Go Board Dimensions

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Robert Seymour

May 23, 1994, 12:14:56 AM5/23/94
In article <2rip8d$f...@sulawesi.lerc.nasa.gov>,
Donald Van Drei <dvan...@gadfly.lerc.nasa.gov> wrote:
> Could someone verify the dimensions, I gleaned the info from
> the ftp site /info/board. The following is a uudecoded, compressed,
> compressed, postscript file.

For summary, Donald provides a postscript file describing a go board
measuring 17 57/64" by 16 45/64" with 29/32" between lines and 0.8 mm
lines with 3mm points. Stones are specified at 20-21 mm.

The 1949 Nihon Ki-in (the major Japanese Go Association) Rules, Clause 9
state that the goban (go board) shall be 1.5 shaku longitudinal (45.42 cm,
17.88 in), 1.4 shaku transverse (42.42 cm, 16.70 in), and 5 sun (15.15 cm,
5.96 in) thick resting on four legs. The go ishi (go stones) should measure
7.3 bu (2.21 cm, 0.870 in) in diameter for the white and 7.2 bu (2.18 cm,
0.858 in) for the black and fit inside the space in between lines. No
specifications are given for the goke (go bowls), but a general rule of
thumb is that the black stones should fill 80% of the bowl. The other
bowl is then either made to identical dimensions or so that the white
stones (which are slightly smaller in volume, as there are only 180 of
them) fill a like dimension. The size of the bowls that will fill this
will depend on the shape of the bowl and the thickness of the stones
(which range from #25 to #45 incremented by 0.1 bu per grade).

Note: the difference in size is due to the optical illusions created by
a light or dark color on a light background. The black will seem larger
than it actually is due to the greater contrast and our visual

The rules draft of 1949 remains in effect today, subject to a number of
minor revisions on play rules made by the Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in
in spring 1989. A subclause was later added to state that "[go] may be
played irrespective of the thickness of the board or the presence of
legs on the board." This is the generally excepted standard for go
boards with (to my knowledge) all tournament boards complying in the
longitudinal and traverse directions.

The SST rules drafted by the Ing Chang-Ki describe a board for Wei-ch'i
(the Chinese term for Go). The board should measure 45 cm (17.72 in) in
the horizontal (longitudinal) direction and 42 cm (16.54 in) in the
vertical (transverse) direction. The thickness must be at least 2.50 cm
(0.984 in). The lines are to be 2.36 cm (0.929 in) apart in the horizontal
direction and 2.21 cm (0.870 in) apart in the vertical direction. Stones
should be 2.18 cm (0.858 in) in diameter and 1.05 cm (0.413 in) thick in
the center. 6.5 g is specified as a standard weight.

These are the only regulations I am currently aware of (there may very
well be others [if so, please let me know]). Traditional boards tend to
be larger than modern ones and were square.

Generally speaking, there aren't any hard a fast rules on the size of
go boards. I am building mine at the Nihon Ki-in specs (except for
thickness, I haven't attempted a floor board yet), but this is mostly
for tradition. Major features I would follow are a board of similar
planar dimensions (to make finding stones easier) and slightly longer
on the longitudinal edge (to make the board appear symmetric when
viewed during play [or to break symmetry, which is speculated for the
Japanese dimesions]). In the final analysis, an enjoyable game is what
really matters.


Fairbairn, John. "In Pursuit of Elegance: A Survey of the Best in Go
Equipment." _The Go Player's Almanac,_ Bozulich, Richard ed. (San Jose,
California: Ishi Press, 1992) 162-175.a

Torayoshi, Yoshida (a.k.a. Ichinyo). _Goban, Shogiban: Kigu O Tsukuru._
(Tokyo, Japan: Taishukan Shoten, 1981).


Robert Seymour rsey...@reed.edu
Reed College Artificial Life Project NeXTmail, MIME, PGP accepted
UNIX, X, NeXTSTEP, Macintosh Programmer Physics Bld. P24, extension 241
Philosophy & Economics, Reed College Portland, Oregon. United States

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