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Subject: Two new GO players could use some help! rss

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Brian McCormick
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Hey BGG, my wife and I have begun learning a lot of new abstracts (this will probably develop into a GeekList some time in the future), but we needed some help on some of the rules and etiquette of GO. If you GO experts could help us out, we'd really appreciate it! (we are playing Capture Go to learn the game while we get a better handling on what alive and dead mean, which is used in the scoring method we've been told)

Ko rule - We understand what a Ko is. We understand that if someone creates a Ko, you can't jump in, remove their most recent piece, and return the game to its previous state. But is this permanent, or can you distract your opponent and then later re-claim the ko?

Filling eyes - we are starting to grasp what "alive" and "dead" mean, but we weren't sure about filling up an eye. Let's assume that Black is surrounding a 4-stone eye (with one liberty in the middle). Since the White group has at least one liberty, it hasn't been captured, but can Black place his stone in the middle of the eye and capture the White stones? We weren't sure because we learned that you are not allowed to place stones in a "suicide" location.

Opening in the top-right corner - I read the cultural origins of this move, but I wasn't able to determine if this was or wasn't actually a smart way for Black to open the game from a purely strategic standpoint. Thoughts or links to some insight?

Thanks for any help! My wife and I really appreciate your knowledge.
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chearns
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Ko. Yes, you can reclaim on a later turn. Why? Because by doing that you are not returning the game to a previous state (as other things have changed in the meanwhile). Often though, those changes in the game state mean it is no longer worth it to remove their piece.

One eye? You can fill it. You capture their stones first, and now your stone has plenty of liberties so it isn't suicide.
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Jim Cote
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Ko rule - We understand what a Ko is. We understand that if someone creates a Ko, you can't jump in, remove their most recent piece, and return the game to its previous state. But is this permanent, or can you distract your opponent and then later re-claim the ko?

You have to play elsewhere first, then you may retake. This is called a "ko threat". It's typically a move that is worth more points than the ko itself, "forcing" the opponent to respond. Ko fights can be long and nasty, and there can be more than one at the same time. In fact, a triple ko can go on forever if neither player is willing to give up one of them.

Aurendrosl wrote:
Filling eyes - we are starting to grasp what "alive" and "dead" mean, but we weren't sure about filling up an eye. Let's assume that Black is surrounding a 4-stone eye (with one liberty in the middle). Since the White group has at least one liberty, it hasn't been captured, but can Black place his stone in the middle of the eye and capture the White stones? We weren't sure because we learned that you are not allowed to place stones in a "suicide" location.

You can "suicide" if it results in capturing one or more of the opponent's stones.

Aurendrosl wrote:
Opening in the top-right corner - I read the cultural origins of this move, but I wasn't able to determine if this was or wasn't actually a smart way for Black to open the game from a purely strategic standpoint. Thoughts or links to some insight?

All corners are mathematically equal. Using the top right corner for your first move is only a cultural thing.
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Brian McCormick
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Thanks for the info, CS Hearns and Jim Cote! I appreciate it.

ekted wrote:
All corners are mathematically equal. Using the top right corner for your first move is only a cultural thing.

I suppose what I meant was is building in a corner (not literally the corner-most spot) better than building in the center? I'm not looking for a long discussion of strategy. I'm just wondering if it's better for newbie GO players to learn to play from the corner or from the center.
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chearns
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Aurendrosl wrote:
I suppose what I meant was is building in a corner (not literally the corner-most spot) better than building in the center? I'm not looking for a long discussion of strategy. I'm just wondering if it's better for newbie GO players to learn to play from the corner or from the center.


The corner is easier to control than the sides which are easier to control than the centre.

Now, that presumes that we are talking about a full sized board. If you are playing on a learning board of 9 by 9, then your first stone should likely be in either the centre, or one or two spots out of the centre.

