Sets and Advice on What to Buy
Some examples of sets available in the UK are shown below, with advice as to what might be suitable to buy in a variety of circumstances.
Except where noted, prices are typical list prices from early 2017, excluding any discount and delivery charges.
Advice for Beginners
You are advised to start learning Go by playing on small boards, 9x9 then 13x13, before moving on to the full-size (19x19) board. Sets that you can consider are the BGA Takeaway Go Set, which you can usually buy from the BGA at exhibitions and the like, and the pizza box set, shown below, with a double-sided (9x9 and 13x13) plywood board and plastic stones.
A recommended starter set, nicely packaged in a box, with plastic stones and plywood 13×13 board with 9×9 on the reverse, is pictured here.
Reference G-PT2B, price £22.
This is a starter set, nicely packaged in a tube, with plastic stones and a leatherette board. Similar products are available in three board sizes (9x9, 13x13 and 19x19), or indeed all three sizes can be obtained in a single tube for £38.
Reference for 13x13 set G-PT1, price £16; 19x19 set G-PT1C, price £28
If you want to make your own set as described on our make your own Go set page, or make your own board and just buy stones.
A full set of 360 plastic stones in plastic bowls.
Reference G-SSP, price £20.
Glass stones, depending on thickness, range from £26 to £70 (cheaper in card boxes).
Advice for Serious Players
If you have learnt the rules and have decided to take the game forward then you probably need to upgrade to a full-size (19x19) set and want higher standard equipment too.
The ultimate in Go equipment is to get a floor Go ban and traditional slate and shell stones held in wooden bowls. These can be very expensive and hard to comeby, but can be bought from some suppliers in the UK for as litlle as £800. More reasonably priced table boards can be easily purchased for say £60 - £75, and with glass stones give the game a better feel than cheaper equipment. Look at a supplier's website for details of these.
Boards and stones can be bought separately, rather than in a set, but you will have to be careful that the stones and board are the same dimensions so that the stones fit. For instance some Chinese stones are wider and need a wider board.
Glass stones are more attractive than plastic and only cost slightly more. But if several sets need to be transported then weight can become an issue. Recommended suppliers all carry a wide choice of stones. Thicker stones are usually considered more pleasant and 8mm is a fair compromise for many between style and price.
8mm glass stones. The board is double-sided in two pieces, which are normally held together by a magnetic strip. The join is neat and almost invisible provided the playing surface is flat. It is here shown dismantled. It is has a 19×19 board on one side and has a 13x13 board on the other side. This has been available for about £80.
A similar set with a folding board has been available for £75.
Most sets come with the stones in plastic containers, or, if not, you can buy your own containers. Both woven and wooden bowls can be obtained in the UK for most suppliers, such as the ones shown below.
Excellent value are this pair of raffia Go bowls able to take a full set of up to 10mm stones. They look particularly attractive with bamboo boards.
Reference G-D13, price £10.
Wooden bowls make an attractive display piece and are available in a variety of woods and prices from several suppliers. Some have been available at £45.
Do not forget, if you intend carrying your set around, that glass stones and a thick wooden board will be quite heavy. If you are interested in playing on the move, then magnetic sets are offered by several suppliers, so that the stones pack neatly within a foldable board. Neither these nor the folding wooden boards are dual-sided because of the hinge, so are only 19x19.
Advice for Schools
We have a starter set for schools, in plastic ziptop bag, with plastic stones in plastic bags and encapsulated 9×9 board. The Quick Reference rules, devised for the UK Go Challenge, are on the reverse. This is suitable for getting your club started quickly, without too much cost.
|Our starter set for schools, in plastic ziptop bag,
with plastic stones in plastic bags and laminated 9×9 board, is pictured here.
The Quick Reference rules,
devised for the UK Go Challenge, are on the reverse.
Reference G-BGA9, price £7.
Ultimately the children will grow into wanting full-size (19x19) games and suitable sets will be needed for that. We recommend sets with plastic stones (as glass can shatter if dropped) and cheaper Go boards or mats.
The BGA wishes to support schools and they are encouraged to discuss their requirements.
Advice for Go Clubs
Some of the main considerations when buying sets for clubs are the volume of sets for storage and the weight of sets when transporting them. If you are meeting in a hall or pub, then the space available to leave your sets in may be limited. If you are having to bring sets in each meeting, then the weight and size of boards will be a factor. Plastic stones are lighter than glass, and cloth and vinyl boards are easy to carry. Folding boards and boards in half that join together by use of a magnetic strip or dowels are easier to carry than flat non-folding ones.
Normally clubs have 19x19 sets of a reasonable standard, though nothing too fancy is possible in some public locations for fear of loss or damage. You should have some small boards, which could be card or mats, so that games can be played against beginners and quickly when time is short. You should probably try to buy the 19x19 boards that have a 13x13 on the back to save having separate boards.
In addition a club starter kit is available from the BGA on application. We can supply a batch of boards and stones at close to trade prices. Contact the bookseller or any Council member to discuss requirements.
If you are running an outreach event and wish to sell sets to the public then you should see our appropriate handbook section.