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 Post subject: A Complete Introduction to the Game of Go
Post #1 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:30 am 
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Seemed appropriate to post this in it's own thread. I didn't sleep last night so I had some fun writing up the first chapter of what will eventually be my own introduction to the game of go. What follows is nothing more than the strict rules and nothing else (zero* strategical ideas). Some of us have been discussing some different rule ideas elsewhere and having some fun getting into the best ways to state clear, concise and yet simple confines of the game. Also, Awhile back, I posted about my personal method for teaching the game to a newcomer which is in the link below. You'll find if you read through this that my approach has changed a lot on certain ideas and concepts.Any comments or critiques will be much appreciated and please let me know if I'm leaving out something important (or anything for that matter; rules are rules and I like to cover the entire scope). Thanks again if you actually read over the entire post. Lastly I should mention that my descriptions of the diagram's are slightly inaccurate. This is because I'm using a different sgf processor for the book itself.

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A complete Introduction to the game of Go


Introduction


The game of go is an abstract strategy board game for two players. It is widely considered to be the deepest and most complex board game in the world and is believed to be the oldest game to date still played in its original form. From its origins in China, over 4,000 years ago, the game of go has continued to fascinate people from all walks of life and has been a captivating wonder for mathematicians throughout the ages. The name of the game, “go”, stems from the Japanese word “Igo” which translates “The surrounding board game” and so the signature element of the game is the ability of the players to use their game pieces, called stones, to surround those of the opponent. There are many different myths about where and when the game was created and by whom. However, the most likely theory suggests that go evolved from the practice of Chinese military commanders who would use stones to mark out battle positions on maps and it has been suggested that this is the reason that the game so cleverly captures the essence of real life battle strategies. One key attribute of the game which sets it apart within the family of abstract strategy games is that the rules of the game, as you will soon see, could hardly be simpler and can be learned very quickly. When a new player is taught the basic objective of the game, there is a subtle temptation to view the game as almost comical, like something two children on a playground might have conceived. However, one must not play for very long to develop an appreciation for the astonishing depth of complexity that lies within the strategy of the game. This is a growing appreciation that deepens as a player’s understanding of all the subtle nuances and intricacies increase such that the strongest player’s in the world claim to be far from mastery and find themselves just as puzzled at the game as anyone else. Continue reading for an entire introduction to the basic elements of this marvelous game and be prepared to be challenged in a way like never before. Suitable for anyone from small children to the elderly, this game is sure to entertain for a lifetime, anyone who enjoys a challenge.

Chapter One: The Rules of the Game

The nature of game play:

The game of go is played across a board which displays a simple grid of lines, 19 across and 19 over. The following is a picture of an empty go board before the first move of the game has been played. The 19x19 board size is the standard and you will seldom see competitive players using anything else as this has been the custom for at least 2,000 years. However, it is often recommended that total beginners of the game start with the much smaller 9x9 size. This is done to allow the beginner to focus the on the rules and basic concepts without having to be daunted by the sheer complexity of move options afforded on the full size board. Once a player has demonstrated a working understanding of the basic elements of game play, it is then best to spend some time on a 13x13 board which is a nice in between before moving onto the full expansive reality of the 19x19 go board. Smaller boards are also convenient for occasions when players are short on time and want to play through a game quickly.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]




At the start of a the game, each player is equipped with a bowl containing 180 identical stones. One player uses black stones while the other player plays the white stones. The player who plays black has the privilege of making the first move, followed by white and play continues with consecutive moves back and forth. On each players turn, they have the option of laying a maximum of one stone on the board or simply passing their turn and doing nothing. When a stone is played, it is placed on one of the intersections where the lines cross one another. Therefore, every intersection you see in the picture above represents a potential move and once a stone is placed, it cannot be moved to anywhere else under any circumstances, however, it may be removed from the board if certain conditions are not met regarding that stone. Note that the nine black dots, or “star points” you see around the board are only there to help a player visually navigate their place on the board; those intersections are not special and can be played the same as any other intersection. The game begins with the empty board as shown and continues as the board is filled up with stones until one player excepts their defeat and resigns their position. The object of the game is to take control of more of the board than your opponent by using your stones collaboratively to lay claim to separate areas of the board. As you learn to properly arrange your stones, you’ll be able to place stones which are impossible to remove. The winner is the player who can get the most stones permanently placed on the board. Now that we’ve talked about the format in which the game is played, let’s talk about the three rules which dictate what a player must do to create a position of stones which cannot be altered.


The Three Rules of Stone Placement


When considering the best place on the board to place a stone, a player must mind two basic rules that govern the interaction between stones as well as a third rule which prevents a never ending game. Note that there are no sub rules, odd exceptions or limited applications of the following rules.

