square one

a starting point; initial stage or step: If this plan fails, we'll have to go back to square one.

1955–60; alluding to board games in which a player is penalized by being forced to return to the starting point

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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square one

the situation in which you begin an endeavor and to which you return if your efforts fail; "the police are now back at square one after having arrested and released 27 men"; "she has tried to diet but always ends up back at square one" 
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
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Example sentences
Whatever you decide, you'll be glad you're not starting at square one.
Then if you need an attorney, you will be ready to go, rather than starting at
  square one.
It's a different skill and you have to go back to square one and learn it.
The trial was halted, hopes were dashed, and the researchers went back to
  square one.
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