[These rules were adopted in 1988 or 1989, before the AGA rules of go. Presumably the latter would take precedence in those cases where these conflict. --wjh]

AGA Tournament Rules

I. Tournament Sponsorship and Sanctions.

The American Go Association (hereafter, the AGA) has an official interest in three different categories of tournaments as defined below.

A. AGA-rated.

An AGA-rated tournament is one in which every player is an AGA member prior to the tournament, or else joins at the door. The results of all games in an AGA-rated tournament will be submitted to the AGA Ratings Coordinator for inclusion in the AGA ratings database.

B. AGA-sanctioned.

A sanctioned tournament is an AGA-rated tournament in which the Tournament Director (hereafter, TD) and organizing committee, N one exists, agree to abide by AGA tournament rules and procedures. The AGA commits itself in return to support the tournament as R is able, and, upon receipt of any member complaints, to examine the activities of the TD and/or organizing committee for infractions of said rules.

C. AGA-sponsored.

A sponsored tournament is an AGA-sanctioned tournament which the AGA itself through its officers and/or local representatives plans, organizes, carries out, and assumes any financial burden which may thereby result.

II. Rules of the Game.

The rules in use by the World Amateur Go Federation shall be the official rules of the game of go for tournament play unless otherwise superceded by tournament rules given below. AGA tournament rules may be used to conduct tournaments using variant games and/or rules, but such games will not be included in the national rating system.

III. Tournament Authorities: Their Duties and Responsibilities.

The AGA suggests that the following posts be the minimum of organizational positions for planning and running tournaments, and further, that a person hold no more than one of these positions during any given tournament. It encourages organizers to define as many other positions as they may need to do the job.

A. Tournament Chairperson.

(Hereafter, the Chair.) The Chair shall be responsible for overseeing the entire job of organizing the tournament in advance of its occurence, for making all decisions necessary to insure its success, and for carrying out all jobs that need to be done.

1. The Chair shall have complete authority to decide all physical and logistic questions that might arise on the day of the tournament itself.

2. There should be no appeal of the Chair's decisions on tournament day.

B. Tournament Director.

The TD shall be responsible for running the tournament system on tournament day and for seeing that the rules of tournament play are followed.

1. The TD shall:

a. Make and announce pairings, time controls, and schedule;

b. Maintain order;

c. Determine tournament winners;

d. Supervise time controls and overtime;

e. Generally carry out any other activities necessary to insure smooth play.

2. The TD may delegate as many of these duties to other individuals as is necessary to discharge his/her responsibifties.

3. The TD's decisions as to the method of running the system shall be final.

4. The TD shall send game results from the tournament to the AGA Ratings Coordinator and membership data and monies to the Membership Secretary in a timely manner.

C. Assistant Tournament Director.

(Hereafter, ATD.) The ATD shall assist the TD in whatever capacity the latter deems most useful, shall carry out such duties as the TD may assign, and have the same authority as the TD except as noted below.

IV. Appeals.

The following procedure protects both the players and the TD if each is dissatisfied with the other while resolving disputes that may arise.

A. Appeal of the ATD.

A player may appeal decisions of an ATD to the TD. Such an appeal must be made immediately after the ATD has rendered a decision.

B. Appeals Committee.

In general, decisions of the TD may not be appealed. However, the TD may at any time convene an Appeals Committee to decide protests made to him/her; the TD must then abide by the decision of the committee. The TD is strongly encouraged to employ an Appeals Committee if there is sufficient time during the event.

C. Composition of Appeals Committee.

An Appeals Committee shall consist of three to five experienced players with no connection to any of the parties to the dispute and with no stake in the outcome.

1. No TD or ATD may be a member of the committee.

2. The committee shall select one of its number as chairperson to supervise the proceedings.

3. It shall then obtain testimony from each of the parties to the dispute and any other witnesses that may be necessary, including the TD or ATD.

4. It shall deliberate, decide the question in accordance with tournament rules and the rules of the game, and the chairperson shall communicate its decision in writing to the TD, who shall enforce it.

D. Next round commencement.

The next round cannot commence until all appeals from the current round have been settled.

E. Player complaints.

Players may not appeal the decisions of a TD to the AGA. However, upon receipt of a player complaint against a TD or tournament organizer, the AGA shall investigate the matter and take action as under VIII.D.

