Several years ago I discovered, to my surprise, that the vast majority of plays in go are either directly adjacent to another stone or diagonally adjacent to one. Of course, in the endgame you expect that to be the case, since the fight has moved to close quarters, but that is so at all stages of the game, except for the first few plays in the opening.
Why had I overlooked the obvious? I think I did so because so many of these plays are obvious, the bread-and-butter plays of go. In go it is important to think on a large scale, and the most efficient plays tend to be as far from other stones as possible while still doing work. Overconcentration is a sin. But it turns out that these important, longer distance plays are relatively few by comparison with close-in plays.
Note: In the AI era, that statement about efficiency turns out to be false. Long distance plays tend to be thin, unless they are extensions from strength.
To players new to go nothing is obvious. Now, just because most plays are close in you don't simply want to advise them to make such plays. First, as mentioned above, it is important to think on a large scale. Second, these basic plays are not just close in. They fall into certain patterns with specific features.
In these pages I want to talk about three common, basic patterns involving only the four points adjacent to the played stone to help new players understand something about their properties.
First basic pattern: the tap.
Second basic pattern: the touch.
Third basic pattern: the step.