SST Laws of Wei-Chi
No special rulings
Almost no drawn games
By Ing Chang-ki
These rules have been applied in all tournaments organized
or sponsored by the Chinese Taipei Wei-ch'i Association and the Ing
Chang-Ki Wei-Ch'i Educational Foundation since September 1977.
In the past two decades Ing Chang-Ki has made a lot of us aware that
the game of wei-ch'i or go has more than one set of rules. Those who
have tried out his SST rules have discovered that despite their novel
appearance, they do not alter the tactics and strategy of the game,
except in extremely rare cases in which the traditional rules themselves
are in question.
During these two decades the SST rules have evolved considerably, reflecting
a commendable readiness on the part of their author to update them
in light of continued research and practical experience. This edition
includes two significant modifications. One is a simplification of
the counting of shared territory. Shared spaces are now divided equally;
there are no fractions or owed stones. The other is that players
are not penalized for making mistakes in triple ko and other multiple-ko
situations; mistakes are handled in such a way that neither player
sufers. The idea of a set of rules that forgives mistakes instead
of demanding absolute obedience is rather appealing.
I would not be surprised to see further evolution of the ko rule, but
two features of the present SST ko rule deserve attention. The present
rule relieves the player of the duty to keep track of full-board repetition.
The difficulty of recognizing full-board repetition accurately was
the most widely-voiced objection to the older SST rule (the super-ko
rule). The present rule also tries to impose the minimum restrictions
necessary to avoid endless games. The super-ko rule, while conceptually
simpler, is unnecessarily restrictive in positions like the ones shown
in Dias. A3 to A8.
The SST rules should remind us that although wei-ch'i has a history
of thousands of years, it is still a game to be played and played with,
and this can lead not only to the discovery of new openings but also
the invention of new and improved equipment and rules.
by K'ung Ch'ing-Lung
A native of Tze-Ki in the city of Ningbo in Chekiang Province, China,
Ing Chang-Ki is a frank and efficient person, a deep thinker with an
inquiring mind. In a career spanning thirty years each in finance and
industry, he has founded the Reward Wool Industry Corporation, Cathay
Chemical Works, Inc., Eagle Food Industry Corporation, and International
Bills Finance Corporation, all of which are now listed on the stock
market in Taiwan.
Ing Chang-Ki has been an enthusiastic wei-ch'i player since his youth
and has promoted the game steadily for the past sixty years. It is
his belief that in the twentieth century, now that wei-ch'i is not
just an individual pastime but has entered a new age of international
competition, it needs a complete and perfect set of rules. He has therefore
devoted eighteen years, from 1973 to 1991, to a study of the rules
of wei-ch'i. The results are summarized as follows. "Moves are unrestricted
except for invariation" enlarges the scope of variety in wei-ch'i to
the maximum limit. "Ko is classified as fighting or disturbing" deals
with rule dilemmas mechanically, eliminating the need for annulment
rulings and repudiating the illogic of the super-ko rule. "All stones
are filled in to count" is a scientific counting method that does not
disturb the final position on the board and makes the result clear
at a glance. These three rules were invented by Ing Chang-ki.
An American, William F. Mann, once wrote that the fill-in counting
system had unsurpassed merit, but was infeasible because of the requirement
for exactly 180 black and white stones. Hearing of this, to complete
his dream Ing Chang-Ki spent more than ten years developing the Model
9186 bowls with measuring frames. In the finite span of 18 years, Ing
Chang-Ki has made an invaluable contribution to the infinite future
by laying the foundations of a unified set of wei-ch'i rules.
Profile of Ing Chang-Ki
History of Codification of the Rules of Wei-Ch'i
Ing's SST Laws of Wei-Ch'i
Chapter 1 Rules of Competition
(the move; removal; ko; counting)
Chapter 2 Tournament Rules
(tournament agreement; handicaps;
time limits; penalties; conduct; duties)
Chapter 3 Equipment Specifications
(the board; the stones; the bowls;
the desk and table)
Explanatory Diagrams for Ing's SST Laws of Wei-Ch'i
Diagrams Illustrating the Three Principles of the Laws of Wei-Ch'i
Diagram of the Ping-Tuan-Chi Rating Scale
Ing Symbols for Tournament Results
Rights and duties in implementing the rules
1. The sponsors have the right to determine the rules.
2. The referee is responsible for enforcing the rules.
3. The players must obey the rules.
By Ing Chang-Ki
What I Have Learned in Eighteen Years of
There are three essential principles in the rules of wei-ch'i: (1)
there must be absolutely no special rulings; (2) the more variety the
better; and (3) the fewer drawn games the better. Rules that conform
to these three principles must be adopted; rules that violate these
principles must be abolished. Particulars are discussed next.
Studying the Rules of Wei-ch'i
(1) Life and death of stones must be determined by removal, counting
both stones and spaces as territory, and not by special rulings.
Counting both stones and spaces as territory is a precondition for
determining life and death by removal. China changed from counting
only spaces as territory in the Ming Dynasty, and has used actual removal
as the standard of life and death ever since. Japan and Korea still
preserve the old rule that only spaces are territory, which they took
from China during the Northern and Southern Dynasties 1500 years ago,
only changing the character for "space" from Chinese lu (road)
to Japanese me (eyes) and Korean hu (house). Under the
old rule each move a player plays inside his own territory costs him
one point, so life and death cannot be decided by actual removal; special
rulings are the only alternative. Resulting defects in the Japanese
rules are (1) a special ruling that bent-four-in-the-corner is unconditionally
dead, regardless of positions in other parts of the board, and (2)
special rulings about whether or not reinforcing moves are needed at
the end of the game. The ruling about bent-four-in-the-corner is absurd,
leaving the players no choice but to avoid the position altogether.
The ruling about reinforcing at the end of the game has come up occasionally
and caused serious trouble. It led to arguments in two games played
by Wu Ch'ing-Yuan (Go Seigen) against Iwamoto Kaoru and Takagawa Kaku.
It is highly inappropriate for the rules to require reinforcing moves.
Under Chinese rules, since stones and spaces are both territory and
life and death can be demonstrated by actual removal, there is no need
for any special rulings. A bent-four-in-the-corner can be settled through
actual play, like any other position. Stones that can be removed are
dead. Stones that cannot be removed are alive. As for whether or not
to reinforce, that is the player's affair and he should make up his
own mind; the rules should not decide for him. Reinforcing or not reinforcing
is a question of skill, not a question of rules. Settling questions
of like and death by actually removing the dead stones leaves no room
for argument. Counting both stones and spaces as territory also reduces
the occurrence of drawn games by a factor of five hundred. Under the
Japanese counting system the draw rate is five percent, while under
the SST system it is only one game in ten thousand.
(2) A complete ko rule must prevent invariation, and must distinguish
between fighting and disturbing ko.
Wei-ch'i has been played for four thousand years without a complete
ko rule. Games that could not be resolved by traditional rules unfortunately
had to be abandoned. That the best players in the world are unfamiliar
with life and death in multiple ko is the bad result of paying too
much attention to tactics and strategy and not enough attention to
the rules. "Invariation" refers to repetition of the same position or
cyclic removal. Repetitive removal gives fighting invariation in a
fighting ko, while cyclic removal gives disturbing invariation in a
disturbing ko. A complete ko rule is obtained by prohibiting the immediate
removal of hot stones in fighting invariation, and not allowing the
disturber to recycle in disturbing invariation.
