Difficulty: Beginner   Keywords: Variant

Three color go
Three color go allows three players on one board

Much can be done with a goban and stones, other than conventional Go.

Many intriguing games result from Go-like rules which may even directly benefit Go skill.

Inventors have developed a dazzling variety of games with rules similar to Go in intuitiveness, wording, territorial objective, simplicity etc. And the results often bear comparison with or even challenge Go in beauty, entertainment value, difficulty and complexity.

Table of contents

Historical Variants

See also: Komi Go, Group Tax

Simpler variants


Differing presentations, quantities, or definitions of current-day Go

See also: standard rule sets and refinements of rule sets which (by design) do not Usually alter the normal course of play. This includes several systems of scoring.

White to live

Games that practice life making and all-or-nothing attack

Special set-up

See also: historical variants

Educational variants with teams or possible switching of players

  • Rengo – pair go
  • Big Brother Go – a teammate may adjust a weaker player's moves, at some cost. A similar penalty can be added to rengo.
  • Zengo – three players who alternately play both black and white
  • PyjamaGo – reviving a regular game of go after resignation
  • Gonte – the weaker player has the right to switch to white, once per game
  • Go Back – at any time, the game may be reverted to before the losing move and played out again, etc.
  • Malkovich Game – another meta-game idea
  • Team Go – an experiment on DGS where a group of players would share an account. Records of 'team go' remain on the forums there.
  • "praat-go" (Dutch, lit. "talk-go") was ongoing at jijbent: A 5D played against a team [ext] discussing their moves.
  • Hand and Brain Two players collaborate to make moves, the "Brain" calls out a Shape or Move name and the "Hand" decides where to play it.

Variants restricting valid moves

  • Balaur Go Variant - play only adjacent to your own color (lay dragon eggs in Hoshi points and send born dragons to fight those of opposite color).
  • Cushion Go – forbids certain placements on points occupied by tiles to prevent forced cycles
  • Double Move One Time Each Go – each player has an opportunity to follow through on one big ko threat.
  • Forced takeback Go
  • Freeze Go - variant, in which the opponent is temporarily "frozen"
  • Incursion Go - prevents forced cycles by using this rule: you cannot play in enemy territory if your opponent just played in your territory
  • Meigo - variant with marked and unmarked stones that forbids a small number of legal Go moves to prevent cycles
  • Miai Go - moves are negotiated
  • Neurotic Go
  • Non-contact – forbids touching stones of the other player's colour.
  • The proverb game
  • Stoical Go – makes all known forced Go cycles impossible by forbidding to capture immediately after an opponent's capture. Standard ko rules are not used.
  • Tenuki Go – may not play near (adjacent to) last move
  • Tile Go – forbids certain placements on points occupied by tiles to prevent all cycles
  • Three Liberties

Different Boards

General discussions


  • Unusual Gobans – SL accumulation including software links at bottom of page. Includes some things on toroidal Go.
  • 2don3dgoban – Playing 2-Dimensional Go on the surface of various 3-D solids
    • 3don2dgoban – Representing 3-Dimensional surfaces on (more) normal 2-D boards
  • [ext] Other boards – another variants compendium including alternative grids

Specific boards and simple families of boards

  • Alak – on a one dimensional line (including a proposed rule-change to make it a better game)
  • Boundary Point Go – selected points are erased from a standard board; see also TaoGo
  • Double Board Go – moves are copied where possible on a second board representing part of the main board
  • N-go – normal Go played on N boards (a sum of games)
  • Round Go
  • Toroidal Go, also known as Daoqi – some resources are available for this variant.
  • Ubigo – every edge point is connected to all other edge points

Specific boards with adapted rules

  • Alak – (as above), in Baljeu’s variant where some chains survive without liberties
  • Lineless Go – Go on a board without lines, where the geometry of the stones alone determines connection, capture etc. (see the discussion page too)
    • Euclidean Go – lineless go with stones as circles in a plane
    • Beach Go – lineless go using things such as pebbles for stones
  • TriGo – variant of Go on a triangular (aka hexagonal) lattice, two stones placed at a time
  • Keil - a logical adaption of Go to hexhex boards that preserves crosscuts and ko by reducing the natural connectivity of the board

