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 Post subject: Joseki books
Post #1 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 3:58 am 
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I'm trying to study various joseki patterns but most online resources tend to be vast databases of thousands of variations with little to no explanation of what's actually going on

Does anyone have any recommendations of recent (ish) books, in english, that I might find useful? I'm not too worried about recent AI inventions!

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Post #2 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 4:05 am 
Judan
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Ishida ( out of print ? ) and its sucessor, Takao.

IMO still invaluable ( good "background" info to compare with AlphaZero. )

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Post #3 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 4:44 am 
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I know that you've asked for books, and Ed Lee has pointed out what seems to be the most comprehensive available in English.
I'd like to suggest another resource for learning; internetgoschool.com
They currently have 222 lectures on joseki, including lectures on joseki, follow ups, joseki mistakes, trick moves, choice of joseki/using joseki correctly etc. etc., as well as over 3000 problems to reinforce the lessons. You can sign up for a one month trial, where you can watch some (4 maybe?) lectures for free, and look at all the problem sets.

I also like the joseki lessons from Jump Level Up, and imagine that Joseki Compass is similar; teach the joseki, mistakes etc. through examples and then problems. Unfortunately it does not currently cover enough, hopefully in the future they will publish further volumes.

I'd like to know how many joseki players at any given level really ought to know; I only know a few basic ones well (i.e. how to correct opponents mistakes). Otherwise I just read out what I can and hope for the best :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #4 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 6:20 am 
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My joseki books provide every relevant aspect of explanation: Easy Learning Joseki, Joseki 1 Fundamentals, Joseki 2 Strategy, Joseki 3 Dictionary (incl. strategic choices, types of josekis and evaluation). In addition, study AlphaGo 3-3 josekis, fighting josekis starting global middle game fights and also read more books on strategic choices.

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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #5 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 7:37 am 
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Thanks all!

The joseki dictionaries are on my radar but a bit pricey, perhaps something to beg a relative for next Christmas ;-)

I'll also have a look at your books Robert!

Likewise I'll have a look at internetgoschool.com although I'm not too fond of subscription services like that cause I often lapse on using them and end up wasting my money :razz:

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Post #6 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 7:50 am 
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Check what's in the CUGOS library for free ;-) (It's probably still mostly in Alex Selby's garage but the students might have a selection; in fact I have a few you could borrow, maybe Ishida's joseki dictionary, old but still useful). Also, I personally have some relevant books I could lend you.


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Post #7 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 8:10 am 
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I'd like to recommend Yilun Yang's books Whole Board Thinking in Joseki vols. 1 and 2. These books cover many commonly occurring joseki and discuss how to choose moves in relation to the whole board situation. This is the most important part of understanding joseki IMO. If you understand the principles you can play "your own" joseki. If you play with the goals and strategy of the joseki in mind you can have some of what is proverbially said about 9-dan pros: "There is no joseki for meijins". The meaning being that they understand go and the ideas so well that they "make it up" as they go along. You can do the same, probably not with the accuracy of the meijins but trying to do it mindfully helps you learn.


Last edited by gowan on Wed May 09, 2018 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #8 Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:10 am 
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If I may translate joseki as "standard corner exchanges", in general the following questions need to be answered:

1. who has the corner territory
2. who has the influence towards the centre
3. or do both develop towards a side
4. is the position so urgent that you need to answer or can you play away?
5. and so who ends up with the initiative next (sente)
6. which weaknesses are left in the position after leaving it, both for the corner territory (good/bad aji) and the outside (thick or thin)

The moves most often adhere to basic techniques, like hane against a contact play, but occasionally deviate from common sense, such as the avalanche joseki in which the approaching party allows a "hane at the head".

Joseki are thus a combination of basic technique in close encounters and the above positional judgment. So, if you pick up any joseki library without explanations or only sparingly commented, and assess for yourself where basic technique was followed and where not, and try answering the above 6 questions, you'll already understand a lot about them.


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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #9 Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 3:05 am 
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Thanks again guys, lots of useful suggestions and comments :)

I'm not attempting to rote learn joseki sequences, hence why the online databases aren't really what I'm after, more I want to understand, for example, when to play a certain pincer and how might the board look when a position is settled.

I like the look of the Yilun Yang books as they seem to be teaching exactly what it is I want to learn!

The CUGOS library is a good suggestion as well! I'll see what's available :)

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Post #10 Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 6:32 am 
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Do not confuse what you want with what you need to learn. Yang Yiluns books tell you only a small part: examples for strategic choices in josekis in easy openings in Whole Board Thinking and part of principles for choosing pincers in Fundamental Principles. For the former, see also a Korean book on strategic choices (see my review at http://www.gobooks.info/jasiek/choice-of-jungseok.html ). For the latter, you find more principles in Joseki 1 Fundamentals. For other topics, see my earlier message.

