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 Post subject: Respect the second line
Post #1 Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:54 am 
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I've been trying to remove a habit of mine of going low. Not exactly crawling for life, but going low on approach when there are better options. And it IS a bad habit of mine.


I've been checking a few games of late. Not deeply, but still. The last of them, some of the ones at the European Women's Champ this past weekend. And something's gelling within my brain. Now, I don't know if the original phrase in Japanese allows for that, so bear with me.

We're told "The Second Line is the Line of Defeat". Okay. Whose?

The examples I've seen so far are of people trying to make life on the second, stone after stone, allowing for a nice wall on the third. Yep. Defeat. Gotcha. BUT. I've seen quite a bunch of games, of late, where the best move, according to the AI, WAS the second line, and where the player's choice, somewhere else, cost at least a 20% decrease. And I don't know squat about invasions and joseki, but I do think I've seen very nice ones approaching from below. Mr. Fairbairn posted a couple of joseki with something similar. Stay on third, send a tendril on second, annoy and live.

So I'm starting to think my understanding of the proverb should be much more general. And that defeat comes when you mishandle the second line, not when you use it. You might as well say "1-1 is the point of defeat". Well, misuse it and your corner's dead, sure. Use it well...

Do I make sense? Take care.

玄 之 玄

 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #2 Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 2:48 am 
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Could you post a concrete example?

 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #3 Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 3:14 am 

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We're told "The Second Line is the Line of Defeat". Okay. Whose?

There is no such proverb in Japanese. The nearest Japanese equivalent is 二線ハウは負けのもとwhich tells us "Crawling on the second line is a source of defeat".

However, people tend to become attached to proverbs and don them like favourites clothes which they wear they become threadbare and holey, and never get round to replacing.

In reality they comes in S M L and XL sizes. In Japan, the above would be suitable for kiddies. Older shoppers might be offered a reversible medium-size garment, with 二線ハウは勝ちのもと on t'other side: "Crawling on the second line is a source of victory." This also comes as an L with the punning slogan ハイハイは勝ちのもと (Yes, yes! Crawling is the 'sauce' of victory"). Pretty "cool" as our, er, American cousins might say, sir.

But we like to offer our more mature and distinguished shoppers suitably modest and longer-wearing apparel. In this case, if sir wouldn't mind doing a twirl in the mirror, you might find that the tweedy but very hard-wearing item, suitable, if I may say so, sir, for the best hunting parties, is 二線三線余計にハウな - "Don't crawl too much on the second or third lines". This will take sir literally to new levels.

The various features of each of these garments pointed out in Japan tend to differ from those pointed out here. For example, crawling is usually gote and so the crawlee thus tends not to have any time to put any grouting in his wall. Also "don't crawl on the second line" is often interpreted as "don't crawl" here, but Japanese pros tend to emphasise instead, in the M and L sizes, the interpretation that you need to hane up to the higher line asap, and crawl there instead. The old Chinese conveyed this more subtly by distinguishing hane-up and hane-down and so on. (Worth mentioning at the dibber table, if I may say so, sir."

So two of our own good old proverbs must be called into play here. "Try before you buy" and "You get what you pay for". Will that be platinum card or cash, sir?

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 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #4 Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:52 am 
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Proverbs are often conditional, but such details and nuances are left out (understandably, because a one-liner is easy to remember).

1: It is true that in the opening, one wants to play most of ones stones on the 3rd or 4th line. Moves on the 2nd line tend to be too small for the early game.

2: There is also a general warning against pushing from behind (I'm sure there exists a proverb for that). Pushing from the 2nd line (crawling) is considered even worse than the average case, especially in the early game.

Still, nowadays the sequence below is considered playable for white in the opening, even though it violates both of those "proverbs":

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
$$ ----------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . 5 7 9 . . . .
$$ | . . 1 3 4 6 8 0 . . .
$$ | . . 2 X . . . . . , .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . , . . . . . . , .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .[/go]

This is just one example of many cases where the best moves violate proverbs. That exposes a common weakness of proverbs: They are only rough guidelines and they shouldn't be followed blindly.

So If you have a good reason to violate a proverb, go ahead and do it.
But if you don't have a good reason to violate a proverb, then maybe you should respect it.

To be fair, it's not hard to find proverbs that are respected by the above sequence (for example: First corners, then sides and finally center).
But that is also another problem of depending a lot on proverbs to guide your game. What to do when conflicting proverbs apply?

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 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #5 Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:41 am 

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I think it's good to take a step back and think what is the underlying general principle behind proverbs. That's that when you make a move and your opponent answers it, you should think about what you gained (and lost) with your move AND what your opponent gained (and lost) with theirs. With each second line crawl you gain one point* of territory and eyespace, whilst retaining sente. They gain another stone of a wall on the third line with whatever value pointing outwards that has. By crawling you also prevent your opponent from blocking at that point, which often has life and death implications and might even be their sente. Your also keep the side undermined. Usually the wall outside is more valuable, but not always.

* Actually the first few are more in the new joseki gennan showed due to the effect of the cutting point behind.

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 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #6 Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:50 am 

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I think proverbs are mostly useful at lower rank levels, when a player is not able to assess a position as Uberdude recommends. The stronger the player the more he/she is able to evaluate situations. Another proverb is that there is no joseki for a meijin :)

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 Post subject: Re: Respect the second line
Post #7 Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:45 am 
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The proverb, of course, predates AI.

I think a human way to deal with this position as black is to play a bit far away on the side (play away from thickness). And then white would pincer (push black towards thickness) and black would form a base, and white would surround him towards the center, and black would make comfortable, gote life on the side. And now white has initiative and has made an even better position towards the center. And next thing black knows he's hopelessly behind and vowing to never invade the 3-3 point again.

There's other ways to play, of course, but a lot of approaches don't work here. The AI doesn't mind giving the opponent a bit of a moyo and then lightly gouging at it in sente. Or invading way too deeply, and escaping out while sacrificing anything the opponent wants. And suddenly, the white wall is under attack.

The second line always showed up in tactical positions: it removes a base, and when you can see eyes are needed that's a powerful way to play. But I do think the orthodox style of playing eschewed these moves, because we were better at using walls then we were playing against them. And honestly, for us mortal amateurs that may still be true.

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