The Gorrion Game Server



The Game of Margo

Margo is an interesting extension of the game of Go. It is one of a series of excellent games created by Cameron Browne. Margo is played like Go but with marbles that can stack upwards. This page gives an introduction to the game.

A game of Margo

( A game in progress. Black to move. )

The Game

The game can be played on a range of board sizes. 9x9 should be the minimum. 11x11 allows for plenty of rounds of attack and counter-attack. 13x13 is professional size.

Two players take turns to place a marble of their colour on the board shown above, initially on the grid lines, or stacked higher when there is a base of supporting marbles. Black goes first.

Objective of Margo.  Players aim to capture their opponent's marbles and to have the majority of marbles at the end. Marbles that are hidden under a stack are included in the count. The game ends when a player has no legal move.

Ko Rule.  As in the game of Go, the ko rule applies to Margo. Positions cannot be repeated. Marbles that are hidden underneath a stack are also considered to be an element of the position.

Self Capture.  As in the game of Go, self-capture is not permitted. You may not stack a marble unless it is connected to a live group.

Capture.  You may capture an opponent group only if it has no board-level liberties. When a group is captured all the opponent's marbles in the stacked group that can be lifted freely are removed. Marbles that are trapped are to remain in place. Trapped marbles may still have an influence later in the game.

Groups.  Marbles are connected if they touch on a visible level or if there is is no visible break in colour when viewed from above. Groups of marbles that are connected by a path hidden underneath a stack are counted as separate groups.

Passing.  Passing at Margo is not permitted.

Swapping Colours.  The second player ( White ) has the option to swap colours immediately after the first player has made his first move. The first player will take the white pieces and will play against his own first move. The second player is given a swap option in order to counter the first play advantage that the first player would otherwise have.

Some Insight into Playing the Game

Here are a few guidelines for beginners.

The stacking mechanism is what gives the game its particular flavour. You will often be able to connect groups by forming a bridge over your opponent's marbles. Because of this both players will usually end up with very few groups, and a corner group will not be able to survive as easy as it can do in a game of Go. The sequence of activity of corner first, then side, then centre, as usually played in Go, does not seem to work in Margo. The game is won on marble count, and not by territory.

It might be possible that the outcome of a game depends on the colours of marbles that are hidden underneath a stack. If hidden then how can you know what their colours are? The only way is to go back over the moves.

The game ends when the current player has no legal move, but often once a player has suffered a significant capture it will be futile for him to continue to the very end.

Only occasionally will players need to engage in a race for the end, building the stacks higher until one player is forced to move inside his own territory. In the following position White cannot occupy any of the remaining board level nodes and cannot make a stacking move and so has no valid move. The game is at an end and Black wins.

Game End

( No valid move for White. )

Visit Cameron Browne's Margo page [ ] for further information on this game.

More Information

Play by eMail.  Margo can be played by eMail at Richard Rognlie's PBeM server [ ]. I am 'dashstofsk' at the PBeM server and will welcome all challenges to a game.

Margo is one of the games that I am hoping to put on the Gorrion Server.