Meanings of some Japanese Go Terms

In the West we use a number of Japanese terms for some of the technical concepts involved in playing Go, for historic reasons. Only a few of them are important to know when playing. Some more are listed on our British Go Journal Glossary. Sensei's Library provides more information about these and the Chinese and Korean equivalents. Each term shown below also has its meaning shown in the final section, although in reality most Western players use only a minority of these terms.

TEN VERY COMMON GO TERMS, for which there is no exact English word

Atari      Dame       Go        Gote      Hane
Ko         Komi       Moyo      Seki      Sente


Dango      Fuseki    Joseki    Kakari     Miai
Ponnuki    Shimari   Tenuki    Tesuji


Byo-yomi   Dan       Komi      Kyu       Nigiri

Aji (taste): Latent threats or possibilities existing in a situation. Ajikeshi (aji-erasure): A play which removes aji. Aji ga warui (bad aji): A position which leaves aji for the opponent to use. Aki-san-kaku (empty triangle): The shape of the three Black stones, the elbow point being vacant. Generally bad shape, see guzumi. Amarigatachi: Play where one feels one has made good moves, when in fact one has accomplished little. Atari (Ate): An immediate threat to capture; a single liberty remains. A verbal warning is often issued when placing an opponent into ate. Atekomi (aim inside): Uncertain, but seems related to a peeping move. Atsumi (thickness): Strong formation of stones facing the centre or facing along a side. Basami: Pincer (same as hasami). ikken basami: 1-step pincer (on 3rd line); taka-basami (4th line) nikken basami: 2-step pincer (on 3rd line) " " sangen basami: 3-step pincer (on 3rd line) " " Bata-bata: A tesuji connection. -bane, -basami, -biraki See hane, hasami, hiraki. Boshi (hat): A capping move. Botsugi: A connection which forms a wall of three stones. Byo-yomi: Extra count-down time after regular clock time has elapsed. Chosen: Eternal life; a rare position involving repetitive capture. Chuban[sen]: The middle game. Daidaigeima (very large knight's move): Four across and one vertically (or vice versa). Dame (useless): A neutral point, territory for neither; a liberty. Damezumari: Shortage of liberties. Dan: Advanced grade. Dango (dumpling shape): A solid mass of stones; a very inefficient shape. De (go between): A move which pushes between two enemy stones; a wedge. Degiri: A sequence of two moves which push and cut. Fukure: Swell outward. Furikawari: Exchange (of territories). Fuseki: The opening moves of the game where influence and territory outlines are formed (literally: 'no stones'). Geta: A method of capturing an enemy stone; a net trap. The shape of the stones resembles a wooden clog. Gote: Defensive play, loss of initiative (literally: 'lower hand'). Gote no sente: Gote move with sente potential. Guru guru mawashi: "spinning around (into dango)". A series of attacks leading to a loose ladder and capture. Guzumi: A good empty triangle. Hai: Crawl. Hamari: Fall into a trap. Hamete: A trap. Hana-tsuke: Nose attachment. Hane: A diagonal move played in contact with an enemy stone. Hane-dashi: Outer hane. Hane-kaeshi: Counter-hane. Hane-komi: Hane between two stones. Hane-tsuki: Belly attack. Shita-hane: Hane underneath. Hanami ko ('flower-viewing ko'): Ko where one player stands to lose a lot, but the other only a tiny amount. Hara-tsuke: Belly-attack. Hasami (pincer play): A play that attacks by preventing the opponent's extension down either side (see Basami). Hasami-tsuke: Pincer attachment. Hazama: Balance point. Hazama-tobi: One-point diagonal jump. Hiki: Draw back. Hikkuri-kaeshi: Self-reversing sequence. Hiraki: 3rd or 4th line extension. Honte: The proper move. Horikomi (throw-in): A single stone played as a