Common Go/Weiqi Terms

A list of commonly used Go/weiqi Terms.

Weiqi/Go Board

  • Aji — A weakness that is left behind in the opponent’s position. Typically it can be exploited in more than one way.
  • Atari — The state of a stone or unit that has only one liberty.
  • Capturing race — See Semeai.
  • Chain — A group of stones that are directly adjacent along the lines of the board. Also string.
  • Connection — Joining stones along the lines of the board, or making it possible for them to be joined, even if the opponent plays first.
  • Cut — A move which separates two or more of a player’s stones by occupying a point adjacent to them.
  • Dame — 1) An empty point adjacent to a stone; 2) a neutral point between the established Black and White positions.
  • Damezumari — Inability to play at a tactically desirable point due to lack of dame.
  • Death — A group is dead when its owner cannot, playing first with correct play, make it live with two eyes or in seki or make a ko for life, given accurate play by the opponent.

  • Dragon — A dragon is a long connected shape spanning large areas of the board.
  • Endgame — The final stage of the game.
  • Eye — An empty space surrounded by one player’s stones such that none of them can be brought into atari separately.
  • False Eye — An empty space surrounded by one player’s units such that at least one of them can be brought into atari separately.
  • Fuseki — A Japanese go term meaning arraying forces for battle; it refers to the initial phase of the game, especially before there are any weak groups.
  • Geta — See Net.
  • Gote — 1) A move or sequence of moves that does not have to be answered; 2) a move or sequence of moves that is not answered.
  • Group — One or more stones considered as a unit.
  • Hane — A single stone that “reaches around” the outside of an opposing unit diagonally adjacent but unconnected to an existing unit.
  • Handicap — Stones that Black (the weaker player) places on the board before White’s first move to ensure a more balanced contest.
  • Honte — A solid move.
  • Influence — The effect stones exert at a distance.
  • Joban — A Japanese go term for the beginning phase of the game.
  • Joseki — Established sequences of play considered equitable for both players, especially early moves near a corner.
  • Kikashi — A Japanese go term adopted into English (forcing move) for a sente move that produces a certain effect and can then be abandoned without regret.
  • Killing — Ensuring that a group will ultimately perish and be removed from the board.
  • Ko — A position in which single stones could be captured back and forth indefinitely were there not a rule forbidding such repetition.
  • Ko Threat — A threatening move played either to provoke an immediate response from the opponent, allowing the player to recapture the ko on his next move, or to make a gain if the opponent ignores it.
  • Komi — Points added to a player’s score, normally given to White in compensation for Black’s advantage in playing first.
  • Ladder — A technique for capturing stones where at each step, the attacker reduces the defender’s liberties from two to one: especially an attack of this type that proceeds diagonally across the board.
  • Liberty — 1) A dame; 2) a move required to capture a stone or group.
  • Life — State where a group has two eyes, lives in seki or is secure enough to survive any attack.
  • Miai — Two moves that have equivalent effects, such that if either player plays one, his opponent will play the other.
  • Moyo — A territorial framework, an extensive area loosely bounded by one player’s units, where the other has yet to establish any defensible positions, and which consequently could become the former’s territory.
  • Net — A technique that ensures the capture of one or more stones by blocking their access to open board areas.
  • Peep — A threat to cut (nozoki in Japanese) played directly or diagonally adjacent to a cutting point.
  • Point — The intersection of two lines on the go board.
  • Ponnuki — Capture of a single stone above the first line by four opposing stones, leaving a diamond shape.
  • Sabaki — Development of a flexible and defensible position in an area of opposing forces, especially by means of contact plays and sacrifice tactics.
  • Sansan — 3-3 point on the goban.
  • Seki — A Japanese go term adopted into English, meaning an impasse in which neither player can kill the other’s group.
  • Semeai — A Capturing Race.
  • Semedori — A situation in which dead stones must eventually be captured.
  • Sente — 1) The initiative; 2) a play that must be answered; 3) a play that is answered.
  • Shape — relative positions of stones of one color in close proximity.
  • Shicho — A Ladder.
  • Tedomari — The last play; the last play at a certain stage of the game; the last play before a significant drop in the size of a play.
  • Tengen — The center point of the goban.
  • Tenuki — A Japanese go term adopted into English that denotes playing elsewhere, especially breaking off from a sequence that remains to be resolved.
  • Territory — 1) A region of the board that belongs to one player because it is surrounded by stones belonging to a living group, and in which the opponent cannot make a living group; 2) a region which almost belongs to one player.
  • Tesuji — An astute, often counter-intuitive tactical play.
  • Tsumego — A life and death problem.
  • Vital Point — A key point (for either player) in the local, or perhaps less commonly global, context that will normally either establish a good shape or force the opponent into bad shape.
  • Yose — A Japanese go term adopted into English, meaning moves that approach fairly stable territory, typically enlarging one’s own territory while reducing the opponent’s.
  • Zokusuji — Zokusuji literally means “crude line of play” and is often translated as “vulgar move” — especially a move that destroys an opportunity to play tesuji.


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