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Post #11 Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 12:26 pm 
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Quote:
I'd like to recommend Yilun Yang's books Whole Board Thinking in Joseki vols. 1 and 2. These books cover many commonly occurring joseki and discuss how to choose moves in relation to the whole board situation.


I'd back that recommendation, but from what I remember I'm not quite sure Yang set out to teach you how to choose moves strategically. I think he was instead trying to teach you to understand the "purpose" of a joseki (and I think that was actually a mistranslation from Chinese for "purposes").

The rather important point that often gets overlooked when people talk about strategic choices is that you have an opponent. He usually doesn't want to go along with your strategic choice, and so the result you end up with is a compromise. It may be a joseki that you can find in books, but it is often not the line you hoped for when you started.

You therefore have two tasks. One is to understand the tactics well enough that you can end up with a reasonable local result. That's time-consuming but not too hard in itself - rote memorisation can be a useful prop. There is plenty of material in English and the only trap to avoid is to overthink it. You just need to learn the letters so you can spell. You should not be trying to write an essay yet.

The second task is more difficult (but more interesting) and not well covered in the English literature. But Yang's book is a decent start. You have to assess the purpose(s) of the joseki. Yang gives specific examples of josekis but they are, in a way, red herrings. He wants to achieve a result so that he can talk about the whole-board thinking, but he doesn't want to confuse the reader and so he limits the result to a tiny handful of examples (good and bad) of josekis in each case. If he gave more examples, each result would have a different "purpose" - still perfectly valid but different and so risking confusion.

The writer who has described this process best of all is Go Seigen. He has covered the topic on more than one occasion and so offers a broader scope than Yang. He also chooses a different vocabulary. Rather than "whole-board" (which is certainly implied in his examples) he prefers to talk in terms of "how to think about joseki" and what he means by that he variously further explains as "after the joseki" or "joseki after-care". He doesn't really care about the joseki-making process - i.e. he accepts the opponent has a say in the result - and so shows the same joseki in several very different strategic set-ups. The point is that the way the same joseki is followed up varies according to the rest of the board. It is the "after" bit that is important not the "before." Strategy is thus about coping with what you have, not the braggadocio of determining how the joseki will proceed.

He gives two main aspects to this. One is timing. That is vital, of course. Wait a few moves and the new position can turn a previously good follow-up into a bad one, and vice versa. But the other aspect is the one that made the most impression on me. It is implied in knotwilig's list above - looking for weak points etc. But what most of us would list as weak points is frankly like plonking out the notes of Twinkle Twinkle on a piano and calling it music. Go instead composes a symphony of defects. I can't remember the example now, but I do remember being agog at a common joseki he showed which had a potential ko inside it. I could scarcely see that there was even room for a ko, and a search of the database showed that, despite the joseki being common, this joseki had never occurred in actual play. But Go saw the ghost in the machine. And he repeated the process for joseki after joseki.

Go labelled this a dan-level topic (pro dan level in my view!) and it's in Japanese, so what I'm saying is not directly useful to the poster. But I think it's worth mentioning just to make the Trumpian point that choosing joseki is a fake strategic choice. The real strategic choice is choosing moves and timing them after the joseki.

I have to go now, but if there's enough interest I'll may be able tomorrow to post an example of how Go chooses very different follow-up moves from the same joseki in different whole-board positions.


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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #12 Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 12:33 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
The second task is more difficult (but more interesting) and not well covered in the English literature. But Yang's book is a decent start. You have to assess the purpose(s) of the joseki.

The other good English resource I can think of is the old Ishi Press book The Great Joseki Debates. I'm not sure of the quality of the current reprint; my understanding is that some of them are lousy. I also believe that they originally came from Go World columns so the Go World Archive should be another way to get at them.

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Post #13 Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 1:53 pm 
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Strategic joseki choice involves strategic reading of the decision tree of strategic choices. Some joseki subtrees allow a playsr to choose particular strategic aims regardless of the opponent's decisions.

Other joseki subtrees involve strategic decision-making of both players. In that case, a player must plan good strategy for each possible outcome of the strategic decision tree. The opponent may make his choices but the player must still get at least an equal strategic result. Strategic developments can differ much but the player must have prepared all.

Therefore, of course I disagree with John. The opponent should not be the excuse of insufficient strategic decision-making. Instead, the opponent should be a parameter in the dynamic but predictable analysis of decision-making and strategic planning.

Such fails if a player enters a complex, fighting strategic choice subtree. Then he cannot plan for all relevant opponent's decisions.

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Post #14 Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 11:44 am 
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As a further weary step forward let me demolish the idea that you get to choose the joseki.

