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 Post subject: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #1 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:15 am 
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I remember reading somewhere on this forum that the correct way to use influence is to attack and fight, not for making territory? Is that right?

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Post #2 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:23 am 
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Hi Anzu,

It depends on the board.

Extreme example: if you have a very nice wall, and if you add one move to make it territory and as a result it's a clear win, you do it.

Example: consider :b1: at a 4-4. W can still jump into 3-3 and live. So if your original idea of :b1: was to make corner territory directly, maybe not so good.

At the end of the day, we need to look at a specific board position.

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #3 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:27 am 
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Alright, one more question.

What is the difference between thickness and influence?

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Post #4 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:07 am 
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Hi Anzu,

Going with an earlier example,
suppose this local shape happens:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ --------------------
$$ . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ . . . . O O . . . . |
$$ . . . X X X O O O . |
$$ , . . . . . X X O . |
$$ . . . . . . . . X . |
$$ . . . . . . . X . . |
$$ . . . . . . . . . . |[/go]
You're B. What are you going to do with this shape ?
It depends on the board.

Probably some nice folks may give some explanations (possibly with diagrams).

At the end of the day, you need to look at a specific board.
It's your turn: what's your plan ?
Curious to see how all the info in this will affect your future moves.

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #5 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:16 am 
Oza

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Quote:
What is the difference between thickness and influence?


If you have four stones in an area and the opponent has one, you have more influence there than him.

If you have a group with two eyes and part of it faces an open area, you have thickness.

If you have thickness you can fight with advantage and no risk. If you have influence, you can fight with advantage but with some risk.

There is a continuum between the extremes, and in particular experienced players will see that a position that is solid but does yet have two obvious eyes can actually make them easily, and so that position can be treated as genuine thickness. More interesting is the frequent case where an experienced amateur player considers a position as thick but a very experienced player (i.e. a pro) sees that it has weaknesses and so is still only influence. In the latter case a pro is liable to add a stone to make it genuinely thick, whereas an amateur is liable to attack too early.

It is probably best to forget the advice to use thickness to attack. It misleads. The hierarchy of principles is (1) make sure your thickness really is thick; (2) keep away from thickness. The latter proverb applies to both players, and so you either extend far away and make a lot of territory, or if the opponent gets too close you imitate a Venus fly-trap. In other words, whether you attack or not depends on what the opponent does. You do not set out with the idea of "Hey, I've got some thickness, what shall I attack?"

Perhaps the best way to learn about thickness is to make lots of it. Play honte and other moves that prophylactically cover your defects. It is possible to overdo this, but it's actually quite hard to overdo thickness, as it usually pays off eventually, even (or perhaps especially?) in the endgame. Even if your opponent makes an apparently big moyo while you do this, you'll find you can do things like invade him with abandon, because even if your invading group has to run away, it can do no collateral damage to your already thick position elsewhere (and of course your thickness also constitutes a safe haven for the running group, and a reef for an over-enthusiastic hunter).

If you do overdo the thickness building, this will translate into overconcentration, which is quite easy to spot by yourself, without a teacher.

How do you use influence? This is still at a formative stage of the game. You use it to try to determine how the game will proceed. It gives you the initiative in that area. You can be the one to decide whether influence turns into e.g. thickness, a moyo, post-facto reducing or spoiling moves (i.e. at low cost to you, stopping your opponent from getting control of an area).

If, out of these various strategies, you choose to try to turn influence into thickness, learning how to do that is one of the most interesting learning trajectories in go. It is a stage a little before the honte and other defect-covering moves, and includes principles such as ijime (bullying) and forcing moves, but above all it means just going for it - it's like learning to swim when you are still too nervous to take your foot off the bottom. The go equivalent of combining water wings and taking your foot off the bottom is to experiment with some outward-facing josekis. But do remember thickness is ubiquitous, and is about so much more than josekis. It includes the middle game, e.g. Shuei's use of centre-facing L shapes, and the endgame. Playing I-Spy Thickness is another delicious game you can play while playing go.


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 7 people: Anzu, daal, dfan, DrStraw, illluck, jeromie, tsuboniwa
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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #6 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:01 am 
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Thanks for clearing that up, John! Must've taken a long time to type all that.. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #7 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:50 am 
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Influence can be used for: building territory, moyo, sphere of influence, new influence, new potential, new options; reduce, invade or prevent territory, moyo sphere of influence, (possibly new) influence, potential or options; mutual settling fight; defend and / or attack; building large scale cuts having potential; building new influence stones or thickness elsewhere; prevent territory; achieve aims; transform types of stones; transform degrees of influence or thickness; transform influence or thickness in one part to another part of the board; etc.