V. Player Conduct and Etiquette.

Go is a game steeped in tradition, courtesy, and respect for one's opponent. During tournament play, a player shall generally conduct him/herself with a minimum of behaviour that is disruptive or irritating to other players.

A. Noise.

Talk is to be kept to a minimum in the playing area, as is all noise. Players who wish to replay a game should leave the playing area if at all possible; players who do not must speak softly enough not to disturb any other players still in games.

B. Kibitzing.

Onlookers are specially enjoined against making excessive noise. They are specifically forbidden to comment or suggest moves or corrections that the players might hear. The TD may request violators leave the playing area; repeated offenses are grounds for disqualifying the offender from further play in the tournament.

C. Smoking.

Smoking is subject to public law, the Chair, and one's opponent: only if all three allow it can one smoke in the playing area. If there is a separate playing area for smokers, and both players agree, a tournament game can be played there.

D. Eating and drinking.

A player may eat and/or drink in the playing area only so long as such behaviour does not disrupt any game in progress nor disturb any other player.

E. Problem resolution.

A player being disturbed by another player should attempt to resolve the problem with that player first. Only if this fails or the problem persists should he/she bring it to the attention of the ATD or TD.

F. Access.

A player may not prevent his/her opponent's access to, or sight of, the board, the stones on the board, the clock, and the prisoners under any circumstances.

G. Timeliness.

A player shall endeavor to be in attendance before the start of registration and of each scheduled round during a tournament, both to ease the burden of directing from the TD and as a mark of respect for his/her opponent.

H. Cheating.

Cheating is a deliberate infraction of the rules of go or of AGA Tournament Rules. As such, it is also a breach of etiquette under the general sense of this section, hence doubly enjoined. No player shall cheat. Every player shall bring evidence of cheating to the attention of the TD or ATD as soon as possible.

I. Atari.

A player is never required to tell an opponent that the latter is in atarl (check), nor is it discourteous to refrain from doing so.

VI. Administration of Play.

The AGA wishes to give local TD's wide latitude in running tournaments, but also to give players a reasonable expectation as to how a tournament shall be run and a guarantee of fair play; and itself, a reasonable basis for game inclusion in the ratings system. A TD should not override any provision of this section without careful consideration; he/she must announce to the players before play begins any section he/she does override. Sections italicized below are so crucial they can never be overridden without a waiver from the AGA.

A. Preparation for play.

1. Ratings and ranks.

a. A rating is a numerical expression of playing strength assigned to each AGA member by the Ratings Coordinator. it varies as a result of rated games submitted to the coordinator by TD's or AGA chapters.

b. A rank is a graded system of levels inherited from the Orient used to express the relative strengths of players. Most tournament systems use ranks as a basis for handicaps and pairings.

c. The TD can derive approximate ranks from ratings as follows:

(1) The grade is the first digit of a three digit number, the first two digits of a four digit number.

(2) A negative grade is a kyu rank; a positive grade is a dan rank.

d. A player must play at a rank at least equal to that of his/her official AGA rating but no lower. A player may, after consultation with the TD, elect to play at a higher rank. Unless otherwise directed by the TD, a player must play at the rank initially established for the entire tournament.

e. A player with no established AGA rating shall be assigned a provisional rank by the TD using his/her best judgement. The TD shall correct this provisional rank if subsequent play shows it seriously in error.

2. Handicaps. If used, handicaps shall consist of the number of stones difference in rank between the two players and laid out according to the rules of go.

a. Handicaps may never exceed nine stones.

b. If used in a Swiss-McMahon system, handicaps consist of the band difference between the two players. In lower bands encompassing several ranks, the TD may prefer to use traditional handicaps. Players beginning above the Bar should never receive handicaps.

c. Mathews Accelerated system handicaps are defined within the system itself.

3. Even game compensation and draws. White shall be compensated for the disadvantage of moving second in even games by receiving five points from black (commonly known as komi). Black may turn over five stones to while before play begins, or the score may be adjusted at game's end, as the TD may direct before the start of the first round. White shall win all draws in even or handicap games (often expressed as half-point komi).

4. Choosing colors In even games. They may be assigned:

a. By the TD by lot;

b. By a system which attempts to insure that all players use each color as equally as possible;

c. By the players themselves. Traditionally, one player picks up a handful of white stones and the other, either one or two black stones. If the parity of both guesses agrees, that player uses black; if not, vice versa. However, any other mutually agreeable method of lot will suffice.