Traditional rules had only single hot stones, which did not satisfy
the requirements of fighting ko. The SST rules introduced double hot
stones for use in the eternal life position and twin hot stones for
use in triple ko, thereby resolving all fighting kos. The fighting
ko rule is that hot stones cannot be removed until after an interval
of one board play or pass play; this eliminates special rulings about
A disturbing ko has no hot stones. Hot stones do not work in a disturbing
ko because both sides can remove different stones; they do not have
to fight over the removal of hot stones. A disturbing ko is initiated
by one player, who is called the "disturber". His opponent is said to
have been "disturbed." A disturbing ko only serves to exchange breathing
points. It does not affect life and death but just prevents the game
from ending, like perpetual check in Chinese chess. The disturbing
ko rule is that after one disturbing cycle, the disturber is never
allowed to continue disturbing; this eliminates special rulings about
disturbing ko. (Recycling refers to disturbing the game beyond one
cycle. The word "never" makes the rule easy to enforce. After one cycle,
every recycling move causes disturbing invariation These moves can
be prohibited at any time, whenever a player calls on the referee.)
Disturbing ko in wei-ch'i and perpetual check in Chinese chess both
demand that the disturber be stopped from recycling and that the board
return to its original state with no harm to either side.
The rules about invariation and ko and the classification of ko into
fighting and disturbing are complete, but they cannot be explained
verbally; they have to be formulated in writing. Now is the time to
do this, when wei-ch'i has become an international and professional
game, making written rules essential.
(3) To divide moves into board and pass plays, a pass must be called
In a note on the changes in Chinese wei-ch'i counting methods. Dr.
Yang Lien-Sheng mentioned that the American Go Association had formed
a rules committee in 1934, that its president Karl Davis Robinson had
written a manuscript on The Structure of Go that made a detailed study
of different verbal rules (at that time China and Japan did not yet
have written rules) and discussed methods of dealing with unusual positions,
that the first draft had been completed in 1946 and was currently being
revised, and that the author hoped to publish. I was eager to find
this book and made many requests and inquiries, but without success.
Then in 1978 I led a group of go players on a tour of Europe. In Luxembourg,
the first country we visited, I met Dr. Henny, a German collector of
wei-ch'i literature, and he handed me the very book I had been looking
for. It was a copy of a typed manuscript, but I was overjoyed at this
unexpected good luck and made another copy, which I took back to Taipei
to study. It was from this book that I learned the term "pass play."
The author stated that there were two kinds of play: board play and
pass play. I translated these terms into Chinese as shih-shou
and hsu-shou. Wei-ch'i starts with a board play and ends with
pass plays. Pass plays are limited to use in three situations: (1)
a player can place two stones on the board as a pass play to indicate
that he resigns: (2) at the beginning of a handicap-play game White
makes a certain number of mandatory pass plays, the number being the
size of the handicap; and (3) a player passes when he has no points
to contest, in which case his opponent may continue to play on one-sided
neutral points. There are also rules about the states of passing: (1)
When one player has no points to contest and passes, his opponent can
still play. (2) When both players make one pass play each, signifying
that all neutral points have been filled and there is nothing more
to contest, play pauses. (3) After play pauses, if there are no disagreements
when the dead stones are taken away, both players make one more pass
play each to end the game. Since a pass play, like a board play, is
now a move in its own right, hot stones can be removed after an interval
of one pass play. Using the term "pass play," instead of speaking of
relinquishing one's turn, and giving detailed and precise descriptions
of the effects and limitations of pass plays in the rest of the rules
makes "pass play" an important term in the laws of wei-ch'i and improves
(4) A perfect counting procedure must use stones to count territory
by filling in.
Fill-in counting is the only counting procedure that works perfectly
with counting both stones and spaces as territory. It is the most logical
and scientific method: using bowls with special measuring frames, it
employs a known number of stones to measure an unknown number of territory.
Any so-called "perfect" counting procedure must satisfy three conditions:
(1) it must leave the position at the end of the game undisturbed;
(2) it must make the result clear at a glance, so that the players
can see who has won without doing mental arithmetic; and (3) the procedure
must make counting simple and quick, and errors obvious and easy to
check. Three counting procedures are used in the world at present:
(1) the Japanese system of comparing spaces is the most widespread,
and has a history of over 2000 years; (2) the Chinese system of counting
one side's stones has been widely used for 500 years, but only in China;
it is rarely seen in other countries; (3) the SST fill-in counting
system has a history of less than twenty years. When the three conditions
stated above are considered, the fill-in system complies best. Basically
a stone-counting system that also compares spaces, the fill-in system
is the perfect counting method.
The fill-in counting procedure is as follows: (1) At the end of the
game, both players fill all prisoners, dead stones, and the stones
remaining in their bowls into territory of the same color. (2) After
this filling in is completed, any remaining spaces are called winning
spaces and any remaining stones are called losing stones. Losing stones
are filled into the opponent's winning spaces. (3) If there is one
shared space, it is left unfilled. If there are two or more shared
spaces, each player fills in half of them to indicate that they are
divided equally. (4) The difference value consists of one point for
a winning space and two points for each losing stone, compensation
stone, and time-difference penalty stone. (5) The stones in the difference
value should be placed in separate areas, with the winning space located
in a corner, or on a side if no corner is available. Losing stones
are filled into side points adjacent to the winning space. Compensation
and time-penalty stones are filled into separate areas near the winning
space or shared space.
The previous thirteen editions of the SST rules all followed the principle
that spaces belonged to their surrounding stones, with shared spaces
divided in proportion to the number of black and white stones surrounding
them. When there were two or more shared areas with different denominators,
however, adding them up was difficult, and the advantage of the fill-in
counting system in making the result clear at a glance was lost. In
addition, the principle that spaces belong to their surrounding stones
did not clearly reduce the number of drawn games, so in this edition
it has been changed to the principle that shared spaces are divided
In the past, when bowls with measuring frames were not available in
large quantities at low prices, the fill-in counting system was an
impractical dream, but now that the necessary conditions are satisfied,
fill-in counting can be used in major tournaments.
(5) Balanced ratings and compensation points are needed to equalize
differences of less than one play.
A player's rating is an indication of his strength, and rises or falls
depending on his tournament results. At present there is still no standard
worldwide system. In recent years European and American wei-ch'i organizations
have called for a computerized rating system similar to the well-established
tennis ranking system, but no such system is likely to come into wide
use in the near future, because it has not been adopted by any of the
major wei-ch'i playing countries in Asia. The SST ranking system is
divided into three levels. Ping ranks are reserved for professional
players; the difference between ranks is one-fourth play or two compensation
points. Tuan ranks are given to strong amateur players; the
difference between ranks in one-half play or four compensation points.
Chi ranks are for general amateur players; the difference between
ranks is one play; compensation points are unnecessary. The compensation
in even games is eight points. This value is quite accurate because
it comes from a detailed statistical study of tournament results, totaling
some 10,000 games. Black wins 55% of the time giving six-point compensation
and 49% of the time giving eight-point compensation, so eight-point
compensation is more fair and reasonable. Eight points also matches
well with the difference of two points per ping given above. Japan
was the first country to use compensation points for differences of
less than one move, but they started doing this only sixty or seventy
years ago. The compensation has increased from 3.5 points to 4.5,
then 5.5, and is still moving up. Examples of compensation in games
between ping-ranked players are given below:
1 ping vs. 1 ping (no difference)
Black gives 8 compensation points
1 ping vs. 2 ping (.25 play difference)
The 2-ping player takes Black and gives 6 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 3 ping (.5 play difference)
The 3-ping player takes Black and gives 4 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 4-ping (.75 play difference)
The 4-ping player takes Black and gives 2 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 5 ping (1 play difference)
The 5-ping player takes Black and gives no compensation points.
1 ping vs. 6 ping (1.25 plays difference)
The 6-ping player takes Black and receives 2 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 7 ping (1.5 plays difference)
The 7-ping player takes Black and receives 4 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 8 ping (1.75 plays difference)
The 8-ping players takes Black and receives 6 compensation points.