Thickness or influence stones are sources of influence. Influence exists on the other intersections affected by thickness or influence stones. Degrees of thickness / influence stones and of influence vary.

Play away from thickness is a principle with exceptions. The later during a game the more likely playing near thickness becomes. During the opening or early middle game, playing near thickness is a possible, exceptional strategy if the opponent cannot profit well from attacking.

For many details and examples, see [12].

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #8 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:00 am 
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Anzu:

Pure chance, but immediately after posting the above I turned to inputting a 1920s game into the GoGoD database and it just so happened it contained several good illustrations.



It is a teaching game, a senior pro versus a future pro who would normally have taken 4 stones but is here allowed to show his mettle on 2. I refer to the pro's commentary and add some remarks of my own.

White 21: This is one of the "teaching" moves. Black has influence in the lower left quadrant. He is being asked to demonstrate how he might handle it. White would normally want to play something like a checking extension at C12 but apart from teaching he has to overcome the handicap. There is a stage before influence (勢力) called 大勢 which can be rendered perhaps as "show of force." It can apply at various stages in the game but handicap stones constitute it automatically. White is responding to that. Black's reply was good. But the result is fluid - Black gets potential territory (aji-laden) on the left, White gets influence in the centre.

Black 46: A honte. Black could let White cut here and still live on both sides, but he would be too busy doing that to achieve anything. The result is what very many amateurs would regard as thickness. It is NOT. The key proverb is a western one: "walls have ears not eyes." This is just influence. (That is the pro speaking, not me.) You will see as the game progresses how Black's lack of eyes here creates difficulties.

Black 58: Bad. Wrong direction of play, even locally (locally the right move is L7). The pro says the correct move here is to "exploit his upper-side influence" by playing a kakoi (surrounding) move at Q10. Kakoi is a very interesting (and advanced) concept. The trick to understanding it is to realise that in Japanese it is normally used on its own (囲い). You just say "surround", not "surround territory." And the reason for that is you are actually surrounding more than territory; you are typically surrounding eyes. The influence above needs to be turned into thickness by the addition of eyes. Black neglected that and paid the price. Going back to 58, a key fault about this move is that it is overconcentration.

Black 70: Slack. He should play Q8. The idea is not so much to attack (no real thickness there yet) but to make use of the initiative his influence affords.

Black 84: A nice tesuji that enables him to dig himself out of a hole.

White 97: A bullying move, by way of a test. The proper move for White is K15. Black passes the test with neat shinogi.

White 135: regard this not so much as a boundary play but as an anti-ijime (anti-bullying play), which is still important at this stage of the game.

Black 152: White could play on but Black has passed the test. He went on to become a 9-dan and won fame both as a blindfold player and a supermurine fast player. He once played an Oteai game, in the days when players got 9 hours each, in which he used two minutes flat.


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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #9 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:49 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:

For many details and examples, see [12].


[12] ?

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #10 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:49 am 
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John's discussion on influence vs. thickness is very good, and I think he covered the topic well. I don't have anything else to add to that part.

One thing that might be interesting to discuss is something I heard from Myungwan at a workshop: influence is an investment that's most useful toward the beginning of the game (there's a greater chance that you'll be able to use it). As the game progresses, your chances to utilize influence efficiency typically start to run out, until at the end of the game, points become more valuable.

As an analogy, he compared this to getting a college degree. When you are young and have a full life ahead of you, getting a college degree can be a good investment and may result in a lot of money for you throughout your life (if you use it properly). On the other hand, it's less efficient (in terms of money, at least) to get a college degree when you are older. There are less chances you'll be able to use it. When you're older, you'd be better off just having cash - it's much more efficient than an investment you might not end up using effectively.

So likewise, in the game of go, starting out with an investment (i.e. influence) can often be a good choice if you use it effectively since it will eventually lead to cash. But once the game gets "older" and there are less chances to use that influence, you're better off just scraping up as many points as possible.

Of course, every game is different, and every life is different. The most efficient way to "play" is up for you to decide.

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #11 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:33 am 
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In general, thickness is for fighting, not territory. Influence need not be thick, and is more often used for territory. Generalities are not much help, I am afraid. You really need to look at cases.

