Zen Go

    Keywords: Variant

Jenny Radcliffe: My understanding of this exercise - which we are due to try in Monday, so I'll have more information on Tuesday - is that three players take it in turns to play. Black and white also alternate as usual. Thus supposing hypothetically that you have three players, Edwin, Jenny and Chris.

  • Jenny plays black's first move;
  • Edwin plays white's first move;
  • Chris plays black;
  • Jenny plays white;
  • Edwin plays black;
  • Chris plays white;
  • Back to the beginning.

Naturally the purpose is not win or loss, so in a way it is more of an exercise than an actual game. Hopefully it gives a new perspective and feel for the game - but I'll let you know what happens when we've tried it!

I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who's played this - I know I've read about it, but I can't find any references to it online.

DragonGoServer has Zen Go implemented (since June 2012) with 3 up to 15 players.


Charles Matthews Sounds like a game of go designed by a committee - maybe in more than one sense. Next, rules for Koango, Quango, NGO ... where will it all end?


Jan: I once played this variant. It was fun for a while, but as the players participating weren't very strong we couldn't build nice shapes - so it became fairly pointless after a while. To counter that, we started keeping track of who had captured the most stones on his (or her) turn. But that had the side-effect of losing the idea of selfless play :-)

So I think maybe you'd better set yourselves some goals (such as always tenuki or something) before embarking on this venture.


Jenny Radcliffe: Well, we've had a chance to try it now, and it was extremely interesting. Very weird, but extremely interesting. Definitely an exercise we'll be repeating, I think - it seriously changes your perspective on the game.

Jenny Radcliffe: Obviously technically you can't get a more even game than this - and yet white lost by resignation. Which says something significant about how inconsistently we were all playing; not just each of us playing our own strategy, but each of us being inconsistent as well.

Jenny Radcliffe: As Jan says, it's difficult to remember which colour you're meant to be playing - I recommend breaking with my usual playing rules and picking up the next stone as soon as you play. It helps you remember what you're doing.

Tas Ive tried this as well. It was very interesting, and a good excercise. Very wierd first to make plans, and then spoil them yourself.

Phelan: It is a very interesting variant. My only problem with it is that it encourages thinking only of the short term, since you have to play what you think is the current best move for the current color, instead of developing an overall strategy, and following it. That's from my experience, though. Perhaps a higher level player can do better.

Espen Solheim?: In Stavanger we have been using it as a variant for setting up teaching games. Ergo, a tool for learning. This has been working great. Normally we have one weaker and two stronger players playing. Or one weak, one medium and one strong player.


For an example of a different type of three player Go, see: Three Colour Ongoing Game


willemien: was once trying out another variant with 2 weak players and one strong one (as teacher)

B1 Weak Black player

W2 Weak White player

B3 Strong player

W4 Weak White player

B5 Weak Black player

W6 Strong player

and so on.

Was quite fun.

For scoring you can make variations were the weak players score normally and the stronger player only gets points for the stones that he captures. (he is not for nothing the stronger player) Or the stronger player is only supporting the other players. (and gets no score)

Sandra: Wow! Thanks a lot for this variant, seems like something to try! Weve been playing both plain ZenGo and also, maybe more often, a version where there are two strong players alternating moves for one team, vs one weak player who gets the (dubious, in my case) advantage of making all her moves herself. Ill be sure to try your variant. Sandra: (Later) We haven't really found any variants for an odd amount of players that appealed to our group. Simultaneous was perhaps the most commonly tried variant--one strong player playing two separate games at the same time, on two separate boards vs two separate, weaker opponents.


Zen Go last edited by Sandra on April 10, 2014 - 23:43
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