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Subject: I Just Cant Tell Who Won/is Winning rss

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Justin Horner
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I really want to like and play Go, but, for me, a big stumbling block is knowing when a game is won. Ive played probably a dozen or so games on my little Go app and I just cant really ever tell when the game is over (the computer Passes and then I assume it's over). For me, i really need to know what the winning conditions are for a game and I definitely need to know when a game is over!

Are there any resources to help with this? I know there are different scoring systems, but is there just something simple that can help me figure this out?
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Brian Train
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Try a different Go app.

Many apps have a scoring/territory display option so you can see during play how many dead stones there are, and how many points belong to Black or White, or are still up for grabs... at least, according to the computer.
This will help you to make some better moves, or at least tell you when to quit.

Brian

[ETA - if you don't have a human opponent, who as suggested below would be much more helpful to you]
 
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Russ Williams
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There are lots of past threads by beginners with this question about how to know when the game is over; there are lots of replies with discussion and recommended reading; browse through the Rules forum and you'll find lots of useful advice:

https://boardgamegeek.com/forum/2528/go/rules
 
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Virre Linwendil Annergård
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Also play people, the most common apps are not strong in seeing the end of a game (or scoreing apprently), and playing AIs is generally discouraged at the early stages by most people I seen
 
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Dave Eisen
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You might also consider playing by Chinese rules rather than Japanese rules if that's an option. The rule sets are very close to identical with the primary difference being how scoring is done and even this difference is very very minor while you're still learning the game. Many players prefer Japanese rules, but they do leave questions about when the game has ended and it costs you points if you misjudge this. With Chinese rules, if you keep playing after the game is "over", you aren't costing yourself anything so go knock yourself out.
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Jim Cote
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There's a BGG Group here: https://online-go.com/group/47

Although it's not very active.
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Dave Dyer
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It's really pretty simple at the conceptual level.

If you don't see any useful moves to make, pass.
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Bryan Thunkd
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jhorner wrote:
Are there any resources to help with this? I know there are different scoring systems, but is there just something simple that can help me figure this out?
As a beginner you might want to just play it out until you realize that there are no longer any good moves. If you're playing an app that uses Japanese scoring then every move that you make where your opponent passes will cost you a point (which isn't true in Chinese scoring) but it will probably help you understand how to figure out the end better.

Usually the game continues until there's no more point to playing stones. The confusing part to new players is understanding when you don't need to play stones anymore. There's a couple of situations that new players usually don't understand.

1) When your territory is safe - You've surrounded an area, and there's still space inside it, but the AI passes. What gives? The AI has probably already seen that there's no way for it to reasonably live inside your territory. If they played inside your area you could respond in a way that it couldn't live. So as it knows that stone would be lost, it doesn't play the move. And you don't need to play a move to defend your territory in this situation. Although this determination can be very hard to make as a new player because with just a little more space there, the AI might very well be able to invade and live.

2) When a group is dead - The AI passes, but you've got a chunk of stones in a fight with them and don't understand why it passed. Usually this means that it's already made it impossible for you to live by taking away the possibility of you creating two eyes. You could keep playing, but since you'll never make two eyes it can always come back and kill you. It's just assuming you both see that already. The best way to learn this is to try and play it out and make the group live. When you force the AI to kill you, you'll see why you couldn't have lived.

Hope that helps a bit.
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ddyer wrote:
It's really pretty simple at the conceptual level.

If you don't see any useful moves to make, pass.
Simple at the conceptual level, but very difficult in practice. I've taught go to a dozen or so different people, and knowing when the game is over is always the hardest part. I generally find that using Chinese rules makes it easier. I've tried teaching with double button rules once, and that also made it a lot easier to know when the game is over; I'll try it more in the future.
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jhorner wrote:
I really want to like and play Go, but, for me, a big stumbling block is knowing when a game is won. Ive played probably a dozen or so games on my little Go app and I just cant really ever tell when the game is over (the computer Passes and then I assume it's over). For me, i really need to know what the winning conditions are for a game and I definitely need to know when a game is over!

Are there any resources to help with this? I know there are different scoring systems, but is there just something simple that can help me figure this out?


Hi Justin,

As others pointed out, there is no simple way to determine the ending until stones can still be played and it is a bit subjective, but when the computer passes it is telling you it does not see anything more IT can do, but that does not mean the game is over yet as you may have other opportunities.

On your turn look at the board and examine each territory that the computer would score and see if it is really safe or potentially you could attack it to make it yours or just to reduce it. Of course if you do play then the computer will most likely respond and the game continues, or you can erode the territories until there is nothing further to be done. Just be careful that you do not spoil anything that is already safe and do not play stones in already secured territories as that will simply mean more points for your opponent.

The easiest way to think of this is if your are not sure then just stop and pass as well to end the game. Hope this helps.

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David desJardins
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dkeisen wrote:
You might also consider playing by Chinese rules rather than Japanese rules if that's an option.


