suggesting it as a foolproof and cheatproof method, just a simple technique beginners can use to simply solve honest Japanese disputes.

I am in no way disputing the fact the Chinese rules are simpler to apply in those special cases, that is not my intention at all. My main point was to disprove the illusion that a dead stone is a bigger loss in whichever ruleset than other, or that Japanese rules are something horribly abstract and unplayble, which is just not true in my opinion. Yes, there are special cases. In my opinion you completely do not have to care about those until reaching about dan level (at which point they become interesting :smiley: ).

And of course you people play whichever ruleset you like! Go is fun either way, I am not trying to convert you to Japanese beliefs :slight_smile: Sometimes I just get the feeling that Chinese rules tend to be misinterpreted by beginners as “I can throw a stone here and because it is Chinese rules I don’t lose anything” (in Japanese the loss is clear: -1 point) In Chinese the loss is completely identical (unless all dames are filled), just harder to percieve. Which to me seems to promote “wrong thinking” about the game in some cases (while Japanese produce problems elsewhere…).

Those are my completely personal feelings about the matter, take of them what you will :slight_smile:


The different rule sets are far more often in agreement than not. I fully agree that the fundamental strategy does not change. After all, it’s not like there is Chinese rules joseki/fuseki/etc vs Japanese rules joseki/fuseki/etc. However, if we are going to consider the differences between rule sets, then it ultimately does come down to a discussion about special cases, and perhaps perception.

I think this discussion thread has revealed how common and persistent are the misconceptions about the rules and their differences. I also think that these misconceptions might have more to do with how the game has been taught.

It seems that this is a quite common misconception, however I don’t think that means we should avoid teaching/using area scoring, but rather that the strategic implications of the rules need to be better taught. It’s good to point out that, under both rule sets, at least one point is lost, when wasting a move to make an unnecessary reinforcement. However, maybe it should be emphasized that the loss is often far greater than just one point, since unnecessary moves either ignore something urgent or lose the opportunity to play a big move elsewhere, by giving up sente.

I think the near equivalence between the area and territory scoring are revealed just by considering that the difference between black’s captures and white’s captures is essentially the same (plus/minus one if black played last) as the difference between black’s stones on the board and white’s stones on the board (if both players have passed the same number of times). Thus, whether we count by territory or area, the fundamental strategic objective is the same: control (by occupying or surrounding) more of the board than your opponent.

I actually think it’s worthwhile for a beginner to be eventually introduced to both the territory and area scoring concepts, and to understand this equivalence. That might help beginners to realize that seemingly different ways to view the objective of the game:

  • Score more points (counted by territory + captures), or
  • Control (by occupying or surrounding) more of the board,

are essentially the same and require the same fundamental strategy. I think seeing things from both points of view is helpful. For example, considering both views might de-emphasize the contribution of captures into the score (under Japanese rules), which might help some beginners move past the problem of focusing too much on capturing enemy stones or being unwilling to sacrifice stones that would be too costly to try to save, and thus better grasp that captures are just a means rather than an end.

Ultimately, I don’t think there is a substantial strategic difference between area vs territory counting, and my preference for Chinese-style rules is not based on that aspect, but rather the more meaningful differences in how life/death is determined and disputed during the overall scoring procedure (to clarify, counting is just the easier part of the scoring procedure, after life/death status of stones have been determined/agreed).