Frequently Asked Questions about Go

How many Go players are there in the world?

About 60,000,000. Most of these are in Korea, China and Japan.

In how many countries are there Go players?

There are more than 70 countries who have official organisations and take part in the annual World Amateur Go Championship.

Are there professional Go players?

Yes, there are about 1,000 in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan with a few emerging in the last year or so in North America and Europe.

How many Go players are there in the UK?

We think that there are about 10,000 active Go players in Britain, and many more who have some recognition of the game. Some 15,000 people have been taught to play in the last three years. The British Go Association has about 500 registered members.

How can I find a Go Club?

There are over fifty Go clubs in Britain. Our web site has a map showing these, saying when and where they meet.

What Go events take place in Britain?

About thirty Go tournaments are held in Britain each year. The British Go Association web site has a list of these. Most are one-day events held at weekends, with the first prize going to the strongest player to win all his or her games, and other prizes to players who do well playing against other players of similar strength. Some longer tournaments, and some teaching days, are also held. We also hold online tournaments over the Internet.

Who is the World Go Champion?

There is no established “World Go Championship”. Japan, Korea and China each have a number of Go titles, which are competed for each year, reported in their news media and are well funded. The winner of the Kisei (the most prestigious Japanese tournament) wins 42,000,000 yen (worth about £250,000).

As of 2014 many people regard the Korean Lee Sedol as the world’s strongest player, as he has been dominating for several years in many events and especially in the Fujitsu Cup, which can be regarded as the top “international title”.

The Go wiki page for him is here. An interview with him in the Korean press can be seen here.

Who is the UK Go champion?

He or she can be found in our page describing the British Championship.

How does Go compare with Chess?

A comparison can be seen here.

How do Go grades work?

Most graded players have “kyu” ratings, (like the coloured belts in Judo) from 30 kyu for a beginner up to 1 kyu. Stronger amateur players have “dan” ratings, (like black belts in Judo) with a 1 dan being slightly better than a 1 kyu, up to the strongest amateurs who are rated 6 dan. China, Japan and Korea also assign professional ratings. A 1-dan professional is about the same as a 6-dan amateur, and the world’s best players are 9 dan. The intervals between professional grades are about three times as close together as those between amateur kyu and dan grades.

How do these Go grades compare with Chess ratings?

This table is approximate.

DescriptionELOGradeEuro ratingDescription
Complete beginner50030 kyu Complete beginner
Beginner100020 kyu100Beginner
Club player130015 kyu500Club player
Club player150010 kyu1050Club player
Average club player17005 kyu1550Average club player
Strong club player19002 dan amateur2150Strong club player
Strong club player20003 dan amateur2250Strong club player
Master23006-dan amateur2600Top amateur
Master23001-dan pro2600Newly-qualified pro
I.M.24004-dan pro2800Mid-ranking pro
G.M.2500   8-dan pro2900Top pro

Are computers good at Go?

Computer programs have been surprisingly bad at playing Go until very recently.

A top club player could for many years beat most programs, however nowadays the best program is at or above top-level professional level. AlphaGo from Google DeepMind achieved this dramatically in March 2016. See our Computer Go history for more information.

Last updated Fri Oct 20 2017.
If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.