In this article, you will see the comparison of Chess and the game of Go.

Go and Chess both are abstract strategy board games that are very complex and unique.

Both games are very popular; Chess is known worldwide, but Go is very trendy in Asia, especially in China, Japan, and Korea.

Go was invented approximately 3000 years ago in China and it’s considered as one of the oldest board game in the world.

Chess, on the other hand, is originated in India in the 6th century.

The main strategy of the games

Chess and Go have completely different strategies:

Chess is more focused on destruction and mostly involves tactics. It’s a hierarchical game where the aim is to catch the opponent’s king.

On the other hand, Go is more building-oriented and requires to think more about strategy. It’s an imperial game where both players try to enclose more territory on the goban (Go board) than their opponent.

Similarities of Go and Chess

Although the games might seem very different from each other, they still have things that are similar.


Being able to read the position several moves ahead is one of the main factors in both games.

Strong players can go deep in their minds and visualize the outcome of the current position with great accuracy.


Taking initiative can give control of the game in both games.

In chess, it’s one of the main concepts to deliver a strong attack and gain a positional advantage.

In Go, the initiative is called Sente. This gives the opportunity to either take big points on the board and gain territory or deliver strong reduction/invasion of opponents area.

Pattern recognition

Strong Chess players are very good at recognizing the major points of a position and evaluating which candidate moves are beneficial in such positions.

In Go, pattern recognition is called Tesuji. Tesuji combinations mostly apply to local shapes and it often ends with the capturing of several stones of the opponent.

Sacrifices and exchanges

Sacrifices are frequently made in Chess, usually for the purpose of checkmating the king.

In Go, exchanges are made that include some kind of sacrifice. For example, a player might sacrifice his/her group to gain an advantage in another part of the board.


Both games have puzzles that help players to get better at their game.

In Chess, the main aim of those puzzles are to either Checkmate the king or win a piece.

But in Go, the puzzles (Tsumego) are almost always focused on killing a group in the corner or in the center.

Differentiations of Chess and Go

Along with similarities, it’s natural that these two brilliant board games have lots of differentiation. Here I list some of them.

Domination of the center

Controlling the center is one of the essential strategies in Chess because pieces have more space to go and control.

On the other hand, in Go, it’s easier to get territory in the corner first, and then start a fight in the middle. But some players still play near the center to gain influence over the board.

Playing for a draw

In Chess, it’s tempting to play for a draw f you’re playing black or against a stronger opponent. Draws also happen in the endgame, where there’s no theoretical possibility for either player to win the game.

While playing Go, there’s practically no such thing as a draw. When counting the points after the game, 0.5 points are added, so there’s no possibility to declare a draw.

But a draw might occur very very rarely in Go, because of the multiple ko situations that can’t be determined whether it’s counted for black or white.


Of course, balance is very important in Chess, but in Go, it’s the crucial part of the game.

In Chess, the material balance has a huge value. Knights and Bishops are often compared to determine whether one of them is better in certain situations. Also, in some cases, two Rooks can be equal to a Queen…

In Go, since all stones are the same the balance is very important in a positional way. Go works in a way that when you deliver a strong attack in one part of the board, you almost always lose something on the other side.

So before placing a stone on the board, you have to make sure the balance is maintained, otherwise, you might lose a game by a lot of points.


When starting the game in Chess, you have 20 possible moves. You are forced to choose the one from those 20 choices because the pieces are fixed in the opening.

In Go, the game starts with an empty board and starting player can place anywhere on the board. This means 361 possible choices on the first move!

Also, in Chess, the board starts with full of pieces and the number gradually declines; but in Go, you start with empty board and stones fill it after each move.


Handicaps are very rarely used in Chess. In fact, there is not a single official game record that was played with a handicap.

In Go, handicaps are very often used in a regular game. When the strengths of the players are uneven, the weak player starts the game and places some additional stones on the board.

Understanding the position

Chess strategies are more or less acknowledged: if you ask several GrandMasters where to play in a particular position, most of them will apparently give more or less the same answer.

Ask some of top Go professionals about the next move in a given complicated position and probably they all will give various answers.

Ratings and rankings

Chess uses a very popular rating system called ELO. Ratings start from 100 all the way up to infinity (2900 for humans).

Go uses the ranking system: Beginners are called Kyu players, masters are called Dan players, and professionals are called Professional Dan players.


  • Both games are unique and very entertaining to play
  • Chess and Go both need their understanding and attitude
  • Chess is more tactic-oriented, Go is more strategy-oriented
  • Pattern recognition is one of the essential parts to play well in both games
  • Both help us improve brain performance
  • Everyone should play these games to meet new people and make friends!

That’s it guys, a detailed comparison of Chess and Go.

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About the author

Irakli Khizanishvili

Hi, I'm Irakli from Georgia.
I've been playing the game of Go for a few years now. During that period I've read lots of books about all aspects of this interesting and beautiful game.
On this website, I'm glad to share my game knowledge and experience with you.
I hope I'll be able to help improve your skills and proficiency in the magnificent game of Go!
Remember, it's never too late to learn new things!

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