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BADUK Explained - Mastering the Ancient Game of Strategy

I recently started learning how to play this game after watching the K-Drama series, Captivating the King. I was fascinated by it and am now desperately trying to create a Baduk club where I live but no one knows of it, so here's how it's played...

Introduction to Baduk

Baduk, also known as Go in Japan and Weiqi in China, is a timeless board game of deep strategy. Originating in East Asia over thousands of years ago, it has captivated players worldwide with its simple yet profound gameplay mechanics. In this blog, we delve into the nuances of Baduk, explaining the game's objective, rules, and strategic depth.

Objective of Baduk

The ultimate goal in Baduk is to control more territory on the board than your opponent. Players achieve this by surrounding empty spaces with their stones, capturing opposing stones, and effectively managing the board.

Basic Rules and Gameplay

  • Board and Stones: Baduk is traditionally played on a 19x19 grid, although beginners may start on 9x9 or 13x13 boards. Players use alternately colored stones—black and white—to mark their progress.

  • Turn Sequence: The game begins with the black stones, as players alternate placing one stone per turn on any vacant point.

  • Capturing Mechanics: Stones are captured when all directly adjacent points are occupied by the opponent. These stones are then removed from the board.

  • Liberties: A key concept in Baduk is liberties. These are the empty points directly adjacent to a stone or group of stones, crucial for their survival on the board.

  • Life and Death: A group of stones must have at least two separate internal liberties (eyes) to be considered alive and safe from capture.

  • Ko Rule: To prevent infinite loops of capture and recapture, the ko rule prohibits immediate recapture in the same position.

  • Scoring: The game ends when both players pass their turns consecutively, signaling no further beneficial moves. The winner is determined by counting territories, captured stones, and any remaining dead stones on the board.

Strategic Depth

Baduk is celebrated for its strategic depth, encompassing early game setups (fuseki), middle game tactics (chuban), and endgame strategies (yose). Players must balance between immediate gains and long-term positioning, making the game a rich source of strategic contemplation.

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Visualizing Baduk

To better illustrate the game, here is an image depicting a typical Baduk board setup in the mid-game, showcasing various strategies and stone placements.

Illustrative Baduk board setup showing mid-game with black and white stones
Baduk Board


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