Nigiri refers to the process by which the players in an even game decide who goes first. "Nigiri" comes from the Japanese verb "握る" (nigiru), "to squeeze". The Japanese word "nigiri" is often used in English, but the phrase "choose for colour" may also used.
How to nigiri:
- The senior (or older) player seizes a handful of white stones and places his closed hand upon the board so that his opponent cannot see the stones in his hand.
- The other player guesses whether the number of white stones in his opponent's hand is odd or even. He announces his guess by placing upon the board either one black stone (if guessing odd) or two black stones (if guessing even).
- The player holding the white stones opens his hand and counts out the stones. If the guessing player is correct, he keeps the black stones and goes first. If wrong, he surrenders the black stones and goes second.
If playing a series (such as when challenging for a title), the nigiri is performed before the first match, with players alternating colours with each game. If playing the tie-breaking game in a best of seven, the players will nigiri once more before game 7.
If playing go as a three-person team, the first boards will perform the nigiri, and will alternate colours down the team. For example, if Team A's first board wins black, the second board will take white, and the third board will take black.