EGF Tournament Rules

August 1997

The following Tournament Rules are to be used in every tournament under the auspices of the European Go Federation, in particular the Grand-Prix d'Europe-tournaments.

The text is divided graphically in rules and notes, the latter written in italics, like this piece of text, and often indented.

Some points to note are the fact that consulting during the game is disallowed, even in breaks (rules 2b, 2c and 2d), the obligation to play tournaments to the end (2i), and the quite stringent penalty for latecomers (5d and 5e).

1 - Referee, appeals committee

a. A tournament falls under the direction of one or more referees, who may be aided by assistants. When there are more referees one of them should be appointed head referee.

A referee is obliged to:

  1. take care of a smooth progress of the tournament;
  2. take care of strict adherance to the tournament rules and rules of the game;
  3. take care of the execution of decisions he has taken concerning disagreements or other cases.
  4. The term tournaments also includes matches.

b. The appeals committee is consulted when a protest is filed against a decision of the referee. It consists of three members. These are chosen from participants in the tournament. It is advisable to choose some replacements. These are installed if, in the opinion of the referee, one or more of the originally chosen members are involved in the point at issue.

The appeals committee must be formed before or as soon as possible after the beginning of the tournament.

The appeals committee is obliged to hear the referee and the parties involved in the dispute and give its judgement after deliberation.

2 - The players

a. A sportsmanlike conduct is expected of the players.

b. During play the players are not allowed to study the game on another board. Nor is examination allowed of go-literature or game-technical notes.

Usage of the score sheet is allowed. The same applies to personal notes insofar they have been made during the game and do not contain diagrams with which to analyze the game.

c. During a recess the players are not allowed to analyze their game with board and stones, on a diagram or otherwise, or to let others analyze their game.

d. During the game or a recess the players are not allowed to ask others for advice. Hints, warnings or remarks by third parties must be rejected definitely by the players; under no circumstances are the players allowed to involve themselves in a discussion of their game.

e. Participants and non-participants are not allowed to distract the attention of, to disturb, or to hinder a player by any means. They are not allowed to influence the game (exception, see 2h); in particular, hints, warnings or remarks which could influence the game are not permitted during the game or during a recess.

f. When an adjourned game will not be resumed the same day the referee can lift the restrictions --- as far as the recess period is involved --- of 2c, 2d and 2e.

g. No one, except one of the players or the referee, is allowed to touch the board or the stones during the game.

This applies also during the recess if the game is adjourned for a short period.

h. Participants or non-participants who take notice of something in disagreement with the rules, are forbidden to inform the players involved. They have to inform the referee or an assistant.

    One is not allowed to warn a player who forgets to push his clock.

i. A player who enters a tournament is obliged to play it to the end. He is justified to withdraw only in case of exceptional circumstances.

3 - Registration of the time allowance

a. Every player has a predetermined time allowance; this is registered by means of a clock. When a player has used up his time allowance he is playing in byo-yomi; byo-yomi is checked by a timekeeper (unless the optional overtime rule 3g is used).

b. The clock has two timepieces which register the remaining time of the players. Every timepiece is equipped with a so-called flag: the end of the player's time allowance is marked by falling of the flag.

By pushing the clock a player can stop his own timepiece and start the timepiece of his opponent at the same time. Both timepieces can be stopped also. This is called neutralizing the clock.

c. At a time determined by the organizers, the clock of black is started. Following this each player presses the clock after finishing his move. (see 5f).

In the following the word "move" indicates move or pass.

d. The clock may be only neutralized by the referee, at his direction, or due to these rules.

Adjustment of the clock by a player on his own initiative is not allowed under any circumstances.

e. The indication by the clock is final, except in case of apparent malfunction. If a player wants to object to such malfunction and its consequences, he has to state this at the moment that he becomes aware of the malfunction.

f. Byo-yomi of a player commences at the moment he has used up his time allowance.

A player in byo-yomi has a predetermined maximal time allowance for every move. Time is started when his opponent presses the clock. The timekeeper counts aloud the last ten seconds of the time allowance from 10 til 0. When the word "zero" has been said before a player has put his stone on the board, he loses the right to move and his opponent is to move.