5. Prepared materials and consultation.

a. A player shall not use, consuft, or bring to the playing surface any prepared game materials, move dictionaries, problem collections, etc., during the current round.

b. A player may not use a second set to mirror any part of the tournament game or to work out any positional variations arising from it.

c. A player may not go elsewhere inside or out of the playing area during the current round and contravene a. or b. of this section.

d. A player may not use a computer to contravene either a. or b. of this section. A player using a computer to record a game must be willing and ab/e to satisfy his/her opponent and the TD at any time that he/she is not so contravening this stricture.

e. A player may not consult with a third party, solicit advice, nor receive unsolicited advice on any game he/she has not finished.

6. If a clock is used, the player with the white stones shall choose upon which side of the board to place it. If the TD requires that the clock be on a particular side for administrative purposes, then that player shall choose at which side of the board to sit.

B. Play of the game.

1. A stone is played when it has been placed on an intersection of the board and is no longer touched by the player. Once played, a stone may not be moved or removed except as a capture or as part of the retraction of an illegal move, as provided below.

2. A stone must be played on its intended intersection with a minimum of adjustment and a minimum of time being touched by the player. Players are specifically enjoined to remember the spirit of V.F. when playing a stone.

3. A move is either:

a. The play of a stone and capture of any prisoners, or,


A pass of the move.

4. A move is complete when the clock is punched, or, in non-clc>cked games, when a player's hand releases the stone andlor removes any prisoners.

5. A player who accidentally disrupts the board position must re-establish it using his/her own time. If the position can not be re-established to the satisfaction of both players, the TD or ATD shall adjudicate.

6. A player may ask an opponent to clarify the ambiguous placement of a stone before making his/her next move.

7. Illegal moves include (but are not limited to): suicide, playing more than one stone at a time without an opponent's intervening move, immediately retaking a ko, removing prisoners before depriving them of their last liberty, etc.

8. Illegal moves must be protested before any other move is made. They must be retracted on the offender's time, and a warning issued. The TD may consider repeated offenses grounds for awarding a forfeit to the victim.

9. A player may resign at any time, and should do so by stating clearly, "I resign."

C. Adjournment of play.

In the event it becomes necessary to adjourn play (typically, to break a round for meals), the following procedures should be observed.

1. The TD shall announce an adjournment time before the current round begins play.

2. Play shall be adjourned only upon instruction of the TD or ATD, who shall warn players ten minutes before the time of adjournment.

3. Players may continue to move, but with the understanding that the player "on the move" at the actual adjournment time will have to seal his/her move when the TD or ATD comes by the game. (The TD is cautioned not to expect instant compliance when he/she comes to adjourn a game, nor to levy a penalty unless a player is unreasonably dilatory.)

a. He/she does not place a stone on the board, but writes the coordinates of the next move on a slip of paper, or marks its position on a full-board diagram.

b. The player must insure the move is unambiguously described.

c. The player then stops both clocks, places the paper with the move inside an envelope provided for the purpose by the TD or ATD, and seals it.

d. The TD or ATD writes the board number and clock time remaining on the face of the envelope; both players sign it across the flap.

e. The TD or ATD takes custody of the envelope.

4. Both players must leave the board until time for the resumption of play. The provisions of V.A.5. remain in force during the hiatus.

5. To resume play, in the presence of the TD or ATD:

a. Both players confirm the board number, the position of the stones on the board, and the clock setting;

b. The player who did not make the sealed move opens the envelope and verifies the placement of the stone;

c. Unless the move is impossible or illegal, it must be played as written and sealed; if impossible or illegal, the TD shall adjudicate as under D.3. and 4. below.

d. Once the player makes the move, his/her clock is started and normal play resumes.

D. Completion of play.

1. Both players should continue to aftemate play until all neutral points have been filled and all repairing moves made. A game is over when both players pass in succession. The last to play should stop both clocks.

2. Once both players pass, neither may take advantage of a "missed opportunity",

3. If the status of any stone(s) is(are) disputed, the TD or ATD shall either:

a. Directly adjudicate the position;

b. Require the play of particular stones;

c. Resume regular play under time control. If clocks have been reset, both players shall be placed in overtime, if overtime is used.

