Hello there! Welcome to your very first Go tutorial!
Here, you will not only learn about the rules, techniques, and various strategies of Go, but also many other interesting and fun things about Go! Go is so much more than a casual board game.
Go is an ancient board game that originated in China sometime around 1000 BC. It reached Korea in 500 AD, and Japan in 700 AD. It is vastly popular in East Asia, and there are over 40 million Go players worldwide. There are approximately 20 million Go players in China. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, there are 2.8 million Go players in Japan as of 2013.
There is actually a surprising amount of Go events and tournaments in Canada. If you live in Canada, here is a list of all the tournaments and events the Canadian Go Association (CGA) hosts. The American Go Association also hosts a variety of Go tournaments year round. There are tons of Go resources online for you: Sensei’s Library is a great one for learning all the Go terminologies.
You can play online (there are tons of Go clients/platforms, which I will talk about in detail in this tutorial) or join a local or univeristy Go club (Most North American univeristies have active Go clubs). Either way, you will get to meet a lot of people who are enthusiastic about Go and improve your Go skills. Personally, I’ve played at least 1500 Go games online in my life so far. I would say that without these games, I would not be where I am today. Go has taught me a lot, about concentration, perseverance, respect, and humility. If you are really dedicated to Go, it will be a huge time sink, but it’s definitely rewarding and satisfying.
If it is possible, it is better for you to start learning Go with actual Go boards (Chinese: 棋盘 qipan, lit. “chess board”; Japanese: 碁盤 goban, lit. “Go board”) and Go stones (Chinese: 棋子 qizi, lit. “chess pieces”; Japanese: 碁石 goishi, lit.”Go stones”, or simply 石 ishi, lit. “stones”). They just feel better and more intimate. Go is almost always played between two players (there are exceptions though, such as Pair Go, where each side has two players and the two players have to alternate).
If you know English, KGS and Tygem are your best choices when it comes to online Go clients. Some professional players are on KGS, though most of them play on Tygem because Tygem has versions in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Most players on KGS are European and North American, while Tygem is predominantly East Asian. A good thing about KGS is that you don’t start with a fixed rank, which means that the very first few games you play on KGS will decide what rank you are most likely to be. The user interface is not that great, but it will suffice. You can check out KGS here.
Tygem, on the other hand, is the most popular Go clients in East Asia. You will need to pick your country when you register for an account. You can choose your rank as well, but the highest rank you can pick is 3-dan, which is kind of tedious for me whenever I need to make a new account, because I need to win at least 30 games in a row to get directly promoted to 7-dan. However, since you are only beginning to learn Go, rank shouldn’t be a problem. The lowest rank on Tygem is 18 Kyu, and the highest rank achievable by an amateur is 9-dan (which is not the case in real life, by the way). Professional players register for P accounts, meaning their usernames are followed by a “(P)”. You can download Tygem here.