Teaching the game of GO can be just as challenging and gratifying as playing the game. Here are a few steps that our teaching team have gathered and found effective.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #1 - Introduce the objective of the game

"The objective of the game is to surround more territory and capture more stones than your opponent."

Introducing the object of the game is key. The student must know the reason they are playing the game. Of course the student most likely will not understand how to achieve these objectives, but at least they now have goals.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #2 - How to capture stones

"You capture stones by occupying all the liberties surrounding the stone or stones."

Even though it is important to stress to the student that capturing stones is not the real objective of the game, it is important for them to know how. Show the student one or two examples of how to capture starting with one stone. Explain how many stones are required to capture in a corner, on the edge of the board and in open area. Then walk through the steps of taking more than one stone.

Starting the student off with a confusing concept like liberties will be tough, but you will find that getting the student off on the right foot will save time later.

When you start playing the student, be sure to point out locations where you and the student have the ability to capture stones. In the beginning it is easier to show them captures that are one or two moves away. Later show the student traps and more advanced capturing techniques.

You will find new players have the tendency to try to capture stones over gaining territory, looking for the quick win. Stress STRONGLY how this strategy will just lead the student into a huge loss. Point out how many points they are gaining from the control of territory compared to the amount they are gaining from captures.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #3 - Simple defense

"It is very important to defend your stones. The more stones you have on the board the more you have to work with."

Now you go through the example of capturing one stone but this time defend the stone so it is not captured.

A very simple example is all that is needed. The more stones you show the student the more likely they will get lost.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #4 - Suicide

"You are not allowed to place a stone where it will be immediately captured. This is a suicide move."

This does not seem like an important step until you try to explain eyes. Then you will see the importance of demonstrating suicide early.

Now is a good time to explain to the student that they can only play a stone in a suicide situation if it is the last move of a take. Also point out that this applies to any number of stones.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #5 - Introduce eyes

"Eyes are empty locations where your opponent can not play because it is a suicide move. You need two eyes for a group of stones to survive."

This is probably going to be the biggest hurdle. You will have to show the student several examples of eyes. Stress the need to leave these eyes open and explain that this leaves two liberties that can not be occupied.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #6 - Simple placement of stones

"Placing your stones in the right place can make or break a game. Be careful not to over extend your plays."

Now explain to the student how to start the game. Tell them the importance of having influence in the four corners of the board. Then show them some simple plays: Knight jump, Simple jump and the diagonal move. Then stress that they should make eyes as soon as they can. This will greatly increase a new players score.

Introduce the strategy of controlling the corners then spreading their influence out along the sides of the board. Explain to the student that it easier to defend these territories because the edge acts like an already built wall.

Walk the student through some good and bad moves. Show the student why they should not place stones right next to the opponents stones and how they are behind in the race this way. Also explain how simply defending theirs stones can gain them a lot of territory.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #7 - The Ko situation

"Ko is a situation involving capture and immediate recapture. Ko is illegal without another move first, elsewhere on the board."

You will find it easier to show an example of this while the student is playing. It will happen! Just wait and then explain why a Ko is important to the flow of the game.

BLACKST.gif (924 bytes) Step #8 - Experience

"Only experience will make you better."

The student of course will be frustrated by many losses. Explain the need for experience and compliment them on their progress. You will also find that if you allow the student to capture a few stones their morale will be higher. Also explain to them the need to play players of their rank. If the student constantly plays much stronger players the constant loss will make them no longer want to play.

How to Teach Go, by Mind macadamias - another method for teaching GO.

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