Here are some threads that pertain to thickness and influence. :)

Using Walls: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=493

Masterpiece of attack and defense: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2370

A vague treatise on influence: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5477

What is thickness?: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2982

How to use influence - Your opinion on 3 positions: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4405

Influence vs territory question: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4932

Influencial Opening?: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=10760

Becoming more center focused: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=11646

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At some point, doesn't thinking have to go on?

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #12 Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:03 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
In general, thickness is for fighting, not territory. Influence need not be thick, and is more often used for territory. Generalities are not much help, I am afraid. You really need to look at cases.


OK, Bill, whatever you say. Case 1 for me is when I need to win a decisive battle. Then I need a thick position, and to fight the battle adjacent to it. Case 2 is when I'm trying to win on territory (which actually is my style). Then I need to factor influence somehow into any positional judgement I make. This is easier said than done. Pros tend to count secure territory first, and somehow make up a balance sheet.

I suppose the point about this is that being a territorial player and then losing on territory is, well, lame. If the opponent's invasion leaves you thick - and it had better, or your strategy is busted - you have to modulate into an appropriately aggressive mode. This is how the game is played.

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Post #13 Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:56 pm 
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As has been indicated, influence is not the same as thickness, and is often used for making territory. However, by influence players often mean outside or central influence, which by its nature does not usually produce much in the way of territory, at least directly. Such influence may require fighting, faute de mieux. ;)

Anyway, here is a game where Black goes for outside influence, along with some sportscaster style comments. :)


_________________
The Adkins Principle:

At some point, doesn't thinking have to go on?

— Winona Adkins

"Once in a very great while his eyes light up for a moment, and he says "Whee!" very quietly."
— Lion Miller

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #14 Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:50 pm 
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Charles, territory and influence are insufficient. As I have explained in a different thread, dynamic positional judgement must consist not only of connection and life statuses and current influence, but also of: development directions; neutral stones; statuses of stability and of life and death of imagined invasion groups; options; aji; imagined reductions and invasions; local potential; thickness; imagined best use or transformation of influence, thickness and potential; imagined good fights.

Influence should not be judged "somehow", but should be judged according to good theory of what are influence and thickness and the principles of using, transforming and positionally judging the intended best use or transformation of influence and thickness in relation to the other mentioned aspects of positional judgement.

Professional players do not really "somehow make up a balance sheet", but, in their games, they comply by the concepts and principles although they may know a much larger part of them only "subconsiously".

***

John, contrary to what you write in the earlier message viewtopic.php?p=205352#p205352
- thickness is not only given by two eyes but more generally is given by life status and degree (even if stronger or weaker than two eyes, but you correctly mention potential for two eyes) and furthermore is given due to connection degree and territory potential;
- thickness is not only given on the outside but also on the inside (with the difference that usually only outside thickness has potential for additional territory; perceiving thickness on the inside is also relevant for possible exchanges transforming an inside to a new outside so that thickness increases its potential for additional points);
- describing influence as a weaker form of thickness does not describe matters well (a "group of influence stones" is a weaker form of a group of thickness, but "influence" is a property of (other) intersections affected by, in particular, the groups of thickness or influence stones);
- there is no hierarchy of the principles / concepts of making sure that one's thickness is really strong and playing away from thickness (because the latter can be good even if one has not made one's thickness as strong as reasonably possible);
- playing away from thickness lies somewhere between principle and proverb indeed, but exactly the possible exceptions demand that the recommendation must not be over-emphasised;
- there are many more uses to influence, as I have mentioned in viewtopic.php?p=205357#p205357
- although you mention transformation from [a group of] influence [stones] to thickness, previously you have shown your understanding that transformation from a relatively weaker form of thickness (let us call it "ordinary thickness") to a relatively stronger form of thickness (let us call it "great thickness") is also possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #15 Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:01 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:
Charles, territory and influence are insufficient. As I have explained in a different thread, dynamic positional judgement must consist not only of connection and life statuses and current influence, but also of: development directions; neutral stones; statuses of stability and of life and death of imagined invasion groups; options; aji; imagined reductions and invasions; local potential; thickness; imagined best use or transformation of influence, thickness and potential; imagined good fights.


Doubtless these are all necessary; but are they sufficient? Please give adequate detail.


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Post #16 Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:59 am 
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Charles, please see viewtopic.php?p=205753#p205753

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Post #17 Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:41 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:


OK, then, not exhaustive and not sufficient, on your account.

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 Post subject: Re: Influence is for fighting, not making territory?
Post #18 Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:01 am 
Tengen

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Right, but 10 or 20 times as detailed as I have seen anywhere else.

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