Go terms

From Academic Kids

Go terms are terms in Go, technical terms likely to be met in books and articles about go in English, and in other languages also. Although Go probably originated in China, the current technical vocabulary contains a high proportion of terms from the Japanese language. Many of them are from a jargon, used for technical go writing and to some extent specially developed for go journalism; in some cases the technical meaning of a word may differ from a dictionary meaning coming from ordinary usage.


Board positions

NB The go conventions that the corner points of the board are called (1, 1) points; and lines are counted in from the edge.

  • Hoshi: see Star
  • Komoku: a (4, 3) or (3, 4) point in an empty corner; meaning "little point" in Japanese
  • Mokuhazushi: a (3, 5) or (5, 3) point in an empty corner; meaning something like "separated point" in Japanese
  • Sansan: a (3, 3) point in an empty corner; meaning "3, 3" in japanese
  • Star: a (4, 4) point in an empty corner, or also a (4,10) point on one of the sides. The star points are traditionally marked with a small dot on the board.
  • Tengen: the (10,10) point at the centre of the 19×19 go board — this is also a marked star point.


"Atari" (Chinese "da3 chi1" 打吃, Korean "dansoo") is a term used for a positional state where a stone or group of a number of stones has only one liberty, and may be captured on the next move if it is not given attention. It can be a verb to describe the act of placing a group under atari, as well as an adjective to describe the status of a group, as being "in (the state of) atari". It may be spoken aloud during the game by the instigator, as a courtesy to call the opponent's attention to the fact that his stone or group is endangered; but that in fact is part of old and now obsolete etiquette of the game, and is not currently used.


The initiative, or a move that carries initiative, by requiring a follow-up. For example, "white," after making a move that is sente, and it is responded to (in Go terms#Gote) has the choice of where to play next. White is therefore said to "have sente."

See Go concepts#sente.

See also: Go proverb


Seki is a Japanese term used to describe a situation that cannot be resolved into simple life-and-death. For example, a capturing race may end in a position in which neither player finds it advantageous to continue to try to capture the other. There are numerous types of seki position that can arise, characterised as cases in which neither player adds a play to groups that do not have two eyes. The area remains untouched; at the end all groups involved are deemed alive, but no territory is scored. (This is under the Japanese rules, naturally.)

This type of situation has been called dual life, by Janice Kim.

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