Feburary 2014

* Sente and Gote

"Rice eaten in haste chokes."

We must dispel a number of strategic and tactical misconceptions that often plague beginners and inhibit their progress.

Beginners usually overemphasize defense, not realizing that the best way to defend is to attack. By attacking your opponents stones, you can often defend your weak positions in the process.

A good strategy is to start in the corners, move along the sides, then move out to the centre.

Sharp clashes called Josekis, often occur. The Josekis you choose is strategically crucial, since you must consider its outcome in relation to stones in other parts of the board.

The goal is to create spheres of influence. The spheres either capture prisoners or territory. Ideally they do both. A good player is consistently on the offensive, and a bad player is constantly defensive.

Potential territory is what you create through strategy. Potential territory manifests as spheres of influence (also known as eyes). As you reach the middle of the game, you start to gain real territory by following through on your strategy with tactics.

The key is to identify weak groups and attack them in such a way that your spheres of influence harden into real territory.

(The Second Book of Go, by Kiseido)

Sente (before)


"Sente gains nothing."

"Sente, meaning "preceding move."

"Playing sente is like cashing a check before it expires."

"Playing sente (and getting a response) normally leaves the count unchanged."

"Ask yourself where you would play if you were to be your opponent."

"A move that is not large for your opponent is often not large for you either. Even though this kind of move might be sente, it is not necessarily worth playing."

"Your move need not always be exactly the same move as he would have played. Rather, it often is a move in the same general area. Still, one can often settle the issue of who gets a key point simply by occupying it yourself."

There is a style of play that is severe.

Gote (after)

"Beware of going back to patch up."

"Avoid getting carried away and overextending."

"Doubtful positions begin to grow up from behind."

"Looks strong, but leaves a weakness behind. Has to go back and patch up."

"There are tactical questions regarding life and death of groups."

"Quantities of liberties can break proverbs."

"In a symmetrical position, there is a play on the point of symmetry."

"A proverb should only be taken as a suggestion for where to look."