Stone Counting Method

    Keywords: Rules

The stone counting method can be used for rules that define Scoring by Area.

(If you are looking for information about the traditional Chinese scoring system, see Stone Scoring.)

As a reminder, in Area scoring, your score is:

  • the number of your stones on the board
  • the number of empty points your stones surround

Determining your score:

1: Note your territories: They are the empty points surrounded entirely by your live [1] stones.

2: Remove all your opponent's dead stones left in your territories. These can be placed back in your opponent's bowl.

3: Fill in all of your territory with stones from your own bowl. Don't leave any eyes: The game is over and no more capturing will be done. If there are any non-scoring points (Dame [2], Seki, etc.) don't fill them in with any stone. They will remain empty.

4: The person with the most stones on the board wins. If it isn't clear, or you want to determine the difference between the scores, you can do one of three things:

4a: Rearrange the stones so that all black are on one side and all white are on the other. The color that covers more than half the board will be obvious.

4b: Remove pairs of stones, one black and one white. Keep removing pairs until there is only one color left. That color is the winner, and the number of stones is the difference in the scores.

4c: Simply count the stones, first one color, then the other. It's a good idea to clear off all extra stones from the table around the board and put the lids on the bowls to make sure you don't change the number of stones. That way, if you miscount, you can count 'em again.


Stone counting isn't very practical for bigger board sizes. It also can get a little tedious - both in filling in the board and in the counting.

On the other hand, it works very well with beginners. They don't seem to mind filling in the board, and the pair-wise removal or the board rearrangement works very well for them.

There is a Stone Counting Method Example with step-by-step diagrams.

If Komi is used, then it can be added to White's score if counting stones. If you are using pair-wise removal, or rearrangement, then Komi isn't handled easily [3]. Of course, if you are using Stone Counting because it is easy, then you probably aren't playing with Komi!


Robert Jasiek: "live" is a bad term in case of counting area scoring. I stop reading at the first doubtful point.

Robert Pauli: To be plain, and satisfy RJ (and robots ;-), it would be

1: Your territories are spaces of empty points only bordered by your own stones (even in seki).

2: There are no "dead" stones - everything on the board is "alive" and stays there.

3: Fill up all your territories with stones from your own bowl - other empty points are left empty.

. . .

Of course, we don't get it for free: now we explicitly have to capture dead stones at the end - clock still running, recorder still working . . .

[2] If it's not an even number, they made an mistake.

[3] Robert Pauli: Don't really see why. Either gives the difference. If it's black, subtract komi, if it's white, add.

See also

Stone Counting Method last edited by on December 3, 2011 - 07:38
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