It is sufficient when in byo-yomi to play the stone within the allotted time. Captured stones must then be removed (in neutral time).

The counting is final insofar as it is done correctly and in normal tempo.

While only one player is in byo-yomi both players continue pressing the clock after their move.

After commencement of byo-yomi for the second player the clock will not be pressed.

At the moment the basic time allowance of a player is used up the timekeeper announces "byo-yomi", or -- particularly when the other player also is near byo-yomi -- "byo-yomi for black (white)".
It is recommended that the timekeeper makes use of a stopwatch to implement his task.
Even when both players speak different languages it is recommended that the timekeeper uses only one language for counting.
When the second player comes into byo-yomi, the timekeeper neutralizes the clock and puts it aside.
A player in byo-yomi is allowed to visit the toilet with consent of the timekeeper; during this time neutralization takes effect.

g. Optional Canadian overtime rule --- this rule is intended to dispense with the need to have a timekeeper available. When used it replaces rule 3f above.

Overtime of a player commences at the moment he has used up his time allowance.

A player in overtime has a predetermined maximal time allowance for a predetermined number of moves.

A good choice for the time allowance is 5 or 10 minutes, while the number of moves typically ranges from 10 to 30 per 5 minutes. In comparison with byo-yomi, between 66 % and 75 % of the time per move is a reasonable choice, e.g. instead of 30 second byo-yomi an overtime of 15 stones in 5 minutes is called for.

This is recorded in the usual way on the clock. Account of the number of moves is held by giving out the number of stones corresponding to the number of moves to the player in overtime and removing his bowl of stones. These stones have to be clearly visible to the opponent.

If the number of moves are finished within the allotted time a new period commences. Time not used during one period may not be used during the next, it is lost. If the allotted time elapses (i.e., the flag has fallen) without all of the stones having being played, the game has been lost.

It is recommended that the stones be given out and the clock reset by the referee or an assistant appointed by the referee so that the period is finished at `0'.
A player who is not in overtime himself may wish to count out the correct number of stones for himself to check the number of moves by his opponent.

The clock may be neutralized if three or more stones have to be removed.

4 - Recording the game

After adjournment of the game every player must himself supply a clear game record till the moment of adjournment on a form supplied by the referee. If reconstruction of the game till the moment of adjournment proves to be impossible, it is sufficient to record the position, the number of prisoners, the time remaining on the respective clocks, and who is to make the next move at the point of adjournment.

The clock must run until the move is sealed. The recording of the game position may be done in neutral time.

5 - Commencement, progress and end of the game

a. The position of the players and of the equipment is decided by the referee.

b. Komi is accounted for during counting.

c. The game commences at a predetermined time. This time may be altered by a decision of the referee.

d. If neither player is present at the starting time, then black's clock is started. White's clock is adjusted to read the same as black's at the moment that the first player arrives. The game then proceeds normally.

In a handicap game the placement of the handicap stones is the first move.

It is advisable to set the timepieces at the commencement of the game so, that the alloted time will have elapsed at 6 o'clock.

e. The player who without just cause appears at the board more than one hour past the predetermined starting time --- or earlier when he would have passed the time allotment with more than one minute through application of article 5d ---, has lost the game. The game is considered won by his opponent. If both players are late, the game is declared lost for both.

A player who is unable to be present on time, must notify the referee as soon as possible. However this does not alter the effect of the article above.

f. A move is fixed at the moment the stone is released after touching the board.

When no prisoners are taken, this finishes the move. When prisoners are taken, the move is finished after removal of all prisoners from the board.

As soon as the move is fixed, it may not be changed, even with consent of the opponent.

If the hand of a player hovers unnecessarily long above the board, it is considered hindering the opponent.

g. Prisoners must remain clearly visible.

h. The players can end the game only due to the rules of play or by resignation by one of them.

i. Before scoring it is required to play each stone in alternation and to end the game using passes.

All dame are played in alternation.

j. Protests concerning the result of the game should be presented to the referee as soon as possible, in any case before the commencement of the next round. If the next round is played within 24 hours, then this period is extended to maximally one full day.