+1 to this. If you find Japanese rules frustrating and confusing and somewhat arbitrary (I do), you'll find the Chinese rules much clearer, and almost always equivalent.
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Some Guy
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You really need to be able to see when a group is "Alive" i.e. the group has two eyes or is too large to invade but too small to have eyes. I realize how unhelpful that probably sounds at your level.

Essentially the game will come to a point where you notice that all your shapes, groups, and territory is complete. You extend to the edge of the board and you feel like there is nothing the other player can do to kill your stuff. You will also notice the other player is in the same situation. That is when you can agree to end the game.

As far as telling the exact score in the middle of a game, that is actually very difficult. You will hear pro players say "Black has around 20 points in the top left" Even they are guessing. A very good guess, but still a guess. It will need to be played out all the way to see exactly what the score ends up.


So a few notes on scoring from the above photo.
--The stones at E14, H13, D4, and the group of stones at P2 are all dead all will removed as captures when scored.
-- T1, J16 and S2 and neutral points. No one will get points for them.
-- The large, enclosed white group on the right side is alive (S6 group) The "Four in a row" shape is alive.
--Black could play a stone at O4 to capture the group but in Japanese scoring it's a lose of one point.
--You might what to try and save the black stone at D4 but you will find there isn't really enough room to make two eyes, so it is dead.

If you look at this game you will see there is nothing left to do. Dead stones cannot be saved, and you cannot invade to reduce territories, so there is no point in playing further.
I hope this helped.
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Dave Dyer
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Being correct in your a acessment takes a long time, but it doesn't
matter if you're wrong, especially at the beginner level.
 
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Daniel Piovezan
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DaviddesJ wrote:
dkeisen wrote:
You might also consider playing by Chinese rules rather than Japanese rules if that's an option.


+1 to this. If you find Japanese rules frustrating and confusing and somewhat arbitrary (I do), you'll find the Chinese rules much clearer, and almost always equivalent.


Agreed. I enjoy the "unnecessary defensive moves cost you a point" aspect, but everything else is so confusing. I play by BGA rules because that was the first clear ruleset I found. It seems to be as clean as Chinese rules, but you can count territory.
 
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Russ Williams
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About knowing when the game is over:

Concretely, look at each contiguous connected set of vacant points on the board. If it touches only one color of surrounding stones, then it is territory for that player. If it touches more than one color of surrounding stones, then it is unsettled territory and the game is not yet over, and you can keep playing in that neutral/unsettled region until the 2 colors of stones have occupied all that unsettled area.

You may notice that in online games experienced players pass while there are still neutral points between their stones (simply to save a bit of time, when they see that it won't affect the final score). But as a beginner, there's no need to worry about that, and it won't hurt you to play on such a neutral point instead of passing.
 
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David desJardins
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russ wrote:
Concretely, look at each contiguous connected set of vacant points on the board. If it touches only one color of surrounding stones, then it is territory for that player. If it touches more than one color of surrounding stones, then it is unsettled territory and the game is not yet over, and you can keep playing in that neutral/unsettled region until the 2 colors of stones have occupied all that unsettled area.


That's not the hard part about knowing when the game is over! It's knowing which groups are alive and which ones are dead.
 
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Russ Williams
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DaviddesJ wrote:
russ wrote:
Concretely, look at each contiguous connected set of vacant points on the board. If it touches only one color of surrounding stones, then it is territory for that player. If it touches more than one color of surrounding stones, then it is unsettled territory and the game is not yet over, and you can keep playing in that neutral/unsettled region until the 2 colors of stones have occupied all that unsettled area.


That's not the hard part about knowing when the game is over! It's knowing which groups are alive and which ones are dead.

Well, that's a somewhat different question from knowing when the game is over.

But the usual (I think good) advice for newbies in terms of life and death status is: if either of you is in any doubt, simply keep playing. Finally the group will be removed (if it's dead) or will clearly be uncapturable (if it has multiple distinct internal spaces = eyes).
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David desJardins
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russ wrote:
Well, that's a somewhat different question from knowing when the game is over.


I don't understand why you say that. It's exactly the question. Suppose I believe your group is alive, and you believe your group is dead. Then the game may not be over, even though both of us think it is.

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But the usual (I think good) advice for newbies in terms of life and death status is: if either of you is in any doubt, simply keep playing.


That's wrong advice, under Japanese scoring, because if your group is already alive, and you play inside it to make it stronger, that costs you points. And if I play inside of it to try to kill it, and you don't have to respond to keep it alive, that costs me points.

That's the whole reason why Chinese scoring is better for people learning the game. Under Chinese scoring, you can just do what you say---trying to kill a group that you can't actually kill doesn't cost you anything.
 
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James Ludlow
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DaviddesJ wrote:
russ wrote:
Well, that's a somewhat different question from knowing when the game is over.


I don't understand why you say that. It's exactly the question. Suppose I believe your group is alive, and you believe your group is dead. Then the game may not be over, even though both of us think it is.


Agreed. Knowing when to quit almost always comes down to a life-and-death question.

Quote:
Quote:
But the usual (I think good) advice for newbies in terms of life and death status is: if either of you is in any doubt, simply keep playing.


