Go vs. Chess: Which Game to Choose?

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If you are looking for a new board game to play, there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. If what you are looking for is a great strategy game that will put your brain to the test, then two of the best ones to consider are Go and Chess.

Both are considered to be some of the best strategy games out there, but which one is best for you? Let’s find out what both the similarities and differences between Go and Chess are, so you can make an informed choice between the two.

Go vs. Chess: Which Game to Choose?

Similarities of Go and Chess

First off, let’s start by talking about the few similarities that these two games share. Keep in mind that there are more differences than there are similarities.

1. They Are Both Strategy Based

Both of these games are strategy-based. There are no dice rolled or cards that can be drawn. When it comes down to it, these are two of the most tactical and strategy-based games out there. With that being said, what most people say is that Chess is all about tactics, whereas Go is all about strategy. However, we are not going to get into semantics here.

The differences between tactics and strategy are very nuanced, and the two do overlap. The bottom line here is that both of these games require precise thought, planning, prediction, and in-depth knowledge of all game rules, strategies, and possible moves. Go and Chess are games designed for strategists and tacticians. After all, both games are based on war.

2. They Both Feature Grid-Like Playing Fields

Although the playing fields for both games do not look the same, nor are they the same size, they do share a similarity, which is that both take the shape of grids. However, past the fact that both are grids, the rest is quite different. The grid on the Go board is more like a series of intersecting lines, whereas the grid on a chessboard is a checkered pattern of squares.

3. They Are Both Designed for Two Players

Another similarity that both of these strategy-heavy board games share is that they are designed strictly for two players. Unless you figure out how to play against yourself, you cannot possibly play with more than two people.

Now, strictly speaking, we suppose that two teams of two could face off against each other, but exactly how teams would work together is questionable. Both Chess and Go are really just two-player games.

4. Both Feature Black and White Pieces

Both Chess and Go feature black and white game pieces, with one player being white and the other being black.

5. Both Have Various Ways to Win

Another neat similarity between these two games is that both feature multiple ways to win or possible ending scenarios. In Chess, a player wins when the king of the opposite player is put into checkmate. However, games may also end in draws or stalemates, or in the event of a timed game, if the time runs out.

In Go, the winner is decided by a higher final score, if the time runs out, or if one player resigns.

6. Suitable Age of Play

The hardcore strategists out there would say that both games are ideal for ages three and up, although we think that a three-year-old who can play Chess or Go with great skill is probably a genius. When it comes down to it, both games are fairly difficult and not really suited for young kids at all.

Chess Pieces

Differences Between Go and Chess

OK, so these games do share a few similarities, but that said, in the grand scheme of things, Chess and Go are very different games. Let’s take a look at all of the factors that make these two games quite different from one another.

1. Origin

The origins of both of these games are somewhat disputed. However, based on the best estimates, it is thought that Go was invented in China in roughly 2,000 B.C, so over 4,000 years ago. On the other hand, it is thought that Chess was invented in either India or China, anywhere from 200 to 400 A.D. When it comes down to it, Go is at least twice as old as Chess.

2. Player Color Selection and First Move

In Chess, the color of the player is chosen by lot, whereas in Go, the weaker player always takes black. Moreover, in terms of the first move, in Chess, the player who has the white pieces always moves first, and in Go, the weaker player with the black pieces always moves first.

3. Pieces and Their Movements

What needs to be said about Chess is that it is a very complex game in terms of the types of pieces and their movements. Chess features various pieces including the pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queen, and king, each of which can move in different ways. For instance, rooks can move in straight lines for unlimited spaces, knights move in an L-shaped pattern, and bishops move along diagonal lines. Keep in mind that in Chess, the board starts with all pieces laid on the grid in a specific way, with each piece having a specific starting position.

On the other hand, in Go, there is only one type of piece, a small and rounded stone, whether white or black. In Go, the board starts totally empty with none of the pieces on the field, and moreover, there is a near unlimited number of pieces to use. The important thing to note here is that players in Go take turns placing stones on the board, but once those stones are on the board, they no longer move. Pieces get put in a specific place, and that is where they stay for the rest of the game.

4. Board Size

In Chess, the board is fairly small. It comes in at 8 x 8 squares for a total of 64 squares, whereas in Go, the board features 19 x 19 intersections, thus resulting in 361 intersections or squares. The Go playing board is much larger than the chessboard.

5. Gameplay

In Chess, the object of the game is to achieve total victory by putting the king of the opposite player in checkmate. When it comes to capturing pieces, captures are done one at a time, and when pieces are captured, they are removed from the field. The first player to put the king of the other player in checkmate is the winner.

Go is quite a bit different, which is mainly because the board starts empty, with pieces being placed on it turn-by-turn, but not being able to move. The way to win Go is by using your pieces to surround the pieces of the enemy. At the end of the game, the player with the most board territory and captured pieces is the winner. Captures can be made singly or en-masse. Captured pieces are subtracted from the opponent’s score.

So, in essence, Chess is won by capturing the king, whereas Go is a score-based game where capturing pieces and territory adds to a player’s score.

6. Number of Possible First Moves and Board Configurations

Due to the fact that there are fewer pieces in Chess, and because the board is smaller, there are also fewer possible board configurations and first moves that can be made.

In Chess, there are 400 possible first moves and 10,120 board configurations. In Go, there are over 32,000 possible first moves and 10,174 possible configurations.

Go Stones

Go vs. Chess: Which Game to Choose?

Both games are quite complex, and when it comes down to it, neither of them is ideal for kids. What is interesting is that Go is said to be simpler than Chess, yet more complex. Now, when it comes to beginners, Go does have a good handicap system that allows weaker and stronger players to even out the playing field a bit.

At the end of the day, Go is probably the better option for younger people and for those less experienced with strategy games.


As you can see, both Go and Chess are great strategy games that are worth playing. They will definitely get your strategic and tactical juices flowing!