Chess vs. Go: Which is Harder

People often wish to get into a game of Chess or Go, but mistakenly believe the rules to be somewhat the same. This is far from the truth, while there are certain similarities in rules, the two are worlds apart in various aspects. 

Go is a simple game as compared to Chess because all of its pieces look the same i.e. they are in black and white. Moreover, the pieces in Go do not tend to move around the game board. This game also offers a very well-balanced handicap system allowing seasoned players to play this game evenly against weaker players. 

Apart from that, the size of the board is also a defining factor in the complexities of the two. That said, if you make the board size of both Chess and Go the same, then of course Chess is a far more obvious choice in terms of being the most difficult game for players to master. 

In this article, you will learn various facts about both Chess and Go and by the end you will know about the similarities and differences between the two. So, without further ado, let us dive right into the world of Chess and Go. 


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People often wish to get into a game of Chess or Go, but mistakenly believe the rules to be somewhat the same. This is far from the truth, while there are certain similarities in rules, the two are worlds apart in various aspects. 

Go is a simple game as compared to Chess because all of its pieces look the same i.e. they are in black and white. Moreover, the pieces in Go do not tend to move around the game board. This game also offers a very well-balanced handicap system allowing seasoned players to play this game evenly against weaker players. 

Apart from that, the size of the board is also a defining factor in the complexities of the two. That said, if you make the board size of both Chess and Go the same, then of course Chess is a far more obvious choice in terms of being the most difficult game for players to master. 

In this article, you will learn various facts about both Chess and Go and by the end you will know about the similarities and differences between the two. So, without further ado, let us dive right into the world of Chess and Go. 

Chess Vs. Go: A Comparison

Many novice players starting into the board games often ask, how Chess compares to Go. Well, look no further as you are going to learn about what sets them apart. 

Basics of Go

First of all, yes Go is a board game that looks just like chess in some way, but it is not the same. Both Go and Chess have their own game strategies, and if you are looking for a brain sharpening board game, both Chess and Go are an impeccable choice. 

Go is simple in comparison to Chess, but it is a more complex game. The reason is because all of the pieces in GO are the same, the only difference is of color i.e., black and white. Moreover, pieces in GO do not tend to move around on the game board. 

Go is often referred to as an imperial game where the goal of each player is to occupy more territory on the game board than the opponent. 

Basics of Chess

On the other hand, Chess follows a hierarchical structure in its game. The goal of every Chess game is to capture the king. The board is smaller with lesser pieces, but all the pieces come in black and white colors. 

The pieces look different from each other and each piece has a name, which are Queen, King, Pawn, Knight, Rook, and Bishop. Each of these pieces has its own movements and they can move around the board according to those rules. 

The Differences in Moves 

As you start a game of Chess, there is a possibility of 20 different moves. On the other hand, in the game of Go, the first player will have a chance to open the game with 362 possible moves. 

Chess players have limited options on how many moves they can make compared to Go and this difference continues at each stage of both games. This means, Go players will always have more options to move than a Chess player. 

In Go, the choices of move are exponentially higher; you will likely be surprised by the next move your opponent player makes. Hence leaving you to rethink your entire plan of attack after each move by your opponent? 

Similarities Between Chess and Go

So, let us first check some aspects that Chess players may find relevant if they want to play Go. 

  • Exchanges and Sacrifices

Chess and Go games offer players opportunity to use these tactics in a strategic and creative manner. 

  • Initiative

Chess and Go both have an initiative that can give a player the control over the game from the beginning. However, this can change as the game proceeds. However, the opportunities of gaining an advantage over your opponent are higher due to the size of the board. This way you can take initiatives in any part of the game board. 

  • Profit

Chess and Go both focus on immediate profit in terms of materiel or importance of pieces in good positions but Chess also focuses on the mobility factor of each piece. However, Go focuses on both territorial profits and the positional influence of all the pieces. 

  • Recognizing Patterns

Both Chess and Go players learn the ability to recognize the importance of positions. Moreover, the players also master the skills of recalling as to which of their moves are effective in each position. However, in Go, this applies to local shapes. 

  • Visualization 

Just like Chess, Go players will be able to visualize the position of their opponent and number of moves they can make. However, Chess is more of a tactical game, whereas Go hails as a game that requires both tactics and strategy. 

Differences between Chess and Go

Several ideas of both games are different to each other such as. 

  • Balance

Chess players focus on balance of positions and materiel, whereas Go primarily focuses on balance. The opportunities to make a killer move against the opponent do not present often. As a Go player you will always have to worry about gaining something in one part of the board, but losing another part. 

Therefore, balance is very critical when playing Go, this is one of the major reasons that makes Go more complex than Chess. 

  • Draw

In case you are playing against a season opponent or with black, it is sometimes wise in Chess that you play for a draw. However, Go, does not allow this option to the player; therefore, draw is a rare occurrence. 

  • Handicaps

When you are playing chess, you rarely need to use the handicaps, but when used the entire complexion of the game changes dramatically. However, in a game of Go, handicaps are quite common and especially helpful if the opponent is a weaker player or a friend trying to learn the game. 

The usage of handicaps in Go does not change the tactics or strategies of the game too much. Moreover, the ranks directly correlate with the handicap. For instance, if players have a difference of four kyu apart, the weaker player will use handicap and play back to take four of the stones to begin the game. 

  • Thinking 

Chess has a smaller board and limited pieces so, the opponents tend to think, calculate and make a move quickly. This does not give you enough time to calculate and decide your next moves.

On the other hand, Go may require a lot of work for each move, considering various factors. So, while your opponent is busy trying to make their moves, this gives you enough time to count and evaluate various areas of the board, and come up with a strategy on how you regain the initiative 

  • The Openings

Studying an opening in the game of Chess is very critical. However, there is no such emphasis to do so in Go. 

  • The centre domination 

Domination of board’s centre is a good place to begin in the game of Chess. However, in Go you can claim a territory more conveniently in the edges and corners. That said, your influence in the centre of the board may play a vital role in winning the game in a later stage. 

  • Ending

Chess is all about the victory; you either win or lose in obvious fashion and yes, sometimes it can end in stalemate. However, in Go, the results are unclear at times until the final count of the territories occupied by each player at the end of the game. Therefore, if you are playing Go always keep an eye on judging who is ahead in the game. 

The Takeaway

So, while both games share some similarities and still are different in their own ways, Go is more complex but Chess is still harder to play. The game of Go has simpler rules and a player can learn to master it sooner than that of Chess. The time constraints in Chess are stricter than Go, which again makes Chess a more intense board game, then any other in the world.


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