The first two rules of stone placement are concerned with the relationships between stones on the board and dictates the basic requirements for a stone to remain in play. When a player places a stone somewhere on the board such that the stone is not in contact with any other previously played stones, nothing significant occurs regarding the rules. However, when a player places a stone upon the vacant liberty of another stone on the board, something very important is changed about the position of that stone. When we use the term “liberty”, what we’re referring to are the intersections directly adjacent to a stone. Take a look at the following stone which has been played by black. This stone in the picture has four liberties right now which are marked with red. The liberties of a stone are the vacant intersections which sit directly adjacent to that stone. Notice that the diagonal intersections to the stone are not claimed as liberties.



Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . C . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . C X C . . . . , . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





The first rule of stone placement states that when your opponent chooses to place stones on the liberties of your own stones, those intersections taken by your opponent can no longer be claimed as your liberties. So in the following picture on the left, the black stone now only has three liberties as a result of white’s move and in the picture on the right, the black stone is deprived of three of his four liberties, leaving it with only one.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . X O . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





When a stone is in such a state as the black stone in the picture on the right, the term we use to describe this is called atari, a word which roughly translates “captured on the next move”. That’s because if white chooses on his next move to take the last liberty enjoyed by black then the black stone will be captured and removed from the board. Once a stone is removed, it may be returned to its owner to be used on a future move. What’s important is that you understand that every stone, in order to be placed on the board, and in order to remain on the board, must at all times enjoy at least one liberty. The following picture demonstrates what the board will look like after white makes his capturing move and removes the black stone.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
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$$ | . . . , . . . . O , O . . . . , . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





Note that black is now capable of playing anywhere on the entire board EXCEPT inside of the four white stones due to the fact that a stone placed there would not be able to claim a liberty, making that an invalid move.

However…


Note that in the following picture, the position is quite different. In this position, black is using his stones to deprive the white stones of their needed liberties as well such that the marked white stone is in atari, claiming only one liberty marked in blue. If it’s black’s turn, black is allowed to play on the intersection marked with blue because as soon as black makes this move, he will capture the marked white stone, giving his newly laid stone its needed liberty. In other words, when a player makes a move that deprives his opponents stone of it’s last liberty, that player is to first remove his opponents stone from the board. If after removing the enemy stone from the board, if the player is still left with a stone on the board that does not enjoy a liberty then the move made by that player would have been invalid.



Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]




Lastly, take note of the fact that in the following picture, the black stone is completely surrounded yet remains on the board due to the fact that it still enjoys a liberty.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O O . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . O , X O . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O O . . . . . . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]






The second rule of stone placement dictates what happens when a player chooses to place a stone on the liberty of his own stone. We learned in rule number one that when an enemy stone is placed on the liberty of one of our own stones, we are no longer able to claim that liberty.
However when a player places his stones adjacently together, they form a connection and are then treated as a single unit, sharing the liberties that each stone possesses.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





In the picture above, black has four different sets of stones, however, you’ll notice that the relationship between them is quite different. In the upper left, we have two stones that lay diagonally to each other. In the bottom left, we see two stones that lay adjacently to each other, yet not directly adjacent. Because of this, none of these four stones on the left side of the board have been placed on each other’s liberties (remembering that diagonal intersections to a stone are not liberties). Therefore, there is nothing special to mention about these four stones in regard to the second rule of stone placement. The four stones on the right side, however, are placed into two separates groups of stones where each group has two stones which have been placed on the liberty of a friendly stone. When this happens, these stones then become connected in that they share liberties with one another and therefore cannot be captured separately from one another. In the picture above, both of the right side groups enjoy six liberties as a result of their connection. This means that white, in order to capture either of these groups of stones, must take up all six of the liberties which are currently being claimed. If white manages to do this, then both of the stones of the surrounded group are captured together and removed from the board. There is no limit to how many stones a player can connect. In the following picture, we see a black group in the bottom left made up of eight stones which lay claim to fifteen liberties. In the bottom right, we see six black stones, connected as a group that have been placed in atari. If white were to place a stone on the last liberty at the marked intersection, he would capture and remove all six of the stones at once. In the top left, the six black stones are not connected as a single group and do not share liberties due to the fact they have been cut into two by the white stones and are not connected adjacently. Therefore, in the top left, you can count two separate black groups and two separate white groups, any of which can be captured alone, separately from the other friendly group. There will be more on cutting in chapter three.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . O X X X . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . X X X O . . , . . . . . , . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . X . . . . . . O X O . |
$$ | . . . . . X X X X . . . . O O X X O . |
$$ | . . . X X X . . . , . . O X X X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





The third and final rule of stone placement maintains that the game must remain finite and forbids endless loops. This is necessary because there are certain positions that will often arise in game play such that if both players were willing, the game could continue on forever without progressing or deeming a victor. Thus the third rule is called the rule of ko and strictly forbids such positions. According to the rule of ko, it is illegal for a player at any time in the game to make a move that would cause an exact position of the board to be repeated a second time. Let’s go back to the analogy given during the explanation of the liberty rules:




Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . O C W X . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
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$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]






As explained before, in the picture above, the marked white stone is in atari and black can capture it by playing at the marked intersection. So let’s say that black makes this move and removes the marked white stone. The following picture is what the board would then look like.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . O B . X . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]






As you can see, the white stone has been removed. But notice now that the black stone marked in red which has just been placed is now in atari as well such that white could play on the marked intersection and capture it. Well, as you can tell, the position that would result from white making this move would be identical to the previous picture before black captured. Therefore, the rule of ko forbids white from making this move. Before white can capture this stone, he must first make a move somewhere else on the board. The following picture shows where white has done this and black has responded to the move made by white. Now when you look at the position, you will notice that something has changed now with the addition of the two stones in the corner. Therefore, white can freely capture the black stone in atari now without repeating a board position and will therefore not violate ko. Note however, that black doesn’t necessary have to follow white in playing in the corner. Instead, black could have placed a stone on the intersection marked in blue himself and protected his stone from atari. This brings us to one of the most exciting facets of the game of go: ko fighting. I’m not going to labor into the details of the strategy behind ko fights given that this is only a mere explanation of the rule itself, but I will mention that if white is serious about capturing that black stone in atari, then that move he made elsewhere in order to alter the board to satisfy ko needs to be such a move that black would need to respond to it in order to defend another stone or group somewhere else. A move such as this is called a ko threat and is a topic for the discussion on the strategy behind winning ko fights.



Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . O X C X . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . O X . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]





So there you have it! A complete explanation of the basic conditions for placing stones and the primary objective for winning the game. You’re now ready to plunge into the endless study of strategy that puts these rules to their best use. As a last note, I will mention that there is one other stipulation that is commonly found in the game yet is also optional. Due to the fact that the player who plays white is at a disadvantage due to moving second after black, it is common for the objective of the game to be slightly altered in order to compensate white for his second move. As I told you before, the object of the game is to place the most stones on the board without them getting captured and removed. Well, black’s first move advantage can be balanced out by restating the objective as follows: Black must get X number of stones more than white on the board in order to win. The value of X can change depending on the event and the skill level of the players but its typical to give white a compensation of seven stones meaning that black must get eight more stones than white on the board in order to win. Also, as a final compensation, it’s very common for players to agree that any game ending in a draw will be awarded as a victory to white. Though the game of go is ages old, this concept of compensating white has only been put to use in the last century and is widely agreed upon as necessary to create a more fair game between the competitors.



[I believe I've covered everything there is to cover in this chapter regarding rules with the exception of getting into the different rule sets used. In my opinion, anything else that there is to talk about concerning this game would fall under the categories of strategy, tactics and jargon. I'd be interested to know if anyone disagrees and why]


Attachments:
The Mother of Abstract Strategy.pdf [599.92 KiB]
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Last edited by Joelnelsonb on Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post #2 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:59 am 
Tengen

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Rules for liberties, repetitions, strings. Why? If you put players, stones etc. into definitions / terms, you can also do so with liberties and strings. So, by your claim, you would need only one rule: repetitions.

Except for the mathematical purist's view that all can be stated as definitions, your intended readership expects as a rule: alternation (containing the information Black starts, alternating players, end by [two] successive passes).

When you speak about the game as "go" (and not atari-go or whatever) and consider komi as a tournament rule, at least you also need this rule: scoring.

So what you need is three rules: alternation, repetition, scoring. See here for an example of a ruleset with the approach of a minimalistic number of "rules" but still practicable design:
http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/simple.html
http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/simpcom.html

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Post #3 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:43 pm 
Oza

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There's a problem somewhere in your rules:

1) Passing is legal

This means that by your ending conditions, one never runs out of moves to play, since one can always pass.

2) Repeated positions are illegal

How does this interact with passing?

In either case, the ending is somewhat ambiguous, and I would get rid of passes as moves to clear it up.

On a separate note, by forcing games to fill everything, it's rather tedious to complete or score, and includes group tax, which no one plays with anymore for all practical purposes.

