LGC Tournament Rules

Adopted on 11 May 2023

These rules take precedence over other or older rules unless expressly stated to the contrary in a tournament information page.



The following rules apply to the progress of the game:

Move A move is either a playing a stone on the board or passing a stone to one’s opponent.
Making a move A stone played on the board is played quickly as near as possible to its intended intersection. Once such a stone touches the board there should be minimal physical movement required to place the stone on its intended intersection and then it should be released straight away. Once the stone is played any removal of the opponent’s stones is carried out. Playing a stone or passing a stone is completed by pressing the clock with the same hand that held the stone. Once the clock is pressed, the hand used must promptly be removed from the clock.
Prisoners Prisoners and overtime stones (if used) must remain clearly visible to the opponent at all times.
Alternation All moves must be played in alternation with the clock running.
Dame, Teire All Dame and Teire must be filled including any points inside a seki that do not destroy the seki.
Resignation A player may resign the game by clearly saying “I resign”, or by placing two stones simultaneously on the board.


The following rules govern the behaviour of both players and spectators:

Tournament rules and officials All persons must abide by the rules of the tournament and the requirements of the tournament officials.
Silence All persons in or near a playing room must be quiet. Mobile phones must be switched off.

The following rules govern the behaviour of players:

Top groups By default players in the top groups of a tournament must play all rounds. In a McMahon tournament the top groups include any supergroups, the group above the bar, and the group just below the bar. A player starting in a top group may skip a round only in exceptional circumstances, for example: a serious medical problem proven by a doctor’s certificate or family bereavement.
Other players Other players must inform a tournament official at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time in order to skip a round.
Excessive round skipping Apart from when a player not in the top groups has given advance notice of the rounds which they do not wish to play, a player may be sanctioned for skipping rounds unduly.
Sportsmanship Application of the rules takes priority, but if even after careful consideration they turn out to be insufficient, then the players’ behaviour should still express a spirit of mutual respect and fairness while each player seriously strives for winning his games.
Disturbance A player may not disturb others by making noise with stones, commenting on moves, improper making of moves, bad body language, nor by placing distracting items on the table.
Study aids During their game players may not study the game on another board or use any material or machines for study purposes. Players may not seek advice from third parties, but can consult referees regarding rules.
Game recording An electronic recording medium may only be used if both players agree before the start of the game. All methods of recording must remain visible to both players at all times during the game. In all circumstances the move must be completed before it is recorded.

The following rules govern the behaviour of spectators:

Communication Spectators must not influence a game by any means including audible comments, body language, or touching any part of the playing equipment.
Crowding Spectators must not crowd too closely around a game in progress and must move back if asked to do so.
Infringement If a spectator notices an infringement of the rules, then the matter can be brought to the attention of a referee, but on no account should the spectator inform the players directly.


This section lists the rules covering common irregularities. Any situations not listed here must be discussed with the referee.

Colour or handicap error If players start a game with the wrong colour or handicap, and this is noticed before the third move is completed, then the game must be restarted. If the error is noticed later, then the game continues and the pairing is modified to reflect the actual colours or handicap used.
Ambiguous stone placement If the position of a stone just played is unclear, then a player may request that the opponent positions the stone unambiguously.
Illegal move It is illegal to play so as to recreate a previous board position with the same person to play (ko and natural situational superko). If any illegal move is made and if this is noticed within three moves, then the game must be unwound to the position just before the illegal move and play continues from that point. If the illegal move is noticed after three moves, the game just continues as it is. The referee may allow an adjustment of the time.
Position disturbance If the position is disturbed accidentally and the players cannot simply correct it, then the referee can apply the following procedures, in order:

    1. correct the position.
    2. continue with the position as is.
    3. unwind the game to a previous agreed position.
    4. award a loss to the player who disturbed the position.
    5. cancel the game and start afresh with possibly reduced time limits.
Hindrance Sanctions of varying severity include: modification of time limits, removal from rounds, removal from the tournament, debarred from a supergroup in a future tournament.
Timing error Players may agree to reset a clock set incorrectly before the game has started. They may not reset a correctly running clock started by an official. Once the game has started, any apparent non-trivial mistakes in the recorded elapsed time can only be corrected by the referee.
Faulty clock A clock found to be malfunctioning shall be replaced and set by the referee. If an analogue clock does not show a time excess immediately, then this is replaced by interpreting what should have been the clock’s correct indication.


