How To Win Converts

British Go Journal No. 10. December 1969. Page 4.

Francis Roads

One of the objects of the British Go Association is to spread the knowledge of the game to as many people as possible. Anyone who has tried, as I have, to start a local Go club knows that the best way of getting new members is by personal contact. I have been lucky in having had the opportunity of teaching the game of Go to scores and possibly hundreds of beginners, and I thought it might be useful to pass on some of my experience in winning converts to the game.

It is well known that groups such as science students, computer programmers, schoolmasters and chess-players often provide potential converts, but one can find interest in the game in surprising places - Young Conservatives, Scout groups and even the Townswomens Guild have been known to show interest - and therefore whenever I find myself in the company of new acquaintances, whoever they are, I always try to mention my interest in Go as soon as the conversation allows it. Usually someone will show interest, even if only of the polite variety, and the next step is to manoeuvre that person into asking me how the game is played. The battle is then half-won.

Two points always need to be made clear before even setting out the board and stones: first, that you are not about to explain either Messrs. Waddingtons trivial game or Go-Bang (properly Go-Moku); and second, that, although Go can be a very intellectual game, the basic rules are quick to learn, and that the game can be enjoyed at a very elementary level.

For the purpose of teaching beginners I have made some small quarter-boards (10 x 10) ruled on cardboard. Coloured counters, which cost about 5/- [25p] a gross, serve as stones - red and green or blue and yellow replacing black and white. These sets are very cheap, easily portable when you want to play a number of beginners at once, and also show the beginner how easily he can make his own board.

The generate maximum interest in the game it is usually best to get the beginner actually playing the game as soon as possible, and to cut the introductory explanation down to a minimum; I usually explain first the following six points in order.

  1. How moves are made.
  2. How stones connect to form armies (emphasising that diagonally adjacent stones are not connected.
  3. The object of the game, showing how armies can surround territory with or without the help of the edge of the board.
  4. The definition of liberties, and how stones and armies are captured (mentioning the need for internal surrounding).
  5. How the game ends, from the theoretical paint of view (i.e. when both players pass in succession).
  6. The two prohibitive rules of Go, i.e. the no-suicide rule and the rule of ko. Only the bare mechanics of these rules need be explained.

The above is enough to enable the beginner to play his first game of Go. Note that it is not necessary to explain about the safety of two-eyed armies ; this after all, is an elementary tactical principle and not a rule. And of course such relative niceties as ko-fights, seki, snap-back, etc. can easily be left out until later - they are not likely to occur in a players first couple of games.

Even with a four-stone handicap on a quarter-board, the beginner almost always ends his first few games by losing all his stones. There is no point in discouraging him by pointing out all his bad moves - better by far to point out a few good ones, even If he doesnt see why they are good. If he has lost a lot of stones in his first games, he will be in a receptive frame of mind for hearing about an infallible way of making his armies invulnerable. This is also a good time to point out the futility of playing stones inside territory securely held by the opponent, explaining exactly why it gains nothing.

By now you will have formed an opinion of your pupils aptitude for the game, and you will be able to judge whether to introduce further elementary points such as connection and disconnection or the use of the third and fourth lines from the edge, or whether to allow him to practise and assimilate what he has learnt so far. At whatever speed he learns the game, it is necessary to give plenty of practice at all stages by playing games that for you will inevitably be rather boring (though even against beginners there are opportunities for practicing and improving ones technique). You always need to try to find as much to praise as to blame in his play, and to remember that what seems blatantly obvious to the experienced player is not so to the beginner.

One should never leave a new convert without extracting a promise to play the game again, preferably with oneself or with a local Go club, nor without giving him the address of the Association and reminding him to send a stamped addressed envelope when writing for details. Its always a good idea to show a few copies of the Go Review and the British Go Journal - he wont understand much of it, of course, but it will help to show him how seriously the game is taken, If possible, beginners should always be left with some literature to read for themselves. The Associations introductory leaflet is very useful for this purpose.

As I remarked at the beginning, personal contact is better than any means of advertising as a way of converting new Go-players. Teaching beginners is not as exciting as playing someone your own strength, but if every Go-player would make it his business to introduce at least some new players to the game each year, it would do more than anything else to ensure the continued growth and success of our Association.

British Go Journal No. 10. December 1969. Page 3b.

Part 6

John Diamond, 3d

Komoku : the High Attack, Part 4

Diagram 28

Diagram 29

The one-point pincer of 2 is now a very popular play. It aims at preventing a White expansion along this side. This is obviously of special importance when black has a corner position in the lower-right corner. In doing this black must be prepared to give up something in return for preventing whites extension. This usually means giving up sente and a wall of influence along the left side.

The most common joseki is that of Dia 28. After white 3,which is played as a sacrifice stone, moves 4 to 7 are forced. For move 8, Black has two basic choices he can play as in Dia 28, placing more emphasis on influence, or at in Dia 29, with more emphasis on the corner, but slightly to Whites advantage.

Diagram 30

If he plays 2 in Dia 29, then 3 is Whites best move. Should white protect his stone immediately, then Dia 30 will result, and the corner exchange is even. The result of Dia 29 is to whites advantage because blacks position in the corner and along the side is not large at all in comparison with whites influence.

Continuing from move 8 in Dia 28, moves 9 to 12 are forced. With 13, White has two alternatives, the one in this Dia and that in Dia 33. 13 here places the emphasis on the left-hand side and 14 to 16 complete the joseki.

Diagram 31

Diagram 32

If Black plays 14 at 1 in Dia 31, then Whites best move is not at 2, which is answered by 3, and black is better off than in Dia 28. Instead he should play as in Dia 32, which produces a result similar to that of Dia 33, but black is less well off.

Diagram 33

Diagram 34

13 in Dia 33 is only playable if black 2 in Dia 34 does not threaten A and B simultaneously. That is, if the ladder formed by black playing at A is in whites favour. If this is not so, then 14 to 16 are best, and the order of 17 and 19 is immaterial.

Diagram 35

Diagram 35b

After this Black again has two major alternatives. One of these is 20 in Dia 33, which forces the remaining moves in the Dia, and, as can be seen, is simple and concentrates on the left side. The other alternative is that of 2 in Dia 35, which provokes a difficult fight. Black 6 can be played as Dia 35b*. Neither of these variations is recommended unless a deeper study of the position than is possible here is made.
* [ Dia 35b was textual description in BGJ. ]

Dias 36 and 37 show the different effects that the joseki in Dias 28 and 33 have in a typical situation with a single stone in the lower right corner.

Diagram 36

Diagram 37

A white play at A in Dia 36 would not be a good move because blacks wall would allow him to pincer this stone severely and thus put it at a disadvantage. Also whites position has a weakness which he must protect later, for the sequence black at B, white at C, black at D; puts black in a strong central position.

In contrast to Dia 36, White 1 in Dia 37 is a good move because of the strong White wall.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 10
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 10
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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