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Post #4 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:22 pm 
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Firstly, I'm not "forcing" anyone to do anything. Once I begin the section on actual game play and strategy, I'll explain the concept that a player is able to calculate far ahead of time who will win and resign if need be. I would encourage a total beginner to fill in the board (maybe just on a 13x13) at least once to see how it works out and then teach them how to never need to do that again. As for the ending being ambiguous, I'm a firm believer in this. My perspective is that a game of go has no definite end, however, the longer you play, the more obvious it becomes that there is nothing you can do to win, to the point that the entire board is filled with your opponents stones with nothing but single liberty eyes everywhere and you literally can't do anything. I don't consider this to be what ends the game. What ends the game is the fact the the player who's losing is no longer playing anymore stones and is therefore resigning. I don't understand where the idea comes from that two consecutive passes end the game. This is incorrect given that its perfectly legal to continue play after the scoring phase. Again, my perspective: What most people consider to be "playing through to the end" is actually just playing to the point that's it obvious that there's no more productive moves left and therefore the end result can no longer be altered. It's at this time that the players pause play to count it up and see who's ahead and therefore on track to win. Once it's been made clear who is ahead, the player in the deficit resigns in the form of choosing not to play anymore stones. I believe it's technically incorrect (but not a problem) the way the servers will bifurcate a victory by resignation and a victory by X amount of points (black wins by resignation vs black wins by 2.5 points). The winner ALWAYS wins by resignation. Furthermore, I don't think that this is something I could be right or wrong about, it's just my perspective on the game and given the fact that it really doesn't matter, I choose to think about it this way because it makes the game more fascinating to me. As for the rule of ko forbidding the repeat of positions, passing is not considered a move. It's a "pass" of a move. Therefore, its impossible to violate ko this way given that ko forbids MOVES that repeat positions.

RobertJasiek: Please help me understand why you feel that scoring the board ought to be treated as a confine of the game. My opinion is that scoring the board is no more than a glorified example of reading ahead. That to me, would be like saying that it should be a rule that a surrounded group without room to make two eyes is dead. On the contrary, no rule is necessary here. The only thing going on there is the skill of the player to predict what will take place down the road and then using this term "dead" to better classify as well as communicate with other players.

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Post #5 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:53 pm 
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I think Black needs more than 180 stones to win close games with stone counting, because he has to overcome komi. For example white can have a single group of 174 stones and 2 eyes. This leaves 185 intersections, and black needs to have stones on 183 of them, leaving 2 eyes to win by (174+7.5)-183 = 1.5 points. With only 180 stones black will have 5 eyes, and lose by 1.5 points.

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Post #6 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:36 pm 
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yoyoma wrote:
I think Black needs more than 180 stones to win close games with stone counting, because he has to overcome komi. For example white can have a single group of 174 stones and 2 eyes. This leaves 185 intersections, and black needs to have stones on 183 of them, leaving 2 eyes to win by (174+7.5)-183 = 1.5 points. With only 180 stones black will have 5 eyes, and lose by 1.5 points.



Once again, you seem to have the impression that under stone scoring, you have to fill the territories in completely. This no never necessary, regardless of the scoring method used.

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Post #7 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:39 pm 
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Joelnelsonb wrote:
As for the ending being ambiguous, I'm a firm believer in this. My perspective is that a game of go has no definite end, however, the longer you play, the more obvious it becomes that there is nothing you can do to win, to the point that the entire board is filled with your opponents stones with nothing but single liberty eyes everywhere and you literally can't do anything. I don't consider this to be what ends the game. What ends the game is the fact the the player who's losing is no longer playing anymore stones and is therefore resigning. I don't understand where the idea comes from that two consecutive passes end the game.


As far as I can tell, the idea of ending play with two consecutive passes comes from Shimada Takuji in The Mathematics of Go (1943). Earlier the idea of ending play with three consecutive passes was advocated by Yasunaga and also by Robinson and Olmsted. The reason for three passes was that the first pass may not have indicated a desire to end play, because of a ko ban, which the pass lifted. Shimada discusses some problems with the three pass rule and then states:

"Whatever way we may develop in order to define the "end of a game", we can not prove that any unusual situation will not arise. But in reality, there is little possibility of this kind of situation {which the three pass rule addresses}. And therefore, I would like to adopt the simplest provision: "A game ends right after each player passes successively"." ( http://harryfearnley.com/go/shimada/chap6.html )

IMO, ending play by successive passes is not ideal. But it seems to have caught on, even in pro rules. You may be interested in my upcoming discussion of ending play in no pass go. With no passes, play ends by one player having no play, by resignation, or by agreement. :)

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Post #8 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:00 pm 
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Joelnelsonb wrote:
yoyoma wrote:
I think Black needs more than 180 stones to win close games with stone counting, because he has to overcome komi. For example white can have a single group of 174 stones and 2 eyes. This leaves 185 intersections, and black needs to have stones on 183 of them, leaving 2 eyes to win by (174+7.5)-183 = 1.5 points. With only 180 stones black will have 5 eyes, and lose by 1.5 points.



Once again, you seem to have the impression that under stone scoring, you have to fill the territories in completely. This no never necessary, regardless of the scoring method used.


If I'm White and I put 174 stones on the board, how are you going to beat me? I'm just saying wouldn't it be simpler to just remove the part about both players having 180 or something similar?

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Post #9 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:18 pm 
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Here's the next chapter. Many thanks to anyone who reads through it all and critiques where needed!

