17

I'm really confused, but it seems to be the convention that there is no I:

The rows are numbered 1 to 19...

enter image description here

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    Note that omission of the I letter is not universal. Those used in the West seem to do it more often than those used in the East. This fact surprised me when I first encountered it. – mafu Apr 8 at 15:43
  • Btw what software is is your screenshot from? – CodesInChaos Apr 10 at 17:32
  • Sorry, I don't know. I just searched for images of go boards. – satnhak Apr 13 at 9:35
  • @satnhak stack exchange sites actually have a notation for drawing go boards in the text box - the website generates the image itself off it - boardgames.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/987/… – Andrew Jun 4 at 4:57
32

Zeiss isn't completely correct, this is actually the less common reason for omitting the I. The more common reason why I is often omitted where it would normally be expected between H and J is because in sans serif fonts the uppercase "I" is completely identical to the lowercase "l" (L). In a go board if you see a move noted in uppercase as I6 or lowercase as l6 without any other context you could not tell the difference in these fonts.

Confusion between a letter and a number would be much less common, since the letter in go is given first and the number is given second for hybrid notation, but confusion between L and I would be possible and is avoided by not including an I at all, thus guaranteeing that L and l both refer to the L column.

(for anyone with an interest in typography, this was actually intentional, allowing the lowercase l to be used in place of an uppercase I made it easier on the typesetters, they had more available of both that way and had less different symbols to worry about. Same way p and d or b and q are the same just rotated)

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    Just look at my answer itself, though the editor on stack exchange uses serif fonts and you can tell, but the page uses sans-serif, without context given by my answer, how could you tell if I was using a capital i or a small L? – Andrew Apr 7 at 17:05
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    Those of us who grew up with typewriters are used to seeing confusion of the lower case "l" with number 1 -- most pre-computer-age typewriters didn't even have a "1" key. A few did -- those used for recording telegrams, or that otherwise worked in all-caps, and the Selectric had it because some of its type balls had fonts where they looked different. – Zeiss Ikon Apr 7 at 17:32
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    This issue also exists in handwriting, although more between "I" and "J". Snopes asserts that the reason why Washington D.C. doesn't have a J street was to avoid confusion with I street when giving directions. «...in 18th century English they were still largely interchangeable. (The 1740 “New General English Dictionary” published in London had a single section for I and J, and the standard identification Thomas Jefferson used on his personal possessions was “T.I.”)» – Davy M Apr 7 at 20:25
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    Go coordinates predate typewriters, so this answer is wrong. The actual answer, according Sensei's Library, is what @DavyM mentioned, the confusion between I and J. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 7 at 22:31
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft early go notation wasn't using the Latin alphabet at all, but were entirely in Japanese or Chinese characters. Movable type has existed since 1040, made easier by Gutenberg in 1440. The very first typewriter was invented in 1829. Korschelt, the originator of the system using the Latin alphabet for columns, was not born until 1853 and didn't publish his book until 1880. – Andrew Apr 7 at 22:41
19

In most cases, where "I" is omitted between "H" and "J", it's to avoid confusion with number "1". It's also common to omit the letter "O" for the same reason (confusion with number "0", more of a problem in some fonts than others).

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    There is no 0 row on a Go board, which is probably why O isn't omitted. On street signs you'll sometimes see "Eye St" instead of "I St", but obviously there isn't room for that here. – Arcanist Lupus Apr 7 at 12:13
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    As stated in Andrew’s answer, this answer, though accepted, is unconvincing, as the convention of stating first row as a letter then column as a number avoids confusion between letters and digits. – PJTraill Apr 8 at 14:48
  • Sorry, perhaps I should have waited longer before I accepted the answer, I didn't realise how popular and contentious the question would be. It might be useful to cite some sources. I do agree that ordering alone makes it unlikely that anyone reading a game record would confuse a 1 for an I, so the typographical argument is slightly more persuasive to me. Actually there is a citing for this answer as I can see in the comments for @Andrew's answer. – satnhak Apr 8 at 20:35
  • @briantyler Can you not change your accepted mark to the better answer? It will benefit everyone. – MEMark Apr 9 at 8:52
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    Didn't know I could do that! I thought accepted answers were basically set in stone. – satnhak Apr 9 at 11:23

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