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Subject: Learning to fight for beginners? rss

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philosophyguy
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I'm struggling to find materials that are good for learning basic (DDK level) fighting technique. I know about basic concepts like ladders, capturing races, and knight's move/one-space jump/bamboo joint type connections. I'm looking at situations that aren't life and death problems yet--for instance, invading in order to prevent a corner enclosure, or attaching underneath a high stone situations. I'm having a hard time finding materials that explain the thinking behind whether to extend or hane or cut in these kinds of situations.

To be clear--I'm *not* looking for a book of joseki. I'm also following the advice of playing lots of 9x9 and 13x13 games. What I'm trying to do is figure out the reasoning behind moves in close quarters so I can practice intelligently during those games, instead of doing everything by guesswork.
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Fighting? Just do tsume-go. Lots of tsume-go. At least a dozen problems a day. Joseki books, as you point out, won't help at all in fighting (except for teaching you to avoid some opening trick moves).
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I found the Elementary Go series of books excellent. For fighting, the two relevant volumes are:
- Tesuji
- Attack and Defense

Tesuji focuses on situational tactics. Attack and Defense is more positional judgement and choosing the direction of play.
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There are no rules to fighting. Every situation is different. You must develop intuition by playing thousands of games.
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Bryan Thunkd
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ekted wrote:
There are no rules to fighting. Every situation is different. You must develop intuition by playing thousands of games.

Of course there are rules. They're not universal and they don't always apply but there are general principles you can start from. Like extend from a crosscut on the weaker side.

You start from a rule and then you learn how it doesn't always apply. That's quicker than trying to derive the rule yourself.
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Yeah, I was kind of being dramatic.
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philosophyguy wrote:
I'm struggling to find materials that are good for learning basic (DDK level) fighting technique.

There are a number of proverbs/fundamental concepts that could be useful for a beginner, but the basic advice for beginners is "lose 100 games quickly" - you'll learn more quickly by playing, losing, and reviewing your losses than by letting us lecture you.

One of the main advantages of getting more play experience is that you can read farther ahead. A lot of strategic ideas don't make sense unless you can read a bit. Reading is the engine, strategy is the chassis. As WMS says, tsumego actually making your fighting much stronger, because you get much better at visualizing situations on the board quickly.

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I know about basic concepts like ladders, capturing races, and knight's move/one-space jump/bamboo joint type connections.

Very good! You can find more concepts like this by browsing Sensei's Library (the go wiki) - especially the Beginner Study Section. The page on "L'Ame du Go" (a French book on fundamentals) is also the best explanation of broken shape available in English.

In general, if you post games for review (here, or better yet, over at L19, or the Go Teaching Ladder, or on KGS itself), the reviewer can point out more specific concepts for you to look at. The concepts usually make much more sense after you've been burnt once or twice, which is why learning them in reviews is effective!

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I'm looking at situations that aren't life and death problems yet--for instance, invading in order to prevent a corner enclosure, or attaching underneath a high stone situations. I'm having a hard time finding materials that explain the thinking behind whether to extend or hane or cut in these kinds of situations.


The first thing to understand is that almost all of these invasions revolve around (a) whether the invasion can be contained, (b) whether the invasion can live locally, and (c) whether it can live in sente. If it can't be contained then there is the additional question of whether it is strong or weak.

There is generally no simple answer to the question, whether you should hane or extend. The answer depends on (a) whether your opponent can respond to a hane with an immediate cut, (b) what kind of result you get if you cut, and (c) what you want to get out of the situation. When you are very strong, it is generally possible to hane, because it is easy to handle the cutting stones. When you are very weak it is also possible to hane, because you are happy to create complications, get forcing moves, and make a light shape.

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To be clear--I'm *not* looking for a book of joseki. I'm also following the advice of playing lots of 9x9 and 13x13 games. What I'm trying to do is figure out the reasoning behind moves in close quarters so I can practice intelligently during those games, instead of doing everything by guesswork.


Even if you were playing on 19x19, it's probably too soon to study joseki other than to get a vague idea of what a fair result looks like. On the other hand, if you did study joseki (or professional games, for that matter), trying to understand the logic behind those moves would give you lots of good ideas for your 9x9 games.

The point of studying joseki isn't to memorize it and play it out by rote. Ideally you're already familiar with the sequence from playing experience when you start to study it. The point is to understand what makes each move work, which helps you understand variations, deviations, weaknesses and local follow-ups, and the techniques and tesuji that can be applied in other parts of the game.
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sollnurspielen wrote:
There is generally no simple answer to the question, whether you should hane or extend.