Chapter Two: The Fundamental Strategies


One great thing about the game of go is that there are what seems like infinite ways to approach and think about the game in regards to the most effective way to win. As you progress as a go player, you’ll will develop your own personal style that fits with the way you think and promotes you strengths while compensating for your personal weaknesses. This is part of what makes the game such a fun experience to share with another person because, similar to a musician, no two players area exactly alike and every opponent you face will challenge you with something different. Nonetheless, there are some basic fundamental concepts which have been proven to be superior and therefore are found within the style of any and every strong player. These fundamentals will be our topic of discussion. Regardless of which direction you intend to approach the go board from, the execution of the strategic concepts in the coming chapters will be essential.

As you learned in the last chapter, the objective of the game is to get more stones on the board then your opponent without letting those stones get captured and removed from the board. To this end, you will quickly learn and recognize that there are different types of formations and patterns in which you can arrange your stones such that they become impossible for your opponent to capture. Therefore, when we talk about using our stones to fight with our opponent for control of the board, we’re talking about finding skillful ways to place our own stones in strong and safe formations while also preventing our opponent from doing the same. This is certainly not to say that the best way to win is to capture as many of your opponents stones as possible. Rather, this means that the essence of the game lies In a players ability to make threats against his opponent such that he is forced into an inferior position. So given that our goal is to place more stones on the board than the enemy, while maintaining the safety of those stones so that they can remain on the board and be of use, we will now split that objective into two basic aspects in order to better understand each one.

First we will talk about the method used for getting as many stones on the board as possible. What is obvious is that every time you place a stone, you’ve added one stone to your position and become closer to your goal of domination. However, what a player must grasp in order to progress, is that every stone you lay on the board has power. This means that utilized properly, a stone placed on the board can do a lot more than just sit there and control one intersection. The better you understand this game, the more capable you will be of using your stones to control intersections without actually occupying them. This is because a stone laying on the board is constantly exerting power to other intersections. When you place your stones in such a manner that they collaborate forces, the strength of your position is increased even more. However, the power and influence of the stones placed by your opponent is constantly at work to challenge your scope of control. With this is mind, let’s have a look at a basic example:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | X X X , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . X . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]



Consider these black stones. A simple count tells us that black has seven stones on the board and likewise, controls seven intersections. However, try setting this position up on a board and then place a white stone anywhere inside the black box. What do you suppose will happen to that white stone as the game progresses? If it’s not obvious then play it out yourself and see what the position leads to as black and white fight for control of the corner. Without a doubt, the white stone will certainly be captured by the black stones and the black stones will end up winning possession of the corner. That being said, if such a position as this one occurred in an actual game, white would not bother to place a stone in this corner because a seasoned player would be well aware that this corner already belongs to black. The reason this is so is because, as a result of the black formation, this corner is now a place where black can place his stones without any trouble whereas white can’t put stones there because they’ll just get captured and come back off the board. This very basic example demonstrates a very key element behind the strategy of this game: What a player ought to strive to do is to use his stones in such a way that they lay hold to other areas, thereby giving that player more opportunity to get stones safely onto the board. As you’ve been told already, another name for go is “the surrounding game”. The game is not called this simply because you can capture enemy stones by surrounding them, but also because your stones have the ability to control and lay claim to large areas of the board by surrounding those areas. Therefore, when two experienced players sit down to play, their primary objective is not to simply put a bunch of stones on the board (after all, your opponent gets to move every time you do), nor is the core objective to capture opposing stones. The key strategy implemented in order to take conquest of the board faster then your opponent is to use your stones to surround as many intersections as possible. You don’t immediately need to worry about getting stones on those intersections; you can do that after you’ve surrounded the area and taken control, as a final phase of the game. After all, if you truly control in area, then your opponent can’t put his stones there anyways. You’ll pick up various terms and jargon as you learn to play this game. When we talk about stones surrounding and laying claim to a region of the board, we call that region our territory. Ultimately, the game of go is a fight for territory and the player who is able to subdue the most territory will win without contest. For this reason, the losing player will usually resign his position once his opponent claims enough territory such that he owns more than half the board. Though the objective is to place as many stones on the board as possible, there is no need to place stones on intersections which are well under a players control. Instead, you can simply count up the number of intersections under that players control and then deduce who will come out on top if play continued. In the following example, black resigned from play after reaching this position. The reason for black’s despair was that the board has been completely divided between each player to the point that every intersection on the board is under control and there are no moves left that can alter the ultimate outcome. This game was played with the stipulation mentioned at the end of chapter one stating that black must have eight more stones on the board than white. However, after reaching this position, the count of stones along with controlled territory put black at just seven stones ahead of white, meaning white is actually leading by one stone. Though there remains plenty of vacant intersections capable of being played, the players are able to deduce the winner simply by counting up the respective territory along with the stones already placed on the board. This is how the game is always played because it is time consuming and entirely unnecessary to fill in the intersections which are already under control.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Sorry, not diagramming a whole game.
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]



