In Go literature, diagrams are almost always adorned with a few special symbols (markup) such as triangles, alphanumerics etc. This page intends to act as a reference as to when and how to use symbols.

Until now, the use of symbols has been fairly intuitive; re-using symbols for other ends would not give major problems, although some kind of convention already exist.

The material here is a mere condensation of information found on RGG as well as other sources. (Please use the discussion page for comments.)

Table of contents

Symbols in ASCII diagrams: ASCII markup


  • intersection on the goban

'|', '+', '-'

  • board edges, corners

',' '+'


  • white stone

'#', 'X'

  • black stone

digit (1..9)

  • sequence of moves (make sure to state which side is using the odd numbers)
  • the compact nature of ASCII diagrams requires to limit to single-digit move numbers; use more diagrams to show longer play sequences.


  • variations

Symbols used by applications: SGF/print markup

Following symbols have existed for a while.

Number, digit (B1, W2...)

  • denote playing sequences


  • in lowercase, used on empty intersections to show moves in a variation. Japanese go materials would commonly use hiragana or katakana (often in the "i-ro-ha" order).
  • used as capital letters, to designate a set of choices from which to continue


  • mark a formation/point that is being talked about

Circle (white+circle, circle)

  • a stone breaking the ladder, a group in danger
  • can be used in diagrams to refer to a move that is played on top of an existing stone (see also HowToReadDiagrams)
  • indicate an eye
  • highlight the last move (mainly used in applications, less in diagrams)

Open square (black+square, square)

  • cGoban2 uses a square to denote a ko


  • counting: territory
  • mark dead stones

Other symbols

Following symbols are mostly used by applications, but generally not stored in game records.

Filled square

  • used by some applications to denote the status of an intersection (black, white, Dame, undetermined)

shading, dimmed points

  • moyo

New symbols, concepts

Following symbols could become part of the existing set of widely recognised symbols. See discussion page for status.

  • '!'
    • Good move
  • '?'
    • Bad move

Sporadicly used annotations (but available in sgf)

  • '!!'
    • Very good move
  • '!?'
    • Interesting move
  • '?!'
    • Doubtful move
  • '??'
    • Very bad (losing) move
  • '= ='
    • Very even position (Joseki)
  • '='
    • Even position
  • '~'
    • Unclear position
  • '~ ~'
    • Very unclear position

See also

Symbols last edited by axd on July 22, 2011 - 12:11
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