Basically, the only answer is that there is no answer. While fighting, a strong player will not only take in account the local situation, but also the strength and relative position of every other stone/group of stones on the board. There's no book on earth that will teach you that, the only way to develop a feel for it is by playing lots of games and if possible going over them afterwards with a stronger player.

Besides that, the best way to improve your fighting skills is doing lots of tsumego, as wms suggesteed. This worked for me, although fighting still isn't my strong suit (and never will be).

After that, if you really want to read a book, I'd advise you to read Attack and Defense. If you already read it, read it again.

Good luck and above all have fun!
 
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Stormparkiet wrote:
sollnurspielen wrote:
There is generally no simple answer to the question, whether you should hane or extend.


Basically, the only answer is that there is no answer.

That's like saying there is no way to teach anything.

You can set up different positions for invasions and talk about whether extending or hane'ing is more appropriate and discuss the reasons why.

I don't believe the original poster is looking for a definitive answer of "This is what you always do" but rather "When should I extend and when should I hane, and why?"

Telling the OP that playing games is the only way to learn that is forcing him to recreate the wheel by discovering that from scratch. There are definite situations that favor one over the other and a discussion of which positions suggest one way over the other, and why, goes a long way to helping him understand the concept without muddling through a bunch of mistakes trying to sort it out without help.

That's like someone asking you which set of connections can be cut apart and how and you telling him that the only way to figure it out is by playing games. Sure you can figure it out that way, but you can also save him a lot of time by showing him examples. And there are ways to prevent stones from being cut that aren't always the obvious move that might not occur to him without seeing someone else play them. So sending him off to discover it for himself may not end up being the best way to learn the concept.
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Thunkd wrote:
Stormparkiet wrote:
sollnurspielen wrote:
There is generally no simple answer to the question, whether you should hane or extend.


Basically, the only answer is that there is no answer.

That's like saying there is no way to teach anything.



Hmm, I don't think so. You'll notice that I did give the OP some hints as to how to think about pushing fights and "the battle to get ahead", and in some circumstances these might be useful to him.

But I think a bigger issue is that the OP has a misleading perspective on the game. His questions imply that he thinks stronger players have an algorithm that they apply whenever they face the choice, extend or hane. And that's not true, as far as I can figure out. This also seems to be what you're looking for when you ask, "When should I extend and when should I hane, and why?"

This is part of the beauty of Go. If it was just a battle of visualization skills, or just a question of who had memorized a better algorithm, it wouldn't be a very fun game to play, would it?

By the way, I'll note that as often as not, the best option in a pushing battle will be neither hane nor extension, but a jump or a tenuki. When you try to consider these questions a priori, you often miss what would be obvious if you were looking at a situation on the board.

Quote:
Telling the OP that playing games is the only way to learn that is forcing him to recreate the wheel by discovering that from scratch.

What I think is that right now, the OP will learn more from having fun than from a long lecture about fighting.

You could compare this to eyes. Or ko fights. When I teach beginners the rules, I don't explain eyes or ko fights to them. But I don't force them to reinvent the wheel, either. We play until they get to the point where they're asking the right questions, because play experience has shown them a side to the game that they hadn't understood previously. Once they have the new perspective, and they show the right kind of curiosity, then I give them the verbal explanation they're looking for.
 
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sollnurspielen wrote:
But I think a bigger issue is that the OP has a misleading perspective on the game. His questions imply that he thinks stronger players have an algorithm that they apply whenever they face the choice, extend or hane. And that's not true, as far as I can figure out. This also seems to be what you're looking for when you ask, "When should I extend and when should I hane, and why?"

How is asking when it is appropriate to make certain kinds of moves assuming that there is an algorithm that you follow? Like anything, every situation is different and can't be summarized by simple rules. But there are general principles that are useful to know. And he could profit from examples of things that work in different situations, not as a step by step algorithm, but as an option to consider in similar situations. I'm not sure why you feel that you can't teach some of these concepts and that they can only be learned from playing.

Also, I recognize that the appropriate response in any given situation may be some other move than extend or hane, I was just copying the OP's question. But that's the perfect example for my point. Instead of sending him back to play more games where he has to experiment with whether to extend or hane, someone could show him other alternatives and talk about why they are more appropriate in certain situations.

sollnurspielen wrote:
What I think is that right now, the OP will learn more from having fun than from a long lecture about fighting.

Maybe. But different people learn in different ways. He came in asking for help finding learning resources. It's a little patronizing to tell him not to study and just to have fun. I don't disagree with your advice about playing more games, but I'm not going to assume I know best how he should get better at Go.