Now that you’ve seen how a player properly utilizes his stones in order to make his moves as efficient as possible, let’s talk about what it takes to keep your stones safe from capture. Because regardless of how you use your stones, they won’t be good for anything if they come back off the board.
Looking once again at the example above, if you were preparing to count the stones on the board along with the controlled territory for each side, you must first take note of one very important detail: Not all of the stones that you see on that board should be counted. Notice the two marked black stones along with the two marked white stones. After seeing the corner example given in the last section, it should be obvious that these stones are in grave danger. In fact, the position is so hopeless for those four stones that it is impossible for their owners to prevent them from being captured. This means that if play continued and each side began to fill in there territories, as would be necessary If black refused to resign, then those stones would eventually be captured and removed from the board. Therefore, when scoring the position in order to asses who is ahead, you are to neglect those stones and leave them out of the count. Whenever a player has stones such as these that stand to be captured and are impossible to save, we say that those stones are dead. Dead stones are never counted in the assessment of a position. still working with the example, every other stone you see on that board is entirely safe and secured. This means that there are no moves which could be made by either competitor that would result in the capturing of an opponents stone. When you have stones like these which are impossible to capture, you call them living stones. Stones that are alive are stones that are a permanent part of the board position. Thus when counting, you only count living stones. There will eventually come a point in every game when every stone on the board is either living or dead. Prior to this point, there will be stones that are still fighting to survive and it will be unknown whether they will make a permanent place on the board or be removed. Stones in this state are said to be unsettled. An unsettle stone or group is one such that neither player is able to determine with certainty whether it will live or die. Therefore, when a game is close and it is difficult to tell who is leading in the position, most players will play until the settling of all the stones before deciding whether to resign or not.

So let’s talk about what it takes to settle a group of stones into an either living or dead group. There are two separate strategies that a player can employ in order to make his stones alive. You might call them the normal way and the other way. More practically, stones may become alive by possessing “eyes” or by creating “seki”. Let’s start by defining what an eye is. An eye is a term that refers to at least one intersection which is vacant and is entirely surrounded by connected stones of the same color. Take a look at the following diagram. The black group on the right side meets the qualification just given for an eye. Notice that the vacant intersection in the middle is surrounded by the black stones and all the black stones are connected, sharing liberties. The other two structures are what we call “false eyes”. They hold the appearance of an eye, however, the stones are not entirely connected as one group because they don’t all connect adjacently. They can be connected by playing a stone on the liberty between the two groups, but this would negate the purpose. The point is for the inner liberty to remain vacant and the reason for this will be explained in a moment. What’s important for you two realize is that all three of the black groups are dead, including the one legitimate eye. This is because in order for a group of stones to be considered alive, it must posses no less than two independent eyes. One eye is as good as none. The reason for this is because white is able to play inside the black eye and capture the whole group given that the eye itself is the last liberty that the black group can claim, meaning that the group is in atari.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . O O O . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . O X X O . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . O X . X O . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O X X O . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O O O . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . O X X X . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O X . X . . . . . . . O O O . . . |
$$ | . . . O X O . . . . . . O X X X O . . |
$$ | . . . O O O . . . . . . O X . X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X X O . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . O O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]




So in order for a group to survive and stake out a permanent position on the board, it must find a way to create two eyes. The following example is a demonstration of living groups. Both of the black groups have two separate liberties which meet the qualification given for an eye and therefore cannot be captured. Notice that both groups are also entirely surrounded by white. This is irrelevant for the sake of life and death. As long as the black groups both posses those two eyes, they cannot be captured no matter what happens with regard to the rest of the board position. The reason for this is quite simple: The groups only require one liberty, as usual, to remain on the board. However, you saw in the previous example that when the black group had only one eye, white was able to play on that liberty acting as the eye as the final move to capture the black stones. If that move did not succeed in depriving the group of all it’s liberties then white would be unable to play on the eye because there is no liberty there for the white stone to rely on. That being said, when a group possesses two separate eyes, it becomes impossible to capture do to the fact that white is incapable of bringing the black groups to atari. By having two eyes, the black groups are insured that they will not have to count on the eye itself as their last liberty and since white cannot play two moves at once, the groups will always maintain the required one liberty to remain on the board. The one obvious exception to this would be if black filled one of the eyes in himself. However, there would never be a reason for such a play and so we can safely call the groups impossible to capture.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . O O O O . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . O O X X O . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , O X . X O O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . O X X X X X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . O O O X . X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . O X X O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . O O O O O . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O X X X X X O . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O X . X . X O . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]




If you take another look at the finished game from before, you might notice that the black group in the bottom left doesn’t have anything that appears to be an eye but yet was determined to be alive.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Sorry, not diagramming a whole game.
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]




This is because in the event of being attacked, pressured and needing of eyes, the group would have no problem creating the necessary eyes to live. As you learn to recognize the status of groups as living or dead, you’ll be able to better identify the ability of a group to get its two eyes If need be. Since it is agreed by both players that the group would have no trouble getting eyes and is therefore un killable, its treated as being alive and no further move is necessary but would only be a waste of time.



