Strasbourg rules. Commendably (and rarely), the philosophy behind the rules is clearly stated: it is to be a set of rules which complete novices can learn and play unattended. They have been translated into multiple languages, and have been the basis of a Flash intro to go. Straight evangelism, in other words. Scoring is stone scoring, which is equivalent to area scoring with a 2 point tax per group. The ko rule is either just the simple ko rule, with long cycles undefined (the first introduction to the ko rule) or superko. Stone scoring is not no-pass go, but isn't too far from it.
There is an online application aimed at children or young beginners which uses these rules which basically lets you play through web browser - see here
(from Doug's Go Blog/June 2003)
Harleqin: The "tax" description is very sloppy: stone scoring can be described as area scoring with a tax of 1 point per needed eye (think of seki).
Bass: The Strasbourg rule set is much more than just the point counting bit at the end of the game.
Gyom: indeed, and the StoneCountingTeachingMethod, as the phrase "teaching method" in the name implies, is also a bit more than just the point counting bit at the end of the game (have you even read the linked page ?)
Learning to play Go requires much time and effort especially if
- one doesn’t know that there are many rulesets and one hears contradictory explanations
- one tries to directly learn one of the classical rulesets (japanese, chinese …).
- one uses a 19x19 board.
The approached used locally in Strasbourg has been to say that Go is a complex strategy game but that we developed a progressive introduction to allow the game to be discovered by school children.
The method consists of 3 stages
- We play the capture 5 stones Go game on a 9x9 board. All that needs to be known is the rule of capture. At this stage we learn the rule of suicide and discover the concept of a group which cannot be captured with the most simple examples (two eyes, each of 1 space)
- We move to the Strasbourg Rules on 9x9 and then 13x13. The aim of the game is to have the most stones of your own colour on the board. Strasbourg Rules are probably very close to the original rules of Go. We introduce the right to pass, and ko when ko presents itself. The game stops when two players pass consecutively. We then count all the stones present on the board regardless of their status in other rules.
- We move next to the classic rules of the game on a 13x13
The free stages fit together naturally
While we don’t know that it is possible to pass, the player who has captured the most stones is the one with the most on the board. At this point the two objectives “capture n stones” and “have the most stones on the board after the capture of n stones” are (almost) equivalent. The step to the objective “to have the most stones of your own colour” when the 9x9 board is largely filled up with stones is then made naturally. Now we begin to play Go. We can use the expression “to have the biggest territory”. The stones on the board represent the territories.
When the games begin to resemble games of Go, we realise that they are composed of two phases: the first where we define the territories, the second where we are filling in.
When we understand at exactly which moment the game enters the second phase of filling we can, if we so choose, move to the classic rules.
We move “naturally” from the Strasbourg rules to the classic rules to get rid of the filling phase when it becomes tiresome.
When the two players realise that the game has moved into the filling phase they can also, initially, decide to cut short the filling phase by stopping play.
Remarks concerning the initiation of children
On 9x9 and on 13x13 the children like to count the stones. It is not necessary to aim to move as quickly as possible to the classic rules.
On 19x19 one can associate the Strasbourg rules with Ing counting (if the two players have 180 stones at the beginning, then the one with the most on the board at the end of the game is the one with the least remaining in his bowl).