I recently played a 3k on OGS and benefitted greatly from the commentary of a 5-dan. Normally I just use the AI, but the human touch in this case was super valuable. So let’s hit the high points of his review.

White makes an overplay

Here White has just played at O14 but …

I get the idea of this, but given the vast space in between white’s positions, and the fact that the white wall at d15 isn’t all that strong, it makes way more sense to do a standard extension along the top, which will then coordinate with the wall as well. Something like A or one of the X points. This leaves open such a big space that splitting it with an invasion should be easy and valuable, since white has expended an extra stone here building outward. I black invades the top and makes a stable group there easily, how valuable will o14 end up being?

Part of the problem is that the marked white stones don’t have a base. So now white has two formations which hsve influence but not a stable base or thickness. If one or the other was truly thick, it would be much more dangerous for black to invade the top, and the expansion might be a good strategy.


There are no weaknesses but I do not choose the biggest move

Since I use the Clossi approach to select a move, I chose a big move because I did not see any weaknesses, however

Invading around A is significantly bigger than other large points because of white’s overplay at o14.


I’m afraid of the suggested move by Mister 5 Dan because my 2-space extension can be attacked

If I do what the 5-dan suggests, then this position is very likely:

I did some research on 2-space extensions and found this excellent post which led to a lecture by Nick SIbicky as well as a beautiful lecture here.

Opponent surrounds before preventing base formation

In the Clossi approach, you remove base before surrounding.

removing one side or the other seems a better strategy. This move is designed to create white influence and thickness toward the center. Where does white intend to use that thickness to profit?


I make a 2nd 2-space extension from a single stone … shame, shame, shame

As you can see, making a single 2-space extension on the 3rd line is a good idea. The second extension is better as 1-space.

White starts a fight that is out-of-theme with his outside moyo building

the two-space extension has other ways to be weakened. this strong fighting move breaks with the general theme of White’s game:

this seems like an odd move. It’s not crazy, because of the white capping stone above, but it doesn’t really work better than other options here.

White has so far committed two stones to a “seal in and make thickness outside” plan. Why not continue with something like a or B. At least that has the virtue of assuring white’s strength and connection, even if it gives black more than they were probably entitled to here.


I miss a crucial hane

Looking back at this position, I dont know why I didn’t play the best move (I’ll let you find it).


I learned this in my Bruce Wilcox days… of course the main thing is to survive, but there are better options for me here.

It’s rarely a good idea to push into a knight’s move if you cannot, or do not intend to cut after. Bad shape, and it just strengthens the opponent, and may remove the ability to cut later.


How do I remind myself to look at ALL group and not panic when I fear death for one of my groups?

The best move in this situation involved looking at the one stone at G17 and coordinating an attack against the J17 group. But I was so nervous I never even looked at the possibility!!!


As if one failure in the same game was not enough:

this move wastes the aji of the marked stone. It pushes white into connecting up. Also pushing into the knight’s move where you aren’t about to cut, always a suspect plan. The reason the AI keeps wanting you to play j16 is because of the h17 cut. Note, the cut doesn’t have to work in the sense of capturing or connecting back to be worth it.


I never know how to choose a cutting direction!!!

Apparently I made another mistake in deciding on which side to cut. Regretfully, I did not get any specific reason why my cutting choice bad.

But I will soon be finding out!

White tries to remove eyes?

I’m not sure who truly had the advantage in this local battle to the death… I say local because even if White lost this local battle, he should’ve been able to win the war being 3 stones stronger.

Excellent commentary

I gained so much from this commentary that I streamed it live on Twitch.

One Comment

  1. Just FYI, as the person who wrote that review, it made me uncomfortable how often you referred to me as a 5d, lol. While that’s my OGS rating and has been for a bit, I play only correspondence there and take a lot of time to play each move, probably more than most of my opponents, and my rating has benefited from multiple rated timeouts in games that were still close or I was behind. I call myself a 2d and enter that way in AGA tourneys, and that’s a much better indication of my real strength. Most OGS 5d players would play as 6d or 7d in AGA games, and i would get wrecked playing live games at that level.,

    To make a little clearer why I would cut at o13 directly — it has to do with the exchange of m13 for k14, which feels slightly favorable for white, reducing the aji in the white surround.

    The reason that o13 is the “cut that you want” is that it’s the only one of those cuts that truly cuts off the 5 white stones including o14-16 etc. If white gets to connect at o13, then white has room to escape and doesn’t have to win the capturing race, and black would have to live or escape elsewhere.

    That said, this whole position is quite hard to read out, and I’m not certain that o13 is for sure the best move, just that in this kind of position where you can cut and your stone can’t be captured at all, it’s better to go straight for it, unless you are *creating* aji you like by preparing elsewhere. Here, it seems like you’re letting white fix instead.

    To go back a little, I think you’re missing my main issue with the 2 space extension in this case, which is not *just* that it leaves weaknesses, which are important given the nearby capping stones, but also that it is an armpit hit on a white stone. ideally, you don’t want to have your base extension in contact with an opposing stone, and this is a kind of contact even if it’s not taking a liberty. This is also why I favored j17 to k17 as an invasion point, to be able to make a clean 2 space extension on either side.

    Finally, one of your commenters in the twitch stream keyed in on the most important reason why I wasn’t worried about being pushed into the white wall after the early invasion. A 3 stone wall by itself with no eyes or other supporting stones nearby, is only so strong because it has no base or eyeshape. Once you have a group with a base near it, it becomes *weak* rather than strong, and you can counterattack the wall! In attacking your invading group, white must be careful to take care of the 3 stone wall, which means they can’t afford to go all out — if black gets squeezed out into the open in a running fight, the tables could turn and white end up in real trouble. To avoid that, white will probably attack from the wall in a way that allows black to make a fairly clean living shape easily.

    If you’ve played many handicap games against much stronger players (as I did frequently when I was at your level), you’ll surely have had the experience of seeing your “thickness” turn into a liability when you don’t pay attention to your wall getting cut off. This is what taught me the difference between thickness and influence. A wall that’s just a wall is influence. A wall that’s part of an already live group, or that has significant eyeshape or a base already is *thick*.

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