|Guidelines for Common Situations|
These guidelines are intended to help teachers and parents who run events in the UK Go Challenge, in case they are asked to clarify the rules of Go or to adjudicate some particular position.
For the UK Go Challenge, we have provided Andreas Fecke's cartoon booklet Go - An Introduction both in printed form and on the BGA web site. This booklet is suitable for both children and adults, and we recommend all beginners to read it before considering these guidelines. Even if you already know Go, we recommend you to read this booklet before attempting to resolve queries in the UK Go Challenge, since you will then know what the children have read and will be able to explain your decisions in terms they will understand.
During games in which your children are competing for prizes, you obviously won't want to affect the outcome by giving advice suggesting good ways to play, but there are some kinds of advice that may be given if needed, especially for younger children and complete beginners. These include:
Clarification of the rules of the game or their application in a particular position may be given at any time.
After both players have passed, the players need to agree which stones are dead so that they can remove them and count the score. For young children, who may not have the interactive and/or reasoning skills to do this, it is appropriate to guide them through the process, and this may include asking them leading questions to help them agree.
In giving such guidance, it's important to bear in mind that disagreement can be reasonable. If children seem unconvinced, no adjudication should be imposed, but they should be encouraged to resolve the issue by playing on, following the procedure for settling questions of life and death (section 6 of the rules).
Very young children may want help in counting the size of the territories in order to determine who has won. It is fine to give such help.
It is quite common in games between beginners to see stones that have no liberties but have not been removed from the board. This can arise from forgetting to remove stones when they are captured, or from an accidental violation of the suicide rule. This can result in strange situations, and you may be asked what to do. The principles are:
If a player forgets to remove captured stones or plays a suicide move and his opponent notices it at the time, then the opponent must immediately point out the error and the player must immediately rectify it.
If such a situation is noticed later and the players themselves voluntarily agree on a fair way to correct the position and continue playing, then their agreement should stand.
If you are asked to say how they should proceed, then, if possible, you should have any stones with no liberties immediately removed from the board and kept as prisoners, and play should continue from the resulting position.
(Some strong players may object that this results in some disadvantage to them. Don't worry about such objections. Simply point out that they should have noticed the error at the time. Strong players seldom overlook captures and suicide!)
If it seems to you that a position has become too difficult to adjust so that play can continue, the preferred solution would be to annul the game and order a rematch. If that is inconvenient, it is also acceptable to adjudicate a result, which should be a draw unless one side is very clearly ahead of the other.
Prisoners may occasionally get spilled, used as playing stones by the players at the next table, and other slips that prevent them from being accurately counted.
This situation is easily sorted out if you bear in mind that after each move played by White, both sides have played the same number of stones, and each stone played either is still on the board or has been captured and is a prisoner. Therefore the following procedure will give you a correct result:
First, have both players give back any prisoners they still have. Then, if it is White's turn, have him play his move. Then count all the stones on the board of each colour. If one side has X stones more than the other on the board, then he has also captured X prisoners more than the opponent, so have the opponent give him X prisoners.
This procedure also works after the game has ended. If White played last, do exactly the same thing. If Black played last, it means he has played one stone more than White in the game, so, when you count the stones on the board, subtract one from the count of Black stones.
If you are asked to adjudicate the life or death of stones at the end of a game, do not do so except in the cases of overlooked captures addressed above. In all other cases, have the players to reach their own conclusion by following the procedure for settling questions of life and death (section 6 of the rules), guiding them through the procedure if necessary.
One kind of position you are quite likely to be asked to explain is the one shown in this diagram of part of the lower edge of the board:
Consider the three marked white stones in this position. They are in an area entirely surrounded by black stones and there seems to be nothing to do to save them. Similarly, the four black stones are surrounded by white ones and seem to have the same problem. This kind of situation may easily confuse inexperienced players.
The truth will come out if the players are guided to resume play according to section 6 of the rules. Let's suppose it's Black to play first. He could play on one of the liberties of the white group, but if he does so, his own group will end up having only one liberty as well, and it will be White's turn, so it's Black who would end up being captured.
Therefore Black's best option is to pass, handing White a new prisoner. Now White finds himself in the same predicament as Black was in: any move he plays will lead to his capture. So White, too, needs to pass, handing a new prisoner to Black.
Now, we have a resumption in which both players have passed immediately, without making any board play, so the last provision of section 6 of the rules comes into operation. It declares that the stones are alive.
This is the correct outcome. The point at which the confusion arose was when the players thought "... there seems to be nothing to do to save them". The correct argument is that there is nothing that can be done to capture them - and that means they are alive.
Situations like this, where stones are mutually attacking each other but neither side has a way to capture the other, are called seki, and the stones involved are said to be alive in seki.
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