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 Post subject: Vital points in fights and stone efficiency (by u/badduk)
Post #1 Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 11:38 am 

Posts: 6540
Location: Cambridge, UK
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[Uberdude: over on ... fficiency/ reddit user u/badduk has posted some nice material I am reposting here with inline images for easier reading, with permission]

The target audience for this article are players between 6k and 2k OGS.
Some of the commentary will be too much for 7k-10k players, but I can see the article being beneficial to them as well.

I happen to be looking at high SDK games in OGS recently and in over a half of those games I've noticed that sometimes players wouldn't know how to deal with the classic contact moves such as the kick and the shoulder hit.

I think that the concept is very easy to grasp shape-wise and many (well, at least a half, from my observations) 6k-2k players would instantly say "I would've never played like this".
However, the concept goes slightly beyond those particular shapes. It's just easier to explain it using those classic shapes. It often appears in fights and sabaki, where vital points are... vital.

Vital points

Diagram 1. [game between 3k and 2k]
White has approached black and got pincered. White decided to firmly split the pincering stone from the corner by playing kosumi, which also happens to be a shoulder hit.
Triangle is the vital point for both black and white.

Diagram 1a.
This would be the natural continuation. The exchange is about even. Along the way black can choose to fight white's hane moves, but we will not be going over them.
Small quiz: try finding the next local vital point for black

Diagram 2.
In the game, black chose to jump away, letting white take the vital point.
One very important concept to grasp here is in seeing the difference between either side taking the vital point. Compare the strength of white's group in this diagram with the strength of white's group in diagram 1a.
However, it is also very important to read out whether something is the vital point or not. Take a look at the triangle - do you think it's the current vital point? Intuitively, it might appear so, but you should take in account the surrounding position as well.

Diagram 2a.
Let's look at what happens if black plays what seems to be the "vital point".
Black's corner needs a move, as it has been approached from one side and never defended since. Black's group on the bottom is now fairly safe, so white's focus switches to the corner.
With 5 white threatens to completely enclose the corner, so black has no choice but to push and cut. In the sequence of 5-12 white completely nullifies black's formation on the left side, making the nearby hoshi stone way less efficient.
With 13 white takes one of the directions of the black's group, so black is forced to take the remaining one along the side.
White's group is almost settled. It's probably too early for black to cut yet, as black might suffer even more damage on the left side with no apparent benefit.
Black's position is low on the bottom, which makes white's tengen much more efficient. And black also needs to figure out the left side.

Diagram 2b.
As you could've deducted from the commentary to the diagram 2a, the actual vital point in this position is the defense to the corner. One/two space jump from the corner is needed.
White bends around the stone, which has currently become the vital point. Black secures the other stone and white finally encloses his corner.
Compare this result to the diagram 2a. Vital points can be tricky like this, as they are not always directly local and related to shape.
This sequence is a good damage control for black and the position shouldn't be game ending at the 2k level.
Hint: open both positions in two different browser tabs, and switch them back and forth. You can see that overall black has exchanged the move 2 (diagram 2a) for the entire sequence on the left side. This would've been a very good exchange for white. Which further proves that the defense of the black's corner was the vital point, not the move at 2.

Diagram 3. [same game, 3k vs 2k]
After getting kicked, white chose to take the "shape point" of black's ahead of the time, ignoring the move at triangle. There are many ways to respond to a kick than just extending up, but extending up was the vital point in this position.

Diagram 3a.
This is what would've happened if white had taken the vital point. White's group is now all good, black calmly takes the left side, then white gets a chance to disrupt the upper side.
Black can choose to fight against white's 4, but that's beside the point.
The position is good for white overall due to black's poor play on the bottom left, but it didn't change significantly after white 2. White has just continued being ahead.

Diagram 3b.
And yet, this is what happens after black takes the vital point.
Black separates white with 6, so white takes the next vital point that is 7. Black defends the corner with the intent to profit from his formation, letting with go up with 9-16.
However, white's group has no base yet, as black can play at A and rob white of their base. If white chooses to claim their base, later there's an invasion around B (4th line to cut off the hoshi stone, 3rd line to live inside).
Look at white's stones marked with squares - they have became dame. They don't contribute to the group anymore in any way, as black has nullified their presence with his stones of 10-16. You can look at these exchanges as negative for white.
In addition to being inefficient, white's group is only partially alive right now. Black can play the tiger's mouth under white's group and then take the corner stone in sente. All in all too many ways for black to further squeeze this group.
If you compare white's efficiency to that on diagram 3a, you can notice that white has lost a lot just in the bottom left group alone, let alone getting into a tough situation with another group.
Although minor at this point, you can also see how white stopped using his tengen stone whatsoever comparing to the diagram 3a.

Diagram 4. [game between 2k and 1k]
Black has failed to read out the double hane and got punished for that by white.
But what is the vital point right now for white?

Diagram 4a.
This is what happened in the game. White played 3 in dreams of reducing black's liberties and possibly capturing the stones. But it doesn't work after black plays the net at 6 and forces white into a dumpling while significantly strengthening himself.
Now that black has become pretty strong, white needs to hurry to help their group by playing the vital point at the triangle.
Other than that, it completely ruined white's approach in the upper right corner.

Diagram 4b.
White 3 was the actual vital point. White has gained about the same amount of territory as on the diagram 4a, while keeping black weak. White still needs to help his group with the move at the triangle, but you can clearly see how it will be a mutual running fight, instead of the one sided fight as on the diagram 4a.
This diagram is much better for white. White is still behind, but a few more favorable exchanges like this will help white to come back to the game.

How to apply the concept to your games
I can't really give a hint on that, just getting exposed it through reading the article should be enough.

One note though: you need to read. You won't be able to use this concept without reading. Intuitive vital points aren't always the actual vital points in the game. If you decide to stop reading and just roll with what seems to be the intuitive vital points and shape points, you'll be fighting much weaker than you actually can. And you will probably get stuck at the high SDK level of fighting for a while.

For some reason, reading is a forbidden topic in the western community. But there's no way around it. You need to read to play to your full strength. And you need to read to improve at reading.

 Post subject: Re: Vital points in fights and stone efficiency (by u/badduk
Post #2 Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 3:50 pm 

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Uberdude wrote:
For some reason, reading is a forbidden topic in the western community. But there's no way around it. You need to read to play to your full strength. And you need to read to improve at reading.

Not to disagree with your advice, but IMX reading is not a taboo topic in the West, quite the contrary. In part as a counterbalance I have stressed go knowledge, judgement, and analysis. In doing so I have felt that I am swimming against the current. ;) Have things changed in the past couple of decades and I did not notice?

BTW, I tried three times to post a reply, only to be told I was not connected to the internet. And I live in a major metropolitan area! It just happened again. :shock: Fortunately, I saved my note this time.

The Adkins Principle:
At some point, doesn't thinking have to go on?
— Winona Adkins

My two main guides in life:
My mother and my wife. :)

Everything with love. Stay safe.

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