I believe there are resources out there that can help him. There is a YouTube lecture by Nick Sibicky on Invasions that might be interesting to him.
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Get a bunch of tsume-go books (the Nihon Ki-in graded go problems series are ideal) and go through them on the bus or train. Worked for me.
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Thunkd wrote:
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This also seems to be what you're looking for when you ask, "When should I extend and when should I hane, and why?"

How is asking when it is appropriate to make certain kinds of moves assuming that there is an algorithm that you follow? Like anything, every situation is different and can't be summarized by simple rules.


Yes, but if there is no simple set of rules then there is no single, simple answer to the question. The answer is going to depend on what is helpful to you at this point in your development as a Go player.

For example, "Attack and Defense" is a great book. It contains many great ideas and rules of thumb for fighting. When I read it at 6k, I recognized that it was a great book and got really excited, but my fighting didn't actually improve. I was still at a point where I needed to combine more playing with my reading before I really had any idea of what was going on.

Quote:
But there are general principles that are useful to know. And he could profit from examples of things that work in different situations, not as a step by step algorithm, but as an option to consider in similar situations. I'm not sure why you feel that you can't teach some of these concepts and that they can only be learned from playing.


Well, I did point out some rules to him. But I didn't want him to think either that these were exhaustive of what we can say about extension vs. hane, or that saying more about these things would be the fastest way for him to improve.

If he has more questions, or posts a game, I'll be very happy to answer or review. I included the caveat that there are no simple rules because I'm not sure Philosophy Guy realizes that, and I don't want to give the impression that listening to me (or any other amateur Go player) expound Go theory is the best way or the necessary way to get better at fighting.

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sollnurspielen wrote:
What I think is that right now, the OP will learn more from having fun than from a long lecture about fighting.

Maybe. But different people learn in different ways. He came in asking for help finding learning resources. It's a little patronizing to tell him not to study and just to have fun.


I hope Philosophy Guy didn't think I was being patronizing! I hope, as a philosopher through and through, he's used to the rough and tumble of an exchange of ideas, and will bite back if he disagrees with anything I said.
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OP jumping back in. Patronizing is not the right word to describe Drink Me's response, but I think that "unhelpful" is a fair characterization.

Anyone who has started to study Go will, I think, quickly realize that there is no algorithm. If there were, the game would be solved, and Go is not that simple. Part of the beauty of pro games is that they see at levels that are beyond algorithmic thinking and you just have to marvel at how they find certain moves.

However, you have to start somewhere. While algorithms are probably not useful even for new beginners (that would be the equivalent of memorizing lists of joseki--all pattern and no understanding of when the pattern is appropriate), something like "here's some general principles for thinking about where to play" is really helpful. Since I'm not good at Go, I don't know what those principles would look like. In chess, it might be something like, "Does this move give me a material advantage after the exchanges? Does this move give my major pieces more room to operate than my opponents? Does this move put pressure on more than one of my opponent's pieces?" Anyone trying to play by just those principles will be lost, of course, but they provide a starting point for analyzing situations and allow the beginner to ask really interesting questions, like "Why did that player accept a material disadvantage in that exchange?"

So, I'm at a point where I know my fighting skills are bad. I can see it in the results of my games pretty easily. What I can't see is why my moves go wrong. When deciding whether to hane or cross cut or extend or do something entirely different, I don't know what to look at. (And you're right that I didn't list literally every option in my OP. I'm new. That's why I'm asking.) So, I see that my opponent does something and it works, and I see that I do it and it doesn't, and I don't yet know how to identify why it worked in one situation and not the other.

I also get that there are a ton of other skills that need to be developed--reading being a big one. But, you can't fix it all at once. And, I think I will get much better at reading if I have some idea of what I'm looking for. Being able to quickly identify if a position is getting better or worse has to be important for pruning the list of options to read out (it certainly is in chess).

And finally, I'm under no illusions that this is going to replace playing games. But playing games and putting down pieces randomly is a horribly inefficient way to learn. I'd much rather be able to say, "In this game, I'm going to concentrate on making sure my own stones are strong before I cross cut" (or whatever a valid principle might actually be--I'm guessing here). Then, I can look at how the game turned out and see where that principle seemed to work, where I fell short in following the principle, and where the principle seemed to create problems. It's a strategy of deliberate practice rather than playful rediscovery of the wheel.

To those who have suggested specific books or exercises, I appreciate it. Learning this game is going to be a long and (hopefully) rewarding journey, and I look forward to growing in this activity for many years to come.
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Another option to consider is software, particularly any that will allow a "hint" option and an "undo" option. SmartGo and some of the other software programs have these, and then you can play a few moves reset back and hit the hints and see what the computer would do. Or you can think your move in your head, then hit the hint and see if the computer did what you were thinking.

