Semeai & Seki


Take a look at the marked black and white stones. They have no eyes, and no room to make eyes. Can you see what's going to happen?

If Black starts first, he can catch the white stones and save his own.

And if White starts, he can catch Black.

A useful word

A situation where each side needs to capture the other in order to save his own stones is called a semeai. It's a Japanese word. When English people say it, it sounds like "semi-eye" - but it doesn't mean half an eye! Sometimes we call it a "race to capture".

Here's another semeai. Can you figure it out?

Even if Black plays first, White wins the race to capture!

White would win if he played first, too, but he doesn't need to. It isn't a race, it's a walk-over!

How should Black fight this one? Be careful how you play!

If Black does this, he can capture White on his next move, so he wins the semeai.

This way, Black puts White in atari, but he puts himself in atari too. Now it's White's turn, and he can capture the black stones. Disaster!!

Go Proverb

In a semeai, play on the outside liberties first.


A strange thing sometimes happens in a semeai. Here's an example. What will hapen if Black plays first? And what if White does?

With , Black can put White into atari, but he puts himself in atari too, and now it's White's turn. So it's Black that would get captured!

And White has just the same problem!


Another useful word

A semeai like this, where neither side can capture the other is called a seki. It rhymes with Becky. (Don't make it rhyme with flaky! It upsets Spike.)

In a seki, both sides are alive, because there's no way for them to capture each other. Both sides should leave it alone until the end of the game. The points in the middle don't count as territory for either side.


In each case, decide who can capture who. Or is it seki?

Problem 1 Problem 2

get answer get answer

Problem 3 Problem 4

get answer get answer


Take a break!

We've covered all the basics of life and death now, so this would be a good time to take a break and play some games to practice it.The next section is about territory.

When you're ready for more, click where you want to go.

big eyes table of contents what is territory?

UK Go Challenge home 12 November 2003