1 ping vs. 9 ping (2 plays difference)
The 9-ping player takes a one-play handicap.
(6) Setup stones must be eliminated for the sake of greater variety
and fewer restrictions. The move must not be restricted, except for
Old Chinese game records begin not from an empty board but from a
setup position. Setup stones were used in both even games and handicap
games. In even games Black and White each placed two setup stones
in diagonally opposite corners. In handicap games, a two-stone handicap
was placed in diagonally opposite corners, for a three-stone handicap
a stone was added on the t'ien-yuan point, a four-stone handicap
was placed in the four corners, for a five-stone handicap a stone was
added on the t'ien-yuan point, and so on, the handicap stones
always being placed in fixed positions. This greatly reduced the variety
in the game. What was the point of that? Japan eliminated setup stones
from even games, and the Japanese practice has now become the world
standard, and improvement for which Japan deserves credit, but unfortunately
setup stones have not been universally eliminated from handicap games.
A principle of the SST rules is that the move is unrestricted except
for invariation: a move can be played on any point that results in
variation. For example, self-removal of a group of stones can be used
as a ko threat, or in filling breathing points: it always changes the
position on the board, so why should it be prohibited? All restrictions
and prohibitions that reduce the variety of the game are contrary to
wei-ch'i principles and must be revised.
(7) The law of conservation of territory requires that breathing
points be territory.
We do not know what counting system was used in China before the Han
Dynasty because no game records remain. Territory was denoted by the
word tao (way) in the Han Dynasty and the word lu in
the T'ang Dynasty, which are equivalent to Japanese me; all
three characters mean the same thing. The traditional Chinese counting
system did not distinguish between stones and spaces, but required
every group to have two breathing points which were not counted as
territory, creating in effect a tax on groups: the player with more
groups had to give up one stone for every excess group. Japan did not
use this rule, but counted all surrounded spaces as territory. It is
to Japan's credit that their practice has become the world standard.
China gradually abandoned the group tax under the influence of games
with strong Japanese players who visited Peking when Wu Ch'ing-Yuan
was a boy. I learned wei-ch'i at that time, so I was painfully aware
of the confusion of counting systems. Older players demanded group
tax. The younger generation used a different system under which Black
gave up half a stone when he played last. This chaos of counting systems
is what impelled me to spend eighteen years studying the rules of wei-ch'i.
History of Codification of the Rules of Wei-Ch'i
1 The Age of Verbal Rules has Ended
For four thousand years wei'ch'i had no written rules, only verbal
rules that were passed down by word of mouth, mutually understood,
and tacitly accepted. Verbal rules concerning basic matters like capturing
and ko that occur in every game can be clearly remembered, but players
will be perplexed by rare, unusual ko patterns such as eternal life,
triple ko, quadruple ko, and round-robin ko. Verbal rules served for
small, local tournaments or friendly games between individuals. In
the twentieth century, however, Japan created a professional organization
and newspapers began to sponsor lengthy tournaments with large prizes,
so both the players and the general public became concerned about whether
the rules and regulations were fair and reasonable. In the past decade
the number of international tournaments has rapidly increased. The
age of verbal rules has ended.
2 Wu Ch'ing-Yuan's (Go Seigen) Contributions to Codification of
The world's first written rules were the Laws of Go adopted by the
Nihon Kiin on October 2, 1949. these rules grew out of a problem that
occurred in 1948 in the first game of a ten-game match between Wu Ch'ing-Yuan
and Iwamoto Kaoru. (Dia. 1)
Diagram 1. Wu Ch'ing-Yuan vs. Iwamoto Kaoru. Diagram 2. Wu Ch'ing-Yuan
As White, Iwamoto declined to play either A or B. Kaku. As White, Wu
declined to reinforce at A
(Black gets a ko by playing at 1
, and 3
but Black has no ko threats.)
At the end of the game Iwamoto neither captured at A
nor connected at B
, saying that he did not need too because he had more ko threats than
White. This gained him a point. The Nihon Kiin finally appealed to
the highest authority in the wei-ch'i world at the time, the 21st Honinbo
Shusai, Meijin. Holding that no reinforcement was required by the player
with more ko threats, Shusai ruled that Black did not have to reinforce
and White had won by one or two points.
Japanese professional players were alarmed at this ruling. They worried
that in a similar occurrence in the future the one-point difference
might change the outcome of the game. Thus professional players came
to recognize the need for written rules. The written rules adopted
by the Nihon Kiin required all direct kos to be reinforced, however,
differing from Honinbo Shusai's decision. Then in 1959 further trouble
unexpectedly arose in the second game of a three game match between
Wu Ch'ing-Yuan and Takagawa Kaku. (Dia.2)
At the end of the game, Takagawa called on Wu to obey the fourth precedent
in the Laws of Go and reinforce at A
. Wu refused, arguing that the rules could not make a player reinforce;
it was up to the player himself to decide if reinforcement was necessary.
Both sides held out in this argument for several months, but Wu received
no support, so in the end he had to agree to reinforce. If he had not
reinforced he would have won by half a point. Reinforcing, he lost
by half a point. As a condition for agreeing, Wu demanded that the
Nihon Kiin revise its Laws of Go, but thirty years have passed without
the revision being made.
3 This Precedent Reviewed in Light of the Ing Rules
In the game between Wu Ch'ing-Yuan and Honinbo Iwamoto, Iwamoto claimed
that he did not have to connect the final ko because he had more ko
threats, but that was a one-sided argument. Not connecting is unreasonable,
as proved by the absence of any recorded game, past or present, in
which a final ko was left open. The SST rule is that a hot stone can
be recaptured after an interval of one pass play or one board play.
No matter how many ko threats Iwamoto had, Wu could always recapture
the hot stone after one pass play, so he would never run out of threats.
Iwamoto's supply of ko threats was finite; Wu's supply was infinite.
Under SST rules, when both sides pass the game stops but does not
end. To end the game there must be four consecutive pass plays, two
by each side.
In the game between Wu and Takagawa, Wu was right; it is up to the
player himself to decide whether to reinforce; this is a question of
skill, not a question of rules. It was fundamentally illogical to have
a rule determine when to reinforce. How could such a rule be called
reasonable? For thirty years the Nihon Kiin has failed to come up
with a logical revision of the reinforcing rule. As Wu said, "It can't
1 SST Laws:
the complete SST Laws of Wei-Ch'i, which are free of special rulings
and produce almost no drawn games. These laws were developed over a
16-year period by Ing Chang-Ki, who devised the fill-in counting system
and the principle that the move is unrestricted except for invariation
in 1974, and added the division of ko into fighting ko and disturbing
ko in 1990.
2 Board and pass plays:
Moves are classified as board plays and pass plays.
3 Unrestricted except for invariation:
A player can play on any point that produces variation. Traditional
rules had many unnecessary restrictions, including setup stones and
forbidden moves, but lacked necessary restrictions, as in ko annulment.
4 Contest for territory:
Wei-ch'i is a contest for territory. Territory has been defined in
different ways at different times. In the first period it was Chinese
lu, which became Korean hu and Japanese me; all
three characters mean "space." In the second period, which began with
the SST rules in 1974, territory consists of points.
5 Board point:
an intersection of horizontal and vertical lines on the board. During
the game stones are played on board points. In fighting, board points
become breathing points. When the score is counted at the end of the
game, board points become points of territory.
In wei-ch'i, competition takes place in games; a single competition
is a single game. A game is the basic unit of competition; one game
has one outcome.
also called play. There are board plays and pass plays. A game starts
with a board play and ends with pass plays.
8 Board play:
a play that changes the position on the board and increases the number
of moves played. The only restriction on a board play is that it must
not cause invariation.
