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 Post subject: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #1 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:36 am 
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When starting to reach 10k level, there seems to be more and more hyper-aggressive players. They follow my stones and toss contact stones or invasive stones near virtually every stone I play.

And I lose to those players. Every time. It feels like they magically get away with murder (attacking groups of 5-6 stones, and ending up not only living but reducing "my territory" to nil and having me run for my life -- and me being helpless to stop them).

What is a good way to learn to deal with that?

Normal principles about frameworks, direction of play, bases etc does not seem to work (or I am just too bad of a go player to use them -- my 2 space extensions get wrecked or reduced to nothing, and smaller is way too slow).


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Post #2 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:58 am 
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I only met one such player yet. He virtually never played a stone more than 2 spaces away from my stones.

The game was not pleasant allthough I managed to get the upperhand quite easily.

I wondered where he learned his strange only local fighting playstyle (lots of 9x9?)

My Answer to this behaviour? A new entry for my ignore list :cool:

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #3 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:15 am 
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You'll run into aggressive players at all levels, and some servers have a very high proportion of players with this sort of style. You can get away with a remarkable disregard for basic principles if you're much stronger at fighting than your opponent. Part of the answer is to work st improving your own fighting skills, perhaps by intentionally playing on a server where you'll run into this behavior more often. There are a few tips than can make this sort of play easier to handle, though.

  • Don't always try to kill those aggressive stones right away. I think this is the biggest mistake people make, but killing stones in go is hard.
  • Make your stones strong; keep your opponent's stones weak. Focus on keeping a base and/or access to the middle.
  • Pay attention to good shape. Good shape sets you up for fighting.
  • Don't undervalue influence. A lot of time the response to this kind of play is to solidly connect very early while your opponent gets a bunch of stones facing the middle that can be turned into a lot of points.

Once you get used to it a bit, fighting can be fun. :-) Don you have an example of a game where you ran into this? We might be able to give more specific advice if we have a concrete instance to talk about.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #4 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:24 am 
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Jeromie has the right idea. The only way to handle this is by figuring out the errors you're making in fighting. At a big picture level, you may want to try experimenting with a more aggressive style yourself, and putting yourself in situations where you have to win based on your fighting skill.

And share games where this happens. It's much easier to figure out what's going wrong with particular examples.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #5 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:33 am 
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I like to play against those kinds of people. They kind of play against themselves. :)

It's important to not get envious or follow the opponent around the board. Always look for the area with the most potential.

Just separate and enclose all opponent groups, make each group live really small and take one or two large-ish territories somewhere; it's usually enough to live.

Strong areas grow, weak areas shrink. So keep your own stones connected and the opponent's stones separated.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #6 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:05 am 
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Review the game. Why is their play over aggressive? An answer to this question implies a refutation. If you cannot answer the question, perhaps their play is not aggressive but sharp - you can try playing that way yourself.

You could also check out games that the player lost: how did his opponents overcome his hyper aggression?

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #7 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:47 am 
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Thank you all for the quick responses!

Those who say they have never, or rarely encountered these players - try visiting a local go salon (if you have them where you live). This is where I first encountered this style (and got crushed by nine old men who seemed to know no Joseki or no basic principles). Playing on a real board also makes it less socially acceptable to try reading for several minutes. The pace is high and I am expected to respond within seconds.

Regarding figuring out my errors, I have tried. Usually it is that they aggressive players are not trying to make any territory. They just harass groups I have, and get their points from captures and the "holes" that creates. Often I have a group that end up running and it is 50% chance it gets killed and I lose. Surely they cannot read that out, they just gamble.
Just watch a few 6k-9k games on say IGS, and you'll see what I mean. Games where there are 100+ moves on one side of the board, and the other having one stone (and one totally unclaimed corner). Literally.

I'll see if I can find some good examples of this style in my game archive.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #8 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:59 am 
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Without seeing your game it's hard to say. But are you sure the invasions your opponent makes are unreasonable? I see many common beginner mistakes where they view their stones with greedy eyes, seeing "my moyo" and "my territory" when it's actually "my loose stones with many cutting points".

