Keywords: MiddleGame, EndGame, Go term

Chinese: 先手 (xian1 shou3)
Japanese: 先手 (sente)
Korean: 선수 (seonsu)

Sente is a Japanese Go term adopted into English.

The root meaning of sente is playing first.

The following are derived meanings:

  • A player can have sente.
  • A move can be sente.
  • A position can be sente.

Table of contents

A player having sente

A player has sente if it is their turn. (In particular, when they do not have to answer their opponent's last move.) Thus, a player who has sente can decide where to play next.

Playing first in a local position

Just as the base meaning of sente is playing first, a derived meaning is playing first in a local position. Thus, a player may avoid a local reply to the opponent's last move and take sente to play first elsewhere.

A sente move

A sente move  

A move is sente if the opponent has to answer it, so the player who plays it will have sente after the exchange. For example, in this diagram Black can play B1 in sente, because White has to answer W2 to avoid dying. Not to have sente is to be constrained into a direct answer to your opponent's previous play. This state of affairs is called gote: having gote, taking or accepting gote.

The English term most closely connected is therefore the initiative: which changes hands during the game.

See also Sente Move Formal Definition.

A sente position

Black sente  

This position is sente for Black because Black's threat to save two stones is greater than White's gain from preventing that threat. Therefore we expect Black to be able to play first in this position with sente. That may not always be the case, but it is the normal state of affairs. We say that Black has the privilege of playing first in this position.

Sente in the endgame

In the endgame, a local sente position often refers to one player having a sente move and the opponent having a gote move.

See also

Sente last edited by Tokumoto on April 5, 2016 - 18:18
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library