Alternative rules of capture, suicide, repetition, and fairness

Modified wording of how movement/capture occurs

  • Self-capture – rules forbidding self-capture are common, but this is extraneous to many intuitive formulations of Go
  • Simultaneous Capture – zero liberties at any time results in removal
  • One-Eyed Go – requires one or more liberties even while capturing (no ko)
  • Capture in Atari – removing stones when they have one liberty (no ko)
  • Bridge Go – Essentially, "liberties on the inside don't count", and so life is hard (impossible?) to make. Win by building a "bridge" across the board.
  • Field Go – capture by surrounding an area against the edge of the board

Variants specifically eliminating cycles or ko fights (for many other ko rules browse for ko rules)

  • Cushion Go – uses tiles to prevent forced cycles
  • Geneva Ko Rule – neutralizing ko shapes using a deterrent for repetition
  • Incursion Go - prevents cycles by using this rule: you cannot play in enemy territory if your opponent just played in your territory
  • Meigo - prevents cycles by marking and unmarking stones under certain conditions
  • No-ko Go – forbidding ko one move in advance
  • Shogo - prisoners are placed in a box with limited capacity, and non-capturing placements reuse stones from the box. Captures that exceed the box's remaining capacity are illegal
  • Stoical Go – prevents cycles by forbidding capture immediately after an opponent's capture
  • Tile Go – uses tiles to prevent all cycles

Making a game equitable without resorting to komi

  • Pie Rule – common variant tool/rule used in place of komi
  • (Free) Handicaps – moves as compensation
  • F-Go (Fair Go) – unique Go variant where players move simultaneously.
  • Column Go – Prisoners remain on board, underneath stones that capture them.

Go adding special stones or abilities

  • Choice Go as handicap
  • Cushion Go – uses tiles to prevent forced cycles
  • Dagger Go
  • Kingo – two types of pieces are used: pawns and kings. Score is number of kings, but capturing an enemy king also wins.
  • Kings Order
  • Meigo - prevents cycles by marking and unmarking stones under certain conditions
  • No Seki Go – introduces a second type of piece that enables capturing groups in seki
  • Redstone – simplified variant where stones played to capture are red (neutral and immune to capture)
  • Special Stones
  • Superpower Go – a family of variants where one player has a superpower, the other has a large komi. (This often involves modifying an aspect of Go and observing the effects.) For example, it can be used to investigate the value of being the komaster.
  • Tile Go – uses tiles to prevent all cycles
  • Yugo – permanent pieces of the player's color are used for capturing
  • Games where both players have a special power:

See also [ext] Other Pieces – many listed variants that mostly fall in the Superpower category

Modeling or illustrating a particular aspect of Go

Go with more than one stone added per turn

Including variants with an uneven number of moves.

Go with different stones

  • DominGo – pieces are domino shaped
  • Pixel go - You place 2x2 blobs. Overlapping stones are ignored.
  • Quantum Go – placing two entangled stones per turn which will later become a single stone

See also [ext] Other Pieces For extra stones with special effects, see Superpower Go, above.

Limited information or visibility

  • Batoo – a battle including an initial placement of 3 stones, one hidden stone each, score bonuses, and other elements
  • Blackhole Go – stones can't be placed on certain points on the board; related to TaoGo
  • Buried Treasure – hidden score bonuses
  • FogOfWar – moves delayed in time
  • Hidden Move Go – a few stones that opponents cannot see
  • Minesweeper Go? – if you hit a hidden mine, you pass the turn (opponent moves twice)
  • Phantom Go (Gospiel) – based on blindfold chess; most moves are invisible
  • Phantom Rengo with 3 Boards – augmented Gospiel
  • Relative Go – unique idea obscuring the location of the edges

Variants with 3 or more players

Variants with different Scoring or with Bidding

  • Environmental Go – also known as Coupon or Token Go
  • Bid Go – bidding for the right to play
  • Alternate Bid Go
  • Volcano Variant – "irregular scoring," for example placing greater emphasis on the center
  • Take A Bet On Life And Death – a tsumego tournament
  • Square Squared, based on *star, counting stones on the edge plus a group tax
  • Stringo - your score is the number of strings of your color
  • TenGo – a player's score is the number of stones in a group of their color that includes a stone at tengen
  • Unequal Resources Go or =/= Go – The value of a prisoner is allowed to be unequal to the value of a moku of territory.
    • Stonethrow – The value of a prisoner is half the value of a moku of territory. An instance of =/= Go template.

