Sept 8, 2007 Volume 8, #65 - Strategic Overview

Let me give you a strategic overview of a go game. The players divide up an area over a number of moves. They may divide amicably or they may fight, but either way at the end both players have some enduring value. Then the focus of the game shifts to another area and they do it again.

Each area can be divided up in many different ways. The players may divide the local territory up 50-50. One player may get most of the local territory while the other player gets a position of strength that will enable him to get more territory elsewhere. Or the division could be any combination between these two.

The two keys here are number of moves and enduring value. One can only get a small benefit from one move. To get a large benefit one needs many moves. If one player collects his benefit in the area, but the other leaves before his benefit is secure and allows the other to take it away, the neglectful player can immediately find himself far behind. The most common reason for losing in go is not collecting the benefits one is entitled to. One of the major problems I see with beginning players is that they jump around the board, never getting any real benefit in any area. For this leg of your journey, make sure you build an enduring value before you move on to another part of the board.

After you finish this article I want you to do two things. First, review a couple of pro games. The ones included in the membership edition of the E-Journal will do nicely. Dont worry about the meaning of the individual moves. Simply watch how long the players stay in one area. Try to see how the game breaks up into long sequences resulting in each player getting an enduring value. The other thing is to look at a few joseki. (Joseki are fixed sequences that give an equal divide of a corner.) Again, dont worry about the meaning of the moves, and do NOT try to memorize any. Just see how many moves it takes to divide up a corner. And especially note how often a joseki ends with a stabilizing extension down the side. That stabilizing extension is the move that collects the benefits. Without it there is no position of enduring value, just stones that are a potential burden.