9. Pass play:
a play that only increases the number of moves played, without changing
the position on the board. Like a board play, a pass play is a move.
10 Ko removal after passing:
Removal of a hot stone is generally called ko removal. The ko rule
states that hot stones cannot be removed until after an interval of
one board play or pass play, so after each side passes once, ko removal
is naturally possible. Those who have not studied the rules may think
incorrectly that ko removal is possible only after a ko threat has
been made and answered. See Dias. A3-A8.
11 Setup stone:
In old Chinese game records both even games and handicap games started
from setup stones instead of from an empty board. Japan eliminated
setup stones from even games and the whole world has done likewise.
Setup stones are still frequently used in handicap games.
12 Forbidden point:
Traditional rules forbid self-removal.
13 Ko annulment:
Annulment is a special Japanese ruling. The SST rules have no special
rulings at all.
is indicated by placing two stones on the go board.
15 Mandatory pass play:
See Dia. A1.
16 Handicap game:
traditionally played with setup stones, but not in the SST laws. The
SST handicap rule conforms to the following three principles; (1) Black
first, White second; (2) one move at a time; (3) unrestricted except
for invariation. Traditional rules violate these principles.
17 No points to contest; one-sided neutral
See Dia. A2.
18 Play pauses
when each side passes once, making two consecutive pass plays. If
there is disagreement about life and death, play can resume.
19 Play ends
when each side passes twice, making four consecutive pass plays. Play
cannot resume for any reason, so the game ends.
20 Breathing point:
or "breath." A space next to a stone in a life-and-death situation.
For the different types of breaths, see Dias. B11-B20.
the state in which the breathing points surrounding a stone or stones
have all been occupied, including internal breathing points.
22 Permanent breath:
A group of stones with permanent breaths is independently alive.
23 Balancing breath:
A group of stones with balancing breath is alive in coexistence.
24 Fighting breath:
Stones with fighting breaths are alive in ko.
25 Interchangeable breath:
Stones with interchangeable breaths are in a state of unalterable
life or death.
26 Unreal breath:
Stones with unreal breaths are dead.
Breathless stones are removed from the board.
28 Life and death determined by removal:
Whether stones are alive or dead is determined by applying the rule
29 Live and death determined by ruling:
The Japanese rules, which count spaces, cannot determine life and
death by removal, so they have special rulings about life and death.
30 Ko prevents invariation:
Endless removal gives invariation through repetition of the same position
or recycling. The ko rule restricts removal in order to prevent invariation.
31 Fighting and disturbing ko:
A fighting ko involves repetitive removal; immediate removal of hot
stones is prohibited. A disturbing ko involves cyclic removal; the
disturber is prohibited from recycling.
32 Ko stone:
a stone that can be removed repetitively or cyclically.
33 Single Ko stone:
See Dia. C1.
34 Double ko stones:
See Dia. C2.
35 Triple ko stones:
See Dias. C3-C4.
36 Ko configuration:
a position with ko stones; see Dias. C5-C15.
37 Hot stone:
a stone repeatedly contested by both sides.
38 Single hot stone:
See Dia. C5.
39 Double hot stone:
See Dia. C6.
40 Twin hot stone:
See Dia. C7-C8.
a player who creates a disturbing ko with no hot stones by cyclic
removal, either by attacking his opponent or by using a double ko.
Cyclic removal is limited to one cycle. In the second cycle and subsequent
cycles every move causes invariation; this is called recycling.
43 Stones and spaces are both territory; all
stones are filled in to count:
the fill-in counting procedure is the ultimate counting method, clearly
expressing the definition of territory as both stones and spaces.
44 Bowls with measuring frames:
necessary items for fill-in counting, showing at a glance whether
there are 180 black and white stones without the need to count the
45 Winning space:
a space left when a player's stones have all been filled into that
46 Losing stone:
a stone left when a player's stones cannot all be filled into that
47 Shared space:
a space adjacent to both black and white stones in coexistence, shared
equally by both sides. See Dia. D2
48 Compensation points:
points given to the opponent to equalize the game.
49 Time-difference penalty points:
An SST rule provides for time-difference penalty points. Ing timers
50 Difference value:
The fill-in counting method counts only the difference value, consisting
of the winning space, losing stones, compensation stones, and penalty
stones. Other filled-in black and white stones need not be counted
because they cancel out and do not contribute to the difference.
Ing's SST Laws of Wei-ch'i
Chapter 1 Rules of Competition
Article 1: The move
Wei-ch'i is a contest for points. The points gained, whether stones
or spaces, are called points of territory. The winner is the side
with more points of territory.
Moves are board or pass plays. Moves are unrestricted except for invariation.
In wei-ch'i, a single contest is called a game. The game starts from
an empty board. Black and White play one move at a time, Black playing
first and White second. When the score is counted by filling in after
the end of the game, the winner is said to have won by counting. When
the score is not counted, the winner is said to have won without counting.
Moves, also called plays, are classified as board plays and pass plays.
A move must provide variation. Moves not resulting in variation are
prohibited, because if such moves were to continue, the game would
have to be annulled. A board play changes the position on the board
and increases the number of moves played; a pass play only increases
the number of moves played. A game starts with a board play and ends
with pass plays.
In these laws the move is unrestricted except for invariation, so
a board play can be made on any point that does not cause invariation
through repetition of the same position or recycling. Self-removal
of a single stone, immediate removal of hot stones, and recycling are
prohibited because of invariation. Self removal of a group of stones
does not cause invariation so it is not prohibited.
A player passes when resigning, in which case play naturally stops.
If one player passes but does not resign, play continues. After the
neutral points have been filled, both players pass and play pauses.
After the dead stones have been taken away, both players pass again
and play ends.
Article 2: Removal
Spaces next to stones in a life-or-death situation are called breathing
points, or breaths. These laws classify breaths according to life
and death: permanent breaths for independent life, balancing breaths
for coexistence, unreal breaths for non-life, fighting breaths for
ko life, and interchangable breaths for disturbances that do not alter
life and death. Stones that have lost all their unreal breaths are
said to be breathless.
Breathless stones are removed. Determine life and death by identifying
Breathless stones are taken off the board by the player who eliminated
their last breath, whether the stones belong to that player or his
opponent. This is called removal. When the stones of both sides become
breathless simultaneously, the player removes his opponent's stones.
Removals that would cause invariation are subject to restriction;
to prevent invariation, they are played out as ko, divided into fighting
ko and disturbing ko.
Life and Death:
Stones live or die according to whether they can be removed. Stones
that can be removed are dead; stones that cannot be removed are alive.
These are the only crieria for life and death. Disputes about taking
away dead stones cannot be settled by special rulings.
Article 3: Ko
Stones that can be repeatedly or cyclically removed are called ko
stones. There are three types: single ko stones, double ko stones,
and triple ko stones.
Ko prevents invariation. Ko is classified as fighting or disturbing.
A position including ko stones is called a ko position. These laws
divide ko positions into fighting and disturbing ko. Every ko position
must have an outcome; the game must not end without result.
When life and death are not settled, repeated fighting for breaths
is called a fighting ko. The ko stones in the repeating fight are
called hot stones. Hot stones cannot be removed until after an interval
of one board play or pass play.
A single ko stone that has removed a stone in a single ko becomes
a single hot stone. When one stone is added to another to make double
ko stones in an eternal life position, these become double hot stones.
In a triple ko, besides the single hot stone there is another single
or double ko stone; these are also regarded as hot stones, called twin
hot stones. Twin hotstones are thus used in triple ko, which was left
unresolved by traditional ko rules.
When life and death are settled, recycling of interchangable breaths
is called a disturbing ko. The player who starts a disturbing ko is
called the disturber. By attacking his opponent or using a double
ko, the disturber creates a disturbing ko with no hot stones. After
one cycle, the disturber is never allowed to continue disturbing.