I should point out though that I am very very far from an expert. I'm not even a vaguely good player.
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Brian McCormick
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chearns wrote:
Aurendrosl wrote:
I suppose what I meant was is building in a corner (not literally the corner-most spot) better than building in the center? I'm not looking for a long discussion of strategy. I'm just wondering if it's better for newbie GO players to learn to play from the corner or from the center.


The corner is easier to control than the sides which are easier to control than the centre.

Now, that presumes that we are talking about a full sized board. If you are playing on a learning board of 9 by 9, then your first stone should likely be in either the centre, or one or two spots out of the centre.

I should point out though that I am very very far from an expert. I'm not even a vaguely good player.

My wife and I own a reversible 13x13/19x19 board. We have been learning on the 13x13 but we've also been told that even "higher level" players will use the smaller boards when faced with time constraints.

But you bring up an interesting point. I will try to do some investigation to see how "corner strategies" change depending on the size of the board.
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Jim Cote
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A 9x9 board is one big corner. A 13x13 board is 4 corners with no sides or center. That's the way they feel to me anyways.
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Robert Stuart
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Thanks for the info, CS Hearns and Jim Cote! I appreciate it.

ekted wrote:
All corners are mathematically equal. Using the top right corner for your first move is only a cultural thing.

I suppose what I meant was is building in a corner (not literally the corner-most spot) better than building in the center? I'm not looking for a long discussion of strategy. I'm just wondering if it's better for newbie GO players to learn to play from the corner or from the center.


It's better for anyone -- newbie or not -- to play from the corner. First from the corners, then along the sides, and then into the center.
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Jim Lynch
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Quote:
Filling eyes - we are starting to grasp what "alive" and "dead" mean, but we weren't sure about filling up an eye. Let's assume that Black is surrounding a 4-stone eye (with one liberty in the middle). Since the White group has at least one liberty, it hasn't been captured, but can Black place his stone in the middle of the eye and capture the White stones? We weren't sure because we learned that you are not allowed to place stones in a "suicide" location.


When YOU play a stone, you check the liberties of your OPPONENT first. Remove dead stones, then check your own liberties.

Quote:
Opening in the top-right corner - I read the cultural origins of this move, but I wasn't able to determine if this was or wasn't actually a smart way for Black to open the game from a purely strategic standpoint. Thoughts or links to some insight?


My understanding is that playing in the far right corner is a way to honor your opponent. To place the stone, you have to reach across the board and effectively bow to your opponent. Think about the student playing black and making the first move against their master playing white. So, cultural, but why not continue the tradition?
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Andrew Brannan
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bob_santafe wrote:


It's better for anyone -- newbie or not -- to play from the corner. First from the corners, then along the sides, and then into the center.


To illustrate, you can surround the corner point with two stones (it only has two liberties), a side point with three stones, and a center point with 4 stones. Extrapolating that, it will always take fewer stones to capture an equivalent sized piece of territory in the corner than in the sides, and in the sides than in the center. So you get a bigger "bang" for your buck by playing in the corner.

Of course, there's exceptions to every rule, and some pro players will attempt to build influence and territory in the center rather than along the edges of the board, but that's really only one of those things that you can attempt once you have a very complex handle on the game.

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Axel Gabe
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Quote:
My wife and I own a reversible 13x13/19x19 board. We have been learning on the 13x13 but we've also been told that even "higher level" players will use the smaller boards when faced with time constraints.


For the beginning, I highly recommend the 9x9 board.
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Alec Clair
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I have spend many times teaching Go either to adults or kids, I woul be happy to answer your questions if you want. Go is a very enternaining and rewarding game but it is not easy to learn alone. The best thing to do is to go to a Go club, purchasing a introductory book could also help.

Roughly there are two kind of books: problems books and theory books. If your are a complete beginner it might be a better approach to try easy problems book. By making a number of simple problems you will gain some basic experience more quickly. theory books are tempting for adults especially if you have some background in strategic games, but most concepts will be rather "misty" for a beginner.

