December 30, 2014

The Snapback Continued

In a previous post, I introduced a very simple example of a snapback in the corner. Here is a classic version of this problem that I found while doing the easy Daily Problems set on the Tsumego Pro app. This is problem 35 in the collection and is a wonderful illustration of the concept.

The problem is set up to walk you through the sequence with some notes on available liberties.

December 28, 2014

The Brilliant Dawn

In Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go Kageyama refers to the snapback as the "brilliant dawn tesuji". Indeed, it is often the first recognizable tesuji for many beginners. The snapback is all about liberties. Specifically, when a captured stone does not provide extra liberties for the capturing group.

Here is a problem that will walk you through a simple snapback example. The key factor is the shortage of liberties. Look for similar situations in your own games. Pulling off a snapback is always satisfying. :D

December 24, 2014

Getting stronger

Studying go can be daunting. Where do you start? What's the best area to study to get stronger?

If you ask a dan player these questions, chances are tsumego will be high on the list. Tsumego helps us learn how to fight. When we understand the vital points of shapes in go, we can not only do damage to our opponent's groups, we can also protect our own groups.

I try to do go problems (I do a mix of tsumego and tesuji problems) every day. About 10-20 minutes in the morning and then whenever I have a few minutes throughout the rest of the day.

For beginners, I highly recommend this set by my good friend Fran├žisa

I use the following apps for Android:

  • Tsumego Pro - Also includes tesuji packs.
  • Tsumego - Interesting because you have to play both sides of the problem. 
  • Go Tesuji - Have to play out both sides of the problem in this app as well.
Personal anecdote: A few months ago I got a review from a dan friend. She told me that my direction of play was quite good, but that I read like a 15k and it was holding me back. Since then, I have dedicated a lot of energy to doing go problems and have seen a definite improvement in my play. My friends at club have even commented on the difference.

You will not see the results right away, but don't be discouraged. It takes time for your mind to absorb the shapes. Stick to it. You will be glad you did.

December 19, 2014

Studying joseki

When I was a beginner I thought that memorizing joseki would make me strong, but that's not how joseki should be studied. When you study joseki you should be mindful of the shapes involved. Each move of a joseki has been carefully considered and decided upon by professionals as the best possible move in that situation.

So, when you are studying joseki, look for the shapes that are made and try to apply them in other aspects of your game. To demonstrate I have made a demo board* that goes over two 3-3 invasion joseki and a problem set* with two problems that take the user through the joseki. Both pay special attention to the hane at the head of two stones.

As always, let me know if you find any issues or have any feedback.

*The demo board and problems were made on the beta site for OGS because we were testing. From here on, they will be made on the main site.

December 12, 2014


It was recommended to me by thouis that I should create a puzzle to accompany the demo board from an earlier post: One of my favorite sequences. So here is one for the demo board. I'd also like to thank xhu98 for looking over the problem for me before I posted and using it in his weekly Fridays with xhu98 lesson this week.

I like this format and will be adopting it for later posts. If you see any mistakes or variations i missed, Please let me know. I am new to this :)

We're only human

That moment when you play a move too quickly and lose a chunk of stones... It's incredibly discouraging and makes you wonder why you even play this stupid game!?!!?!cos(0)?

Don't be too hard on yourself, we've all done it. I've done it recently. I played black in that game about a week ago. Check out move 225.

Moves like this happen because we get excited and swept up in the intensity the game. Had I taken a moment to stop and assess the situation I would have seen the correct move, but I was amped and my finger moved to place the stone before my brain was even aware that something needed its attention.

The discipline to stop and assess before placing a stone lets us grow stronger. This discipline is one of the lessons go teaches us. A lesson that is also useful off the go board. Even the little bit of patience (very little...) I have learned from go over the last four years has improved many of my relationships, both personal and professional.

So please, keep at it! The payoff for improving at this game is so much more than a higher ranking on some go server. As cheesy as it sounds, go teaches us about life. It's truly remarkable.

I'm going to leave you with a well known video in which a professional Japanese player puts himself into atari by accident. Remember, this man plays go for a living. But, as the title of this post says, we're only human. If Nakano Yasuhiro 9p is susceptible to mistakes like this, then you can forgive yourself for making similar ones.

December 11, 2014

Welcome (redux)

So, I accidentally deleted my original post while messing with the mobile app. Here's a repost that's reasonably close to the original. xD

Go is a great, rewarding game, but it can be both challenging and discouraging for beginners. I was lucky when I was a beginner, I met a great group of guys who loved the game and encouraged me through the rough initial stages of my journey.
I would like to offer that same encouragement to beginners. So, like every other child of the internet age, I created a blog! I plan on adding clear, concise lessons on specific situations in the hopes that I can help beginners avoid some of the same mistakes that I made (and still make!).
I'm new to the idea of teaching someone else to play go, so please bear with me. :) Hopefully, we can all improve together.

One of my favorite sequences

What do we do when our opponent deviates from joseki? The answer from stronger players is almost always "read it out." I hated this answer when I was a beginner and I hate it now. I'm not implying that there are definite patterns you can memorize for any given situation, but there are many common sequences that arrive from joseki deviation that we can learn to recognize and take advantage from. I have prepared a demo board for my favorite joseki deviation pattern. This was the first punishment I learned and to this day I am excited when I get to play it out. I hope you can learn to appreciate it as I have.

In many situation these patterns won't help. If your opponent is playing crazy moves that have no relation to the joseki you were trying to use, you don't really have a choice. You need to read it out and try to predict what will happen. It can be frustrating, but it's also good practice (look forward to a future post about improving reading skills).

Please feel free to PM me on OGS (my username is crodgers) or leave comments below if you have any questions.