Article 4: Counting
Stones and spaces are both territory. All stones are filled in
The counting criteria in these laws are that stones and spaces are
both territory. The sum of the points in both sides' territory is
always the total number of points on the board, and the difference
is the margin of victory.
The counting procedure given by these laws fills in all stones without
moving any stones in the original configuration, making the score clear
at a glance. Fill-in counting is done using bowls with Ing's measuring
After both players have filled in their stones, any remaining spaces
are called winning spaces and any remaining stones are called losing
stones. Spaces adjacent to both black and white stones in coexistence
are called shared spaces; each player fills half of them. If there
is only one shared space, neither player can fill it.
Winning spaces are positioned in a corner, or on a side if no corner
is available. Losing stones are filled into the opponents winning spaces.
For compensation points and time difference penalty points, one stone
for every two points is filled into a separate area near the winning
or shared space.
The score of the game is the difference value. The difference value
includes one point for the winning space and two points for each losing
stone, compensation stone, and penalty stone. A game with no difference
is a draw, both sides having equal amounts of territory.
Chapter 2 Tournament Rules
Article 5: Tournament agreement
An agreement to hold a tournament is referred to as a tournament
agreement or tournament contract. The agreement should stipulate:
(1) the name of the tournament, (2) the object of the tournament, (3)
qualifications for entry, (4) the entry deadline, (5) the rules, (6)
handicap conditions, (7) time limits for games, (8) penalties, (9)
required conduct, and (10) rights and duties. In a formal tournament
the sponsors, together with cooperating organizations, or individuals
must determine the tournament agreement beforehand, the players must
abide by it, and the referee must enforce it.
Tournament games should normally be played under standard conditions,
with two players and one board. However, tournaments may also be played
under the pair system with two players playing alternately on each
side, or the consultation system with two or more players consulting
on each side. Tournaments can also be played using telecommunications
equipment such as facsimile machines or computers instead of having
players face each other across the board.
The tournament system must be clearly stated in the tournament agreement.
The tournament should follow a system suitable for its purpose, number
of contestants, and duration. Possibilities include single elimination,
multiple elimination, round-robin, team elimination, the Ing system,
a ten-game match, and so on. The number of games and the schedule
should be decided in detail. Scoring: In an elimination or round-robin
tournament, standings are determined by primary and secondary scores.
Primary scores are equal to the number of wins: a player get one point
per won game. When players are tied on primary scores, the tie is
broken by secondary scores. There are four types of secondary scores:
A1, A2, B1, and B2. A1 is the sum of defeated opponents' primary scores.
A2 is the sum of other opponents' primary scores. B1 is the sum of
defeated opponents' secondary scores. B2 is the sum of the other opponents'
secondary scores. Ties on primary scores are broken by comparing A1,
ties on A1 are broken by comparing A2, and so on.
Article 6: Handicaps
Differences between players' strengths are adjusted by three methods
of handicapping: compensation points, taking black, and handicap plays.
The handicapping system uses one or more of these methods to equalize
the players' chances of winning the game. Games played under the handicapping
system are said to be handicapped. Other games are said to be unhandicapped.
The SST ranks are ping, tuan, and chi. Professional players have
ping ranks, running from 1 (high) to 9 (low). The difference per ping
is 1/4 play or two points. Strong amateurs have tuan ranks, running
from 9 (high) to 1(low). The difference per yuan is 1/2 play or four
points. Players weaker than 1 tuan have chi ranks running from 1 (high)
to 9 (low). Players weaker than 9 chi are not ranked. Each organization
may, according to methods they stipulate, determine their own players'
ranks and certify such ranks for use in tournaments. They may also
retract certification of a player who obstructs a tournament in violation
of the spirit of the competition. A chart of the ping, tuan, and chi
rankings is appended on a later page.
Compensation points are now universally used to equalize games in
which the difference between the players' strengths is a fraction of
a play, or a whole number of plays plus a fraction. Although it has
existed for less than a century, this system has completely replaced
the outdated system of equalization over a series of games. Game statistics
show that Black's advantage in playing first is worth 16 points of
territory. In a single even game (zero-play handicap) it is not possible
to give each player black an equal number of times, so black gives
white eight points of territory, which is half the advantage of playing
first. The win rate then approaches 50 percent. This system is referred
to as eight-point compensation in even games. For draws, a practical
rule is to award the game to black.
In an even game, colors are chosen as follows. The older player
takes a handful of white stones and his opponent guesses even or odd.
If he guesses correctly, he can choose black or white. Otherwise,
the older player chooses black or white.
When the differenc in strength between the two players is two plays
or more, handicap plays are used. The game is said to be a handicap-play
game. In a one-play handicap, for example, Black makes a board play
anywhere, White makes a mandatory pass play, then Black makes another
board play anywhere. The size of the handicap is one less than the
number of (N) of initial board plays by Black. Changing the traditional
handicap stones to handicap plays conforms to the following principles:
(1) Black first, White second; (2) one move at a time; (3) the move
is unrestricted except for invariation. Handicap stones violate the
standard rules for the move because (1) White plays first and Black
second, (more than one move is played at a time, and (3) setup stones
are required, instead of letting moves be unrestricted except for invariation.
Article 7: Time limits
The time limit for a game includes all time used for thinking, playing,
removing stones, and so on. The time limit is divided into basic time
and additional time. Even in major tournaments, games should be completed
in one day. At lunch or dinner, or when a game lasts more than five
hours, the players can ask for a short break.
Basic time (BT) is the time allotted to each player at the beginning
of the game. In a game with time-difference penalty points, if a player
does not use all his basic time, the remaining time is not considered
in determining the time difference.
When a player uses up his basic time, he may receive additional time
in one of two forms: penalty points (PP) or second reading (RS).
(1) Penalty points (PP): The penalty for exceeding the basic time limit
is two points. The penalty for using additional time in excess of
1/6 the basic time is another two points, making four points in all.
The penalty for using additional time in excess of 2/6 the basic time
limit is another two points, making six points in all. A player who
uses additional time in excess of half the basic time limit forfeits
the game. If both players are penalized, opposing penalty points cancel,
but the first player whose additional time reaches 3/6 the basics time
limit still loses by forfeit.
(2) Second reading (RS): When a player uses up his basic time limit
he is allowed to exceed a certain number of seconds per move a certain
number of times before forfeiting.
The PP and RS systems are built into Ing's electronic wei-ch'i timer.
The system used should be specified in the tournament agreement.
Article 8: Penalties
When a player is late for a game, twice the amount of time by which
he is late is deducted from his basic time limit.
The following are not penalized.
(1) Mistaken pass: If a player makes a pass play when a point could
still be made by a board play, thus failing to make a possible board
play, he loses his turn, but is not penalized. If both players overlook
the final neutral point and it is discovered during the fill-in procedure,
since the game has ended and play cannot resume, the point is left
as a shared space. There is no penalty.
(2) Mistaken removal: Double hot stones and twin hot stones were first
introduced by these laws. They rarely occur in actual play and are
not familiar to all players, so in repetitive or cyclic positions a
stone may be removed by mistake. When this is noticed by one or both
players or is called to their attention by the referee, parity of moves
is restored, then play continues according to the rules with no penalty.
In the cases listed below, after the occurrence is confirmed by the
referee, the offending player forfeits the game.
(1) Failure to appear: a player fails to appear within his time limit.
(2) Abandonment: a player is unable to continue and abandons the game
(3) Retraction of a play: a player changes a play after making it.
(4) Excessive time: a player exceeds the stipulated time limit.
(5) Defiance: a player refuses to accept the referee's decision.
If a player fails to appear or requests absence more than a stipulated
number of times, he is barred from further participation in the tournament
and forfeits his remaining games.
