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 Post subject: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:22 pm 
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Are there any books out there on how to play handicap games? Ironically, when I'm given a 9 stone handicap I freeze up for some reason and I'm almost useless when trying to play. All those stones somehow intimidate me even though they are mine! Argghh!

There are sometimes I'm think I would be better off playing a even game against stronger players, at least then I would expect to be pounded. And maybe that's the issue. Getting beat with a 9 stone handicap can be fairly demoralizing. And I'm not talking about even high DDK players but within my range.

Thanks!

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Post #2 Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:39 pm 
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"Second book of go" has a chapter on handicap games. It might also be a worthwhile purchase in general, if you don't have any other go books.

You might also give this a read.

Last, don't try to use your handicap stones for territory. That's not what they're there for. Use them for attacking white when he makes weak groups (which he has to in the beginning).

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #3 Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:21 am 
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Toshiro Kageyama, author of "Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go" has another book called "Kage's Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go." In my opinion, the book is still a bit advanced for your level, but I do want to point out that this book has been very rewarding for me as a low single digit kyu.


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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #4 Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:52 am 
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High handicap games comes down to fighting abilities. Good old fashioned tsumego is the way forward. You don't need a book on handicap games.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #5 Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:04 am 
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CarlJung wrote:
You don't need a book on handicap games.

Unless it's a book that shows you to play handi games with white :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #6 Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:36 am 
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Also, volume 3 of the Learn to Play Go series has three games of various handicaps. (Please someone correct my memory if I am remembering the wrong book). That whole series is intended for beginners, so I think it would be a good place to start for you. There are a few other books specific to handicaps, but most of them are more complicated than Learn to Play Go. So it changes having less handicap-specific content for more readability. Learn to Play Go can be found online, or surprisingly often at major booksellers.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #7 Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:39 pm 
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Thanks everyone, helpful information to consider. I did play a 9 stone game today (still lost) but after the game my opponent was talking about how he has to come out fighting when facing a 9 stone handicap. I then realized it is like a bunch of battles at once. Can't look at as territory anymore, its just the beginning of the fight!

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #8 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:55 am 
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psk31 wrote:
Thanks everyone, helpful information to consider. I did play a 9 stone game today (still lost) but after the game my opponent was talking about how he has to come out fighting when facing a 9 stone handicap. I then realized it is like a bunch of battles at once. Can't look at as territory anymore, its just the beginning of the fight!


Exactly, the handicap stones are there to support your fighting. Don't allow white to play his game. Attack him. Separate him. Keep yourself connected. Bring your best to the fight. Some people think go is about peaceful sequences of dividing territory. Those will be bullied by those who can fight. Don't be bullied. Fight back with all you got.

Sometimes you'll die in spectacular fashion, but at least you stood up and tried, and hopefully you can learn from the defeat and come back stronger. If you never put yourself in deep water you'll never learn to swim :)

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #9 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:46 am 
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I think there are a couple of fundamental points to consider first.

The most important is you have to decide when taking a handicap whether you are trying to win or trying to learn. In practice many people compromise and don't wimp out in an obvious way by taking the three-three points or similar, but do soon after give all their attention to winning and so focus on keeping what they think is their territory.

I believe experience shows that playing to learn thrpughout pays bigger dividends in the long run (and of course that takes off the psychological pressure where you feel you have to win).

More difficult is the point highlighted by "I did play a 9 stone game today (still lost) but after the game my opponent was talking about how he has to come out fighting when facing a 9 stone handicap." The ideal of playing to learn only works well if you have someone who can teach. A white player who plays like this is clearly not an ideal teacher. If white was a pro he would be patient and play safe, standard moves, waiting for Black to make a mistake. He will then punish that mistake, and that provides the lesson. I suppose what you've got to do, as the weaker player, is stress to your stronger opponent that you want him to teach rather than try to fight like a mongoose. White will also actually learn more that way.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #10 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:33 am 
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This is almost exactly why I don't do high handicap games as teaching games. Normally mine are even, or sometimes 3 stone games if the gap is 6+ stones, and 6 stone if the gap is 15+ stones. I just find it is rare that they are usefully instructive.

The nature of a high handicap game is to make the game so complicated and deep that whoever is receiving the handicap cannot help but go wrong. I have played and watched two one-on-one professional games vs SDK amateurs a couple of years ago, and it was both painful and beautiful to behold. The ability to turn the whole board into 10 unsettled Black groups was most impressive, but not hugely educational.

Handling handicap games means, in my mind, forming a style and strategy that is suitable to win with those handicap stones.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #11 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:56 am 
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The ABC's of Attack and Defence by Michael Redmond is very good also. ALl of the examples in there are taken from handicap games. However the book goes from 6 stone games down to 3 stone games so I'm not sure if it is to advanced for you or not. All in all I think it is one of the most helpful and easily usable Go books I have read.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #12 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:15 am 
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when i do teaching game i let them have much handycap stones as possible.
until they feel comfortable of beating me 90% of times.
then they go one stone less try to do the same.

it is all matter of persepective.
although i think i have advantage when they give me many stone..fact of the matter is that they will over 50% of the game. that is why if you play stronger player for money you usually lose. that is the nature of the beast.
:)

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #13 Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:55 am 
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These two books haven't been mentioned yet:

The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Handicap Go is a good guide to handicap strategy and joseki. It covers nine through three stone handicap games.

Cosmic Go is also very interesting, using professional games to illustrate Takemiya style joseki, specifically for four stone handicap games.

Personally, if I'm not playing in a tournament I don't like taking a handicap over 5 stones. I feel I learn more from the game that way, even if my opponent is 10+ ranks above me.

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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #14 Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:01 am 
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Kobayashi Chizu 5p once said that when a professional player plays a handicap game with an amateur, s/he will try to bring out good moves - if Black plays well, he can win. An amateur, giving a handicap, will try to bring out Black's bad moves and thereby win.


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 Post subject: Re: A guide for hanidcap games?
Post #15 Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:14 pm 
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I guess I should mention that the 9 stone games were self-pair rating games at the Congress where my opponents were 14K and 17K. So 9 stones weren't near enough but it was the maximum allowed. This has been the only playing downside to the Congress, very few players at the 20K-30K level. I have had a couple of teaching games and those were done on an even basis and quite informative.

I just know with three more rounds of Open competition and the scarcity of lower level DDKs, I know there's a good chance I'll be receiving 9 stones again to a much higher player.

I'm also going to try to catch up my opponent from yesterday who recorded the game on his iPad to have a review of the game to see where I lost out quickly.

Thanks to all who have commented!

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Post #16 Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:38 am 
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that's unfortunate. usually there are more beginners at the go congress

I hope you are still enjoying the opportunity to play stronger players in person.

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Post #17 Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:13 pm 
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psk31 wrote:
Are there any books out there on how to play handicap games? Ironically, when I'm given a 9 stone handicap I freeze up for some reason and I'm almost useless when trying to play. All those stones somehow intimidate me even though they are mine! Argghh!

There are sometimes I'm think I would be better off playing a even game against stronger players, at least then I would expect to be pounded. And maybe that's the issue. Getting beat with a 9 stone handicap can be fairly demoralizing. And I'm not talking about even high DDK players but within my range.

Thanks!


There's only one thing you need to do in a H9 game...connect all your stones.

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