Go has very simple rules and concepts, but a complex strategy. You start with an empty board. You alternately place pieces which don't move (called stones) on it. You try to surround empty areas, whilst capturing your opponent's stones by surrounding them and taking them off the board. However, as with a lot of simple concepts, it can take a little while to grasp the concepts and a long time to master them.
Probably the quickest way of getting started is Go An Introduction, a cartoon intro drawn by Andreas Fecke. In it the Chess king and queen are taught to play by the Go stones.
Don't be put off by the comic format of this introduction, designed to be attractive to children. It is really a good 5 minute intro for adults!
For a more comprehensive introduction, including a rules explanation, an example game, some history and cultural background to the game, see our online booklet Play Go.
If you prefer a quick video introduction, the European Go and Cultural Centre has produced three one minute introductory videos:
If you want a slow but complete video introduction, then Shawn Ray in the US has produced a
series of 14 videos in his How To Play Go channel on YouTube.
Now why not see what an example game (with comments) looks like? It's here.
You've learnt how to play now, so you're ready to get started. Here are our top picks for simple free or inexpensive programs to play against a computer, on a tablet, smartphone or online:
Visit Where can I play? to find out more about the Go community and other playing options.
When you've played a few games and you want some clues as to how to play better, the material in this section should be useful. We recommend three sets of lessons for ‘people who know the rules but not a lot more’. They cover similar ground, so have a quick look at each and read through the one you like the look of best.
And finally: we're sure you will want to explore How can I play better, either now or after you've played a few games.