Management of time is governed by the following rules:

Start The referee may decide on which side of the board the clock is placed. If no decision is required, then White, else Black may choose where to place the clock. At a time determined by the tournament director (by default 15 minutes after the start of the round) Black’s clock is started either by the referee or by the players themselves. In special circumstances, the referee may start clocks on some boards at a different time. If a player is late by 30 minutes or more, they forfeit the game.
Sudden death Each player is assigned a fixed amount of time for the whole game. There is no overtime.
Fischer time This is the default method when digital clocks are used for games with an indeterminate end. There is no overtime.
Canadian overtime When a player’s main time has expired the player has to complete a given number of moves in a specified period of time set on the clock. When all the moves have been made, the clock is reset for the next overtime period.
Japanese byo-yomi
A move must be completed within the byo-yomi time period.
Loss on time
No overtime: a player loses on time if the current move is not completed before the basic time expires. With overtime: a player loses on time if not all of the given number of overtime stones are played in the prescribed overtime period.
Timing procedure for removing three or more stones:
    1. The player places the stone.
    2. The clock is now paused.
    3. The captured stones are removed.
    4. The player restarts the opponent’s clock.
Ending the game
    1. A player passes by handing a stone to the opponent (who adds it to any existing prisoners) and completes the move by pressing the clock. It is possible for the player to lose on time if the clock is not pressed.
    2. The other player passes by handing a stone to the opponent and completes the move by pressing the clock. Again it is possible for the opponent to lose on time if the clock is not pressed.
    3. Play pauses after the minimum number of consecutive passes in which White passes last.
    4. The clock is now paused.
    5. The players must then attempt to agree on the status of every group.
    6. If there is a dispute about the status of any groups then play resumes on the clock, with Black going first. Resumption can be repeated subject to White passing last. At the start of a resumption if both players pass then the game stops and all stones remain on the board for counting purposes.

The clock may be paused with both player’s timepieces being stopped simultaneously in the following circumstances:

1. By the players, after successive passes, at the start of each status assessment phase.
2. By the players at the start of the counting procedure.
3. By the players, to reset the clock or count overtime stones for the next overtime period.
4. By a player to visit the toilet shortly before or during overtime. However a player may not abuse this right.
5. By a player in order to remove three or more stones without liberty.
6. By the players to deal with a clock malfunction themselves, or to call the referee to deal with the clock. The players may not increase their time limits.
7. By a player at the start of a formal adjournment.
8. By a player to fetch a sealing form for an adjournment.
9. By a player to complete a sealing form.
10. By a player to call an absent referee after informing the opponent.
11. By the referee at the start of arbitration or rule clarification.
12. During an urgent announcement on behalf of the tournament director.


Komi in an even game is 7.5 to White. In a handicap game it is 0.5 to White.
Territory is defined as empty points surrounded by stones of the same colour. Accordingly eye points in seki count as territory.
Prisoners are placed inside the opponent’s territory.
If your opponent has less territory than the number of prisoners you have captured then the surplus is counted as negative territory for your opponent.
After accounting for komi the player with the most territory wins.


The arbitration procedure used to resolve disputes has two levels of operation:

the referee
appeals committee

Every effort must be made to discuss and resolve the dispute in a separate room, or at least away from other players still busy with their games.

A player with a dispute refers the matter to the referee in the first instance. Players can ask to be shown the rules or have the operation of a digital clock explained. A referee attempts to mediate or to simply clarify the rules. If this resolves the dispute, no judgement is made and the matter is ended. Otherwise the referee makes a judgement.

The dispute may then be referred to the appeals committee if either player is not satisfied with the judgement or its reasoning. The appeals committee may reject a case if it considers the referee’s judgement and reasoning obviously right and just. The appeals committee decision is final.

Decision making considers the involved persons’ points of view. Witnesses may be called. Any decision made regarding a dispute must be explained in clear language and carefully justified. Decisions shall be made impartially.

If a dispute involves a player who is also a member of the appeals committee, then that player must not participate in the resolution of the dispute.

Referee responsibilities The function of the referee is to inform players about the rules for the tournament, to apply the rules, and to enforce them.
Player responsibility In the event of a dispute, the player has a responsibility to call the referee as soon as possible, and may not delay in order to gain a favourable decision. If the referee decides that the game in dispute should resume, but the player still wants to appeal, then the player must inform the referee and the opponent that the game is played under protest. When signing a result form, the player must state that the game was played under protest. Failure to do so means that the player gives up the right to appeal.
Appeals committee The appeals committee is formed of three persons before the start of the first round and includes reserves. If there are fewer than three at the time of a dispute, then other players must be co-opted to the committee to make up the number. If a committee cannot be formed, then a game in dispute may be adjourned. If the appeals committee cannot meet in time before the tournament’s next round, then only those present arbitrate. The appeals committee’s decision is final.


Rules violations may incur a sanction. A sanction is a last resort and a referee will carefully consider whether the fault lies in a weakness of the tournament organisation, obscurity in the rules, or in the player or spectator concerned. A referee will be cautious before imposing judgements of cheating or unsportsmanlike behaviour. Once a sanction is deemed appropriate, it can be one of the following:

Advice The referee states what the correct behaviour or rule is. Thereafter players and spectators are required to respect the advice.
Warning A referee may issue a warning to either or both players. If a player receives two warnings in the same game, then the referee imposes the game forfeit sanction.
Game forfeit The referee declares one or both players to lose the game by forfeit.
Other sanctions Sanctions of varying severity include: modification of time limits, removal from rounds or removal from the tournament.


Tournament Director The Tournament Director is the head of local organisation of the tournament.
Tournament organiser Tournament organisers assist the tournament director.
Drawmaster The drawmaster, who might also be the tournament director, manages the pairings.
Referees The referees enforce the rules and judge disputes. They might also act as tournament organizers.