4. In settling disputes under section 3. above, the TD or ATD shall keep the following points in mind:

a. The players themselves shall explain the issues;

b. As much as possible the dispute should be settled by actual play;

c. Neither player should gain from opportunities not noticed during actual play;

5. Both players must report the game result to the TD and fill out any reporting forms he/she may require.

E. Timekeeping.

1. The minimum time limits that the AGA accepts for games in AGA-rated tournaments is 30 minutes per player per round of basic time control plus no more than the equivalent of 20 moves in five minutes per overtime control (often called byo-yomi), and 45 minutes per player per round in games with no overtime control. The AGA does not absolutely require the use of clocks during tournament play, but very strongly encourages it.

2. The TD shall explain time allowances, overtime method (if any), and operation of the clocks (as needed) before commencement of play in the first round. It is strongly suggested that the TD at least summarize this explanation before commencing each round.

3. The TD may start any round with at least ten minutes notice, but no earlier than any previously announced time.

4. Either player may set the initial time allowance on the clock. It is, however, each player's duly to assure him/herself that the clock is correctly set and that he/she understands its working.

a. A player doubtful of clock setting or working must consult the TD or ATD before play begins.

b. Failure to consult the TD or ATD as above leaves a player liable for any timekeeping errors that may occur, except those attributable to clock malfunction during the course of play.

5. Games will start at the time designated by the TD. Absent players' clocks will be started by the TD. If both players are absent, upon the return of either, time remaining in the round will be split equally between them, and the clock started. If clocks are not used, an absent player shall forfeit if more than thirty minutes elapse after the announced start of play.

6. The second player will start the clock for the first player prior to the first move.

7. A player must "punch the clock" with the same hand that plays the stone.

8. Each player is responsible for managing his/her own time. Failure to punch the clock results in time lost; it cannot subsequently be restored.

9. A player who suspects a clock has malfunctioned must notify the TD or ATD at once, and not continue play until the TD or ATD directs. A player may not escape the consequences of running out of time by claiming a clock malfunction earlier in the round which he/she never brought to the TD's attention.

1 0. Players may stop both clocks only under the following circumstances:

a. Scheduled adjournment;

b. At the direction of the TD/ATD;

c. Removal of more than one captured stone;

d. Exchange of prisoners;

e. Game's end;

f. To make a protest to the TD/ATD.

11. If the game is not over when a player has used all his/her allotted tfme, Mat player must either resign or go into overtime (if overtime is a part of the announced tfme control).

12. Either the TD, ATD, or a monitor appointed for the purpose should explain conditions of overtime play to the players involved. And although some systems allow the players to conduct overtime themselves, it is preferable for the TD, ATD, or the monitor to do so.

13. Normally a player is responsible for claiming to the TD that an opponent has passed a time control. However, the TD may delegate that responsibility to a monitor.

a. In the Canadian overtime system (see below), the monitor is always responsible for resetting clocks and counting out stones when a player has met a time control.

b. The TD may require monitors to claim forfeits when players miss an overtime control.

c. The TD may also require monitors to claim that a player has missed a basic time control.

d. The TD must announce what role monitors will play in advance of the first round.

14. Overtime play may be conducted in one of three ways:

a. "Second counting." A player must make each move within a fixed number of seconds. Failure to complete a move in time is punished as under 11. Monitors implicitly have powers as under 13.b.

b. Japanese.

(1) A given number of overtime periods of a given length (typically, ten periods of 20-30 seconds) are allotted to the player at that point of basic time equal to the sum of the overtime periods.

(2) If a player completes a move in less than the time of one period, no time elapses.

(3) Whenever a player uses a period's worth of time, the number of periods available is reduced by one.

(4) Failure to complete a move before the expiration of the last overtime period is punished as under 11.

(5) The "reading seconds" provision of the Ing chess/go clock is an acceptable way to carry out this method of overtime.

(6) Monitors implicitly have powers as under 13.b. and c.

c. Canadian.

(1) A given number of stones is counted out, the clock reset to a given number of minutes, and the player's stone container closed and removed.

(2) When these stones have been played, a new set is counted out and the clock reset. Continue ad inf.

(3) Failure to play all the stones counted out in the time provided is punished as under 11.

(4) Monitors implicitly have powers as under 13.a. and may have the powers of b. and c. also.

F. Tiebreaking procedures. Most tournament systems leave two or more players tied in placement by the end of the tournament. The procedures published by the AGA under the title Resolving Ties [included below] are recommended for that purpose.

