Does anyone know origin of smaller go boards (9*9,13*13)? When (and where) was first introduced? I looked on Sensei library but didn't find anything about history of go boards.

  • I'm only aware of the (I think) old Tibetan variant with 17x17 boards. Maybe the 9x9 and 13x13 are even modern inventions?
    – mafu
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 0:40
  • Supposedly the board was originally 17x17, then went to 19x19. Smaller boards were invented 'on the side' for various purposes, but there's no source anywhere to verify this purpose or a time in history when they were introduced.
    – freekvd
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 11:08
  • 9*9 would be 1/4 of a 17x17 board. I suspect 1/4 board would have be used to teach the game when that board size was popular.
    – MaxW
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:02

3 Answers 3


A Japanese pro 9-dan, Tomoyasu MIMURA (born 1969) writes in his blog entry (3 Feb 2014), ''I had never seen, or heard of 9x9 board in my childhood'' and ''In 1987 started the TV show 'Mini-Go One Game Match (ミニ碁一番勝負)'.... Professionals had begun to pay attention to the unexpected depth of 9x9 board game some time before''. Therefore, around 1985 would be a good guess.

  • It must be older, at least in Germany. I had my first games of Go on a 9x9 board before that date. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 11:01
  • Asian kids directly learn on 19x19. I guess one reason is that learning joseki is part of their curriculum from the start.
    – Christophe
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 18:52

The oldest reference I found of official 9x9 pro games were those played between Go Seigen and Miyamoto Naoki in 1968. The purpose was to decide the proper komi on 9x9.

As for unofficial 9x9, it's probably been around forever...


Here is a reference from 1978: In Winfried Dörholt, Das japanische Brettspiel Go, both games on 13x13 and 9x9 are presented in a very natural way to introduce the rules and to have beginners games (no claim that it is a brand new invention). Therefore, at least in Germany, the small boards were well-known in the 1970ies and probably much earlier.

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