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Visiting Korea to gamble is easy for a foreigner or an expat since the country has a host of foreigner-only casinos. However, those who wish to immerse in the culture of Koreans may well benefit from learning how to play Baduk and eventually play the game. For a bit of culture trip, expats can try to play baduk in Korea instead of the usual poker or other card games found in casinos.
What is Baduk?
Baduk is a board game commonly played in Asia, particularly the Koreans and the Chinese. The normal size of a Baduk board is 19 x 19 tiles but beginners are advised to use and learn the basics of the game using a 9 x 9 board.
How to Play Baduk
The game of Baduk begins with an empty board. Each player starts with an infinite number of stones, one has the white stones and the other the black stones, just like in playing chess. The game’s basic objective is to have the player use its own stones to build territories surrounding vacant areas of the board. They can also do this by capturing the opponent’s stones by surrounding it.
Players will take turns in placing their stones onto an empty slot in the board with the player with the black stones going first. Do note, unlike in chess, the players must place the stones on the intersecting lines rather than inside the squares. Once the players make a particular move, they can no longer adjust or move it. The exception is when the stones are captured by the opponent. The stones must be removed from the board and kept by the capturing player as prisoners.
The game ends when the players can no longer put stones in the board. At the end of Baduk, players will count their points with one point for each vacant point inside their territory and one point for every prisoner they have. The player with the most number of territory and prisoner wins the game.
Rules of Baduk
Players can only make one move at a time. The game involves only two players that take one move alternately or one after another. A player cannot make two or more moves at once.
Stones must be placed on an empty point. Players can only place stones on an intersecting line. They cannot place a stone on a space between lines or on a line.
Players can place their stones anywhere. The exception to this rule is when points were occupied by previous stones or illegal points. This is what separates Baduk from chess where each piece has a limitation for its movement.
Touch Move. Just like in chess, players may not move or take back the stones once they are placed on the board. In some online games, wrong placement through a mistake or mouse operation is an exception.
Players can resign. A player may resign before the end of the game if he thinks the overall position does not look good or there is really no chance of winning the game at all. In Korean Baduk tradition, the move is called defeat by resignation and is considered as a courtesy.
Illegal points. Whilst the stones have unlimited moves, the player cannot place a stone in areas such as places where it is completely blocked by the opponent. However, you can place a stone where you can capture enemy stones. It does not become an illegal point for you but an illegal point for your opponent.
Baduk does not allow repetition. This rule is applied when both the white and black stones are entangled with each other and seem to counter-capture each other. This happens when the black captures one white stone and the white is permitted to counter-capture the black stone. Since this will allow an endless repetition. This rule is necessary that after the black stone captures a white stone, the white stone is no longer permitted to counter-capture the black stone. This is called a Pae and the process of negotiation is referred to as the Pae fight.
Setting the neutral space and reclamation of the territory. When players fill in neutral points after the closing, they must do it alternately.
Capturing the Stones and Counting the Liberties
Liberties are points that are horizontal and vertical to a stone or group of stones. A group of stones or an isolated stone can be captured when all of its liberties are occupied by enemy stones – simply put, when the liberties are surrounded by enemy stones.
Stones placed on adjacent points make up a solidly connected group of stones. Note that only vertically or horizontally adjacent stones can be considered solidly connected. Stones in a diagonal position do not count as solid connections.
Capturing Groups and Stones
The goal of the game is to get as much territory as possible and to be able to do this, players must strategically place their stones to capture enemy stones and/or groups. For capturing, players must note that solidly connected stones are counted as one single unit. For isolated stones, a group can only be captured when all of its liberties are surrounded by enemy stones.
It is also important to note that a player cannot play a stone into a position where it cannot form part of a group or in the absence of liberties unless one or more of the stones surrounding it can be captured.
Ending the Game
The game of Baduk ends through an agreement. When the players mutually agree that they can no longer take on more territory, capture additional stones, or reduce the opponent’s territory, they can pass on the board. Two consecutive passes automatically end the game.
The Baduk Handicap
One of the distinguishing features of Baduk is its handicap system. A stronger player may choose to give the weaker player an advantage by giving up to nine stones. These stones are placed on the board as his first move.
By using a grading system, the players can establish their strength differences including how many stones the weaker player should get to compensate for the difference. The number of stones usually is the difference in grade between the players.
Betting in Baduk
Baduk may be an innocent board game but to some, it is one way of gambling. In Korea, players of Baduk bet money according to the actual count of a game. A unit of counting 10 points is called Bang. Naegi, on the other hand, means betting or gambling.
Bang-naegi sees players betting for each bang, often each bang equal to one dollar. For enormous amounts, Koreans often call it Mahnbang. Betting in Baduk can reach up to thousands of dollars so both players must do their best until the game comes to a conclusion. A resignation is equal to a Mahnbang so it is not easy to resign. In competitive games, players cannot resign unless they see that they are losing by as much as 90 points and stop fighting only when he is winning by at least five points.
Play Baduk Online
There are a number of online websites where gamers can play Baduk. Players can also choose to download the game to play in their free time.