This page is about compensation for moving first or difference in strength. See furikawari or ko exchange for game specific kinds of compensation.
To balance the game of go the rules can be fine-tuned. This is accomplished by compensation. The objective of compensation is to equalize the chances for either player to win.
In go two forms of compensation are common. Firstly, white is usually compensated with komi for black's starting advantage. Secondly, the weaker player is often compensated for the difference in strength. This is commonly called handicap.
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Compensating the starting advantage - Komi
The fact that black starts gives him an advantage. This advantage can be balanced in two ways. For a long time, the common way was to have players play a match over multipe games with alternating colors. In the beginning of the 20th century, the komi system was gradually introduced, giving white a fixed amount of points at the start of the game to compensate for the black starting advantage.
Compensating for strength difference - Handicap
When two players of different skill meet, the game can be rather one-sided and is often uninteresting for both players and for any spectators. The common way to compensate for this is to give the weaker player a handicap, usually in the form of several stones placed at the start of the game, though sometimes points are given instead.
These two forms of compensation can be combined. Although it is common to give no komi (or only 0.5 points) in handicap games, some systems do combine the two. For example, the Point Ranking Scheme At Tokyo Go clubs uses a fine grained system of combining handicaps and komi. The Dragon Go Server also uses such a system.
ThorAvaTahr: 'Combined compensation' is a problematic name, because it combines the placement of stones with giving points, it does not combine starting advantage with strength difference (this is inherently combined even with normal compensation for strenght difference) (I am not sure how to improve, please remove this comment after implementing it)