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Post #9 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:15 am 
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Tapani wrote:
Regarding figuring out my errors, I have tried. Usually it is that they aggressive players are not trying to make any territory. They just harass groups I have, and get their points from captures and the "holes" that creates. Often I have a group that end up running and it is 50% chance it gets killed and I lose. Surely they cannot read that out, they just gamble.
Against an evenly matched opponent, you have a 50% chance of winning. If you bet the game on a 50% chance of killing their group, that is not so bad. If you never lose because you failed to kill, it means you haven't been trying hard enough to kill. (Similarly, if you don't get rejected from any college you applied to, either you got in to Harvard, or you probably didn't apply to enough schools).

Tapani wrote:
Just watch a few 6k-9k games on say IGS, and you'll see what I mean. Games where there are 100+ moves on one side of the board, and the other having one stone (and one totally unclaimed corner). Literally.
This is not completely unreasonable. Even professional games can descend into immediate fighting.

From your comments, it is hard to tell whether you are too averse to risk, or your opponents crave risk too much. But the two comments above suggest you should evaluate whether you're assessing risks properly, and/or excessively worried about playing properly.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #10 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:25 am 
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OP, I'm at the same level as you on IGS. I know and share your frustration. I lose to them as well at times, but I have found that developing my understanding of shapes has helped tremendously. I find that when I'm able to properly judge when a group is settled or know which attacking stones do not require a response, I can gain an advantage by playing elsewhere. The best source that I've found for this is Cho Chikun's All about Life and Death.

To the stronger players arguing some variant of "Your opponent could be playing a reasonable strategy." I don't think that this is what OP is talking about. Obviously, some games devolve (or evolve?) into fighting even at the pro level, and playing sharp moves can be good strategy. At our level, there seem to be two types of players -- players who are actively studying to improve and those who play the same strategy for years and stay at the same level. One of the main types of the latter are those who just try to kill everything. They are not playing some high-level strategy -- they are just good at fighting. Good enough to obviate the need for any larger understanding of the game at this level. Yes, we need to learn to handle these games, but OP is asking how to do that.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #11 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:29 am 
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Tapani wrote:
When starting to reach 10k level, there seems to be more and more hyper-aggressive players. They follow my stones and toss contact stones or invasive stones near virtually every stone I play.


It seems to me that as your level increases, your fighting skill increases, and games require more and more negotiation.

Tapani wrote:
What is a good way to learn to deal with that?


For me Tygem, WBaduk, or Foxy games with short time controls has been a good way to learn how to handle these kinds of games.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #12 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:36 am 
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Tapani wrote:
Those who say they have never, or rarely encountered these players - try visiting a local go salon (if you have them where you live). This is where I first encountered this style (and got crushed by nine old men who seemed to know no Joseki or no basic principles).

Actually I suspect they are better than you at the most basic of principles: count your liberties; your fancy joseki and strategic principles are no good if you run out of liberties!

Tapani wrote:
Playing on a real board also makes it less socially acceptable to try reading for several minutes. The pace is high and I am expected to respond within seconds.

Yes, this is difficult. No easy answer: either play somewhere else, and/or keeping studying/playing to improve your skill so that you get stronger and can play better moves by intuition.

Tapani wrote:
I'll see if I can find some good examples of this style in my game archive.

Looking forward to it. But before then one other piece of advice for these sorts of players: you don't always have to resist them and stop them getting what they want, because quite often they want something which is bad for them (e.g. capture something small while you tenuki many times). Having the judgement to recognise this can be hard though, and it's all too easy to get caught up in the fighting spirit, especially in blitz.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #13 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:17 am 
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Fresh game from today. Not the most typical one, but maybe enough to get the impression what I mean. Added some comments to it, and I see some of my mistakes.

EDIT: There is a better example on page 2 of this thread.

