Go is one of the most difficult yet enjoyable board games on the market. This game, which was first played in China thousands of years ago, is regarded by many board game enthusiasts as one of the most intelligent of its kind. Emanuel Lasker, a well-known German chess player, mathematician, and philosopher even said that “the rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go.”
Though Go has simple rules, the strategies used to win the game are not that easy. One notable strategy used by Go players from all over the world is tenuki. This move is somewhat similar to sente, or taking the initiative, and gote, which means deferring to the opponent by responding to the last play. For starters, tenuki is not something to be used whenever a player wants to. It is used only when he/she feels that the opponent’s last move can’t do him damage.
Tenuki is a vital move that players can take advantage of. It will come handy whenever your opponent is already controlling the flow of the game. If the guy on the other side of the board makes moves that requires you to respond, you can use tenuki. You can ignore that current sequence and opt to play in another area on the board.
For those who still understand, you can liken the move into a bluff in poker, another strategy game. Contrary to what many people think, poker is not a game of luck and chances. It is a game won by making the right decisions and well-timed strategies. If you get to play the game, whether on land-based casinos or virtual tables on Partypoker.com, you will notice how players easily lose all their chips because of their bad decisions. They lose because they failed to determine if the other player is bluffing or not. Bluffing basically means deceiving someone as to one’s abilities or intentions. Players use this to mislead their opponent. A bluffer needs to convince that he is going to call or fold even if he won’t. Professional poker players who have mastered this skill are Gus Hansen, Jamie Gold, and Tom Dwan. In Go, you need to do the same. You need to tenuki in order to show off your opponent’s weaknesses. You need to make them hesitate with their moves and strategies. You don’t always need to respond to your opponent’s moves. You can’t let him dictate the tempo. When you use tenuki, you can save yourself from unnecessary responses. You can go back and focus on the previous move you made.
Mistakes that newbie players commit in Go are commonly because of their inconsistency and carelessness. They believe that they should return all the moves that their opponents make. The truth is, Go is not always about offense. Your offense will have no impact if you don’t know how to tenuki.
During the last weeks I’ve restarted watching the anime series of “Hikaru no Go”. Filling up my night shifts with its passion forced me to find a way to play go from my hospital.
Unfortunatelly, the internet is firewalled, so any port beyond the usual ones and java applets are prohibited. This turns all go server such as KGS, yahoo, IGS useless… all but GoShrine.
GoShrine is a small server. Currently having 21 users makes me emphasize the SMALL aspect of the server. I’ve been there a few hours during the last week and found that most users are around 10k with some top users being around 1k-1d level. Most probably, there are stronger players but we may not have the same timetables… Sincerely, I don’t think stronger players may want to join this club for other reasons than badly beating weaker players. On the other hand, most of us remember the old days from KGS when it was small…
However, it is the only go server which allows me to play from my job, with a simple interface and players always asking for incomers and more games. So if you happen to see me lurking over there, I will most probably be working during my night shift. Therefore, you can bargain me a game but I may resign randomly if my job requires it.
Watching a game recently on KGS I was reminded of the relevance of counting all sorts of liberties during capturing races. Everyone knows the three types: the external, the shared liberties and the eye liberties. We all know that external liberties should be filled first with the exception of vital points in eyes (which would count also as an eye liberty). Here is the precise game which made me write this post:
As you can see there is a big battle around the left side of the board. Though this situation was predictable a few moves ago, this picture sets us in the exact moment where all moves were played with the solely purpose of winning this capture race. Although my reading ability is way behind dan level, I wonder if I could read the exact amount of liberties each group had. I could guess that black had exactly 7 liberties, nothing more and nothing less. I must admit that counting the liberties around G7 and the chances to create a false eye forced me to use a separate board.
However, what annoyed me the most was the white group. It’s a plain bulky-five with three external liberties and I couldn’t sum it up mentally. After a wandering from a while, I got the solution:
There are the outer 3 liberties
Black has to play 4 stones inside, since white must kill black when white’s in atari. In the end, black used 3 turns.
Black has to play 3 stones inside once again. White kills. Black used 2 turns.
Black plays another 2. White kills. Black used 1 turn.
Black plays two and kills white. Black used 1 turn
This turns used by black can also be used by white on the other side of the capturing race. Actually, white turns are exactly the same number as black liberties MINUS ONE. This makes a total amount of 3+7 turns, with most of it coming from eye liberties. What about the other eye figures?
During the real game, white messed up with the sequence around G7, thus giving a real eye to black, but managed to win the capturing race for two liberties. Sincerely, I think both players didn’t play very well the sequence around G7.
According to my review, white should have played at G7 during move 134, since the real move allows for black G8, which would have gained one extra liberty for black. It wouldn’t have been enough to beat white this time… but on another game one extra liberty may settle the difference between victory and defeat
I just watched a game between 7 dan players in KGS. A blitz game, I must say. Certainly, the speed of the game forced the players to ignore this easy tsumego which features two traditional and basic tesujis for tsumego. After a nice fighting game with several weak groups floating around the board and some minimal invasions, the game developed into a fight in the middle of the board. Here you have the full board position
As you can see, the upper and right side of the board have dealt with terrible invasions and all-in fights. There is an unsettled white group around O14. Playing as black would you be able to kill white?
Actually, I glanced the solution while watching the game, but it took me over 10 seconds to check if the sequence was flawless. And it is. Below this lines you have the full game with some variations on this tsumego starting on move 256.
Lately, games against my pupil are becoming more difficult for me to handle. Sometimes I make awful blunders, so that he gets used to spotting them and exploiting his opponents’ weakness. Though this happens usually by the end of the game, at the beginning I tend to play more seriously and force the apparition of several tsumegos so that we practice reading. The situation below appeared during our last game.
As you can see above. White group around p13 and the black stones around p14 are struggling for life. Easy tsumego: white to play and kill the cutting p14 stones.
Though the solution is quite easy to spot, the exploration of variations has made me create four versions of this file while adding variations… In fact, it is more interesting to find out why certain sequences don’t work rather than finding the correct one.
It’s been a long time since the KGS android app was released and, ever since then, I’ve been interested in making a videoreview of it. Though I’m not really a regular user, I wanted to contribute in keeping up the KGS server, so I decided to buy it. Nonetheless, the KGS app costs 12,12 euros on google play. Expensive, you may say. But it includes a 2 months subscription to the KGS plus service. Take it or leave it, but it’s the only legal way to obtain the app.
The white circle on the screen is the tip on my finger. The review is made on a Samsung Galaxy S2 and connected through WiFi, though it works fine with 3G and GPRS. However, if you travel by train it’s not uncommon to get disconnected several times (with the consequent annoyance) while in tunnels or areas with low internet coverage.
So, here it is, enjoy it:
Though the app is great for playing, it has a couple of issues you should bare in mind before buying. First of all, and most annoying, you can’t view a game you’ve just played. If you play a game, it’s stored on KGS but you can’t access it from your phone. The only solution is to go to kgs site, download the sgf file and open it on another program. Yes, on another program, because you can’t load sgfs on this app. The second issue is related with internet: connection is required always, even if you play a local game with a friend on your phone.
All in all it’s a good app for playing into KGS, but just that, it won’t replace your main sgf viewer.