In section 4 it was stated that the problem of reinforcement when
there are an even number of neutral points, which is the only defect
of area rules, can be solved very logically by introducing the rule
of half a point for the last competitive move. It was shown that the
resulting rules (area rules III) advance area rules a step beyond their
most primitive form. If we examine the meaning of the last competitive
move from a slightly different angle, we shall discover something very
Defining the last competitive move as the move preceding the first pass
means that this is the point at which a player can let his opponent play
two consecutive moves without having the opponent gain anything (the
player himself loses nothing). Under traditional territory rules also,
in the state at the end of the game, the player who played last can be
allowed to play another consecutive move without gain or loss to either
The key point here is that under both territory and area rules, there
is a boundary point at which it does not matter if the same player
plays twice in a row. The character of the game before this boundary is
different from the character after the boundary. After the boundary, the
right to play first is not necessarily an advantage; it may be possible
to let the opponent play two or more consecutive moves without any
effect. Usually there is no tension after the boundary point. In unusual
positions, however, large-scale exchanges may take place even after the
boundary has been reached.
Area rules I and II ignore this boundary, which is why the problem of
reinforcement when there are an even number of neutral points occurs.
There is also the bother of having to keep playing after the boundary
point, when the tension is gone from the game, although of course these
moves can be omitted by agreement. The feature of area rules III is that
they recognize the boundary and apply the half-point rule to the last
competitive move. In actual play, when there are no unusual positions on
the board, it is frequently convenient to end the game by agreement at
There is a basic problem, however, in making this boundary the end of
the game as in traditional territory rules. When no unusual positions
exist, it is true that the boundary point is in effect the end of
competition and further play is just a nuisance, but when an unusual
position does exist, to ignore the possibility of playing the position
out after the boundary is to invite trouble.
Making this boundary the end of the game can be explained in terms of
Japanese fastidiousness, which regards the playing of even one pointless
move that does not require thought as a blot on the game record. But
this cannot be called logical. It is unreasonable to end the game at the
boundary point and ignore means of settling unusual positions that can
only be settled after the boundary has been passed. Traditional rules
such as "bent four in the corner is unconditionally dead" and
"three points without capturing" were required in order to
make the game end at the boundary point.
Another major reason for ending the game at this boundary in traditional
rules is that under rules that count territory and prisoners, it is
generally disadvantageous to play inside your own territory after the
boundary is passed. Under area rules, in which moves made after the
boundary do not cause any loss, unusual positions can be played out past
the boundary without requiring any special rules. Under territory rules,
however, the rules of play past the boundary need to be clearly defined.
A recent proposal from the Nihon Kiin (not yet approved by its Board of
Directors)* is to define this boundary as the end of
the game, and if further play is required, treat the ensuing phase as
a demonstration period. When the position has been played out to both
players' satisfaction, the board is restored to its previous (boundary)
This proposal holds that the boundary should always be the end of the
game. In unusual cases, however, large-scale trades and other changes
may follow the boundary; in those cases the outcome of the game should
be determined from the changed position. Furthermore, while it may not
be impossible to restore the board to its original boundary state,
in practice this will not be easy and mistakes are likely to occur.
Retracting moves made after the boundary is a strange and unnatural
procedure. This rule does not seem to have been a particularly clever
proposal, and there was no logical need for it.
It is unreasonable to insist, even at such a cost, that the boundary
point is the end of the game. A logical set of rules ought to allow for
play beyond the boundary. If necessary, the game should be played out to
the very end.
- The proposal was never approved.