Stone Counting Teaching Method

    Keywords: Theory


The stone counting teaching method to teach Go to newcomers has been designed as an alternative to the conventional way of teaching Go, using territory as a basic objective, and to Yasuda's way, the capture go teaching method, which focuses on teaching the rule of capture. This method is used in Beginning Go by Peter Shotwell and Susan Long? (Tuttle 2008). It is also implemented in the apps [ext] Puyogo ("Squishy Go" in English) and [ext] Nanago.

The counting method used here also discussed in Stone Scoring. It may be one of the oldest ways used to count games.

Basic idea

The basic idea of the stone counting method is that Go is not about territory but about providing life for as many stones as possible.

Basic game objective

The player who has more stones on the board than his opponent, wins.

Basic rules

  • the rules of placement and the rule of capture
  • a pass is allowed; after two consecutive passes the game ends


Versus the classical method

  • No need to understand concepts beyond the rules, such as life, territory or neutral points. These concepts introduce themselves in a natural way
  • The advanced concept of thickness also comes very naturally, as the safety of existing stones is made equally important to occupying empty points.
  • This is probably the way the game originated, and the origins are often the best starting point

Versus the capture go method

  • The game objective is essentially the same as for the game played by experienced players.
  • Beginners don't have capturing as official goal, so the idea of "must capture/must escape" is not burned into the beginners mind as much.


  • The game takes longer than capture go
  • The game requires players to learn one more rule (passing) before playing than capture go requires them to learn

Criticism - with question marks

True, but negligible, as noob players that go through this relatively short phase in their Go career will soon become familiar with Go and will easily switch to more advanced rules.

Not an issue, as this method is only designed to introduce Go: at this level, the beginner does not care about a few points more or less.

  • When explaining the game to beginners, one should include the cultural aspects too, one of which is territory (the beauty of omission)

The aim of this method is to introduce Go, not the culture around it. Again, this can easily be added later.

  • A bad habit to play inside territory can originate here

Yes, but this is a weak argument, as this method is only an introduction; players will soon be exposed to area/territory scoring and understand the importance of borders. Besides, this seems to be the counterpart of the bad habit to capture stones in capture go.

The arguments for or against any teaching method are discussed at teaching go to newcomers/discussion.

See also

Territory as a strategy

Stone Counting Teaching Method last edited by Malcolm on December 1, 2023 - 14:13
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