Relative Go


Relative Go is a Go variant I came up with (you can suggest better name). In this variant, the position of board is not defined at start of the game. Instead, players place stones relative to other stones on the board. It might seem like a Go without edges before stating that Maximum number of lines between two stones in x- or y-distance is 17 (for 19x19 board).

I'm trying to describe phase of game in the following diagrams. This is game on 9x9 board (above distance rule constant is 7 now).

Black's first move  

We can't really say "where" on the board is this stone at this point. It is white who next makes the first meaningful move.

White answers  

Now we'll note the position of white stone relative to the black stone and other way around. These relations will not change during the game. In other words, W2 will always be in keima to B1.


Black expands to the direction he likes, as long it's not too far away from other stones (see next diagrams).

W4, Illegal move  

Here come the real edges of the board. In this diagram, W4 is an illegal move because we are playing on 9x9 board. This shape simply wouldn't fit on such board because there are 8 vertical lines between B1 and W4 (more than 7).

W4, legal move  

With W4, white stabilizes all stones in horizontal direction. Stones can no longer be placed right of W4 or left of B1. We know B1 and W4 are on edges but we dont know their exact height. Next two diagrams illustrate this.


Black can "push" other stones up or down, which he like better. Of course, black doesnt have to place on an edge at all.


From here on, game continues just like normal go. No extra rules.

Extra rules

Consider the following play: White places his first stone (+18,+18) relative to the black stone and immediately defines all edges. After that game is the same as normal go (with two useless stones in the corners) and the idea of this variant is wasted.

Normal go with two useless stones  

To prevent this I'm forced to introduce some new rule to balance the game. The best I could think of Is a rule to forbid placing stone too far from other stones.


White W2 can be placed on positions marked a and closer to B1 (such as c), but can not place on and outside b-line (such as d).

The restricted distance here is the distance of tengen from edge, meaning that White's first move cannot be placed "outside" physical board if B1 is at tengen.

Previous example  

According to rule described above, B3 is an illegal move on 9x9 because it's 1 intersection too far from W2 (max lines between W2 and B3 would be 3 in 9x9).

Differences to normal Go


  • How to play corner joseki when there are no corners?
  • Corner fuseki gets replaced by tengen fuseki (?)
  • One skillfully placed stone can turn good framework into a useless formation.

There are probably some easy sequences which allow changing play to normal go. But if players choose not to do this immediately, succesful game can teach a lot.

Relative Go last edited by wumps on September 25, 2007 - 07:44
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