That's wrong advice, under Japanese scoring, because if your group is already alive, and you play inside it to make it stronger, that costs you points. And if I play inside of it to try to kill it, and you don't have to respond to keep it alive, that costs me points.


Beginners who are worried about winning are doing it wrong. They are far better off learning through mistakes than trying to optimize the score for a game they barely understand.

Japanese or Chinese are both fine to learn with. A 1-point mistake inside your already living group is going to be far from the most costly error made.

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David desJardins
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jdludlow wrote:
Japanese or Chinese are both fine to learn with. A 1-point mistake inside your already living group is going to be far from the most costly error made.


Of course. But it's still a distraction. If someone asks you, is the game over, and you say, part of the rules are that you have to figure that out and if it is you should pass but if it's not then you should make this play, and if you get it wrong you're going to be penalized one point, then they are going to think way more about that one point than it's worth. Better to have them focused on more important matters by taking away such penalties.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
russ wrote:
Well, that's a somewhat different question from knowing when the game is over.


I don't understand why you say that. It's exactly the question. Suppose I believe your group is alive, and you believe your group is dead. Then the game may not be over, even though both of us think it is.

If you both agree on the life and death status of a group, then there's no problem. (You might both be wrong, but that doesn't really matter. If you both agree, then that settles it for scoring purposes.)

But yes, I agree you are right that if you are unsure if a group is alive, that could be a reason you're not sure the game is over.

I was thinking of the other main common reason I've seen, namely that there is unsettled space between the 2 players' stones / frontiers.

So "group alive?" and "game over?" are not "exactly the same question", because unsettled space is another common reason for being unsure about "game over?" It's more like "group alive?" and "unsettled neutral space?" can both cause uncertainty about "game over?"

Note that for the game to be "properly" over, not only does the life/death status of groups need to be settled, but the unsettled territory between the groups also needs to be settled: points can be gained/lost during that as well.

And once there is no unsettled territory between groups, it's typically reasonable for both players to pass and consider the game over. If they then disagree about whether some group is alive, they can resume playing there to resolve it.
Quote:
Quote:
But the usual (I think good) advice for newbies in terms of life and death status is: if either of you is in any doubt, simply keep playing.


That's wrong advice, under Japanese scoring, because if your group is already alive, and you play inside it to make it stronger, that costs you points. And if I play inside of it to try to kill it, and you don't have to respond to keep it alive, that costs me points.

Agreed, but Chinese had been recommended already upthread, so I assumed that context. (And indeed for beginners the possible 1 point discrepancy is rarely going to matter anyway.) (Players could also play with US rules - Japanese-style territory counting but also giving a stone when they pass, if they are worried about that point making a difference.)
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Bryan Thunkd
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DaviddesJ wrote:
jdludlow wrote:
Japanese or Chinese are both fine to learn with. A 1-point mistake inside your already living group is going to be far from the most costly error made.


Of course. But it's still a distraction. If someone asks you, is the game over, and you say, part of the rules are that you have to figure that out and if it is you should pass but if it's not then you should make this play, and if you get it wrong you're going to be penalized one point, then they are going to think way more about that one point than it's worth. Better to have them focused on more important matters by taking away such penalties.
I agree with you in principle... but most Americans I've played with use Japanese scoring. A novice will usually score the game however the person they're playing does. So using Chinese may not be an option depending on who they're playing with.

And most novices are going to make mistakes far bigger than a single point. Until they get a feel for when the game is over it's probably okay for them to play an extra stone and lose a point. It's certainly better than forgoing the stone and having a large group die.
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David desJardins
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Thunkd wrote:
And most novices are going to make mistakes far bigger than a single point. Until they get a feel for when the game is over it's probably okay for them to play an extra stone and lose a point.


Of course it's not the point that matters. It's the having to think about it that matters. In my experience, most people don't enjoy it when you say, "That was a completely dumb move that did nothing for you, but fortunately it only cost you 1 point and you made way bigger mistakes than that."
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Bryan Thunkd
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DaviddesJ wrote:
In my experience, most people don't enjoy it when you say, "That was a completely dumb move that did nothing for you, but fortunately it only cost you 1 point and you made way bigger mistakes than that."
Maybe not. I play with a 7 Dan player who, when you lament about making a mistake, will usually reply "Eh... you'll make worse mistakes." But yeah, he can be a jerk.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
And most novices are going to make mistakes far bigger than a single point. Until they get a feel for when the game is over it's probably okay for them to play an extra stone and lose a point.


Of course it's not the point that matters. It's the having to think about it that matters. In my experience, most people don't enjoy it when you say, "That was a completely dumb move that did nothing for you, but fortunately it only cost you 1 point and you made way bigger mistakes than that."
A good solution for people not enjoying that, is not to say it to them.
Almost no one enjoys having their moves called "completely dumb". And a beginner playing a defensive move that loses them 1 point is far from "completely dumb".
I'm a proponent of using chinese rules to teach beginners as well, but blaming non-enjoyment on the rules chosen is a bit misguided.
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