What is a Good Game


I've been accused of taking Go too seriously, and I'm willing to accept that charge. However, I realized one night, after resigning two very painful games, that I don't get upset just because I lose. I get upset when I play badly.

All of this got me to thinking: What are the elements that make up a good game?

For me to consider a game good, all of these elements must exist:

1. I have fun. I am able to clear my mind enough to focus on what's happening on the board, and I enjoy the feel of the stones (or the mouse).

2. I don't lose any big groups during the chuban. If I slip up and accidentally miss a connection or fail to drop in that last stone for the two eyes during yose (endgame), it can still be a good game. But if I have numerous opportunities to keep something alive and I don't seize any of them, I get frustrated.

3. I can balance whole-board and small-scale fighting. All of us go through this, of course. A game where night and day come together is a game with which I'm satisfied.

4. My opponent and I fight. I don't care much for games without fighting -- it's dull and dreary. Give me a good ko fight over large, dry moyo-making any day.

Notice that it doesn't really matter to me if I win or lose (and the closer the score, the less it matters). I'm always only focused on how well I play, and as unrealistic as the phrase may be, I feel as though it really isn't whether you win or lose..

Anyone else?

-- Scartol

Hey, moyos are classic wetwork as far as I'm concerned. Invasion or glory, death or sabaki, take down a wall or two with me if I'm going to die ...

My games are better than they used to be - doesn't correlate with winning, though. Charles Matthews


  • If both players play according to their strength, so no mistakes of a level way below them occur.
  • If the lead shifts from one to the other due to fighting spirit.
  • If in the end, the player with the better plans wins the game.
  • If it is the ninth victory in the Belgian Championships finals, winning me the trip to Japan, any kind of game will qualify.

Alex Weldon: Dieter more or less hit the nail on the head. I don't care if I win or lose. I don't care all that much whether the game was close or a landslide (although close games are more fun). I just care that the game was won by the better player, because he or she is, in fact better. Games with a series of massive mistakes on both sides that come down to whose blunders summed up to be larger are just depressing, regardless of who won, or how close the game was. Unfortunately, at my level (20k* IGS) or so, those games seem to outnumber the good ones.

lezogzog I'm glad when i'm able to play the strategy i chose from the beginning to the end, without being forced into another one by the opponent. When i do that, i find it a good game, whatever the result (i mean it) :o) However, keep in mind that go is a game with a winner and a loser in the end, so why not prefering the shiny side ?

Andrew Walkingshaw: For me, a good game is one which has had real effort put into it, and where the two players are really testing ideas against each other. Winning through having slightly better technique is a whole lot better than being pushed slowly off the board in such a manner (the worst way to lose, I feel) - but it's much less intellectually rewarding, for me, than games where the two players have plans which are fundamentally opposed.

I guess I'm interested in games, at least in part, for their potential for playing in a varying range of styles, and therefore their ability to reveal things about the way people think - their personalities, in a very limited sense. It's an interesting question whether (for example) a preference for thickness over territory, or vice versa, reveals some deep-seated psychological preference. I have my doubts, but it's an amusing idea :)

RichLancashire: I generally most enjoy games that have a dramatic chuban. I had a great game recently where groups swung around from good-as-dead to connected-and-splitting-opponent all the way through; we ended with the board split into a white and black half, almost down the middle; dozens of prisoners each. And I'm really discovering the joy of Ko at the moment.

I think games with a story, where you can see the interactions of the players, are far better than the slow, steady games where it seems to hang over a five-point squabble in the centre. The same is true in football or boxing; is there a comparison anywhere of Korean Go and Italian football? :)

Velobici: A good game is one with several characteristics:

  • no major mistakes by either side meaning that each player needs to exert themselves to win rather than having the win handed to them.
  • reading required to near, at or even beyond one's current ability.
  • discussion/disagreement expressed on the board (rather than in words, thats for after the game) regarding what is possible and supportable in the game.
  • growth in ability by one or both players during the game (seeing new possibilities).
  • no rancor or triumphalism after the game.

For me, these are the characteristics of a good game, a game that is interesting from start to finish.

Perhaps it just comes down to a well fought game between two people that come to respect each others play.

Floris: I enjoy very long but fast paced games with huge ko fights, big fighting, and death everywhere (that is, for both sides to still only be a few points ahead or behind).

What is a Good Game last edited by MrTenuki on July 9, 2006 - 02:12
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