I could suggest Kano Yoshinori: "Graded Go problems for beginners Volume I" or volume II. Volume one is very easy and assume you barely read the rules, Volulume II is OK for a beginner that attend a Go club and is still valuable when you have made some progress. Volume one won't be used more than once or twice, nevertheless if you are an isolated player it is probably a better choice.

About theory, as a beginner you should only need a few basic opening theory principles:

- first priority play in the corners when all corners have been occupied play on the sides halfway of both corners.

- during the opening you should focus on playing on the third line or the fourth (please note that the edge line is the first there's no zero line). Playing on the third line means that you intend to control the territory between the third line and the edge of the board. The third line is called the line of territory and is like earning immediate cash. Whereas playing on the fourth line means that you expect to make larger territories toward the center, it has more potential but is also more risky. That's why the fourth line is called the line of influence and it's like an investment for the future, it could be a juicy investement or turn to be a junk bond.

- On the 19x19 board (it is also true for the smaller board but development speed is less important), during the opening focus on playing first in large virgin areas, you should develop rapidly rather than playing more than twice or thrice in the same area. Nevertheless if the other player play in contact with your stones the attention suddenly shift to local combat and you should answer localy to preserve your initial advantage. Once the situation is more or less settled localy (admittedly difficult to asses for a beginner) you should resume playing on the big points in the corners and the middle of the sides.

- avoid playing on the 1st line (the edge of the board) is has almost no strategical value and you deprive yourself of one liberty. Don't play too much on the second line either it is too slow for the opening.

BTW Playing in the top right is just a matter of etiquette, it as no strategical meaning as the board have an odd number of line, the board is symmetrical. Actually in most moderns rules it is not even a rule. You can really play your first move on any of the 381 point.

Ko: above posters clarified the Ko rules, I just like to add that when learning the game you should not focus too much on Ko, usually when I teach the game I only explain it when the Ko position arise. Knowing the rule is enough early on. When you reach around 10 kyu you could start to thing again about Ko.

What I mean is that there are so many things to learn when you start playing Go, it does actually matter to learn them more or less in order and to focus on the basics and don't loose time (and maybe discouraged) by trying to understand more complex aspects of the game. So the various implications of Ko fights is only clearly understood by strong dan players. Stay away from Ko for now. Also don't worry about Seki.

The most important things to learn when beginning are:

- basic life and death.
- knowing when the game is over and how to count the score.

once you've made roughly ten games on the 9x9 board and start to know when the game is over you can move to the 13x13 board.

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Brian McCormick
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Wow!

Thanks everyone for all of the strategies and discussions! Even as an absolute beginner, I can make sense of what you're talking about and I am eager to learn more and more about this game.
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Regarding the corners: in the corner you can box off territory with less stones. Two edges of the board from two sides of the box, with your stones forming the other two sides of the box. In the centre of the board you have to make all four sides of the box yourself, which takes more stones. That's why people generally go for the corners first.
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Pokke
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Do also check out this site.
Might look overwhelming at first but it's a great source of all kinds of information on the game.

http://senseis.xmp.net/?PagesForBeginners
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Russ Williams
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Also, there are various "beginner advice" threads in the forum for Go itself (which is where this thread probably should be moved if an admin cares to):
Go
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M C
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I really really like this site for learning to play GO

http://playgo.to/iwtg/en/
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Lucas Emery
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Stopped by to recommend Janice Kim's excellent Graded Go Problems For Beginners book series. They're great for helping you see common board positions, recognizing live and dead groups, and generally improving your play. Guess they're out of print now, though, 'cuz Amazon wants 150 bucks for the first one. Here's the link anyway. In case you see it in a bookstore somewhere, don't hesitate to pick it up:

http://www.amazon.com/Graded-Problems-Beginners-Beginner-Ele...
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Nathan Berg
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For those looking for a longer discussion on why the upper right corner is usually the opening move, and occasionally the upper left corner.

http://senseis.xmp.net/?PlayingTheFirstMoveInTheUpperRightCo...
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