As mentioned before, there is another method for creating a living group and is called “seki” which translates to mean “mutual life“. However, this lesson will be better saved for a later time, after a more comprehensive explanation of the interaction between groups has been given.

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Post #10 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:19 am 
Tengen

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Joelnelsonb, a game cannot always end by resignation because a game can and as a tie. (It is acceptable of tie is implied from the winning condition and tie need not be spelled out explicitly. The problem is rather that the concept of always resignation fails.)

You yourself say that you do not want long, tedious ends. Therefore you do not want no-pass-go with its very long pass-fights (i.e. fights about avoiding becoming the first player having to pass because of no more legal play).

Passes are a mandatory type of moves to a) avoid pass-fights and b) dissolve all final basic endgame kos while maintaining the basic principle of alternation of moves, even if the ko loser does not have any legal play any more (possibly other than self-atariing with his own two-eye-formation).

In order to know if a player wins, is going to win or might as well wish to resign because of knowing to be going to win, a scoring definition is mandatory and necessary. (In no-pass-go, the scoring definition is "loses if no more legal move"; but you do not want no-pass-go.) A scoring definition (such as "the higher number of his stones plus empty intersections surrounded by his stones", or if - strategically unlike all modern go - you want stone scoring "the higher number of his stones") is of the greatest central importance; therefore, in a rules text having rules at all (and not only definitions), it is absolutely mandatory that there ought to be the rule of scoring. No other rule is more important. Every rules text must have a scoring rule (or definition). A rule text without clear scoring rule is a total failure regardless of how many words the text has. The history of terrible beginner introductions has seen by far too many total failures trying to pretend that go (note: I speak of go, not of some variant such as atari-go) would be a game without scoring. In a go rules text, you cannot do any greater harm than hiding scoring by not mentioning it or burying it amidst immaterial text.

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Post #11 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:43 am 
Judan
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Joelnelsonb wrote:
the basic fundamental object of the game is to use your game pieces, called stones, to surround those of your opponent‘s.
This is not true, not well thought out, and needs to be re-considered, re-organized, and re-written -- That's my opinion.

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Post #12 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:13 am 
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EdLee wrote:
Joelnelsonb wrote:
the basic fundamental object of the game is to use your game pieces, called stones, to surround those of your opponent‘s.
This is not true, not well thought out, and needs to be re-considered, re-organized, and re-written -- That's my opinion.



Perhaps it's not worded very well but I think I know what you mean. I think what I'm really trying to say is that the ability to capture stones by surrounding them is a signature component of the game. In the same way that "every piece has a unique movement" is the what comes to mind when thinking of Chess, regardless of the fact there is far, far more to the game than that. Likewise, when I think of checkers, that's the game where you jump each other. thank you for pointing that out!

RobertJasiek: I do see your point though I understand it a little differently. Nonetheless, any and every game does have to have something in the official rules that states the objective of the game and the method of determining a winner. Otherwise, its wouldn't be possible to lose. As you said, this is the first and most important rule. I at least agree with that aspect and will be making revisions. I think that where I had a problem was in the idea of saying that the actual act of counting up the board needs to be among the rules because it certainly does not. Just like in Chess, there's no rule that states "Once a checkmate is suspected, both players are required to read out all potential avenues of escape in order to confirm..." No, the board position is what it is; a players necessity to assess it in order to know who's winning is their own personal dilemma, in my opinion.


As I'm writing this book (which is mostly just for fun, btw. Its the book I wish I had when I started out), I'm trying to think of anything and everything that would be relevant to a total beginner to get them playing the game and actually understanding a little bit of what they ought to be trying to do. It would be tough to teach someone how to play a musical instrument if they had never heard music before. However, I don't care to get into things as advanced as joseki's and specific tesui's but rather I'd like to bring the reader to a point where they're ready and capable of working on such things using other materials. Does anyone have any ideas for things that this book should most certainly contain? Any thoughts on things that you wish you had been told earlier in your go career? My primary motivation is to cover all the fundamental basics so that a player doesn't have to experience that feeling of "gosh, I wish someone had just said that at the beginning!"

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Post #13 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:53 am 
Judan

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Joelnelsonb wrote:
As I'm writing this book (which is mostly just for fun, btw. Its the book I wish I had when I started out), I'm trying to think of anything and everything that would be relevant to a total beginner to get them playing the game and actually understanding a little bit of what they ought to be trying to do. It would be tough to teach someone how to play a musical instrument if they had never heard music before.


