# How do I properly place handicap stones?

Handicap games are very common in Go. The weaker player, taking black, gets to place (usually) up to 9 stones on the board, depending on the difference in skill.

Both free and fixed placement are possible, with fixed placement being far more common. This question refers to fixed placement.

Traditionally, both in handicap and regular games, black opens in the upper right corner, making him "bow down" to the (stronger) white player thus paying respect.

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\$\$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 1 . . . |
\$\$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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How does proper placement continue after the first stone?

The second stone in handicap games is, as far as I know, always placed in the lower left corner, but is the third stone in the upper left or the lower right? And what about the order of the next moves?

Is there a difference in tradition between Japan and China (or elsewhere)?

The idea behind playing in the upper right first is so that White doesn't have to reach far to play his first move. The corner immediately in front of him on his right is left open.

So the third stone goes in the lower right corner, from Black's viewpoint.

[Edit as per the comments: Move order for 9 stones]

``````\$\$ ---------------------------------------
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . 4 . . . . . 7 . . . . . 1 . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . 6 . . . . . 9 . . . . . 5 . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . 2 . . . . . 8 . . . . . 3 . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
\$\$ ---------------------------------------
``````
• It's worth noting that this custom is appropriately deviated from on many computer programs, as the board is shown to both players in the same orientation. It's polite to let white play in the lower right from her perspective, so when sitting opposite each other (in most real games) the 3rd stone goes in lower right as this answer says, however in virtual games the third stone is placed in the upper left because it is the upper left from both players' perspectives. – Gregor Thomas Jan 23 '12 at 19:39
• In the other cases that aren't completely symmetric (6 and 7), I believe it's customary to fill the hoshi points on the sides of the boards before the top and bottom. I.e., in a 7 stone game the handicap stones form an "H" rather than an "I" – Gregor Thomas Jan 23 '12 at 19:42
• What is the order of the moves 5-9? Afaik it is left, right, top, bottom, center, but why play 3 on the lower side and 7 on the upper side, isn't it inconsistent? (I wonder about the order of symmetric moves, too, even though I'm sure nobody would notice in a real game.) – mafu Jan 24 '12 at 2:59
• AFAIK: 5: as for 4, then the middle. 6: as for 4, then the sides, starting with Black's right side (as for the first). 7: as for 6, then the middle. 8: as for 6, then on Black's far side (as for the first), then on Black's near side. 9: as for 8, then the middle. – Karl Knechtel Jan 29 '12 at 13:39
• @KarlKnechtel: Why is 7 on the far side? The reasoning of 3 would indicate a placement on the near side to make it easy for w to place her first stone. – mafu Feb 6 '12 at 17:39

After the four corners are accounted for, the fifth stone goes to the center point.

If it is a six stone handicap, there is no center stone, but two stones (above four) go in the middle of the left and right sides. The seventh stone goes back to the center.

If there are eight stones, the four stones (above four) go to the middle of the left and right sides, and top and bottom. The ninth stone goes back on the center point.