1. The TD must announce what tie-breaking procedures he/she is going to use before first round play begins.

2. If cash prizes are being awarded, ties are broken only to place the victors. The actual cash prizes given to the places tied are summed and divided among all the players tied, regardless of what tiebreaking procedure is adopted.

VII. Use of Computers.

Throughout this document, the word computer encompasses both the physical device and the electronically encoded instructions that run upon it. The AGA recognizes three ways computers may be used during tournaments. Computer use must never be allowed to disrupt tournament activity, but no further restrictions are placed on computer use, except as noted below.

A. TD use.

The TD may always use computers to register entrants, pair them, and report their game results to the AGA.

B. Player use.

Players may use computers to record their tournament games and those of other players, subject to VI.A.5.d.

C. Computer entry.

Computers may enter tournaments under certain conditions:

1. Only the inventor of the hardware/program or his/her designated agent may enter the computer (hereafter, either inventor or agent are called the operator.);

2. The computer must correctly handle any move legal for it or its opponent to make and must not make any illegal moves;

3. Both computer and operator must be AGA members;

4. The operator must play computer moves on a regular board and "punch the clock" for the computer;

5. The operator may enter or adjust playing parameters before a round begins, but not during a round;

6. The computer's clock must be left ticking if the operator must fix hardware or software problems.

7. The operator may offer to resign on the computer's behalf.

D. Classes of computer participation.

There shall be three types of tournament with respect to participation by computer programs.

1. Humans only -- no computer programs may compete. This fact must appear clearly on all pre-tournament announcements.

2. Human right to refuse computer program as opponent.

a. The right to refuse to compete against a computer program must be exercised globally, at the time of registration.

b. The player may play the program if the alternative is a bye. However, in this case the computer is a competitor, and both will be scored accordingly.

3. Open - no right to refuse any opponent.

a. Computer programs are entered as any other player, and have the same rights as any other plaer. Such rights will be asserted and exercised by the owner of the program.

b. Tournament announcements must clearly state the conditions.

VIll. Penalties.

The AGA makes no attempt to set out specific penalties for tournament faults, as the number of potential situations is too great. Instead, it offers the following:

A. Objectives.

The foremost objective of a penalty is to restore the status quo ante the infraction.

B. Forfeits.

An infraction is not in itself grounds for awarding a forfeit unless the infraction is repeated, deliberate, the status quo ante cannot be restored, or the offender gives evidence of not intending to abide by tournament rules or the rules of go. A forfeit counts as a victory for the opponent of the player who forfeits, and is entered into the rating system as such.

C. Lesser penalties.

TD's are cautioned not to attempt to levy lesser penalties that arbitrarily adjust the game score or clocks beyond what is necessary to restore the situation; ad hoc adjustments of territory and/or time are difficult to justify.

D. TD infractions.

If the investigation of a player complaint reveals that the TD has violated tournament rules, the AGA shall levy any penalties with A. in mind and with the object not only of correcting any injustice to players, but of guiding the TD not to make similar mistakes in the future.

Resolving Ties

Most tournament systems are prone to ties if one player does not go undefeated. As TD, you should have the order of precedence of tiebreakers firmly in mind before play begins; you should announce the tiebreakers you will use while explaining tournament rules. You need not go into detail as to how a tiebreak works unless asked; there is, perhaps, good reason not to, so as to avoid influencing the play of the tournament.

When you do have a tie to break, you must be and appear to be absolutely impartial. You must not consider factors not built into the tiebreaking system, such as the strength of the players involved, club affiliation, etc.; it would be wiser to flip a coin instead. As near as possible, you want dissatisfied players to cast any blame on the mechanism, not the person operating it.

A word about prizes: remember that monetary prizes should be evenly split among those players tied; tiebreaking here is simply resolving the honor of having won a particular place. Also, it is useful to have a small stock of second place or nominal prizes to help assuage the feelings of tiebreak losers. All tiebreak systems have weaknesses; it is fair to compensate for them as best you can.

Two-Player Tiebreak Procedures

The following procedures from 2.-4. use the maximum amount of data from the event, then define increasingly smaller subsets of that data in order to break a tie (Method 1., of course, attempts to gather more data.). Some directors attempt to compensate for the inherent weaknesses of tiebreaking systems by using both 2. and 3. together. They use both simultaneously; only if the player with the higher SOS score also has the higher SODOS score is he/she the winner. Often this will be the case; the TD can then be completely satisfied that the more worthy player has been annointed.

