By all appearances, it's just two players taking turns laying stones on a 19×19 (or smaller) grid of intersections. But once its basic rules are understood, Go shows its staggering depth. One can see why many people say it's one of the most elegant brain-burning abstract games in history, with players trying to claim territory by walling off sections of the board and surrounding each other's stones. The game doesn't end until the board fills up, or, more often, when both players agree to end it, at which time whoever controls the most territory wins.
The earliest mention of Go (圍棋 (wéi qí)- "surrounding game") appears in the "Analects" of Confucius (551-479 BC), while the earliest physical evidence is a 17×17 Go board discovered in 1952 in a tomb of the former Han dynasty (206 BC- 9 AD). There is a tangle of conflicting popular and scholarly anecdotes attributing its invention to two Chinese emperors, an imperial vassal and court astrologers. One story has it that Go was invented by the legendary Emperor Yao (ruled 2357-2256 BC) as an amusement for his idiot son. A second claims that the Emperor Shun (ruled 2255-2205 BC) created the game in hopes of improving his weak-minded son's mental prowess. A third says the person named Wu, a vassal of the Emperor Jie (ruled 1818-1766 BC), invented Go (as well as games of cards). Finally, a fourth story suggests that Go was developed by court astrologers during the Zhou dynasty (1045-255 BC).
A Go set, consisting of a very general-purpose grid and colored stones, can also be used to play a variety of other abstract strategy games, such as Connect6, Go-Moku, Pente, and others.
This is a list of rules I compiled for Go, Irensei, Pente w/variants, Breakthrough, and Epaminondas. All of them can be played with only the components needed for Go.
The file is meant to be printed out and stored with the board, giving you a few more options to get it to the table.
A PDF scan of the booklet included with General Sportcraft's 1959 "Orient" edition of Go, including variations based on difficulty and some history of the traditional game. The copyright to this booklet has expired, so it is uploaded here for preservation.
I made this version of Go using the SmartNotebook standard software for use on Smartboards (which are increasingly common in school classrooms.) It is compatible with SmartNotebook Version 10 and higher. A great game teaching tool for school gaming clubs, etc.
These are all of the files required to play Go using EveryGame (available from the App Store for the Apple iPad and iPhone). Simply unzip the archive and copy the individual files onto your iPad to play, or edit them first to create your own modified version.