The example here is a very well known joseki that appears in just about every joseki book. It's not all that common in real play, actually (about 350 database games), but Go chose it as an introduction to his "joseki after-care" discussion, and he said two important things about it.



1. The after-play from here is not difficult. (But I think Go's idea of easy seems to come from a different planet).

2. Amateurs are tempted to play a White atari at A before the two white stones themselves come into atari, and this of course forces Black to connect. There is a pro and a con to this. The pro (believe it or not) is that it gives White richer eye shape, because he can play B later, which leaves a nice forcing hane. The con is that it loses a ko threat. No pro has ever played the White Atari, so you may like to consider what it is about a ko threat being better than more eye shape that is so obvious to them - especially as some of the follow-up lines show White having to worry about his eye shape.

That's what Go said. Now for what I'm saying.

Assume an empty 10x10 quadrant in which Black plays komoku. If you then look at the number of choices available to each side for each move in this joseki, according to pro play in a database, it looks like the following, where the first figure after each move is the number of alternatives played a very substantial number of times (typically about 10% upwards) and the second figure is the number of alternatives actually seen in pro play, but I have set a limit of 12 for this.

White 2: 4 (12)
Black 3: 4 (12)
White 4: 3 (12)
Black 5: 3 (12)
White 6: 1 (1)
Black 7: 1 (4)
White 8: 1 (2)
Black 9: 3 (4)
White 10: 1 (2)
Black 11: 1 (1)
White 12: 1 (2)
Black 13: 1 (3)
White 14: 3 (5)
Black 15: 2 (3)
White 16: 1 (1)

So, even if you limit consideration to only the substantially played alternatives, there is enough of a combinatorial explosion to make it impossible to predict the outcomes. If you factor in the rarer alternatives, obviously the problem is much worse. And all this assumes no tenukis and no mistakes or trick moves by the opponent that have to be "punished".

In other words, it is absurd for either White or Black to think he is choosing the joseki on any move except, sometimes, the last one. This applies to probably every joseki.

They are not making strategic decisions. If we liken a game to a real battle, the general is directing the overall game. He is in charge of strategy, of course. You get to play the general. But what is happening in the corner of the board is the equivalent of an operation carried out in one part of the battlefield by a captain of a major. There may be a small strategic goal (hold that ridge) but the captain is not making the strategic choice. His job is to use tactics to get the job done. He may not get the job done - the enemy may bring up unexpected reinforcements, for example. But that doesn't necessarily mean the captain fails. He can adapt by making tactical decisions and end up doing as much damage to the enemy as the enemy does to him. When the dust settles, the general surveys the situation and then makes a new strategic decision.

In go, it's important to realise you are not always the general. Sometimes you have to be the lowly captain, fighting in the trenches. In real war you would be trying to keep your men alive, countering every loss with a least a matching loss imposed on the enemy. It's tactics, tactics, tactics. In go, you try to make your stones work efficiently with as many other stones as possible, and if you do end up with horrible shape somewhere, that's OK so long as you inflict equal damage on the opponent. When the joseki is finished you doff your captain's cap and don the general's again.

This is the point at which I would like to show how Go makes strategic decisions in positions with the above finished joseki. I have to say, however, I'm not fond of equine necrophilia. Even if L19 is not quite a dead horse it looks awfully like a nag destined for the knacker's yard. Even reddit is now having long quiet patches. For quite some time I've been tempted to scrub contributing to L19 altogether, apart from announcements. Some time ago I relegated it from being my browser home page, but I still check it daily. I think I'm likely now to drop to once or twice a week (as obviously many others have done). The decline has persisted too long to say it's a blip.


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 Post subject: Re: Joseki books
Post #15 Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:19 pm 
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There is another choice in joseki ;-) :

Should I make an early 3-3 invasion in every one of my games because I know 95% of my opponents will choose a very bad joseki and loose the fuseki immediatly or should I analyze the board position earnistly and only go for the 3-3 invasion if it is actually the best move. :twisted:


For the time beeing I am very tempted ...

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Post #16 Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 11:13 pm 
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Joseki creation has mainly these types of tactics:
- tactical variety of the first few moves when strategic choices should not often be limited to only one regardless of the opponent's choices,
- tactical variety within the same strategic choice and not affecting the strategic choice tree,
- tactical surprises in complex subtrees unveiling previously overlooked strategic choices.
By respecting the first kind, not inhibiting strategic decision-making by over-emphasising tactics in the second kind and avoiding complex subtrees of the third kind, strategic joseki choices are meaningful. Database statistics do not inhibit them. Instead, statistics must respect the types of tactics and their different impacts on strategic decision-making.

Strategy is not useless just because tactics exist.

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