Handicap, in go, is the process of giving a player handicap stones or reverse komi as compensation for differences in player strength or positional strength with the aim of creating more equal chances of winning for all players.
Traditionally, in amateur 19x19 games, the number of handicap stones is equal to one stone per difference in rank, and the number of reverse komi is equal to 10 points per handicap stone. For example, the handicap between a 5 kyu and 4 dan player would be 8 stones or 80 reverse komi. Additionally, the stronger player takes White and has komi reduced to 0.5 for the purposes of minimizing most (non-reverse) komi advantage, helping to prevent draws, and rewarding White for close games.
The optimal amount and type of handicap able to create a fair game in go is an ongoing area of research and study.
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Handicaps on the nine Star Points (typical)
Traditionally, handicap stones are placed on the star points, but one can also play with free placement of the handicap stones. In contrast to an even game it is White's turn to play the first "real" stone (after the black handicap stones have been placed on the board), except in an one-handicap-stone game where black makes the first move.
Many Go clubs and salons in Japan use a handicap system integrated into a rating system.
- Rank and handicap How the rank-difference of players normally determines the handicap
- Rank first comments How to keep track of your rank
- Points Rating System How Japanese amateurs handicap games
- Dutch class system An older ranking system used in some Dutch clubs
- Rank - amateur and professional Comments on the strength of amateurs and professionals
- Match handicap system The old multi-game (jubango etc.) handicap system
- Handicap for smaller board sizes
- Discussions and proposals
- Reverse komi When White gives Black komi
- Kokose Allowing one player to determine some of the others moves
- Switching Colors Go Swapping colours every so many moves
- Proper Handicap An attempt to improve handicapping with stones by komi
- Handicap placement The conventional positions of 1 to 9 handicap stones
- Free Handicap Placing handicap stones where Black wishes
- Handicaps beyond nine stones
- Handicap stone placement on smaller boards
- It is considered a Bad Habit to Refuse To Take Handicap
- Order of placement of handicap stones The polite order in which to place a 9 stone handicap on the board
- Use Handicap Stones General tips
- Live small Force White to make small live groups
- Force White Into The Center Based on an idea in The Second Book of Go by Richard Bozulich
- High Handicap Games - White is weak How to pressure White for ones own benefit
- Following the opponent around Particularly common in handicap games!
- How To Respond To Kakari In a four Stone Handicap Game A medley of ideas
- How to win with a 9 stone handicap
- Ten Commandments of Handicap Go A discussion inspired by an article in the American Go Journal
- Handicap Fuseki Discussions of the first moves in handicap games
- Bermuda triangle A weak double keima often seen in handicap games
- Overplay Includes some comments on overplays in handicap games, mainly from Whites viewpoint
- Large Handicap Games Discussion How to make them more helpful to the weaker player
- Chess Whiz against lavalyn
- Teaching Game 53
- Teaching Game 361
- Game 33
- Get Strong At Handicap Go
- Handicap Go - the book
- Basic Techniques of Go
- Kage's Secret Chronicles Of Handicap Go
- Pro Pro Handicap Go
- The breakthrough to shodan
- How to Play Against the Stronger Player, two volumes downloadable from the Wings Go Club
- Handicap Go Strategy (in Japanese).
- Sanzi Pu by Guo Bailing, translated into English under the title "Three-Stone Games"
- Masterpieces of Handicap Go