Some Thoughts On Go?

British Go Journal No. 18. October 1972. Page 6.

John Diamond

The quotations have been taken from the Go Review.

"The best way to improve your strength is to play over master games again and again. You may not understand the reason for the moves - no matter - your eyes will get accustomed to the 'correct shape or form' that the professionals play. This is better than any other type of study."

It does not matter if you do not have a commentary on the games. You should be very proud to be able to make the kind of mistakes that the professionals have, and in most cases the explanations that could be given would be quite inadequate for your needs.

The reasons that the professionals sometimes give for their moves are often extremely difficult for amateurs to apply to their own games, especially as they occasionally seem to contradict their own advice in games.

"To develop your ability to see situations and find the right play intuitively, occasional very rapid games (half an hour or less) are recommended. This sort of practice is required of all budding professionals in Japan."

It has been said that to get to shodan one must play 1000 games. Very quick games are obviously the fastest way of achieving this aim.

In any case in a quick game, because no great amount of thought has been put into it, it does not matter if you do not find absolutely the best move, or if you make a stupid mistake, for you can easily resign the game and start another (with a (better) chance of winning).

There is a story of two youngsters who wanted to become professionals but their father would not agree. Eventually he was prevailed upon to approach a top master and speak with him. The master then sais that if they played 30 games a day for a year he would accept them as his pupils. This they did and they became his pupils.

This shows the importance that he attached to the playing of a large number of games, no matter how fast they were played.

Today also the student professionals, or 'insei', are encouraged to play very fast games. Once there or four of them played with Otake 7p, taking the white stones. The hgames lasted 15 to 20 minutes and were continually punctuated with cries of 'Too slow!' and 'Hurry up!'.

"The most important thing, not only for beginners, but for all players is to learn joseki and their variations at first, but players should not limit themselves just to second-hand knowledge of joseki. They should try to play boldly in their own way, guided by the general startegic principles on the one hand and by their own sense of Go perception on the other."

Knowing a few joseki blindly is only good at the beginner stage, when it helps to start the game in a reasonable way. You must be prepared to counter unusual moves, which may well be joseki you have never seen before, in your own way.

You must also be prepared to consider different moves that are not normally joseki, if the usual joseki prove to be unacceptable in the given position from an overall standpoint.

For players emerging from the beginner stage the study of joseki should go hand-in-hand with the study of tesuji and katachi, as the joseki are good examples of the practical effects that these moves can bring. When you have this knowledge of tesuji and katachi you can, in a sense, dispose of the study of joseki, for you shoud be able to cope with any new possibility with a little time and analysis, utilising the skills that you have acquired.

"Minute analysis of the consequences of each move in the opening stage of the game is not only hard and troublesome, but also fruitless for beginners, since there is no big difference between the allegedly best move and the next best move."

Every one makes many mistakes during a game of Go, from small ones of 1 or 2 points upwards. however, mistakes in the fuseki, or opening stage, such as the wrong choice of joseki, the wrong direction from which to approach a corner or the correct moment at which to extend along the sideof the board, are not usually very large because they are the ones made by choosing between two or more moves nearly equal in value.

The fuseki is also difficult to play properly and correctly all the time, because for a beginner there seem to be relatively more moves to choose from. However, it may not matter if at the end of the fuseki you are 20 or 30 points down overall for there should still be plenty of time in which to recoup your loses.

It is the middle and endgames that are mostly neglected by amateurs in their play. For instance, if you can pick up 10 or 20 points extra by giving a little more thought to the yose, rather than playing haphazardly, then you will have become one or two stones stronger overnight. Though this seems to be impossible at first glance, it is a very real possibility for most players.

Having said that, it is often the middle game fighting that decides the result of the game without ever getting to the yose. So more time should be given to this stage, in preference to involved calculation in the fuseki which does not gain you very much. this does not mean spending no time on the fuseki, just trying to achieve a better overall balance in all aspects of Go.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 18
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

Last updated Thu May 04 2017. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.