Travel Go Boards

    Keywords: Equipment

Travel Go Boards are Go boards that can be carried easily during travel.

Table of contents

Choosing a travel Go board

Each choice is a compromise versus a table board and stones.
There are several considerations for a travel board:

  • must be large enough to use
  • must be light enough to take along
  • must be small enough to take along - small enough to fit in bag
  • must close with the playing surface inside (so that it is protected and does not get scratched frequently)
  • must have magnets strong enough to hold position even if shaken or tilted
  • nice to have the magnetic pieces fully enclose the magnet so that only plastic touches the board
  • nice to have the pieces be rounded in profile so that you can pick them off the surface more easily
  • nice if the board could be folded without disturbing the game in progress.
  • nice if it is cheap enough that losing it is not a "big issue".
  • nice to have good quality

There are several types of Go boards:

Roll-up (vinyl)

The ultimate in portability for full sized sets is the "roll-up" or "fold-up" leather or vinyl board.


  • Vinyl and leather roll up boards can be full size and used with full size stones. They are much less bulky packages than normal boards.
  • The stones can be placed in tube like containers placed end to end, forming the shape of a single long tube, and the board rolled around the two tubes containing the stones. The stones and the board playing surface are protected.
  • Chinese stones are routinely sold in wicker baskets, which make fairly nice unscratchable portable bowls, with a folding vinyl board included in one basket.


  • These require a hard flat surface underneath so you can't easily use them on a park bench or on the ground.
  • Also, roll-up boards deform easily, if they are kept folded or rolled for some time, and are hard to re-flatten.
  • They are too big to fit under your feet on a plane.
  • The lack of a rigid surface makes playing in a moving vehicle or at sea difficult.

Roll- or Fold-up Board (cloth)

With the same level of portability as a leatherette or vinyl roll-up board, a cloth board is another possibility. These would best be made at home by simply marking the grid onto a piece of fabric.

Cloth boards, along with one or two small bags for a set of stones, make an excellent choice for backpacking holidays. With the appropriate fabric you can even have a multiple use Go-board/bandana/pillow!


  • Creases from folding are not so persistent or noticeable as with vinyl boards
  • The cloth may be folded much smaller


  • These require a hard flat surface underneath so you can't easily use them on a park bench or on the ground.


[ext] Moon Phantom made a pillow with velcro stones which was sold on eBay. It was mentioned in September 2005. Search for "velcro" on or see the discussion page for more information. There are pictures up on his website:



I (Gyom) hand-made a cloth goban which is for sure simpler than Moon Phantom's one, but also cheaper, and maybe easier to reproduce :-)

tealeaf: As an idea for potential creators or users of a cloth travel Go board, the standard size for a bandanna, available at places such as [ext] Bandana Man(US) or [ext] Bandana Shop(UK), is slightly larger than the standard Go board. With a bit of stitching, or drawing with a fabric pen, you can have the perfect travel Go board that also covers your head in the sun!

Foldable and Slotted (non magnetic)

These are the same as a normal board, except they are cut in half, and either have slots to get the two halves together, or have a hinge to fold it in half. For frequent, serious use when the size and weight is not an issue, this is the best traveling solution.


  • A slotted board or a folding board provides a full size rigid playing surface and can be used with full size stones.


  • The size of the board and stones combination will not fit under your feet in a airplane. It will fit in the overhead bins, however.
  • The stones can slide around on the board, so use in a moving vehicle or at sea is not reliable.
  • If hinged the playing surface is on the outside and can get scratched when folded.


  • The mechanics of carrying them around are easily solved with an appropriate tote bag of some sort or, if money is not a big issue, you can buy the go carrying case from [ext] Samarkand.
  • [ext] sold a large, inexpensive foldable Go board before it went out of business.
  • [ext] Wood Expressions sells a [ext] folding go board that looks like a "briefcase go board". It isn't made of one specific type of wood, the diameter of the stones is 9/16", and the dimensions of the playing board are 11 7/8" x 13 1/4". It seems to be a bit expensive, but with very good quality.

Note: These last two are much smaller than "standard" size.


Magnetic sets have a metallic playing surface, and can be foldable or not. The stones have magnets inside to stick to the playing surface, and can usually be stored inside of the board. Magnetic sets come in a wide variety of sizes, and the playing surface might be on the outside or inside of the case. If the rattle of the stones bothers you, or you'd like to improve its aesthetic appeal, you can line the drawers with black felt (with an adhesive backing) to muffle it (suggestion by ChiyoDad).


  • Very portable, since they are smaller than other boards, and can store the stones inside.
  • Useful for travel situations like playing while in motion (for example, on a train or plane).
  • Somewhat useful in a club situation with a teacher.


  • They are usually smaller than other boards and it is somewhat awkward to play and remove stones on a crowded board.
  • Folds (typically when the magnetic surface has a soft plastic-like cover) that run along lines can reduce the magnetic stick effect of stones played there.


  • [ext]
  • [ext] Kiseido
  • [ext] Myung-In sells some magnetic boards of various sizes.
  • Marchand sells a pocket-size magnetic go set that fits in a big pocket: the board folds in three pieces, and the stones are very small, flat half-magnetic discs. The folds might not coincide with the lines, which makes the stones not stick enough there, and being hard to use it in motion.
  • [ext] Strategy Games sells cheap small and full-size sets, but the magnets are on the outside and might not last as long as internal magnets.
  • Yutopian sells some nice Korean(probably from Myung-In) magnetic sets which have strong internal magnets, and seem to be assembled with good quality.
  • Yellow Mountain Imports sells a roll-up magnetic board with stones. The board itself is magnetic which might be a plus if you want to play fridge-Go. They will also occasionally put one of those on eBay at a lower price. They also sell one that folds, but the magnets are external.
  • You can also find magnetic go sets on [ext] ebay. They are usually cheaper, but there are some quality problems, like not enough stones, stones with weak magnets, magnets missing, a badly glued playing surface, or a case that won't close properly.

Whiteboard Board

As a 13 X 13 board would suffice for a lunch break, it is rather simple to laminate a small board over some cardboard and bring a marker and cloth to use.

Cork Board

A handmade [ext] 13x13 Corkboard Goban with black and white push-pins. [ext] Complete Set of 19x19,13x13,9x9 Gobans All line spacing is 1 cm.


  • Cheap materials; 1/4 inch corkboard, 3/16 inch MDF panel backing.
  • Lines drawn with a ruler and permanent marker.
  • Small and portable.
  • Pins will not slide around if bumped.


  • Care must be used when inserting and removing pins to avoid unnecessary board damage.
  • Placement of pins directly on intersections is necessary to avoid pins from interfering with adjacent pins.
  • Not much room for fingers when the board gets crowded.
  • Corkboard will get chewed up and will no longer be able to support the pins with use.
  • Cannot slide pins around at the end of a game for easier scoring.

WME'd by Phelan, from contributions by uxs,BobMcGuigan, Hiker, axd, Migeru, teklex, MrShin, Shaydwyrm, MarkD, blubb, MaxL?,Spectrums, ChiyoDad, wayward and JStuart.

Travel Go Boards last edited by on November 14, 2017 - 23:36
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