Difficulty: Intermediate   Keywords: Tactics, Go term

Chinese: 气 (qi)
Japanese: 駄目 (dame), 手 (te)
Korean: 활로 / 活路 (hwal lo)

Liberty has two [3] different, but related, meanings in English Go terminology.

  • The first sense of liberty is an empty point adjacent to a single stone or physically connected chain of stones.In a legal position each chain has at least one liberty.This is the basic meaning. Such a liberty is called a dame in Japanese. The liberty - introductory page explains some of the more basic implications in fighting.
  • The second sense of liberty, important for tactics, focuses on a play required to surround a single stone or chain of stones .It is in regards to the action and purpose of removing liberties (as described in the first sense of liberty). This is referred to with 'te' (literally 'play' or 'move') in Japanese and takes into account both the number of _basic_ physical liberties, and the actual playing sequence with actual optimal playin mind. Here the number of liberties measures number of plays to remove and surround a group from the board. It is discussed in liberty (tactical sense).

The different types of liberties have been described using a number of terms. These terms include:

These terms are not mutually exclusive. For example, current usage of internal liberties on Sensei's Library, includes exclusive liberties, eye liberties and shared liberties as of 24 November 2011.

Liberty in Chinese is 气 ("Qi" in pinyin), which literally translates to "breath".[1] The thought is that stones need breathing space and that once the last breathing space is removed, the stones die.[2]

Further reading

[1] This is the same "Qi" as the one considered to be beneficial in terms of Feng Shui.

(Sebastian:) It can also mean "life energy". Incidentally, this is the same character (apart from modern simplfication) as the Japanese "ki" in "Aikido".

UserGoogol?: Interestingly, the English word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, which also means breath. Deeper linguistic or metaphysical meaning shall be left as an exercise to the reader.

erima: If "qi" is the same as the "chi" in Tai Chi and Feng Shui, is it related to the 'qi' in weiqi as well?

Bill: The "chi" in "T'ai chi" means "pole". "qi" is also a martial arts term, including T'ai chi. It is the "ki" in Japanese Aikido. It is different from the "qi" in weiqi.

MrTenuki: The Chinese characters are indeed different. Tai Chi (which is rendered "Taiji" in Hanyu Pinyin) is 太極, while the "qi" in "weiqi" is 棋.

Velobici: Yes indeed. There are more than 40 different words in Mandarin that are transliterated as "qi", ignoring the four possible tones. Taking the tones into account, there are about a dozen first tone, another dozen second tone, etc. No, I do not know all these words...I checked my [ext] travel dictionary. It is not unusual for there to be many words in Chinese that sound exactly the same. Add to this the different systems of romanization and the sound "qi" might be written "qi", "ch'i", and "chi"; "ji" might be written "ji" or "chi" (Taichi).

[2] Bill: Is breath (Chinese) also ambiguous? Or does it only refer to adjacent points?

unkx80: This 气, or breath as you call it, can be as ambiguous as liberty.

[3] RobertJasiek: What is the purpose of this number two and of listing only two of the several existing meanings? There are more types and kinds!

Bill: There are two broad classes of liberties of a string: those that are adjacent to it, and those that are not. Both types are referred to with the single word, liberty. There may also be subclasses of these two. The existence of different kinds does not mean that the definition of liberty must be changed. For instance, mutual liberty or nakade liberty are identified by those phrases, not by the single word. IMO, it is better to link to such types than to clutter up this page.

RobertJasiek: There are A) adjacent - non-adjacent, B) physical - approach - fighting, C) different locations (such as inside / eye / outside) or groups of locations (such as exclusive), D) special functions (such as irremovable). (A) has two major kinds, (B) has three major kinds, (C) has lots of major kinds, (D) has I don't know how many. Therefore it does not make sense to speak of exactly two kinds. Hence the page should not begin to start with no-sense explanations (such as "two").

Bill: This page does not speak of two kinds of liberty, but of two senses. Like a dictionary. An enumeration of kinds is like an encyclopedia. There is a difference. :)

RobertJasiek: When I read "[two...] meanings", I adopt it for all the flavours of liberty.

Me523: That's funny, and cool. Before I stumbled upon this page, I didn't notice or know the Chinese literally meant 'qi'. My teacher (who is also Chinese-capable) has always told me that your liberties are like your breath, andI've learned to focus on breathing when I'm counting now, in relation. :-)Great, and funny enough I should stumble upon this page. It's one of the most beautiful things and high points in my Go growth and discovery.

I think maybe I can clarify it to the benefit of the page and viewrs?

Above: I wanted to create a clear meaning above, but it is tangled, and not concise. I will come back to edit it later nore, but a clear, very basic summary and overview accurate to the real relation between the two being based on the purpose vs. physicality of usage. I'm still working on it, because I'm tying it both tactical connection and physical liberty.

As this is a page for beginners, or those wanting to understand core concepts in general, I think this gives a clear, concise definition which shows the real purpose of things i.e. a tactical purpose, like saving a triple-kosumi 'group', or letting 1 of the 3 get cut off, as essentially based on what the reader/player deems key stones, and what they use them for otherwise, they were presented with the viewpoint of examples with no real core concepts to tie it together. Isn't there a BeginnersTryToKillStomes? page somewheere around here?

(Perhaps, we can rename it to physical liberties vs. tactical/play liberties and update those instead. But maybe some of the above content be simplified or re-tied into advanced liberties?

Thanks for the reformats. I apologize for the quirky formatting happening there. :-)

Bill: This is not a page for beginners. That page is liberty - introductory. :)

Hyperpapeterie: Maybe it should be. I find it a bit odd that the more basic material has the more complicated name.

Liberty last edited by on December 30, 2011 - 01:17
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