While I know many will argue computers are not great at Go, if you are playing 9x9 and you are new to the game or low level, the computer will still kick your butt most of the time...thus you can learn from it.

Tsumego are helpful, but many of the books have little to no explanation, just a ton of problems. SmartGo has tsumego that you play out in the software which can be helpful to see how the sequences work....but again often lacking in explanation.

Another thing that helped me was watching videos on youtube. There are some threads here on BGG already about good videos you can find online.

Finally, teach someone else to play. And took my board in to work because I wanted to work out problems on an actual board during some of my breaks. Some of my students took an interest and so I taught them how to play and played games with them on breaks or after school. Occasionally i would tell them why a move they played was bad and showed them what would be better, and sometimes they played things that taught me a lesson as well.
 
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philosophyguy wrote:
In chess, it might be something like, "Does this move give me a material advantage after the exchanges? Does this move give my major pieces more room to operate than my opponents? Does this move put pressure on more than one of my opponent's pieces?" Anyone trying to play by just those principles will be lost, of course, but they provide a starting point for analyzing situations and allow the beginner to ask really interesting questions, like "Why did that player accept a material disadvantage in that exchange?"


Okay, so in Go the basic strategic goals are influence and territory. On a 9x9 board the difference is pretty easy to see - it's territory if you can't possible invade, and it's influence is an invasion is possible, but the surrounding strength allows you to kill the invasion. You might say these are the rough equivalent of material advantage and controlling the center. An additional strategic goal is to keep your groups safe - which means, first of all, that you know where they're going to make eyes, and secondly, that they can't be cut apart successfully.

Tactical considerations (equivalent to pressuring pieces, overloading defenders, defending your own pieces) would include how many liberties each stone has, whether they have cutting points and other shape weakness, how they affect ladders, nets, and other capture sequences, etc.

Anyway, on a 9x9 board whenever you have a strategic choice, you should be able to look at the board and figure out which move is safer, and which move is more aggressive and risky. The first question you need to ask is; can you play the safe move and win? Do you control more than half of the board if you play safely? (Remember to include komi.) The second question is; if you play the aggressive move, how much do you gain and what could go wrong?

I strongly encourage you to go to http://senseis.xmp.net/tools/sgf2diagram.php, make diagrams for your games, and post a session report. Thunkd has suggested that I should make up positions and explain how I make decisions about fighting, and occasionally I do do this, in my own session reports. But you probably don't feel the relevance of the positions I come up with as intensely as you feel the strategic problems you run into in your own games.
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magicsax22 wrote:
While I know many will argue computers are not great at Go, if you are playing 9x9 and you are new to the game or low level, the computer will still kick your butt most of the time...thus you can learn from it.

I don't like this advice because often Go software will make moves that look quite strange. I can't say they are bad moves, but they aren't moves that are intuitive to a human player. I don't think trying to emulate their play will be a fruitful path for most players.

sollnurspielen wrote:
Thunkd has suggested that I should make up positions and explain how I make decisions about fighting, and occasionally I do do this, in my own session reports.

To clarify, I'm not suggesting that you personally do anything for him. What I would hope is that people will respond to his post by contributing what he asked for, resources to help learn about invading/fighting. And that they don't tell him to pursue other paths and simply ignore his request.
 
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Thunkd wrote:
sollnurspielen wrote:
Thunkd has suggested that I should make up positions and explain how I make decisions about fighting, and occasionally I do do this, in my own session reports.

To clarify, I'm not suggesting that you personally do anything for him. What I would hope is that people will respond to his post by contributing what he asked for, resources to help learn about invading/fighting. And that they don't tell him to pursue other paths and simply ignore his request.

I did point him to two important resources on SL, as well as resources for game-review (which is, in the end, the most important resource for a DDK to satisfy any form of curiosity). And I gave him some unhelpful tools for thinking about invasions and pushing. And, separately, I suggested that he may not be pursuing the most efficient means to his end.
 
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Coming in late here, but this advice is pretty useful. If you are truly a novice player, do not be afraid to just play plain old capture Go. From what I have seen, the real difference between Western players and (generally) stronger Asian players is that the Asians play capture Go as children. They get used to reading out complicated fighting positions. This leads to their having a better feel for the more sophisticated strategies of real Go when they get older. Most Western players come to Go at a later age and want to jump into the high level, full board strategies right away via books and lessons. This is like building a beautiful palace on top of a swamp. Inevitably, it sinks. I learned this bit of wisdom the hard way: By having my ass handed to me about a hundred times in a row by strong, amateur Korean players at a local club. I literally had to go into the bathroom and put my ass back in my pants so I would have something to sit on during the ride home....
 
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