What is Territory?

A game of Go is like two tribes sharing an island. One tribe wants to grow potatoes, and the other wants to grow corn. So they fence off the fields they need. In Go, these fields are called territories.

In this game, Black has fenced off one big territory, while White has fenced off two smaller ones.

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Let's have a closer look and see who has more territory.

This White territory has 5 empty points in it. You only count the empty points, not the ones with stones on. So this counts as 5 points to White.

There's an easy way to work out the size of this white territory. It's 9 points long and 2 points wide, so it has 9 x 2 = 18 points.
This black territory is a 5x5 square with an extra point in the top right. 5 x 5 = 25, plus 1 gives 26. So this territory is 26 points.
So in this game:
• White has 5 + 18 = 23 points of territory
• Black has 26 points of territory
Black wins by 3 points.

In order to make territory you have to surround it. This is 15 points of black territory.

So is this. Taking the corners off doesn't make any difference. The sheep can't get out of its pen by walking along the paths. That's what matters.

But this time there's a way out for the sheep, so this isn't territory yet.

Of course this isn't territory, ...

... but this is! You don't need to build a fence in the sea to keep the sheep in!

 Black and White have 4 points of territory each. But what about the points in the middle? Because they are surrounded by stones of both colours, these four points don't belong to either player. They are called neutral points.

 Challenge!

Here's the position at the end of a game.
• How many neutral points can you find?

• Which ones is it safe to play on, and which should you leave alone?

• How much territory for each side?

 Take a break!

Get ready to go deep into enemy territory!

 1 November 2003