1. When time permits and both players agree, a playoff round is the most exciting and generally acceptable way to break a tie. However, time rarely permits.

2. If time or players do not permit, use Sum of Opponents'Scores (SOS, also, Solkoff system). Add together the scores of all the opponents of each player in turn. The player with the higher score has clearly met the strongest performing opposition, therefore is more deserving of victory. The problem is that a chance match with a strong player guarantees one an advantage in the tiebreak.

3. If SOS scores are equal, then use Sum of Defeated Opponents' Scores (SODOS, also, Sonnenborn-Berger system). Add together the scores in turn of all the opponents that each player defeated. The player with the higher score has defeated the strongest performing opposition, therefore is more deserving of victory. The problem is that one player may be matched against a mediocre opponent that the other could have easily beaten, but by chance, was matched with a very weak one instead, thus putting him/her at a disadvantage.

4. If SOS and SODOS are equal, use the result of head-to-head competition, if any. Note that SOS and SODOS have already included this criterion.

5. Chance. There probably is no one best player if both still are tied at this point. Traditionally, players draw stones to see who has won, but any other method, e.g., coin flip, is acceptable.

Multi-Player Tiebreak Procedures

1. Do not use a playoff round if more than two are tied; you may run into the "A beats B, B beats C, C beats A" transitivity problem.

2. Otherwise, use the two-player procedures in order, at each step dropping out any players not still tied with the strongest tiebreaking scores. When you have reduced the number in contention to two, you may consider a playoff between them.

3. If three or more are still tied when considering the result of head-to-head competition, you may have the problem mentioned in 1. Do not pick any player as the winner if he/she lost to anyone else tied with him/her in head-to-head competition.

Alternate Tiebreak Methods

TDs may wish to experiment with some of the following tiebreakers in addition to, or in place of, the ones given above.

1. Median or Harkness score. Same as SOS except in a tournament of eight or fewer rounds, leave out the strongest and the weakest opponent; in one of more than eight rounds, leave out the two strongest and weakest opponents. This method attempts to remove chance inequities in tournament pairings from the tiebreak scores. The interested TD is referred to Harkness's Official Chess Handbook for a detailed argument. Do not attempt to use this method in tournaments of less than five rounds, or you will have almost no data with which to work!

2. Score Against Common Opponents (SACO). Professional sports sometimes uses this method; it was also used in the first Fujitsu Qualifiers Tournament in New Jersey, 1988. As the name implies, compare each player's record against opponents that both played; the one with the better record is the winner. As a practical matter, you probably need a five round or better tournament, with a small section, for there to be common opponents.

3. Cumulative score. Add each player's score in each succeeding round to his/her score in the previous round; the one with the higher score wins. In effect, a late-round loss is superior to an early round loss, presumably because of stiffer competition.

The Moves Behind the Rules:
AGA Toumement Rules Commentary

The AGA has no flxed, formal set of tournament rules in place; instead, it has customs, common practices, habits, a few decisions voted upon in national meetings, and ad hoc procedures adopted at each of its Go Congresses. When tournaments were sparsely attended and relatively infrequent, prize funds relatively limited, and activity relatively novel, this patchwork sufficed. But no longer. Tournament entrants have a right to the understanding that AGA tournaments be played by a common set of rules, clearly spelled out in advance, that protect the rights of players, tournament organizers, and the AGA Itself. if we do not codify the unwritten laws of tournament play, we risk being victimized by bitter squabbling at some future, important tournament.

However, codifying what we all think we understand by the phrase "tournament rules" can lead one down some strange and unforeseen byways! I have been interested in the issue since the early '80s; I have been actively thinking about the questions since my first feeble attempt for the First Go Congress in 1985. The result of my thinking is the proposed AGA Tournament Rules. But though rules (and laws) embody certain philosophies, they may not always directly express them. They stand mute on the decisions and questions and practices that underlie them. This commentary is an attempt to lay bare the considerations that led me to formulate the rules in the way that I have and to throw into relief the philosophies behind the rules. Discussion of any set of tournament rules is apt to prove intense. I trust that the commentary will at least streamline the process by answering in advance questions interested parties may have.

