Go Buying Tips

A bit of terminology
Japanese or Chinese Style?
A Go set for your needs


A Bit of Terminology

Go in the western world often uses romanized Japanese Go terms in gameplay as well as equipment. A few keywords will help you when browsing around:

  • goban - Go Board
  • gosu - Go Bowl (for the stones)
  • kifu - game record, referring to a complete record of a game or a book/sheet for recording a game
  • tsumego - Go problems, often used in Go books and software descriptions

Japanese or Chinese Style?

Most Go equipment available is made in Japanese style. However, there are some people who do prefer Chinese style equipment. Chinese boards are slightly bigger to accommodate Chinese sized stones. Chinese stones are flat on one side, making it single convexed rather than double convexed like the Japanese. The single convex is convenient for reviewing a game easier because you can analyze variations by turning the stones in question upside down, flat side facing up. Aesthetically single convexed and double convexed stones also make different sounds when played against a board. A Chinese stone will produce a louder slapping sound, but the Japanese stone will create deeper knocking sound. Single convexed stones are also easier to manufacture making them more affordable than double convexed.

A Go Set For Your Needs

  • Beginner Sets - These boards have grids that are 9x9 and/or 13x13 lines. These dimensions are best for teaching and quick games. They are also ideal for reviewing Go life and death problems.
  • Table Board Set - The most common 19x19 full sized board. These are for playing standard sized games. Sometimes they are available with 13x13 on the reverse side. These sets are meant to be played on a table.
  • Floor Board Set - These are generally only 19x19 full sized boards. The board is meant to be placed and played seated on the floor. The larger floorboards can be quite heavy and are difficult to store so they are often left in the room as a decorative piece. It would be well to consider getting two Zabuton Japanese meditation cushions to go with a floorboard set to sit on.
  • Portable Sets - These sets can vary in size but are usually smaller than your standard size boards. They can be a little more tricky to play with depending on the size because the stones and playing grids are smaller.

Go equipment can be quite beautiful and elegant and can often be seen made of precious stones and exotic woods. Please visit our About Go Guide for more detailed information!