Chinese counting example

  Difficulty: Intermediate   Keywords: EndGame, Rules

Here is an example, step by step, of Chinese counting. This will use the half counting method, where only Black's stones are counted.

This example game has just ended with two passes.

End of the Game  

Prior to counting: Note the territories

The players agree that:

  • White has two live groups, top left and bottom edge.
  • Black has two live groups, bottom left and right side.
  • White has two dead stones on the right
  • Black has three dead stones on the top left
  • There are no non-scoring points (dame or seki).
Dead stones removed  

Prior to counting: Remove the dead stones

The diagram shows circles where the dead stones were removed.

Empty areas arranged  

1: Arrange Black's empty area

Black's empty areas are made to be multiples of ten. On the right, four stones are taken away (and put in Black's bowl) to make the empty areas total twenty points (3 5 + 5). In the lower left, which is too small to make an empty area of ten points, the three empty points are filled in with stones from Black's bowl.

The added and removed stones are marked with circles. Notice that it wasn't important to keep the borders of Black's territory strictly black, so long as you don't confuse whose area each is.

Black remembers that there were twenty points in the empty areas.

Counting the stones  

2: Count the Black stones

The black stones can now be counted by grouping them into groups of ten. At this point the white stones can be removed from the board, or simply slid to one side of the board.

Black has twenty-four stones on the board.

3: Determine the winner

Add the number of stones, 24, to the number of empty points, 20, to get Black's score: 44.

This game was played on a 9x9 board. So there are a total of 81 points on the board. There were no non-scoring points. The 'half count' is (81 - 0) / 2 = 40.5. Since Black had more than 40.5 points, Black wins.

Black had 3.5 points more than the 'half count' of 40.5. So Black wins by twice this, or 7 points.

19 × 19

[ext] Video


``177-176.75=``White wins by point

Wins by ½ point = (177+3.75) − ((361−177)−3.75)

John F. Chinese counting used by Chinese players in Chinese magazines uses Chinese ways of reporting the winner: Black wins by 3.5, not 7, unless you specifically say you are mutilating the Chinese system for a western environment.

Planar: Unless you are trying to cultivate ambiguity, you should refer to this as 3.5 zi, not 3.5 points.

blubb: Even though probably in the west, the majority of players is used to think of points the Japanese way, you may also explicitely indicate that you`re referring to Japanese points by using the term "moku" to make it clear.
Regarding the counting technique: I, personally, prefer to count the supposedly smaller area row-by-row. (To make this easier, prisoners can be taken off before). Instead of two players independently messing around with the board, the counting procedure gets supervised by four eyes. That's very fast and can be fully re-examined, since no stones are moved at all. But anyway, de gustibus non disputandum.

Planar: It's not a question of taste so much as a question of terminology. What you describe is New Zealand counting, not Chinese counting.

blubb: Because the Chinese score can be determined by various counting methods, I am not sure anymore whether this page title makes sense. If we are referring to the traditional Chinese half-counting method explained here, it does. However, as far as I can see, the term "Chinese counting" often stands for "a technique to determine the Chinese score", or even for the Chinese scoring itself (which is misguiding, of course).

splice: This example does not take account of komi. With a komi of 5.5, Black would have 44 - 2.75 = 41.25 points, which is a win by 0.75 points (1.5 points in japanese counting). If the komi was 7.5 instead, Black would lose the game by 0.25 points.


 -------------------           -------------------
| . . . . O O . . . |         | . . . . O O . . . |
| . O . O O # . . . |         | . O . O O # # . . |
| . O . O # # . . . |         | . O . O . # # . . |
| O O O O O # . # . |         | O O O O O # # . . |
| # # O # # # . . . |         | # # O . . # # . . |
| # # # O O # . . . |         | # # . O O # # . . |
| # # O . O O . . . |         | # # O . O O . . . |
| # # O O . O O # # |         | # # O O . O O # # |
| # # O . . . O # # |         | # # O . . . O # # |
 ------------------- 20        ------------------- 24  

Robert Jasiek: Note that the players' agreement is not part of the counting. It is part of a game phase before counting. Chinese Counting does not require rules that refer to life or death. Only some special examples like the Chinese 1988 Rules suggest such an agreement.

Other area scoring rulesets can speak of "stones that are not removed" and "stones that are removed", i.e. they do not speak about life and death.

Robert Jasiek: The removal of stones is not part of the counting. It is part of a game phase before counting. That earlier game phase can be called "removal of stones" and is part of the game phases that determine the winner. The players do not count the stones that are removed before counting. They only count stones after the removal of those stones that are removed before counting.

Chinese counting example last edited by on January 21, 2024 - 05:50
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