Go Komi


Go : Komi

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Don Groves    (2006-11-20)
Go : Komi

I feel 7.5 points komi is too much for some Go games. Since we do not use handicaps (which is good, IMHO) should not komi be reduced if White is a higher rated player than Black? For players of equal ability, 7.5 komi is fine, but when I must give Sebastian Ilie 7.5 points, it seems a joke. He beats me by 200 anyway ;-) I suggest komi be reduced by one point for every 100 (or perhaps 200) rating points difference (to a minimum of 0.5) when White is the superior player. What do others think about this?

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-20 15:59:46)
Go : Komi

Komi 7.5 points is the 'estimated' fair value while playing perfect (at least pro)...

Since we use elo rating system for Go, I think any handicap (stones or komi) is nonsense, but maybe we could create an unrated category of tournaments, simultaneous games or matches with a handicap... Could be fun & more interesting in some cases.

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-20 16:40:27)
7.5 or 6.5 ?

In most recent pro games (eg. last meijin match) the komi was 6.5 if I remember well.
Oh, but that was japanese rule ?!? Is that where the difference comes from? hum, I am sure I *knew* that... :-(

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-20 17:17:55)

I read 7.5 was progressively replacing 6.5

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-20 21:29:31)
You seems in advance :-)

Well, considering the results of last year pro games (almost a perfect 50-50 result, according to my rather large but admittedly incomplete database) I am not sure a komi change from 6.5 will occur soon, at least in the japanese pro scene... And the number of recent games in gobase that ends in 1 or 1/2 points difference is astonishing :-) (not really significant, I know, as pros have the capacity to keep a tiny edge till the end, reducing it to simplify the game... but still :-))
Anyway, for us, simple and humble go mortals, that does not change much :-)

(but even at my low level I tend to be more aggressive in my fuseki while playing with an opponent of my level or stronger when the komi is 7.5 instead of say 5.5... so considering the increase/decrease (black/white) of aggressive attitude, maybe it is important for most of us because the feeling of a game might eventually change)

Don Groves    (2006-11-21 00:45:58)
Go: Komi

Hi Thibault, I'm confused as to why elo ratings matter. Go has used komi a long time to compensate for the first move while chess never has. But in chess, you have narrower rating groups, so practically never is an expert matched against a novice. Since in Go we have only three rating groups, these uneven matches happen many times. Until we have enough Go players to have more rating groups, a sliding komi scale would be a way to level the playing field a bit. PS - I'm not interested in traditional Go handicap games -- the empty board is the only true way to begin, IMHO.

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-21 11:32:39)
Go: Komi

Stones handicap or Komi handicap is handicap anyway... I'm not sure it makes sense to change the Komi (Lionel would agree, I think).

As I just said in another thread, if we add a handicap system which gives chances enough to weak players against strong players, I'm afraid results & ratings / ranks don't mean anything anymore then, at least more aleatory. This is another game... (and such 'strange' rules might frighten beginners).

I think it could be ok (as another challenge) in an unrated tournaments category.

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-21 13:03:54)
Oops, sorry!

After rereading my last message, I saw I forgot a negation that change the whole meaning: I meant a komi change would *not* occur soon in the Japanese scene IMO!!
Otherwise my whole point and argument is nonsense... anyway, while I would prefer 6.5 (just to play the very first move identifying myself to some of my Go hereos... come on, just grow up :-), I can live with the still much uncommon 7.5 :-)

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-21 13:47:55)
Komi vs handicap

IMO, Thibault is quite right: it would make no sense to increase Komi instead of playing with handicap stones.
To give points or to give stones is not the same: the very nature of handicap stones is pedagogic, that is to help *both* players to improve. Go strategy is complex, but can often been seen as a delicate balance between power (thickness) and territory (points). Handicap stones are put on Hoshi on purpose: to help the weaker player to build and use thickness, the most difficult concept to master compare to territory, where a beginner can actually count concrete points (or so he believes at first :-)
Playing at 9 handicap stones, or giving, say, 100 points komi is not the same and never will be: the weaker player has no chance with such a komi, because he will have no anchor to help his stones live and will probably be completely destroyed... but much worse, he cannot improve his play easily because he'll never be in a position where he could *try* to think strategically.
IMO, true go is not non-handicap go, but a fair game where the tactical and strategic true nature of the game is preserved. How could we say that, for instance, Dosaku 'Go Saint' games are not true go, when he was at least one stone stronger than all his fellow pro players, giving them Black (no komi at that time) or one,two stones?
The beauty of handicap go is that IMO it *is* still true go :-) You can compare to chess where giving a piece, say a N as Lasker used to do, change the strategic nature of the game through a controlled exchange policy.

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-21 13:57:05)
Komi 7.5

"In China, the usual compensation point was 5.5, but 7.5 is now standard."

Sources :


Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-21 14:12:35)
Komi 7.5

Well, in France too, it is officially 7.5 in tournaments, with counting based on the chinese method (and you have to ensure that both players played the same number of stones), but with no provision for complex cases (multi-kos, complex sekis...). In practice, it works!
I wonder if the japanese way of counting makes a difference in komi value... I'll check that...

Don Groves    (2006-11-21 20:49:23)
Go: komi

Hello Lionel (and Thibault), I think you misunderstand what I wrote. I am suggesting "reducing" komi in certain games, not "increasing" komi as a way to handicap games. I agree the games should not be handicapped. I do not agree that a much higher rated player playing white should receive 7.5 komi against a much weaker player. The much stronger player already has a great advantage and does not need to be compensated for the weaker player making the first move.

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-21 21:30:43)
Go: komi

Hi Don.

As Lionel explained to me a few months ago, Komi shouldn't be interpreted as an advantage or handicap !

I first thought komi could be 0... but it doesn't make any sense in Go philosophy & theory. Komi's purpose is only to make the game fair, and the estimated value seems to be about 6.5 or 7.5