The commentary procedes point by point through the rules document. Numbers and letters refer always to the rule in question; otherwise, no attempt has been made to repeat the language of the rules. I expect the reader to have a copy of AGA Tournament Rules in his/her possession in order to follow the discussion below.


I: At the moment, the only tournament type defined is the AGA-rated tournament. The AGA also sponsors several tournaments a year (notably, the Go Congresses). By adopting formal tournament rules, it becomes feasible to add a new category, sanctioned tournaments, as well as "legalizing" the other two categories. It is desirable to do so for several reasons: 1) we are receiving more questions (and outright complaints) about the conduct of tournament directors, 2) it will probably take some time for the use of formal rules to filter through the go playing community. It is better to encourage the use of rules than to force it; by retaining the category of AGA-rated while pushing the category of AGA-sanctioned, we can do so. Otherwise, we might wind up forcing TD's to choose between running sanctioned tournaments and non-AGA tournaments; their choices might not be to our liking! I expect this to be an interim gesture--wfthin five or six years, probably all tournaments will be either sanctioned or sponsored.

II: This is a statement of prevailing practice; cf. the first five Go congresses. If and when we produce a set of game rules on our own, we can amend this section. The business about variant games is simply a way to allow AGA rules to govern lightning, 9x9, 13xl3 tournaments, etc., without requiring their incorporation into the ratings system.

III: An attempt to codify the increasingly common practice of separating the job of organizing a tournament from that of running it. The Chair and the TD have different constituencies, and conflicts between them may arise. The TD must protect players from the (relatively) parochial outlook of the organizers. The Chair must assure that the site is used wholely in accordance with law and any restrictions the site owners have placed on it. For example, the TD does not have the right to establish a smoking area in a building where smoking is not allowed at all, but does have the right to request that a food table be moved away from the playing area because it promotes too much noise.

Again, the Chair may require that the site be vacated by 6 PM, but not that the actual timekeeping procedures be changed in midstream; it is the TD's job to decide how to do that. The line between these two positions is a delicate one; normally, the two should work closely together to avoid conflicts and assure a smoothly running tournament.


A: Current practice.

B-C: Not used often enough to be considered current practice, but envisioned by many people as a way to resolve intractable arguments with players. Some players and TD's simply don't get along; this sidesteps personalities (hence C.I.). An attempt to codify the vague and theoretical.

D: A logical extension of this section; an appeal that affected a game result would probably change next round pairings.

E: Final protection for dissatisfied players. Clearly, the AGA can't change a game result after the fact, and should not lead players to believe it will. However, it must take some kind of action against TD's that violate tournament rules (Perhaps we should consider appeals from frustrated TD's against players who deliberately break the rules, as well!).

V. The section is generally the codification of long-standing practice. The thrust of it throughout is do nothing that disturbs other players, in addition to banning specific behaviours.

E: Softens the rigor of the TD forcing players to behave.

I: This one is for the benefit of newcomers and beginners. Those who have played awhile rarely say "atari," and I have heard beginners mistakenly complain that opponents are obliged to do so.

VI: The very heart of the rules. Our fundamental problem is to give TD's freedom, but still have all of us playing with the same rulebook, and insure that our rated games have a common basis for inclusion in the ratings system. Hence the requirement to announce all variations beforehand; also, the provision that some matters simply aren't up to the TD.

A.1: Current standards. Rating and rank must be defined at length because long-standing practice expressed in 1.d. We can give waivers to permit something like Paul Mathews's Accelerated pairing system, which uses ratings instead of ranks. It is probably premature to switch to ratings for all tournament pairings. 2-5: All standard. Paul provides for reverse komi in his system, but again, this is experimental. 5d: The "Phil Straus" rule. I have actually heard disgruntled players complain that Phil's use of his Mac to record games is cheating, in the sense that he could play out variations, recall joseki, etc. (less scrupulous players might try to do just that)! This protects him and others. 6: Necessary so that the TD and monitors can actually see the clock instead of it facing a wall or something.

B.1-4: Current practice. 5-6: An extension of current practice, borrowed from chess. 7: Suicide has been left to the TD's discretion to allow for the adoption of new, Chinese rules. Super-ko has not been formally adopted by WAGC, so has been left out for now. 9: Added to avoid end-of-game ambiguity with players who can't quite bring themselves to actually resign and hope to be spared the necessity!