See also Scoring and under historical variants.

Miscellaneous results of simplifying standard Go

Games involving Territory, Surrounding, and/or Connection

Go-like games with no capture:

  • Symple – a quicker game involving when and where to start and connect groups, in order to grow to cover the most area, minus a group tax
  • Fjorde – German-style board game with an element of enclosure
  • Fugo - Go-like game with forced relocations of single stones in surrounded groups instead of whole-group removals

Go-like games with Othelloanian Capture (captured pieces reverse color, which removes the possibility of repeating cycles (ko)):

  • Sygo – shorter, challenging Go-style game created with the Symple move protocol and its unique balancing mechanism
  • Loose – finite Go variant with modified (looser) capture
  • Reversi Go – simplest hybrid of [ext] Reversi (Othello) and Go
  • Medusa – game of abstract strategy concocted starting from Go on a partial hex grid
  • Lotus – a more minimal support act for Medusa

Games playable with paper and pencil:

Other abstract strategy games with Go-like equipment and themes:

  • Orbit – Go variant based on encirclement (rather than adjacent encirclement)
  • Tanbo – Tanbo crudely models a system of plant roots which are growing, competing for space, and dying.

Variants with mobile stones

Variants adding complicated rules

  • Batoo – a battle including set-up phase, hidden moves, komi bidding, and scoring bonuses
  • Magnetic Go – a unique effect alters the board with each stone placed
  • Snap Go – a very difficult variant

Spiced up variants

Games that add an element of luck, subjectivity or manual dexterity

Special objective

  • Irensei – the aim is to line up 7 stones, uses Go capturing, suicide and ko rules
  • Gonnect a child of Go and Hex
  • Gopposite – try to score LESS than your opponent
  • Anti-Atari Go – First to capture loses. Just for fun.
  • Bridge Go – Win by building a "bridge" across the board. There's also a special capture rule where "liberties on the inside don't count".
  • Treasure Go

See also Tsumego Conventions,

Cousins of Go

  • Bargo – (mentioned here) scored by the number of Black eyes of a group
  • Dominions – played with hexagonal tiles with different arrangements of 1 to 6 liberties
  • Go in fiction – occasionally someone imagines a fictional game that is partly inspired by Go.

Other Games with Go Board and Stones

  • Gomoku – Five in a row
  • Pente – Like Gomoku, but with a way of capturing
  • [ext] Renju – variant of Gomoku, but with extra rules to give a fairer balance between black and white.
  • Connect 6 – Black starts with a stone at tengen. Then white, and two stones per turn. 6 stones in a row wins (any direction)
  • Hasami Shogi
  • [ext] Conway's Game of Life – really a toy or simulation, famous for its surprising complexity
  • Philosopher's Football (Phutball) – An actual wonderful game invented by John H. Conway
  • [ext] Konane – A traditional Hawaiian game somewhat resembling checkers or draughts, said to be fit for the 18x18 squares on a Go board
  • [ext] Ming Mang (also Mig Mang) – a general Tibetan term for game, sometimes Go, but the linked game is something different. [ext] Another source allows multiple captures. Ming Mang naturally generalises to [ext] Gundru (dead link)
  • The Flicky Game – one of probably many Korean? stone-sliding dexterity games

Other games

  • Chess and its variants, including [ext] Ko shogi
  • Merrills or Nine Men's Morris
  • Hex
  • Havannah – variant of Hex with different winning conditions
  • [ext] Cathedral – territorial -ominoes game. In its wooden edition, wonderfully haptic.
  • Connect Four – On IYT this is called [ext] stack4. IYT has also invented a variant called [ext] stack 4x4

Crossovers between Chess and Go

  • [ext] Go with chess pieces – stones that connect in ways that chess pieces can move (a way to generalize Go)
  • [ext] Gess – chess-like game with mutable "pieces" (3x3 shapes made of stones)
  • [ext] CheGo – dropping chess-type pieces with the objective of controlling board squares.
  • [ext] Amazons – another instance of a territorial/surrounding objective added to a chess-like setting

Other Go Variants Collections

See also

Variants last edited by Malcolm on May 23, 2024 - 15:49
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