sacrifice. Hoshi: ('star point') the 4-4 point. Ichi ban: A win by ten points or less. Ichigo-masu: "Carpenter's square". Igo: An alternative name for Go. Ikken-tobi: One-point extension. Insei: Student professional. Ippoji: One large area. Ishi-no-shita: Under the stones (a particular tesuji). Ishi: Stone. Ji Dori Go: Derisive term for 'ground-taking go'. Jigo: Drawn game (by equal territory, after including prisoners and komi). Jingasa: Double empty triangle (4 in a "T"). Joseki (established stones): Known sequences of moves near the corner which result in near-equal positions for white and black. Jun Kan Ko: A very rare position involving repetitive capture. Kado: Angle. Kagame: False eye. Kakae: Grip. Kakari (approach): A move that attacks a single enemy corner stone. Prevented by shimari. Karami: Splitting. Kata-sente: One-sided sente. Katatsuki (shoulder-hit): A play on a diagonal of the opponent's stone. Katatsugi: A solid connection. Kake: Press down. Kaketsugi (hanging connection): A open connection. An example is three stones surrounding an empty point. Promise for eye shape, but can be attacked. Katachi: The shape of the stones. Sabaki: Quick development; light shape. Karui: Single move basic to formation of flexible shape. Omoi: Heavy, clumpy shape. Keima: Knight's move extension. Keima-tsugi: Knight's move connection. Keima-watari: Connection at edge of board by keima. Keshi: Erasure. Kikashi: A forcing move, usually made outside the main flow of play. Often answered, then ignored, to be used later in the game. Kiri: Cut. Kiri-chigae: Cross-cut. Kiri-nobi: Cut then extend. Ko: Repetitive capture (literally 'eternity') Ko threat: Intervening move (that one hopes will force a reply) before a ko can be recaptured. -komi: To go into. Komi: Score adjustment usually penalising black for playing first. Often 7.5 points. Komoku: ('small point') 3-4 point. Korigatachi(frozen shape): Inefficient or ugly shape. Kosumi: A diagonal play next to one's own stone. Kosumi-tsuke: A kosumi which is also a tsuke. Kyu: Learner grade. Leg: Term used by authors such as James Davies for a jogged end of a group. Weak leg refers to a diagonal extension. Magari (turn): A play which turns a group, forming a corner. Mane Go: Mirror go. White playing symmetrically opposite black. Mannen Ko: "10,000 year ko" (a special formation where whoever starts the attack must find the first ko-threat). Me: Eye or point. Me ari me nashi: A semeai in which one player has one eye. Miai: Two points which accomplish the same result; if deprived of one, the other must be played. Mochi-komi: Botched invasion. Modori: Fall back. Moku: Same as 'me'. Mokuhazushi ('point-detached'): 3-5 point. Motare: Roundabout attack. Moyo: Large potential territory. Mukai-komoku: Symmetrically opposite komoku played in fuseki. Mushobu: Literally "no-win-loss". Abandoned game (due to triple ko or similar). Nadare: Avalanche joseki. Naka-de: Central placement. Nakade: Unsettled eye shape. Naka oshi gatchi: Early victory by a large margin. Narabi: Adjacent extension from a non-contact point. Nidan bane (double hane): Two successive hane plays by one player. Nidan osae (double osae): Two successive blocks by one player. Nigiri: Equivalent of coin-toss to decide who starts. White grabs a handful of stones; black guesses odd or even. Ni ren sei: Fuseki with two adjacent star points. Nobi (Stretch): An extension away from an opponent's tsuke, cross-cut, etc. Nobi-komi: Extend into the enemy's territory. Nozoki: A peeping move which threatens to cut. Nuki: Capture. Nurui: Lukewarm. Oba: Large fuseki point. Ogeima (large knight's move): Three across and one vertically (or vice versa). Oiotoshi: A method of capture where stones are put into atari but still get captured when they connect to other stones (literally "chasing and bringing down”). One popular translation is 'connect and die’. Oki: Placement. Playing on a vital spot (to kill eyes). Onadare: Large avalanche joseki. Osae: A blocking move which prevents extension along a line. Oshi: Push. Oshi-tsubuki: Squashing move. Oyose: Large end-game plays. Ozaru: Monkey jump. Pintsugi: Connect between. Ponnuki: Space between four stones after capture. Ryo: Double. Sabaki: Light play; disposable stones. Sagari: To descend straight toward the edge of the board. San-ba-garosu: 'Three crows'. Corner enclosure by 5-3, 4-4, 3-5 points. Sangen: Three-point interval. San ren sei: Fuseki with three adjacent star points. San-san: 3-3 point. Saru-suberi: Monkey jump. Sashikomi: Insert. Sei moku (Star points): Handicap points. Seki: A situation where neither player may place the other in atari without placing himself in atari. Stalemate, with no territory awarded. Seki-to: "Stone tower". Sacrifice of two stones at the edge of the board. Semeai: Race to capture. Sente: Threat forcing direct response, creating initiative. The right to choose where to play next. Opposite to gote (literally: 'upper hand'). Shibori: Squeeze play. Shicho: Ladder play. Shicho-atari: Ladder breaker. A stone played in the path of a potential shicho, threatening to make it fail. Shimari (corner enclosure): A two-stone corner-formation. May not secure the corner, but attacker is at a disadvantage. Opposite of kakari. Kogeima shimari (small knight's enclosure): The 3-4 and 5-3 points. Ikken shimari (one-point enclosure): The 3-4 and 5-4 points. Ogeima shimari (large knight's enclosure): The 3-4 and 6-3 points. Shin fuseki: A revolutionary 1930's strategy. Now blended with traditional strategy to form the modern style. Shinogi: Eye-forming sequence. Shita-hane: Hane underneath. Shita-tsuke: Attach underneath. Soto: Outwards. Suberi: Sliding under. Suji: Style; skilfulness. Susoaki: Open skirt. Sute ishi: Sacrifice stone. Tachi: Extension adjacent to centre. Taisha: A joseki arising from an ignored low kakari to 4-3 point. Takamoku: ('high point') 4-5 point. Take-fu: Bamboo joint. Tasuki fuseki: Black playing the same in opposite corners. Tedo-mari: The last valuable end-game points. Ten gen: The centre point of the board. Tenuki: Ignoring opponent's last move to play elsewhere. Te okure: Wasted move. Tesuji ('strong hand'): The best play in a local position; skilful tactical move. Tetchu (steel post): Two stones placed in line vertically and near the edge. Tewari: Analysing by removing irrelevant stones. Tobi: Jump. Tobi-dashi: Jump out. Tobi-komi: Jump into enemy space. Tobi-magari: Jump at right angle. Tobi-tsuke: Jumping attachment. Torazu San Moku: A very rare position in the corner, where either side may capture first, but would lose points to do so. Tsugi: Connection. Tsuke: Attach. A play made in contact with an enemy stone, but not in contact with any friendly stones. Tsuke-atari: Bang against (head-on). Tsuke-giri: Attach then cut. Tsuke-kaeshi: Counter-attach. Tsuke-koshi: Attach at keima waist. Tsuke-nobi: Attach and extend (handicap joseki). Tsume: Extension preventing an enemy extension. Tsume-go: Life and death problems. Tsuppari: Slap against (sideways). Uchi: Inwards. Uchikaki: Sacrifice on first line to make an eye false. Uchikomi: Playing to invade enemy territory. Uttegaeshi: Snap-back. Warikomi: Wedge between two stones. Wariuchi: A wedging move which has room for expansion in either direction. Watari: To connect underneath. Wei Chi: The Chinese name for Go (literally: "game of encirclement"). Yose: End game. Yose-ko: A ko of little value. Yosu miru: Probe; to see opponent's response. May be sacrificed. Yurumi: Loose. Zoku-suji: False or vulgar style.
Last updated Tue Jul 19 2022.
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