“ALL professionals know better: in … Middle Game, territory is not important, but strength and weakness of groups [is]”. A review of my game today.

The following quote is very relevant to the game I just lost:

In ancient China, people were not scoring territory at all, but instead just the stones on the board. So originally, Go was about “gaining life for as many stones as possible” instead of territory. Building a territory – i.e. an area where no opponent’s stones are able to live – was just one strategy to secure life for many stones later. In other words, Go was just about life & death! When the Japanese changed the rules to territory scoring as they found this more elegant than scoring stones, the rules of Go were cut apart from the original idea, which lead to the widespread misbelief among amateurs that Go would basically be about just fencing in points.

ALL PROFESSIONALS KNOW BETTER. Just recently Saijo Masataka 8p visited Hamburg, and while commenting on a game, he said: “In Fuseki and Middle Game, territory is not important, but strength and weakness of groups“.

Now the five-hundred-million-dollar question: How to improve your judgement of weak and strong groups? 

Benjamin Teuber “Guide to Become Strong

Now Ben has a single grueling way to improve judgement of groups. It has to do with trying to solve tsumego problems without ever looking at the answer. Today we are going to look at 2 ways I could’ve improved the judgement of group strength and done much better at certain times in the game I just lost.

Today would’ve been a good day to recognize the Horse’s head

Katago did not grumble about my play until it was my turn to move here. Imagine that, an 8k made 60 moves without a significant mistake, nice… but enough patting myself on the back. Let’s first understand that one interesting line of play is attacking the weak group “1” with a move like 2 and forcing it to the right, after which we play a move like 3 and use our thickness to attack stone “4”.

That’s all good and fine. But the subject of this section is the Horse’s head formed by stones 5, 6 and 7. The sensei’s page on this subject teaches “B” as a way to cut it. In this position Katago preferred “A” but both of them work.

I remember during the game staring at that group and wishing I had a way to cut it. Alas, had I known how to split the horse’s head I could’ve put my opponent at great disadvantage.

Attack from afar has it’s place, but so does a conclusive shoulder hit

My opponent has just played move 84. Clearly my surrounding groups are stronger. This is not one of those times to play a passive knights move and let the group run while you chase from afar…. that’s like one of those James Bond movies where they lock him up and leave… and what do you know? Ol’ James Bond manages to unlock himself and capture the people that had him captured.

No, my friend. Now is the time to seal the fate of that White group once and for all.

A shoulder hit at M10 nets the opponent group and settles two groups of my own that have no eyes.

Oh well, this is easy to say and see when a clock is not counting down against you.

End of Discussion

I think my main issue is that I do not look at the game position calmly and objectively. Instead of fully taking in all the strengths and weaknesses of the position and aiming for a move based on that assessment, I sometimes make a myopic move that worsens my position instead of improving it. I hope that changes.

Bonus section: sake bottle, horse’s head, giraffe’s face

There are 3 very similar shapes that I need to know how to cut when necessary. They are all at sensei’s. They are:

Bonus bonus section: “Shape Up!” is a great book

One of the books that helped me during my earlier life as a Go player about 10 years ago was Shape Up! by Charles Matthews. I enjoyed reading it and hope you do as well.

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