Frequently Asked Questions

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Some common Go terms
  • I found a go term not listed in the FAQ. What does it mean?
    The Dragon FAQ is not a full-fledged dictionary of all Go terms. Only the most commonly used Go terms are covered.
    Sensei's Library provides a very useful list of Go terms.
    Other useful links are in the General Infos section on the links page.
    Please feel free to ask questions in the Go discussion forum.
  • Aji
    Latent possibilities, or potential. There can be bad aji and good aji.
  • Atari
    Atari is a situation in which a stone or group of stones has only one liberty. As things stand, the stone or stones could be captured on the opponent's next move.
  • Byo-yomi / Byoyomi
    Time-limit rules that apply when a game's main time is over.
  • Dame
    Neutral intersections on the goban. This 'no man's land' does not give any points to either player.
  • Dan
    Dan means "a master's rank". The dan ranks span from 1 and up, a higher number is a stronger player. A 5 dan amateur is said to be about the same strength as a 1 dan pro (professional). Pros do not have kyu ranks.
  • DDK
    Double digit kyu - from 10 kyu to 30 kyu inclusive. Refers to a rating, but commonly used in regard to a player with a DDK rating.
  • Even game
    A game without handicap. Komi is set by the inviting player.
  • Fuseki
    Established patterns of arraying stones during opening play.
  • Geta
    A net of stones.
  • Goban
    The (real or virtual) Go board.
  • Gote
    A gote move loses the initiative. The state of having lost the initiative. Typically a move that the opponent need not answer, thus giving the opponent sente (the opposite of gote).
  • Handicap
    This is discussed here: Handicap
  • Hane
    A diagnonal connecting stone placed to reach around the opponent's stone or stones.
  • Hoshi
    Hoshi is Japanese for "star" and has two meanings. In general, it is the nine handicap "star points" on the board. More specifically, it is any 4,4 point in any corner of a 19x19 board.
  • Jigo
    Japanese Go term describing the game situation of a draw: both players have the same number of points.
  • Joseki
    Known play sequences, usually in corners, often resulting in 'fair' outcomes for both players.
  • Ko
    A ko is a situation on the board with repetitive capture of one single stone. Ko literally means "eternity".
  • Komi
    An extra number of points (moku) given to White, which may be used in various ways:
    1. To compensate for the alleged advantage Black has when playing the first stone.
    2. To avoid a draw (jigo) as a game result by using a fractional number (for example 6.5 komi).
    3. To act as a form of compensation between players of different strength.
      For further explanations see: What is the difference between conventional and proper handicap?
  • Kyu
    Kyu means "a beginner's or any non-master's rank". The kyu ranks span from 30k to 1k, with 1k being the strongest. The definition of a 30 kyu is someone who has learned and understood the rules, but has not played a single game yet. The Korean go term for "kyu" is "gup".
    Kyu ranks do not really get reliable until about 10 kyu, where the player can be matched with a 1k dan in a 9 stone handicapped game.
  • Liberty
    An empty intersection adjacent to a stone or a chain of stones.
  • Moku
    A point of territory.
  • Nigiri
    Nigiri means your colour is selected randomly.
  • Onegaishimasu
    A greeting at the start, roughly meaning 'Have a good game'.
  • Real-time
    Real-time gaming is a synchronous way of playing games. Both players need to be present or playing at the same time. An entire game is finished in one sitting. Examples of real-time go are playing go on a real board, or via one of the various real-time servers. See also Turn-based.
  • Sanrensei
    A common opening where the player has occupied three star points along a side. On a 19x19 board this would be two 4,4 points on the same line, plus the point midway between them.
  • SDK
    Single digit kyu - from 1 kyu to 9 kyu inclusive. Refers to a rating, but commonly used in regard to a player with a SDK rating.
  • Shicho
    A ladder of stones.
  • Seki
    Seki means "dual life". Seki is a local impasse in which two groups share liberties, and neither side can capture the other.
  • Sensei
    The term for a teacher. Also the form of address, as in 'Thank you for teaching me, Sensei'.
  • Sente
    Holding the initiative. If a player has sente they do no need to respond to the opponent's last move, so can play anywhere on the board. A sente move is one which the opponent needs to answer immediately. Sente is the opposite of gote.
  • SGF
    SGF is an abbreviation for the Smart Game Format, a file format to store Go (and other) games. There are several clients that can support you in viewing a SGF.
    For details, see the official specification of the SGF FF[4] specification.
  • Tengen
    The centre point of the board. The 10-10 point on a 19x19 board.
  • Tenuki
    Playing somewhere else. Black plays tenuki by not answering White's last move locally. Instead black plays elsewhere on the board.
  • Tesuji
    Skillful tactical play.
  • Turn-based
    Turn-based gaming is an asynchronous way of playing games. Both players do not need to be present or playing at the same time. Instead each player can make moves when they have the time for it. Examples of turn-based go are playing go via snail-mail, via email, or here on Dragongoserver. See also Real-time.
  • Yose
    Endgame. The last phase of the game, where strategic moves to attack groups are no longer made, but only the best moves found to extend existing territories.
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