Pair Go is a fun and interesting way to play Go

Pair Go is played by teams of two players - one male and one female – and was invented by Hisao Taki in 1990. It has quickly evolved into a new, formal, variant of Go, popularly played in many national and international tournaments.

Historically, Go with more than one player each side – called “Rengo” – has been in existence for hundred of years. Rengo was and remains to be broadly used in social occasions, often as a celebrational activity. Pair Go goes beyond such “play for fun” status, however; as witnessed by multiple, serious international championship competitions that involve top professional Go players.

The allure of Pair Go is gleaned by noting that, whenever more than one player is involved and no conferring is allowed, new game ideas emerge. In Pair Go each player must try to attain collaboration and tacit understanding with his/her partner in order to win. In the process each player gets to learn from partner’s depth of thinking and play style. Pair Go therefore can be used as a learning tool as well, especially for the weaker member of the pair.

Rules - Pair Go is something special

There is a special etiquette of Pair Go. This involves avoiding unmannerly behaviour and attitude. The environment for the event should be pleasant and higher than the usual standard, as should the standard of dress (jacket and tie recommended for the men). In order to encourage good dress, a Best Dressed prize is traditionally awarded at all Pair Go events.

Pair Go was started in Japan in 1990 to promote Go as a more social activity with the aim of attracting more female players to competitions. The etiquette is part of the means of making events more attractive.

Pair Go in Japan is organised by the Japan Pair Go Association.

With the aim of promoting Go among women worldwide the International Amateur Pair Go Championships (IAPGC) were started in Japan in 1990. Now representatives of 22 countries and all regions of Japan come together annually for this world championship, held in Tokyo. In addition there are separate handicap groups held alongside that get in excess of 300 Japanese players. The 2009 edition was the 20th, the 19th being held as part of the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing in 2008, and the silver jubilee was celebrated in 2014.

The World Pair Go Association was founded in 2008, to enable Pair Go to be promoted as a serious event and to be part of international tournaments at the same level as other worldwide mind sports.

Pair Go is a good way of encouraging and teaching weaker players, as they get to play in games were most of the moves are played by higher level players and get to learn from their partnering leading them in the correct moves through where they play their own. It is a good way of getting three players to play with a professional, without the pro having to play three simultaneous games.

Pair Go in Europe

The first European Pair Go Championship (EPGC) was held in Amsterdam in 1995. Since 1997 it has been a regular event, hosted by a different country each year. So far it has been in France, Netherlands, Czechia, Bosnia, Poland, Romania, UK, Germany and Russia. Typically teams from about 15 countries take part. Since 2004 they have been competing for points, as well as prizes, to allow their country to qualify for the IAPGC. There is also a popular Pair Go event at the annual European Go Congress.

Pair Go Around the World

One of the biggest Pair Go championships outside Japan is played at the annual US Go Congress. Up to 100 players take part. The US is now starting other local Pair Go events, such is the popularity of Pair Go. Many other countries run Pair Go events and championships.

Of course the IAPGC is the top event of the year. You can read reports about some of the IAPGC editions and also read about the Professional Pair Go Championship for Japanese professionals.