The GO Without Borders Project
GO Without Borders is an experimental variant of the traditional game of Go, still
in the development stage. We are actively recruiting a small circle of beta testers
to help us debug and fully feature the program before public launch. We encourage
you to share this invitation with your friends and fellow Go players.
How to download the client software
To download latest version of the prototype software for both Windows and Mac, go
You will be asked to provide an email address. The purpose of collecting your address
is so we can notify you when a new release is pushed as old releases may be incompatible
with the server. You address will be added to the firstname.lastname@example.org
mailing list. This is a low-volume list where beta testers can report bugs and suggest
new features. It's easy to unsubscribe if you don't want to be included. Note that
out-of-date versions will not be able to log on to the server.
Because this is beta software your Mac or PC may issue a warning and block installation
unless you explicitly authorize the system to launch the program. If you have an
aggressive firewall you may also have to give permission for the program to pass
traffic to the internet the first time you play online.
The basic idea behind GO Without Borders is not new. Imagine a Go board
comprising a 19x19 grid in which the points along the leftmost border of the
grid are connected to the points along the rightmost border of the grid and
the points along the top of the grid are connected to the points along the
bottom of the grid. That is, every one of the 361 points on the grid is
identical in that they each have exactly 4 neighbors. The grid has no borders
whose points have only three neighbors and no corners whose points have only two
neighbors. Such a physical grid can be drawn on the surface of a torus. You can
imagine creating such a torus by taking a 19x19 planar grid, connecting the top
and bottom thereby forming an open-ended tube, then curving the tube back onto
itself to connect the right and left sides.
Playing Go on the surface of a three dimensional torus would be prohibitively
confusing as players need to see every stone on the board simultaneously in
order to aid whole board thinking so they can properly consider their moves.
Earlier efforts to play toroidal Go on a two dimensional 19x19 board and via a
correspondence game site called Little Golem replicated the lines in the border
regions as well as the stones placed there to aid in visualizing the wraparound.
(See Sensie's Library and
Malcolm Schonfield's blog.) Our application resolves the topology into a
simple planar two dimensional view through image replication and scrolling,
giving the game a more natural and less confusing feel. Tactically, it's just
Go. Strategically, we're not sure what it is yet.
What are the rules?
GO Without Borders is played with all the same rules as conventional Go.
The difference is that 3,000 years of josekis, the strategy for forming moyos,
and collective wisdom about playing fusekis are rendered irrelevant. Our
experiences so far indicate that the game is dominated by fighting, though we
expect territorial strategies and clever new fusekis to emerge as more highly
skilled players become familiar with the game.
When you launch the program for the first time, try it out in “Play Local” mode
in which two players on the same PC take turns placing stones. The board looks
like a conventional Go board, as in Figure 1, the only subtle difference being
that lines extend off the top, bottom, and sides of the board, indicating
wrap-around connectivity, rather than terminating at the rows marked 1 through
19, and columns marked A through T, which normally form borders. The line
extensions logically connect those prior border points to their counterparts on
the opposite border, that is, A-5 connects to T-5 and H-1 connects to H-19.
If you point the cursor at any spot on the board then left-click and drag the
mouse with the button held down, the view will change as the grid along with the
row numbers and column letters scroll to keep a fixed registration with the
lines they demark. As you scroll it appears as if you are gliding across an
infinite plane of repeated grids, but you are not. You are viewing a snapshot of
361 unique points on the board, each one connected to exactly four neighbors.
At all times every point and every stone is visible and each is displayed only
To demonstrate the consequences of such a topology, place a black stone on the
D-16 point by clicking that spot. (To avoid misclicks, which seem to occur a lot
as users scroll, you can select the “confirm moves” option when you launch the
game so that it takes two clicks in the same spot to place a stone.)The board
would initially look like Figure 2. Smoothly scroll the board up and to the
left. The black stone seems to disappear when it hits the top let corner, then
simultaneously reappear at the bottom right corner as the board continues
scrolling, leaving the board looking like Figure 3. Note that the piece did not
change position on the 19x19 reference grid; it is always at D-16. Only your
view of the board has changed.
To more thoroughly demonstrate the nature of the board, place a series of black
and white stones in any configuration then scroll around. The illusion will be
created that these stones have been reproduced many times as you fly over an
infinite plane of identical boards. But this is just an illusion. Each stone
appears exactly once at any one time, and always at a fixed position with
respect to the reference grid (K-5 stays K-5). Figures 4 and 5 show exactly the
same board viewed from two different perspectives after scrolling.
As you know, the game of Go very much depends on the relative positions of the stones
– which stones are above and below each other, which stones are to the left and
right of each other, and which stones are directly adjacent on connected points
forming a contiguous group. But the relation of the stones on a GO Without Borders
board is not constrained by the edges of the board because there are no borders,
the grid is a wrap-around continuum. A stone at A-3 is directly connects to a stone
at T-3, which becomes visually apparent when you scroll the board away from its
initial position in which A and T would normally be far apart on opposite borders
of the board. This has tremendous consequences to the way the game is played.
At the end of a game after you pass and each player marks the other player's
dead stones, pause to understand the automatic scoring as the territory
determination takes into account the fact that on a GO Without Borders
board, contiguous territories simultaneously wrap around in both the horizontal
and vertical dimensions. By way of example, Figures 6 and 7 show the same board
at the end of a game, viewed from two different scrolled perspectives. Note that
white's large enclosed territory in the upper center surrounding the K-6 point
in Figure 6 appears in the lower right corner in Figure 7, spilling five points
into the upper left corner.
To Play With Others Online
We set up an experimental server so remote players can meet up and be matched to
play online. To do that click the “Play Online” button. The program will ask you
to choose a screen name, which must be at least four characters long. Then hit
“Log In.” Passwords and persistent accounts with player rankings and logging of
the games for review are not set up yet. If you try to log on with an old
version of the software it will ask you to first download the latest version.
After you log in you will see a list of players on the left who have also logged
in and are looking for a game. Click on one of the other names to issue a
challenge. The player you challenged will get a message asking if they accept.
If they do, your boards will be linked and you can play against each other. At
this point, the player who issues the challenge is white and the player who
accepts the challenge is black. You can place handicap stones wherever you'd
like by having the white player pass the first few times. Fill in the preferred
komi and check the box if you want to award the komi to white, otherwise it goes
At this stage of development it is probably best that the players communicate by
voice so they can discuss the game with each other. Although a text messaging
capability is built in it is still a little weird to understand what is going
on. I am semi-retired, work mostly out of my home, and have a very flexible
schedule so I am happy to play an online game with you if our schedules allow.
If you'd like to play just drop an email to Bill Frezza at
email@example.com and we can pick a
convenient time, even on the spur of the moment. I warn you, though, that I am
only a 10 kyu player so if you are a dan level player I am going to ask for a
big handicap to keep the game interesting.
If you would
like to sign up as a beta tester
Our goal right now is to build a small beta test community to help guide the
development of the product and prepare us for a public launch. The idea is for a
small group of pioneering users to have some fun while sharing their experiences
and suggestions with us so we can keep improving. We are all ears if you have
any suggestions on a business model that could make such a public server
self-funding, rather than having it turn into an expensive hobby. (Perhaps a
In order to collect your feedback and notify you when new builds are pushed we
have set up a Google Group listserv. If you want to sign up as a beta tester
please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
This GO Without Borders implementation was conceptualized by
Bill Frezza and developed
by John Gaby. We
are grateful for the assistance being provided by our Go teacher and 8-dan
player Cornel Burzo.
Thank you for your interest.