6 - Adjournment of the game

a. When it is to be expected that the game will not be ended in a single session, then at the start the director must fix two times to game to regulate the adjournment.

After the first time a player who is to move may seal his move. If the game is not yet adjourned by the second time the player who is to move then has to seal his move. Games may be continued at this time without a break if both players and the tournament director agree.

The referee must announce the above mentioned possibility --- resp. obligation --- of adjourning the game.

When it is decided who is to seal his move, this player may decide for himself when he seals it.

The player who seals the move may use as much time as he has remaining on his clock.

The rules concerning time allowance remain completely valid.

b. The player who is to seal the move has to record his move clearly on the appropriate form (in the following abbreviated as "form"). Then the form is folded and closed.

As soon as he has recorded his move on the form the player may neutralize the clock. After this the sealed move is fixed.

When a player in byo-yomi is going to seal his move he gets an extra 30 seconds for this. (At the moment it is known to him that he is going to seal his move, this player announces this fact to the timekeeper.) As soon as he has finished recording the sealed move on the form he informs the timekeeper about it ("ready", "yes"). This announcement may not end later than the word "zero" of the timekeeper. After the word "ready" ("yes") the sealed move is fixed.

On the form should be noted:

  1. the names of the players;
  2. the numbers of captured stones;
  3. the time on the clock at the moment of adjournment;
  4. if black or white has sealed his move and the number of this move;
  5. the time of resumption of the game, and, when this is not on the same day, date and site of resumption;
  6. the signatures of the players.

While the player is considering his sealed move his opponent can begin to fill in these data.

The form is kept by the referee.

The form can be kept in a sealed envelope. Then the data mentioned under 6b.5 do not have to be noted on the form. On the envelope should be recorded:

  • the names of the players;
  • who has sealed the move;
  • the time of resumption of the game, and, when this is not on the same day, date and site of resumption.

When the game is not to be resumed on the same day, an envelope containing both the scoresheets and the form should be used.

A diagram with the position of the game at the moment of adjournment, certified by the signatures of the players, may be enclosed.

c. If a player who has to seal the move plays it on the board, this move is considered the sealed move. It is recorded on the form and this is checked by the referee.

7 - Resumption of the game

a. Articles 5c and 5e apply to the time of resumption of a game. A player also loses his game if he arrives later than his remaining thinking time.

b. Before the form is opened the players may study and check the position during 1 minute.

When upon resumption of the game the position at the moment of adjournment has to be built up, both players do this referring to their scoresheet or a diagram with the adjourned position. When the player who is to move is absent, only his timepiece is started (article 5d does not apply). Only when he arrives will the position be built up. When only the player who is to move is present the referee aids in the build up of the position.

During the build up of the position neutralization takes effect.


  1. The form will only be opened in the presence of the player who is to move next. After making the sealed move on the board the timepiece of this player is started.
  2. In case of the absence of the aforementioned player his timepiece is started immediately. Upon his arrival only will the form be opened.
  3. In case of absence of the player who has sealed his move his opponent does not have to make his move on the board but he can seal it as is regulated in article 6. As soon as his move is fixed he starts the timepiece of the absent player.

d. The sealed move must be unambiguously derivable from the form. Is this not the case, the sealed move is considered a pass.

e. After opening of the form the players are entitled to examine it.

f. The form must be kept by the referee until the deadline for the filing of protests.

8 - Irregularities

a. If one plays with the wrong colours or incorrect handicap and this is noticed before the 4th move is fixed, then the game has to be started again. If the 4th move is fixed then the game has to be continued and the result is treated as if the game had proceeded correctly.

When the mistake is made in an equal game and the players meet again in the same tournament then the mistake is corrected at the next game.

b. When a player is in doubt considering the position of a stone just played he may demand of the opponent to position the stone on the intended point.

c. When a player makes an illegal move and this is noticed within 3 moves the illegal move and the moves following it have to be removed and another move has to be made. If this is noticed later the game is continued.

