Kill-all Game

    Keywords: Shape, Variant

The Kill-all Game (or Kill-all Go) is a live-or-die variants in which White has to live against a 17-stone handicap. It is thus similar in nature to the shape game. Such variants can be useful for teaching overly defensive beginners to attack.

The first proposal of this variant in the Western go world is thought to be by Alexandre Dinerchtein in the GoAma newsletter.

The rules are as in regular Go, on a 19x19 board, but Black is awarded 17 handicap stones, using free placement. If White can obtain a living group, he wins, while if Black can prevent this, she wins. 17 stones are chosen based on the experience amongst professionals that this amount gives White a roughly 50% chance of success.

When players of different strengths play this game, the number of handicap stones can be adjusted (this is one benefit of this form over the shape game).

Conventional placements

Though the above rules specify free placement, one can also agree on a conventionally placed 17 stone Japanese handicap:

The Killing Game  

If White is feeling particularly strong, then three more stones can be added to make it up to 20, changing the centre to:

Centre variant  

Discussion and comments

I have played this the opposite way: a stronger player took black and I took White; if I lived I won. I think the idea was to train a weak player to invade, and to break bad habits of drawing out games with trivial moves on the edge.

Phelan: This kill-all game is similar to a variant someone posted on shape game 3 years ago. The only difference is that it uses the pie rule when it comes to choosing how many stones to use.

The Kill-all game was (scheduled to be) played in March 2010 Insei League on KGS: [ext]

How about: Board starts empty, in Phase I players take turns to either place a white stone or pass. If they pass then Phase II begins: the other player becomes black and plays first, the player who played last in Phase I remains white. Black wins if anything black lives. An advantage of this approach is that some of the stones are going to be quite sub-optimally placed, leading to all sorts of weird joseki. I think that should improve the replay value. I've switched the colours because I think white should symbolise death.

See also

Kill-all Game last edited by Dieter on October 5, 2021 - 16:26
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