Go is played on a grid of black painted lines (usually 19 × 19). The playing pieces, called "stones", are played on the intersections of the lines.
Age range 4+
Setup time 1-3 min
Playing time Casual: 20–90 minutes
Tournament: 2–6 hours*
Random chance Virtually none
Skills required Tactics, strategy, observation
* Some professional games, especially in Japan, take more than 16 hours and are played in sessions spread over two days.
Go is a strategic board game for two players. It is also known as igo (Japanese), weiqi or wei ch'i (Chinese) or baduk (Korean). Go is noted for being rich in strategic complexity despite its simple rules.
The game is played by two players who alternately place black and white stones (playing pieces, now usually made of glass or plastic) on the vacant intersections of a grid of 19×19 lines. The object of the game is to control a larger portion of the board than the opponent. A stone or a group of stones is captured and removed if it has no empty adjacent intersections, the result of being completely surrounded by stones of the opposing color.
Placing stones close together helps them support each other and avoid capture. On the other hand, placing stones far apart creates influence across more of the board. Part of the strategic difficulty of the game stems from finding a balance between such conflicting interests. Players strive to serve both defensive and offensive purposes and choose between tactical urgency and strategic plans.
Go originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago, and although it is not known exactly when the game was invented, by the 3rd century BC it was already a popular pastime, as indicated by a reference to the game in the Analects of Confucius. Archaeological evidence shows that the early game was played on a board with a 17×17 grid, but by the time that the game spread to Korea and Japan in about the 7th century boards with a 19×19 grid had become standard.
The game is most popular in East Asia, but has gained some popularity in other parts of the world in recent years. Go reached the West through Japan, which is why it is commonly known internationally by its Japanese name