Posts Tagged ‘joseki’

“I hate people who don’t play joseki”

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
A recent thread on caught my attention: someone is describing a particular sequence from their game where their opponent departed from the pattern that the poster was familiar with, and that resulted in his frustration: “I hate people who don’t play joseki.”.  Another attitude I heard in my old Go club is something like: “I love to play big central moyos, like Takemiya, but at this club it’s just impossible: people keep playing stupid little moves and keep entering my moyo from all directions!”. Both are understandable attitudes: one reads several Go books, spends many hours studying joseki, professional games, etc, just to find out that that knowledge can prove useless in some circumstances. Both attitudes suffer from the same problem: superficial understanding of Go, and “wishful thinking”, hoping the opponent to answer in a particular way. If they don’t, we are at a loss about how to continue… Joseki are in a sense like “cheating”: learning some patterns in advance, to gain time and to make sure we don’t make “too big a mistake” in the beginning of the game. That’s all there is to them. Also, to make things even more frustrating, they change all the time… Come middle game, similar situations occur, just like in the beginning: weak groups fighing each other for eye-space and thickness. But this time we have no joseki books to help us, we’re on our own. So it’s better to think we’re on our own from the very beginning of the game, and joseki are just there to help us in some cases. Don’t let the joseki be your master, but the other way around. My advice is to study joseki in order to understand the principles behind them: direction of play, tesuji, weak groups and strong groups. Just don’t get too attached to them.  

Guess Who Won (8)

Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Yashiro Kumiko of Japan (left in the photo) against Tang Yi of China.

Yashiro vs Tang

Tang won by resignation after a surprise killing of a group of Yashiro’s.


Yashiro vs Tang

Here is the beginning of the game (Tang plays Black):

Yashiro vs Tang

It’s interesting to notice the same joseki (and similar follow-up strategy) in the lower-left as the one played between Japan and China earlier in this tournament (the Aoki vs. Fan game). Also, compare the upper-right joseki with the one played in the previous game in the same tournament. (Link to game record)

New joseki analysis

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
I wrote a brief analysis on this new move:

New joseki

(Link to the article) I saw this move for the first time in the Takemiya Masaki – Yamada Takuji game that I already wrote a blog entry about.

Kisei Game 2, Day 1

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Kisei title, game 2: day one is over:

Kisei 2008, Game 2, Day 1

The action so far was all in the upper-right corner, where they played some variation of the very complex Magic Sword of Muramasa Joseki. Cho Chikun plays White and sealed the last move of this first day. The real fight will start tomorrow (and end tomorrow, as well).

Questions and Answers with Tei Meiko Sensei

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
I published an article based on a series of emails I recently exchanged with Tei Meiko 9 dan – one of the official instructors during the time I was an insei in Japan. As he commented most of my insei games back then, Tei Sensei’s wisdom is behind most of the lessons that I published so far. The questions are mostly around how to study Go. Here are the things that I found very interesting:
  • memorizing pro games is a popular study method (I used to be under the impression that it’s only a minority of the studying Go players using it)
  • professional players do study Go books (I used to think the only Go books they study are game collections and joseki dictionaries, and that the vast majority of the books are written for amateurs, but I was wrong)
  • professionals don’t use any pattern-matching software for studying Go
  • memorizing joseki doesn’t hurt (contrary to some popular opinion in the amateur’s world); in general, “don’t read this until you are that level” is bad advice
  • making progress at Go is really easy :-) – just “read and play”: learn something new, apply it in your games; repeat until 9 dan.
Thank you for the nice advices, Tei Sensei!

Beyond joseki – and Go World

Friday, April 20th, 2007
I wrote a new lesson: “Beyond joseki”. The reason was that I already found enough (as in 3) English Go literature references to professionals playing tenuki in the famous close-combat taisha joseki (which is famous for getting one into trouble even without playing tenuki…). The most recent source I found a taisha tenuki example in was Go World 43, which was published way back in 1986. I bought one copy of each older issue that Kiseido still had in stock about 1-2 years ago, but only very recently (couple of weeks ago) started to read them. What I do is read on the bus the articles and problems, and study the game commentaries at home, on a real goban. This is how I found the wonderful “Commentary on a Commentary” article with 3 young professionals that comment in 1985 on that year’s Meijin title game 2; then Takemiya sensei comes and comments on their comments. One of the 3 young professionals was Tei Meiko sensei, who was insei instructor when I was insei in Japan. And back to Go World: even with getting all available printed archive issues, I only used to have the issues from 40 to 108. I’ll soon have the whole collection, though, in PDF format, since I just ordered it online from


Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Feedback on users’ feedback

There are some interesting points and questions users have brought via the anonymous feedback on the website. I am going to address here 2 of them.
Of course it’s good to get advice from someone who has insei experience. I’m not sure fast games make people read faster, though. I think the temptation is to read *less*. Tsumego training can help read faster, though.
This is about my article titled “To improve at Go, play a lot of fast games”. Just as a reminder, this is part of my guidelines for studying Go. It seems to be such a controversial issue, a lot of people disagree – maybe I should make clear once again that I am not advocating playing only fast games, but I (strongly) believe that playing also fast games is one of the necessary steps to improve. As I explained in the article, “fast” is a relative notion, bottom-line is to gradually shrink one’s comfortable time limits to be able to play faster. Reading fast is of course important, but it’s also very important to know what to read – and that knowledge comes with intuition, not with reading all possible variations. Playing fast games develops intuition. When I first went to Japan in 1990, for the World Amateur Go Championship, as he was watching one of my non-official games Otake Hideo 9 dan told me: “Too slow, Romania, too slow!” :-)
I agree that blindly repeating joseki is bad, but White’s living technique in Dia. 8 is one I learned recently from studying a different joseki! Knowledge still helps you strong players to find the right way, even if it is non-standard.
This comment is about my “Sometimes It’s Better Not to Know Joseki” article. I definitely agree that knowledge is power – the more we know, the more choices we have, normally, but what I described in this article is an instance of me only thinking in joseki terms in a situation when it was completely wrong to do so. I read in the AGS newsletter a while ago a comment of Janice Kim’s on joseki. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like “what if josekis didn’t exist”, so basically we just regard them as any other local fights. I liked that idea a lot! I want to thank everybody who left feedback, from encouraging words, to corrections on grammar, to suggestions on what to focus on – I am reading all of them and hopefully put them to good use!

Women’s Meijin – game 3

I added a few thoughts of mine on the 3rd and last game of Women’s Meijin in the tournament page. Just briefly, it is very interesting to study how Black is attacking a group in a sequence of 50 moves or so. It was not clear to me that the result of the attack favored Black in the end – as I was looking at the variations on Cyberoro there were a lot of them showing what looked to me as more profitable variations for Black – but Black keeping the initiative for so long surely payed off on the psychological side, with Aoki overlooking what must be a pretty simple tesuji for a professional.

Site design update

I updated the site design a bit recently, tried to make it more colorful. Since I am not a web designer, I realize it’s very far from looking even remotely pleasant – please let me know if you have any suggestion.