Go—also known as Wéiqí (圍棋), Igo (囲碁), and Baduk (바둑)—is a complex game of strategy and tactics. While every one of it's rules can be learned in one half hour or less, it can take years of dedicated study to become a strong player. If chess focuses on a single battle, then go focuses on an entire campaign. A single game of go can feature a number of smaller battles whose outcomes could potentially affect the outcome of other battle across the board. Because of this level of complexity, this guide will not cover very much in the way of go strategy. We will be focusing on the basics, namely the rules. A section called "Go-playing Resources" is included at the end of this guide to provide you with links to websites containing information on go, including strategies. Don't worry if you do not fully understand the rules of the game at first. Since playing actual games is really the only way to understand how the rules interact, please don't be afraid to jump right in and start playing a bunch of quick games.
Go is a "game of surrounding" (a loose translation of Wéiqí). Players place pieces, called stones on the intersections, called points, of a grid of lines on the top of the goban, or go board. The general idea is to surround more points of territory, or empty intersections, than your opponent. Players do this by taking turns placing black and white stones on the points. Once a player removes his/her hand from a stone, the move is final and play continues to second player. If a player does not feel they can make any constructive moves, they may choose to pass their turn. If both players pass consecutively, the game ends and the score is determined. If a player feels that they cannot possibly hope to win, they may choose to resign. Games won by way of resignation do not take score.
Life, Liberties, and the Pursuit of Territory
Of course, players are unlikely to simply allow each other to surround territory without trying to impede one another. This is where the concepts of life, death, liberties, and captures come into play.