snakeeater on Go

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Playing for Points

The quality of my games are improving as I slowly begin to understand what many people understand when they first learn of the game: each move should be made toward the goal of getting more territory than your opponent. It's quite obvious but often forgotten during the heat of the battle.

Here's my thought process near the middle game:

1. A sente move that results in a net point gain for you. Especially one that crowds your opponent into a tight clump. Resist the urge to go all out and kill. Threaten, squeeze and profit. Learn to lean on your opponent. Only play killing moves when you can read out a profitable sequence. Scary but hollow moves will often backfire against a stronger opponent. This is where Tsumego pratice comes in. When you read better, you play real threats. If you can't read it out, drop back from the fight and go to step 2.

2. If two big moves are available, pick one that you like best and let your opponent have the other. Resist the urge to want everything, sometimes you simply have to trade with your opponent. Otherwise you may end up getting nothing at all. When groups begin taking shape, go to step 3.

3. A gote move that strengthens your group while creating a big follow up move yose. Create enough of these and your opponent's territory tend to magically shrink to nothing at yose time. At Yose time, go to step 4.

4. Go for the big points in the order of corner, side and then possibily center. This is where Yose skill comes in, you must count the value of each move! A 20 point swing at Yose time is common between someone who knows how to play Yose vs one does not. Resist the urge of making ambiguous moves that looks big in the center, esp when there are two or more gaps that allow your opponent sneak in. Your opponent can stab your center territory with one jump and it will go poof. Better is play a move in the corner that gets definitive territory and preps for a monkey jump.

The result of following these general guidelines have resulted in calmer games where purposeful moves for points are calculated and slight advantages are carefully sought, instead of the usual bloody game where big groups live and die as you each trade false threats and prey on each other's mistakes. Your calmness also has an extra bonus: you make less mistakes and your opponent's mistakes are magnified in turn.

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