A player who intentionally violates the rules or obstructs the progress
of the tournament is barred from further participation and disqualified
from entering the tournament for a period of years. Extreme violations
are punishable by depriving the player of his rank certificatiion,
so that he loses his basic qualification for tournament participation.
Article 9: Conduct
By correct conduct the players show mutual respect, uphold the dignity
and character of wei-ch'i, and enable the game to proceed smoothly.
(1) Manners: Before the game, the younger player should clean the
board with a soft cloth to show respect for the cleanlienss of the
equipment. During the game the players should be neat and tidy in dress.
For international games players should wear western clothes.
(2) Deportment: During the game the players should maintain good posture
and concentrate fully on the game. They should handle the stones properly
Indicating a pass play is an important part of the conduct of the
(1) Resigning: When a player is losing, can see no way to win, and
resigns by making a pass play, he should place two stones on the board
to indicate that he has resigned. With the increasing number of international
games, players often cannot speak each others' languages, so a method
of indicating pass plays is increasingly important.
(2) Other pass plays: When a player makes a mandatory pass play or
passes because he has no points to contest, he should place one stone
beside the board, or indicate by other appropriate means that he passes.
Improper conduct that causes annoyance to the other player during
the game is impolite.
(1)Disturbances: When playing a stone the player should not obstruct
his opponent's view by moving the stone over the board. A player should
not disturb his opponent while thinking by rattling stones in the board
or tapping them on the table.
(2) Bad habits: A player should not hold a supply of stones in his
hand, or hold a stone between thumb and forefinger when playing it.
When returning stones that have been removed, lobbing them in the
general direction of the opponent's bowl is uncouth.
When using the fill-in counting system and measuring bowls, the player
should observe the following customs:
(1) Verification of the stones: Before the start of the game, the
players should use the measuring frame to verify the number of stones,
and correct any deficiencies.
(2) Location of stones: During the game, there should be no stones
except the live and dead stones on the board, unplayed stones in the
bowls, and removed stones in their designated containers.
(3) Putting the stones away: After counting by the fill-in method,
each player should replace his own stones in their bowls and check
that there are 180 to confirm that the game was counted correctly.
If the outcome was close, the loser can ask the referee to supervise
the putting away of the stones. If there is no referee, the loser
has the right to put away both the black and white stones, and the
winner cannot object.
(4) Filling in territory: In counting, the stones should be filled
in one at a time, or at most two at a time. If a stone is inadvertently
dropped on the board and the other stones moved, the original position
must be restored and the opponent's confirmation obtained before the
dropped stone is retrieved. A player cannot arbitrarily restore the
original position by himself.
Article 10: Duties
The referee may also be referred to as the tournament director. In
a large tournament with two or more referees, one referee should be
appointed chief referee. A referee's duties are to enforce the tournament
rules and rule on matters not prescribed in them, answer the players'
questions and warn them about improper conduct, take charge of the
sealed play, and in general keep order at the tournament. He has absolute
authority to decide about violations of the rules and issue warnings
about conduct; the players must abide by his decisions and warnings.
If they do not, the referee should report this to the tournament sponsors
and a strict penalty should be applied.
A recorder's duty is to record the plays on a diagram of the wei-ch'i
board, using odd Arabic numbers for Black's plays and even ones for
White's. Pass plays should be numbered and recorded. If a pass play
is not followed by a board play, however, the pass play should not
be recorded as part of the sequence of plays. The same number must
not appear twice in the game record. If there is no recorder but a
game record is required, the winner should record the game after it
is finished and the loser should sign the game record.
A timekeeper's duties are to record the time used by both players,
using a tournament clock, to inform a player when he is about to run
out of basic time or additional time, and to perform or supervise the
reading out of seconds when the second reading system is used. If
there is no timekeeper, the recorder must perform these duties. If
there is no recorder either, the players must keep the time by operating
the tournament clock themselves. Even when a timekeeper is present,
if the players are accustomed to operating the tournament clock themselves
they have the right to do so, instead of letting the timekeeper operate
the clock. The tournament clock is placed at White's right. The players
must play stones and press the clock with the same hand.
When a commentary is given on a large public board, a courier should
be appointed, whose duty is to place the plays recorded by the recorder
in their correct positions on the public board. If the game is monitored
by a television camera, however, a courier is not needed.
Chapter 3 Equipment Specifications
Article 11: The board
The board is marked with nineteen vertical lines spaced 2.21 cm apart
and nineteen horizontal lines spaced 2.36 cm apart. The vertical lines
are identified from left to right by Roman letters from A to T, skipping
I. The horizontal lines are numbered 1 to 19 from bottom to top. The
board should measure 45 cm vertically, 42 cm horizontally, and at least
2.5 cm in thickness. Besides the standard 19 X 19 board, smaller boards
can be used for teaching wei-ch'i to beginners or for short informal
games. There are five sizes: 17 X 17 = 289, 15 X 15 = 225, 13 X 13
= 169, 11 X 11 = 121, and 9 X 9 = 81.
The intersections of the horizontal and vertical lines are called
"points." The number of points is the square of the number of lines:
19 X 19 = 361. the nine points at which lines D, K, and Q intersect
lines 4, 10, and 16 are marked with small dots to aid in judging distance
on the board, and are called star points. The center star point is
Stones are played on the points at the intersections of the horizontal
and vertical lines. The points are then called points of play. Points
are also the basic unit of counting territory and determining the margin
of victory. The points are then called points of territory.
The 361 points are designated by the letters and numbers of their lines:
A, B, C, ..., T from left to right and 1, 2, 3, ..., 19 from bottom
to top. The letter is given first, the number second. The center t'ien-yuan
point is K10, the top left corner point is A19, the bottom left corner
point is A1, the top right corner point is T19, and the bottom right
corner point is T1.
Diagram 3. Wei-ch'i board, showing numbering
and lettering of lines and a Black stone at R16.
Article 12: The stones
The stones should be disc-shaped and of two colors, black and white.
Each stones should be 2.18 cm in diameter, and 1.05 cm thick at the
center. The standard grade of stones is 6.5 g in weight.
Number of stones:
The number of stones of each color should be half the number of points
on the board minus one. For a standard 19-line wei-ch'i board with
361 points, there should be 180 black and 180 white stones.
Article 13: The bowls
The measuring frame is a device for checking the number of stones.
There are three types: removable, retractable, and collapsible. The
removable frame is circular and has 19 holes, of which the center hole
holds nine spare stones and the other 18 holes hold ten stones each.
The retractable and collapsible frames are hexagonal and have 37 holes,
of which the center hole holds spare stones and the other 36 holes
hold five stones each. These frames fit inside the bowls. When the
fill-in counting system is used, bowls with measuring frames are indispensable.
The bowls are containers for the stones and are of two types: circular
and hexagonal. The black and white stones are kept in separate bowls.
The bowls should have removable lids that can be turned upside down
to hold removed stones. The bowls should contain measuring frames so
that the number of stones can be checked at a glance without having
to count. Bowls with measuring frames are necessary implements for
keeping the set of stones complete and for using the scientific fill-in
Article 14: The desk and table
The desk is 70 cm high, 66.6 cm long, 1 m wide (with a single board)
or 2 m wide (with dual boards), and can be used as an ordinary rectangular
desk. When a spring is pressed, the top can be rotated to interchange
surfaces and present a board for playing or studying wei-ch'i. Panels
beside the board slide into racks to reveal containers with retractable
measuring frames and space for Ing's electronic wei-ch'i timer. Desks
of this type are suitable for halls accommodating 100 people or more.