The book that got me interested in go, and also taught me the rules well enough to start playing, was Lasker's Go and Go-moku. As far as I know, it's still in print. (Good old Dover! :D) The main thing I remember about the book was not how it treated the rules, but that it showed a famous game between Honinbo Shusai and Karigane in autumn, 1926. Shusai made a sacrifice to build a wall and a large framework, which Karigane invaded. A large scale fight ensued, creating an approach ko. The game did not end with the battle, however. Even though I knew nothing about the game, Lasker explained it well enough to make it interesting. IMO, you gotta play 'em some music. :)

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Post #14 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:58 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
creating an approach ko.


Ah, this explains your interest in approach kos! :)

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Post #15 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:18 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
you gotta play 'em some music. :)



Very well said! This is the prime objective in writing this. I want to be able to take a new player who is incapable of understanding something like why this stone is actually connected to that stone even though they're really far apart and expose them to the experience of playing a real game where every move is crucial and instead of wondering what to do, they're wondering how to do it. It's unfathomable to my wife that a board game can get my adrenaline pumping and give me kicks.

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Post #16 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:47 am 
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Joelnelsonb wrote:
EdLee wrote:
Joelnelsonb wrote:
the basic fundamental object of the game is to use your game pieces, called stones, to surround those of your opponent‘s.
This is not true, not well thought out, and needs to be re-considered, re-organized, and re-written -- That's my opinion.


Perhaps it's not worded very well but I think I know what you mean. I think what I'm really trying to say is that the ability to capture stones by surrounding them is a signature component of the game.

No, Ed's right... its not about surrounding and capturing stones, and I certainly wouldn't consider that a signature component of the game.

Its about surrounding and controlling territory/area.

There can often be games where not one stone is ever captured.

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Post #17 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:05 am 
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I think the troublesome phrase was "basic fundamental object of the game" (nevermind the tautology of basic fundamental), which I agree is to surround territory. But I would agree the capture rule is the core rule of the game which gives it its character, even if captures are more often threatened than actually happen.
On the idea of an illustrative game in a beginnner book, I liked the annotated game of Matthew Macfadyen in his book (which I learnt from) as it gave me a glimpse of the depth of the game, even as I struggled to spot ataris myself.

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Post #18 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:33 am 
Judan

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Joelnelsonb wrote:
The name of the game, “go”, stems from the Japanese word “Igo” which translates “The surrounding board game” and so the basic fundamental object of the game is to use your game pieces, called stones, to surround those of your opponent‘s.


Uberdude wrote:
I think the troublesome phrase was "basic fundamental object of the game" (nevermind the tautology of basic fundamental), which I agree is to surround territory. But I would agree the capture rule is the core rule of the game which gives it its character, even if captures are more often threatened than actually happen.
On the idea of an illustrative game in a beginnner book, I liked the annotated game of Matthew Macfadyen in his book (which I learnt from) as it gave me a glimpse of the depth of the game, even as I struggled to spot ataris myself.


My speculation is that Ur-Go was a game of capture. However, it became a game of territory, called Weiqi in Chinese, Igo in Japanese. What is territory? Bascially, territory consists of points on the board that you control such that you can safely play stones there but if your opponent plays stones there you can safely capture them. The main way of controlling territory is to surround it, and the Chinese Wei and Japanese I refer to surrounding. A player's score includes points of territory; different scoring methods count different things in addition. The two main modern scoring methods, called area scoring and territory scoring, define territory slightly differently, but the results usually differ by one point or less.

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Last edited by Bill Spight on Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #19 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:35 am 
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I've made a lot of revision and plan to update my posts accordingly but for the time being, here is the revised statement:

"...The name of the game, “go”, stems from the Japanese word “Igo” which translates “The surrounding board game” and so the signature element of the game is the ability of the players to use their game pieces, called stones, to surround those of the opponent."

Notice that it doesn't say "surround and capture" because that would be to specific to one tactic of the game. The concept of simply surround is, in my opinion, at the core of the strategical complex of the game. Referring to the idea that if you can surround your opponents stones then you make them less effective in relation to the rest of the board (think of sealing in a group). Also, this is the last place that I feel like strict, precise and perfectly accurate definitions are necessary. Thank you for the help though, please keep it coming!

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Post #20 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:38 am 
Judan

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Joelnelsonb wrote:
I've made a lot of revision and plan to update my posts accordingly but for the time being, here is the revised statement:

"...The name of the game, “go”, stems from the Japanese word “Igo” which translates “The surrounding board game” and so the signature element of the game is the ability of the players to use their game pieces, called stones, to surround those of the opponent."

Notice that it doesn't say "surround and capture" because that would be to specific to one tactic of the game. The concept of simply surround is, in my opinion, at the core of the strategical complex of the game. Referring to the idea that if you can surround your opponents stones then you make them less effective in relation to the rest of the board (think of sealing in a group). Also, this is the last place that I feel like strict, precise and perfectly accurate definitions are necessary. Thank you for the help though, please keep it coming!


What is the point of surrounding a live group? Sure, you may reduce its influence, but it reduces the influence of your surrounding stones, as well.

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