Board geography

    Keywords: Go term, SL description

This page concerns ways of referring to parts of the board when discussing the game on Sensei’s Library or elsewhere.

Table of contents


There are two conventions for giving directions:

  • Relative - when discussing moves or the relative position of individual stones:
    • Up = towards the center
    • Down = towards the edge
  • Absolute - when referring to positions on the board as a whole:
    • Up or Top: Towards the white player
    • Down, bottom, left, right, lower left etc.: Correspondingly - all as they appear to the Black player.[1]
This convention can cause confusion with the previous one (or when abbreviated - see below). To avoid this, sometimes points of the compass are used instead, with "North" replacing "upper side".


The board is loosely divided into nine areas.

  • abbreviations
    • UL: upper left (corner or quarter) = NW
    • TL: top left = NW
    • UR: upper right = NE
    • TR: top right = NE
    • LL: lower left = SW
    • BL: bottom left = SW
    • LR: lower right = SE
    • BR: bottom right = SE
    • US: upper side = N side
    • LS: lower side or left side (hence to be avoided) = S side or W side
    • RS: right side = E side
    • Some people also use other [ext] points of the compass such as the half- and even quarter-winds, ee.g.:
      • SSW (between S and SW)
      • SbW (“South by West”, between S and SSW)

Points on the Board

There are several ways to refer to points on the board:

  • Absolute coordinates. A1 is the left closest corner point for black. T19 right farthest. Absolute coordinates have the form x99, where
    • x = Horizontal, a roman character A through T, I is skipped.[4]
    • 99 = Vertical, one of the numbers 1 .. 19
  • Relative coordinates are measured from the closest corner. They are written in the form x-y, x and y both ranging from 1 to 10. The first point discussed has the smallest number first. E.g. a stone on the 3-5 point might be followed by one on the 5-3 point.
  • Named points: Some points have names, such as "hoshi".


The lines are points on the board with a certain distance from the edge of the board.


  • very low = second line (not first)
  • no qualification = low = third line
  • high = fourth line
  • very high = fifth line (not sixth)

Distance[2], [3]

  • contact = no space
  • no qualification = close (approach) = small (enclosure) = one-space
  • distant (approach) = large (enclosure) = two-space
  • very distant = three-space
  • pseudo (pincer) = four spaces (or more)

See Also

  • Coordinates — An overview of many systems for assigning coordinates to points
  • Named Points — A list of all points on the board with special names


[1] (Sebastian:) Is this really true? It seems like an impoliteness to the white player to accommodate the black player.

Bob McGuigan: I think this usage comes from the desire to make it possible for people to discuss moves without using coordinates. In Japan in TV tournament games, for example, the game recorder announces moves in a fashion such as "upper right corner starpoint".

[2] The number of spaces refers to the horizontal distance, not the Manhattan distance. The Manhattan distance is used when talking about pace and the strength of connections.

[3] See also Joseki nomenclature - expert names

[4] Presumably because an uppercase 'I' may look like a lowercase 'l' in some fonts. As some software and notably the smart game format (SGF) doesn't skip the 'I', there is potential for misunderstandings.


Board geography last edited by 2003:00dd:df1c:c63a on October 24, 2022 - 09:40
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