The table is 65 cm high, 60 cm long, and 55 cm wide and resembles
a square tea table. Ordinarily it can be used as an elegant item of
furniture. A spring latch opens the semicircular drawers. Another spring
latch enables the top to be rotated, presenting a board for playing
or studying wei-ch'i. The board locks into place automatically. The
drawers have built-in containers with retractable measuring frames.
Tables of this type are suitable for use in the living room of a house.
Explanatory Diagrams for Ing's SST Laws of Wei-Ch'i
Section A: Pass play restrictions and effects
Passing is not the same as relinquishing one's turn. A pass play is
subject to definite restrictions; relinquishing one's turn is not.
"Pass play" is a technical term in the laws of wei-ch'i; relinquishing
one's turn is a non-technical expression.
A pass play can occur only when mandatory, when a player has no points
to contest, or when a player resigns.
1. In a handicap game, one player makes mandatory pass plays.
Diagram A1. Moves 2 and 4 are mandatory
passes by White in a two-play handicap
2. A player may pass because he is unable to contest one-sided neutral
Diagram A2. Pass plays due to incontestable
one-sided neutral points. White passes at
moves 2, 4, and 6. Black 3 at A
3. When one player makes a pass play, his opponent may continue playing,
as in Dias. A1 and A2.
4. When both players make one pass play each in succession, play pauses.
After two successive passes, however, ko removal is allowed because
of the intervening pass play, and if there is a disagreement about
life and death when the dead stones are being taken away, play must
continue. Play therefore pauses after two pass plays, but does not
end. See dias. A3 to A8.
Example of ko removal after an intervening pass play. (5x5 board.)
|Diagram A3. Black to play. Is the game over? Which stones are dead?
||Diagram A4. White 4 is a pass. Mutual attacking with board plays.
||Diagram A5. Mutual attacking continues.
||Diagram A6. Result: All black stones die.
After two pass plays the game pauses, but there is disagreement about
life and death. The intervening pass plays permit ko removal. The game
ends with four pass plays.
|Diagram A7. White 4
is a pass. Suppose Black answers with another
pass; what is the result?
||Diagram A8. Ko removal is allowed
after a pass play;
all black stones die.
5. After taking away the dead stones each player makes one more pass
play, ending the game with no further possible disagreement.
Moves must provide variation: moves not resulting in variation
are prohibited: all other moves are allowed.
For a board play, a player can select any point except a point that
would cause invariation. The move is said to be unrestricted except
for invariation. In ordinary language, invariation means: (1) self-removal
of a single stone, which is the same as not playing; or (2) playing
the same moves over and over, by repeating the same board position
or recycling, in a fighting ko or disturbing ko. If the move were completely
unrestricted, repetitive or cyclic removal would continue forever,
1. Self-removal of a single stone is prohibited as invariation.
Diagram A9. Self-removal of a
single stone: prohibited as invariation
2. Self-removal of a group of stones.
Self-removal of a group of stones is not prohibited because it does
not cause invariation. Self-removal of a group of stones can create
variations that have never been seen before. The more variety there
is in wei-ch'i, the better; rules that prohibit variation are illogical.
Diagrams A10, A11, A12, A13, A14, and A15. In the Diagrams,
White has ko threats at the key points marked X.
Self-removal can be used to fill an opponent's breathing points.
|Diagram A16. Starting position.
||Diagram A17. Self-removal.
||Diagram A18. After removal.
||Diagram A19. Coexistence.
The principle that the move is unrestricted except for invariation
is the most important principle in Ing's rules. Invariation, through
repetition of the same position or recycling, prevents the game from
ending. Invariation must therefore be prohibited, but other restrictions
are unnecessary. Unnecessary restrictions are bad rules because the
reduce the variety of the game. Traditional Chinese rules had two unnecessary
restrictions: (1) setup stones, a completely uncalled-for restriction
that greatly reduced the variety of both even games and handicap games;
and (2) the rule forbidding self-removal of a group of stones despite
the presence of variation, another obviously unnecessary restriction
that reduces the variety of the game. The more variety there is in
wei-ch'i, the better; the rule that the move is unrestricted except
for invariation abolished unnecessary restrictions and adds variations
that could not have appeared under traditional rules. In past centuries,
the Japanese rules have made two major contributions to wei-ch'i: (1)
The elimination of setup stones from even games greatly increased the
variety in the game. Unfortunately, setup stones have still not been
eliminated from handicap games. Setup stones may simplify handicap
games for White, but the sooner they are abolished, the better. (2)
The elimination of "group tax" led to new three-three point variations
in the corner. When a player invades at the three-three point, the
group tax costs him about four points, so in old Chinese game records
there were very few three-three point invasions early in the game.
Section B: Life and death are determined by removal, without exception;
example of bent four in the corner
Stones live or die according to whether or not they can be removed:
stones that can be removed are dead; stones that cannot be removed
are alive. There are no exceptions whatsoever to this rule that life
and death are determined by removal. This standard for life and death
is objective, reasonable, and fair, and leaves no room for argument.
Conditions under which bent four in the corner lives and dies are shown
Diagram B1. Diagram B2. Diagram B3. Diagram B4.
Basic pattern. Killing ko sequence, Killing ko sequence, Killing ko sequence,
moves 1 and 2. moves 3 and 4. move 5.
Diagrams B5 and B6. Basic pattern variations.
Life or death of bent four in the corner is closely related to the
Diagram B7. Diagram B8. Diagram B9. Diagram B10.
No ko threat: death. Large ko threat: life. Small ko threat: First player
Five type and eight patterns of breathing points
Spaces adjacent to stones in a life-or-death situation are called breathing
points, or breaths. For stones, life is breath: stones live with breathing
points and die without them. Breathing points can be classified into
five types according to life and death: (1) permanent breaths for independent
life, (2) balancing breaths for coexistence, (3) fighting breaths for
ko life, (4) interchangeable breaths for disturbances that do not alter
life and death, and (5) unreal breaths for non-life.
There are eight breath patterns, Permanent and balancing breaths occur
in life, and there are always at least two. Without two breathing points,
stones die; their breath is unreal. There are four basic breath patterns:
(1) territory breaths and (2) eye breaths are always permanent breaths;
(3) shared breaths and (4) ko breaths are always balanced breaths.
Diagram B11. Diagram B12. Diagram B13. Diagram B14.
Territory breaths. Eye breaths. Shared breaths. Ko breaths.
There are also three combined patterns involving balancing breaths,
and one compound pattern of unreal breaths: (5) shared and eye breaths;
(6) shared and ko breaths; (7) eye and ko breaths; and (8) compound
unreal breaths. In the last of these patterns, a general unreal breath
is paired with an eye or ko breath in such a way that there can never
be two eye or ko breaths. For fighting and interchangeable breaths,
see Section C.
Diagram B15. Diagram B16.
Shared and eye Eye and ko breaths:
Note: Variation B16 was discovered by the Japanese rules theorist
Kaise Takaaki. The three black stones and three white stones are actually
one eye each.
Diagram B17. Diagram B18. Diagram B19. Diagram B20.
Shared and ko breaths. Eye and ko breaths. Unreal breaths. Compound pattern
of unreal breaths.
Section C: The fighting/disturbing ko distinction; the game has
When two opposing groups are locked together in the tiger's-mouth shape,
the stones in the opposing side's mouth can be repetitively or cyclically
removed, so these stones are called ko stones. There are three types
of ko stones: single, double, and triple.
Repetitive removal occurs in fighting ko. Cyclic removal occurs in
disturbing ko. If not restricted by rules, both repetitive and cyclic
removal lead to invariation, obstructing the end of the game so that
the game has to be annulled. If the hot stones in a fighting ko could
be removed immediately, removal would follow removal without end, neither
side willing to give in, causing invariation. The fighting ko rule
accordingly states that hot stones cannot be removed until after an
interval of one board play or pass play. Invariation is thus prohibited;
other moves are unrestricted.
