The rules are quite easy for those who can play Go, but they have some nuances that can lead to arguments, that’s why we adopted our rules during the game process to avoid any disputes in future.
Each partner gets 36 Dango cards, divided into two types. The first are the cards which imply some Go shape (totally 24 cards) to be put on the board. Here there are two rules. At first – for the shapes that have different reflected positions (for example keima) all reflected variations of the shape are allowed
The second rule is that all the stones of this shape are restricted by Go rules, that is – you place your stones on vacant points and can’t make a suicidal move.
You have to put all stones from the card you get. For example, if you got ponnuki shape, you have to put all 4 stones together and cannot use it as 1 or 2 separated kosumi shapes
The rest of set (12 cards) can be called action cards – they bear action meaning. There is much controversy about these cards so I’ll settle on them more thoroughly.
The first subgroup of action cards is quite simple, that is “Place your 3 stones”, “Place your 2 stones”, “Place your 1 stone”, “Delete your 3 stones”, “Delete opponent’s 3 stones”, “Place opponent’s 3 stones”.
All of your or opponent’s stones can be placed at any point on the board except for suicidal moves. But, basing upon the logic of this game, when you get, for example, “Place your 3 stones” card and each single stone is a suicidal move – the three stones together are considered as a one move – so you can kill a three-eyed(!) group. Three moves are an integral unity that can exist as a single action. (on Dia.1 – with the card “Place your 3 stones” You can put black stones at A, B and C and kill the white group.)
Now let’s pass on to the second group of action cards.
“Miss a turn” is obvious – you have to pass and wait for your next move. “Free card” is also a pass, but it doesn’t go to discard at once – it gives you a possibility to make two consecutive moves at any time in the continued game. You can show this card, make two cards in a row and then “Free card” finally goes to discards
Here we have two disputable issues. Primarily, You must use “Free card” before the first of your two consecutive moves (that means you have to warn your opponent about these two moves). The next is if your opponent also has a “Free card” he can’t impede your two moves by his card – that is he can make two moves in a row just after you, but can’t prevent your two consecutive moves.
“Free block” permits to decline previous opponent’s move – You can reverse any move you don’t like. Using this card also must be followed by a pass. If opponent used “Free card” You can call off only one move of the two.
The third group of cards consists of “Twice” and “Change”.
1. “Play next card twice” (yours) – when You get this card You take the next straight away (without a pass) and use it twice. For example – if You get a “Bamboo joint” card next, You place two bamboo joints on the board; if You get “Place your 3 stones” you put 6 stones (that gives almost infinite amount of possibilities!). This card can’t be used with the following:
“Miss a turn”;
In these cases “Twice” is just disbanded.
2. “Change” (of previous opponent’s move). If your opponent placed stones (his or yours) with his previous move, the stones are altered – i.e. if he puts black keima for example, a white keima is put on its place instead and his stones go back to him. If he placed your colour stones, they are reversed by his colour. Like a “Twice” card, “Change” can’t be used and vanishes with the following cards:
“Miss a turn”.
Here we also elaborated a rule: if opponent captured any stones by his previous move, you then change his stones by yours, but the captures don’t go back to the board.
Finally, the last card is “Replace”. It means that any two opponent’s stones on the board are replaced by yours. It is the most dreadful card for your rival. It may seem that “Place your 3 stones” looks more advantageous, but take a look at Dia 2. If two marked white stones are replaced by black – the five absolutely dead stones capture five white stones that were safely connected. “Replace” also can be used for cutting opponent’s groups, connecting your groups, destroying thickness or moyo’s defence e.t.c. So the main benefit of “Replace” is not in putting and removing stones but in doing these two actions simultaneously anywhere on the board. I should add that “Replace” becomes most powerful only when there is already a developed stable position on the board – there are some groups in combat. If a player gets a “Replace” after “Double” the game is most likely over (though everything is unpredictable in Dango!).
The standard card set is designated for 13×13 board; to make it more exciting we use a 19×19 board and “roll” the cards twice (surely before the second use the cards are shuffled). It must be considered that newcomers’ game on 19×19 board may last for more than 1,5 hours.
There are some nuances in switching from the first card shift to the second. If the last card was “Twice” – it elapses. First of all it has to be shuffled and if it comes first in second shift “Twice” might become a quadruple. Imagine your partner placing 3х4=12 his stones. Well, that’s going too far! Or, for example, if he places four shapes like on Dia.3. He would fence off all the territory at once! And so on… “Free block” and “Free card” can be left for the second round without pulling them out in the first. The disadvantage here is that cards would be shuffled without them and they won’t come in the next round. But there are some important gains. First, it is always great to have a “Free block” in stock on case of something terrible happened. Without “Free block” is can be tough! Or, if you have to save a group and are in a badly need of two consecutive moves – nobody knows when a “Free card” can come. After the card set is over the players begin to play normal Go, in other words – yose. Fairly often one can save or kill a group by a single move but none of “Shape” cards can be placed at this local part of the board. The moment when players stop using cards and proceed to normal Go is crucial. Here comes the advantage of holding back a “Free block” or “Free card” for the second round. You will have 34 (not 36!) cards, so you’ll pass to regular Go in advance of two moves. Nevertheless quite often opponent urges to use these cards both in the first and second rounds. They also can be left to the last – “classic Go” stage but it happens quite rarely – when they come at the very end of the round and lack for usage. Reasoning from notion that black begins to play yose first and gets more profit of it I recommend to assign 10.5 points komi for 19-19 board (with the standard nigiri procedure). It equalizes players’ chances to win.