The referee can correct the time allowance.
Making an illegal move is considered as hindering the opponent, so the the referee may take appropriate measures.

d. When a player notices the clock was set incorrectly the mistake will be corrected insofar as this mistake can be proved to the satisfaction of the referee.

e. When a player notices that the clock is malfunctioning, the clock is replaced by a functioning clock, while apparent mistakes in the recorded elapsed time will be corrected. If the time remaining was 10 minutes or less it may not be reduced, and if it was more than 10 minutes it may not be reduced to less than 10 minutes.

If the flag falls less than a minute early byo-yomi starts at that moment. If the flag falls late byo-yomi starts at the moment this is noticed.


  1. When at the time of adjournment a diagram signed by both sides showing the position of the game has an error and if both players agree upon a mistake on this diagram, this mistake may be corrected.
  2. When the records necessary for reconstruction of the position of adjournment are unavailable and this position cannot be reconstructed with the collaboration of the players, the game has to be replayed.
  3. When the remaining time allowance at the moment of resumption of an adjourned game cannot be reconstructed, the referee is allowed to make a ruling.
  4. When the form has disappeared the player has to play the sealed move.

g. When during the game or a recess one or more stones are displaced, added or have disappeared and play has continued since then, the following procedures have to be proposed in order at the moment the irregularity has been noted.

When the players have agreed to follow one of the procedures 1 through 5, this decision is final.

When 1 is unacceptable to both players, 2 is proposed, and so on. When ultimately 5 is rejected too, the players have to submit to procedure 6.

  1. The mistakes in the position are corrected and the game is continued.
  2. The incorrect position is not changed and the game is continued.
  3. The game is taken up at the position immediately preceding the irregularity, or, when this position cannot be pointed out precisely, at the last position in which to the best of estimations, the irregularity has not taken place.
    When the remaining time allowance at that moment cannot be agreed upon, each player is allotted a time allowance pro ratio to the remaining time allowance at the moment the irregularity is noticed.
  4. Example 1:
    After move 120 in a game not yet adjourned an irregularity is noticed. Black has used 90 min. and white 120 min. for these 120 moves. The game is continued beginning with the position after move 80. From this one computes that the following used times have to be shown on the timepieces:

    black: 80 / 120 * 90 = 60 min.
    80 / 120 * 120 = 80 min.

    Example 2:
    This example is only differing from the previous one in the adjournment of the game at move 60. On the form the used up time allowances are recorded: black 75 min., white 90 min. This gives the following computed times for the resumption after move 80:

    black: 75 + (80 - 60) / (120 - 60) * (90 - 75) = 75 + 5 = 80 min.
    90 + (80 - 60) / (120 - 60) * (120 - 90) = 90 + 10 = 100 min.

  5. One of the players resigns.
  6. The unfinished game is cancelled and the players play a new game.
  7. To decide upon this case the referee, consulting both players, submits the case to the appeals committee. This committee hears both players about the way the irregularity occurred and their ideas on how to settle the case.
    The committee can decide that procedure 1, 2, 3 or 5 has to be applied. When procedure 3 has been decided upon they have to indicate the position from which play is to be resumed. Also, taking account of the position before the irregularity has occurred --- insofar this can be decided upon --- they can rule the game to be a jigo or a win by one of the players.

When not enough time is available the referee can shorten the above procedure within reason.

9 - Disputes

a. When during the game an irregularity or a dispute occurs, the referee has to be consulted. Any byo-yomi counting is stopped immediately.

b. The referee can neutralize the clock. If no referee is immediately available, the players may neutralize the clock to fetch one as quickly as possible.

c. All decisions of the referee are binding in the first instance. The referee can compensate for time allowance elapsed during the dispute at the moment of resumption. A byo-yomi is started at full time again.

d. A player can appeal against a decision of the referee to the appeals committee.

The referee has to report the dispute to the appeals committee as soon as possible; the game can be adjourned for this.

If upon continuation of the game a player is not satisfied, this player must notify both his opponent and the referee clearly if he is playing under protest.

e. The referee has to make these rules available to a player for consultation when requested.

10 - Conclusion

In cases not covered in these rules the referee decides.