C: Generally, codification and necessary extensions of current (if mostly hypothetical) practice, partly borrowed from chess. I give the procedure in great detail because an ambiguity here could lead to complicated problems of fairness, difficult for the TD to resolve on the fly. Why borrow trouble? Of course, given the current state of tournament go, it is even better to avoid adjournment altogether. 2-3: it will always be possible for unscrupulous players to practice gamesmanship at the adjournament point. The ten minute warning helps protect the innocent from failing into a kind of artificial byo-yomi. The point of the rule is to prevent someone from delaying endlessly over where to make that play-which would defeat the purpose of adjourning-while affording the player "byo-yomi" protection. 4: A necessary reminder. 5.b-c: The true test of an ambiguous move is whether your opponent can play it as you intended.

D: This section is virtually standard by now, but still raises some unresolved questions, as shown by the 5th Go Congress rules discussions. Players will probably raise a knotty point or two in any end-of-game definition we devise. Hence the emphasis on how to resolve such points-D.2. and D.4.b. embody the spirit of the section. D.5: Added to avoid ambiguity, insure someone does not falsely claim a win, and corform to the new-style game report sheets now in common use.

E: Timekeeping is necessarily complex. Possibly, these procedures should be placed in a separate annex. However, since a full set of rules would have to include the annex, not much would be gained. E.l: The only current rule I am aware of concerning limits is 30 minutes/player for rated games. Some overtime limits should be added to this; also, limits must be established for games with no overtime period. Since most players are unused to clock play, a wider limit for "sudden death" games seems reasonable; Kerwin mentions that the time limit in Japanese amateur tournaments is 45 minutes, no byo-yomi. 2: Mandated by the Ing clocks, but a very good idea in any case for the next few years, until players understand clock play. 4: Fundamental. No TD can possibly set every clock, or work it for every player. 5-8: Current practice; 5. is crucial. 9: Also crucial. You don't want to punish a player for running out of time, but it isn't up to a player to decide how to correct a balky clock; that is the TD's job. 10: Current practice, also, some borrowings from chess. 10.c: Some players have actually tried to force an opponent to capture many stones in the belief that captures are made with the clock ticking--a bit of gamesmanship we don't want to encourage. 13: An open point; no current consensus exists on monitor powers. At the 5th Go Congress, two 6 dan players let each other pass the normal time control by over thirty minutes without claiming overtime against the opponent, thus seriously delaying the completion of the U.S. Championships. If one uses monitors at all, it seems reasonable to allow them to check the time control points, particularly as players may not be used to doing so. It is artificial to insist that the player must keep track of the opponent's flag when an official observer is on hand. On the other hand, suppose a monitor handles four games at once (also happened at the 5th Congress)? That monitor will do less than a fair job of handling forfeits. So the rule is intended to move TD's to decide the issue in advance and adhere to a clear and consistent policy throughout. Eventually, a consensus will emerge. One important point: whatever a monitor does, a player never forfeits the right to call time on an opponent. 14: The Canadian system is the most common, but not the only way to conduct overtime.

F: I have put tie-breaking procedures in a separate annex because they do not seem quite as germane as the rest of the rules sections and because they are difficult to discuss in the outline format of the rules. 2: From chess. if money is involved, the weaknesses of the tiebreak are too serious to award it to one player; split the money and use tiebreaks to determine final places for the record, only.

VIl: I take care to encompass any special go-playing hardware that might be developed in coming years; the best chess programs are actually special purpose hardware, after all.

B: The "Phil Straus rule" redux.

C: Current practice in go and chess. We should probably insist on 2. and monitor it more closely than we have-can you imagine some weak kyu player suffering through a game with a program that can't handle ko? 5-7: borrowed from chess.

D: A rarity-rules that have actually been adopted in full committee (at the 5th Congress). Remember always that unless otherwise noted in pretournament publicity, a tournament is automatically class B.

VIII: Again, the thrust of penalties is to correct, not to punish. Without a big AGA "bureaucracy," there is no way to set up a penalty schedule for every tournament situation that might arise; it would not be desirable to do so even if we could. This belongs to the individual TD.

C: In line with the above, it is impossible to decide that some infraction is worth, say, seven points on the board, or fifteen minutes on the clock. A TD who attempted to do so would likely be accused of arbitrary and unfair behaviour. There is absolutely no justification for this within the current rules of the game or by current practice.