In addition to the removal of hot stones in a fighting ko, recycling
in a disturbing ko can also continue endlessly, causing invariation.
The disturbing ko rule accordingly states that after one cycle, the
disturber is never allowed to continue disturbing. Disturbance of the
game is limited to one cycle; after the first cycle, further disturbance
constitutes recycling. Immediate removal of hot stones in a fighting
ko and recycling in a disturbing ko must both be prohibited as causing
invariation; otherwise we will never be rid of the annulments found
in the Japanese rules.
Diagram C1. Diagram C2. Diagram C3. Diagram C4.
Single ko stone. Double ko stones. Triple ko stones Triple ko stones
in actual play, I in actual play, II.
In the example of "triple ko stones in actual play", White 2 and Black
7 are game-disturbing moves that use ko threats cyclically. This must
The next four examples illustrate fighting ko with three types of hot
stones: single, double, and twin. Single and triple ko are shown.
Diagram C5. Diagram C6. Diagram C7. Diagram C8.
Single hot Double hot Twin hot Twin hot
stone: B1. stones: B1 stones: B1 stones: B1
and triangle. and triangle. and triangles.
The next four examples illustrate disturbing ko, showing disturbed
life. In disturbed life, one side attempts to kill the other side's
live stones or coexistence stones.
Diagram C9. Diagram C10. Diagram C11. Diagram C12.
Sending two and Quadruple ko: Triple ko with Double ko stones:
returning one. coexistence with an eye: coexist- coexistence with
Disturbed life balanced breaths. ence with balanced balanced breaths.
in which Black 1 Disturbed life in breaths. Disturbed Disturbed life
is the disturber. which either can life in which Black which either side
be the disturber. can be the disturber. can be the disturber.
The next three examples also illustrate disturbing ko, showing disturbed
death. In disturbed death, a player disturbs his own dead stones.
Diagram C13. String ko: moonshine life. Diagram C14. Triple ko with
White is the disturber, using the double disturbed death. White cannot
ko in the bottom right. the ko. White is the disturber.
Diagram C15. Disturbed death with two separate
double kos: invariation. Black is the disturber. Recycling is
prohibited, so Black is dead.
Section D: Stones and spaces are both territory; spaces belong
to their boundary
After the dead stones have been taken away at the end of the game,
all that remains are (1) Black's live stones, (2) White's live stones,
and (3) spaces on the board. The sum of these three entities is necessarily
equal to the total number of points on the board. Since stones and
spaces are both territory, every point on the board is territory.
Every point is counted; not one of the 361 points on the board is left
uncounted; all are territory. The boundaries of the territory are
determined by living stones; spaces form territory within the boundaries.
If the boundary is all black, the spaces are black; if the boundary
is all white, the spaces are white; if the boundary is both black and
white, the spaces are shared. See Dias. D1 and D2.
Diagram D1. Diagram D2.
Black spaces Shared spaces.
and white space.
When there is a coexistence position on the board, the breathing points
shared by both sides form spaces with boundaries made up of both black
and white stones. These are called shared spaces; they are shared
equally between the two sides.
Section E: Explanation of the fill-in counting procedure
Fill-in counting is the only procedure that works perfectly with
counting both stones and spaces as territory. Applying the principle
of using stones to measure territory, it derives the unknown difference
in territory from the known total number of stones. At the end of
the game, all 360 stones are filled into the 361 points, leaving one
winning space, or if not a winning space, then a shared space. When
there is only one shared space, it cannot be filled in, but when there
are two or more shared spaces, each side fills half of them.
The advantages of fill-in counting are: (1) the configuration on the
whole board is left undisturbed, and (2) the margin of victory is clear
at a glance. Fill-in counting also produces an aesthetically pleasing
apperance and keeps the set of stones complete. This scientific counting
procedure was introduced by the SST rules. Extensive experience has
shown that fill-in counting takes one minute at the fastest, two minutes
on the average, and three minutes at the slowest.
(2) Difference value:
The difference value has two components:
1. Stones filled into spaces of the other color: losing stones, compensation
stones, and penalty stones.
2. A space that is left over or cannot be filled in: a winning space
or a shared space.
The combination of stones and spaces in the difference value gives
the margin of victory in the game. There are four possible combinations:
1. Winning space
2. Winning space and losing stones
3. Shared space
4. Shared space and losing stones.
Combinations of 1 and 2 account for 99.5 percent of all cases.
(3) Step size:
Under SST rules, the margin of victory changes in steps of two points.
In the total 361 points, if one side gains one point then the other
side must lose one point; the combination of plus one and minus one
gives a difference of two points. When the score is adjusted by compensation
points or time-difference penalty points, the unit of adjustment is
therfore two points; the score cannot be adjust by an odd number of
points. (1) In a game with no shared space, the margin of victory
is odd. (2) In a game with a shared space the margin of victory is
The stones and spaces of the difference value are located in definite
positions. Winning spaces are positioned in the corner of the largest
territory, or on a side if no corner is available. Losing strones
are positioned on a side, adjacent to the winning space if one remains,
or near the shared space if no winning space remains. Compensation
stones and penalty stones are filled into seprate areas (as close as
possible to the winning or shared space). The margin of victory is
then clear at a glance.
Diagram E1. Winning space and eight point Diagram E2. Winning space
and losing stones
compensation: Black wins by one point. with eight point compensation:
wins by five points.
Diagram E3. Shared space with no compensation: Diagram E4. Shared
space and one losing stone
draw. with no compensation: Black wins by two points.
Diagrams Illustrating the Three Principles of the Law of Wei-Ch'i
(1) Moves are unrestricted except for invariation.
Breathless stones are removed. Life and
death are determined by removal.
(2) Ko is classified as fighting or disturbing.
(3) All stones are filled in to count.
Removing a Self-removal as Self-removal to Breathless
breathless stones a ko threat. gain coexistence. simultaneously.
proves clearly The opponent's
that it is dead. stones are removed.
Ko prevents invariation. Fighting ko Hot
Single ko with a Single ko with Triple ko with Triple ko with
single ko stone double ko stones. a single ko stone. single and double
Ko prevents invariation. Disturbing ko
Sending two and Triple ko with Quadruple ko: Double ko:
returning one: an eye: single single ko stone. double ko stones.
single and double ko stone. Either side Either side
ko stones. Black is the disturber can be the disturber. can be the disturber.
Black is the disturber
Ko prevents invariation. Disturbing ko
Disturbed death: Disturbed death: Disturbed death: two
moonshine life triple ko with separate groups with eyes.
White is the disturber. an eye. White is Black is the disturber.
Stones and spaces are both territory.
All stones are filled in to count.
Stones and spaces Black gives four points
are both territory. compensation and wins
by one point.
Diagram of the Ping-Tuan-Chi Rating Scale
Ing Symbols for Tournament Results
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Ing Tournament System
1. This chart shows a tournament to select three winners from sixteen
particiapants. A player gets in (leaves the tournament as a winner)
when he wins four more games than he has lost. For other numbers of
participants or desired winners, the in and out lines can be adjusted.
2. Pairings are made by closest number on the same line, except that,
if possible, the same two players should not meet twice in the same
3. Winners move up one line.
4. A box around a number indicates that it was borrowed from a different
line to pair an odd number of players.
Summary of the Ing's Rules
Moves are board or pass plays.
Moves are unrestricted except for invariation.
Breathless stones are removed.
Life and death are determined by removal.
Ko prevents invaritation.
Ko is classified as fighting or disturbing.
Stones and spaces are both territory.
All stones are filled in to count.
Ing Chang-Ki Wei-Ch'i Educational Foundation
4F, No. 35, Kuan Fu S. Rd.,
Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.