Attachment:
game.sgf [6.27 KiB]
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Last edited by Tapani on Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #14 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:23 am 
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emeraldemon wrote:
Without seeing your game it's hard to say. But are you sure the invasions your opponent makes are unreasonable? I see many common beginner mistakes where they view their stones with greedy eyes, seeing "my moyo" and "my territory" when it's actually "my loose stones with many cutting points".

Hence, I used that wording within quotes. It is not mine until it is connected with two eyes.


BlindGroup wrote:
OP, I'm at the same level as you on IGS. I know and share your frustration. I lose to them as well at times, but I have found that developing my understanding of shapes has helped tremendously. I find that when I'm able to properly judge when a group is settled or know which attacking stones do not require a response, I can gain an advantage by playing elsewhere. The best source that I've found for this is Cho Chikun's All about Life and Death.

To the stronger players arguing some variant of "Your opponent could be playing a reasonable strategy." I don't think that this is what OP is talking about. Obviously, some games devolve (or evolve?) into fighting even at the pro level, and playing sharp moves can be good strategy. At our level, there seem to be two types of players -- players who are actively studying to improve and those who play the same strategy for years and stay at the same level. One of the main types of the latter are those who just try to kill everything. They are not playing some high-level strategy -- they are just good at fighting. Good enough to obviate the need for any larger understanding of the game at this level. Yes, we need to learn to handle these games, but OP is asking how to do that.


Thank you, at least someone knows what I mean :-)

Also I know that I really suck at fighting, and it is frustrating to get killed over and over, and not to know what to do about it.

Uberdude wrote:
Actually I suspect they are better than you at the most basic of principles: count your liberties; your fancy joseki and strategic principles are no good if you run out of liberties!

Fair enough.

But starting a game with playing (4,3) attachment against my initial (4,4) move just is against everything I know. Been there.
(Most of those old men were not THAT attacking, they usually placed a stone in each corner ... and then went bananas!)


Last edited by Tapani on Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #15 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:26 am 
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I'm guessing you are talking about the invasions at moves 28 and 50? in both cases, you extended quite far and got invaded for it. I'll defer to the stronger players, but both seem like reasonable moves. In general, the beginning of this game is also very balanced. Not at all the fight for everything type of player.

If you had played O17 at 27 and F17 at 49, you probably wouldn't have been invaded immediately. These may not be the best moves, but they are modest enough to avoid invasion. When you make an aggressive extension, invasion is likely.


Last edited by BlindGroup on Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #16 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:27 am 
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Tapani wrote:
Fresh game from today. Not the most typical one, but maybe enough to get the impression what I mean. Added some comments to it, and I see some of my mistakes.


Seems like a pretty normal game to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #17 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:37 am 
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This is maybe not the best example, just the most recent one.

Maybe what I mean is: my opponent was not really trying to make his own territory, just attacking whatever I try to build.

Maybe I am too fond of overextending myself, using 3-space extensions sometimes. Should try to use 2-space ones instead.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #18 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:46 am 
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Yes, I think this example just doesn't fit. I know exactly what you mean, but this is not it. In this case, your opponent was not trying to build territory. He was justifiably only trying to take away yours. If someone (like you did) tries to take too much territory with too few stones, invading is a good way to keep people honest.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #19 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:55 am 
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Here is an example of a player who is a bit too focused on killing one of my early groups, and how I usually try to take advantage. Starting with move 54, he plays three stones against a group to which I don't have to reply. Using these three free moves, I build up my frame work and then approach his corner. Interestingly, I ended up making a mistake and not responding to a much later move against these stones and lost them (move 174 -- I should have played 175 in defense of the top group.) However, I had such a large advantage by that point that losing the entire group did not change the outcome of the game.

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Fighting Example.sgf [4.77 KiB]
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 Post subject: Re: Playing hyper-aggressive opponents
Post #20 Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:19 pm 
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BlindGroup wrote:
Attachment:
Fighting Example.sgf


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