Bang Neki

Keywords: Culture & History, Go term

Korean Bang Neki matches are types of Go games where the actual count makes a difference as opposed to just win/lose.

In a bangneki, money is bet on the outcome of the game, firstly a certain amount for the winner, then a certain amount for each 10 points difference (Termed a 'Bang'). This amount can increase, so that for instance the 10th bang ('Manbang' by memory - winning by more than 100 points) (see also MahnBang) is worth more than just 10 individual bangs.

Strategy can play a large role in a Bangneki, as illustrated very well in the novel 'First Kyu'.

BangNeki (BangNegi) literally translates to "Room Betting". This is because in Korean Baduk terminology, a point is referred to as a 'house' instead.

In the novel First Kyu

In Dr. Sung-Hwa Hong's First Kyu, Nak explains bangneki to Wook in this way.

1) Each unit, called 'bang', is ten points of territory. 1-10 points is one bang, 11-20 is 2 bang and so on.

2) 10 bang is called manbang and is the biggest win. It doesn't matter if you win by 91 or 200. It is still manbang.

3) Before the game starts, both parties agree on the value of each bang, plus the base amount. The base amount is the money the winner will receive from the loser regardless of the number of units. To make the bet, it is customary to say it in two amounts: the base first, and then the unit value. So if I say '100 - 20' it means the base is 100 and each unit is worth 20. If I won this game by 12 points, 2 bang, I would win 140.

4) You can only resign if you concede that you have lost the game by manbang.

5) The most important thing in bangneki! Before you start the first game, both parties have to 'bury' an amount equal to a manbang loss under the board. This is to prevent the loser from playing on after the money he has is gone. So if one player runs out of money in his pocket, and has to pay using the 'buried' money, the bangneki comes to an end.

Go gambling in general

This style of gambling go is not specifically Korean, and more probably originated in Japan. It is mentioned there in Arthur Smith's Game of Go. In Japan the unit of 10 points is called ban - the same word as in jubango. It is called Me-Go (目碁) in Japan.

John Fairbairn: I don't know how prevalent it is in Japan now, but I've seen it mentioned many times, though pros are not supposed to indulge, I'd be pretty sure it's written up in Masukawa's tome Tobaku (Gambling). I have the impression it was the normal style of go for serious amateurs up to the 20th century at least.