Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races

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Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races
By: Richard Hunter
Publisher: Slate and Shell, 2003 (print version)
ISBN10 1-932001-04-2

Print Edition

Published by [ext] Slate and Shell in April 2003. German edition by Brett und Stein Verlag in 2017 Lehrbücher des Go. Freiheiten und Wettläufe

ebook Edition

A [ext] SmartGo Book version was published in 2013. A free sample is included in the free app, which can be downloaded from Apple's App Store: [ext] SmartGo Books.


This book is based on my articles in the British Go Journal numbers 102 to 120 (1996-2000). Six articles covering the definition of Type 1 to 6 fights, plus the summary overview, were published in the Belgian Go Journal, translated into Dutch by Stefan Verstraeten.

Most of Chapters 1 and 5 was included in The Second Book Of Go

If you have already read all the BGJ articles, then the main new material is Chapter 4, which mirrors Chapter 1 but looks at capturing races involving ko. Chapters 3, 6, and 8 are mostly new too.

In Chapter 1, I introduce six types of fights

  • Type 1: No eyes, at most 1 inside liberty.
  • Type 2: No eyes, at least 2 inside liberties
  • Type 3: One eye versus no eyes. This is widely known as Me Ari Me Nashi
  • Type 4: Big eye versus same size big eye.
  • Type 5: Big eye versus a smaller eye. This is called O Naka Ko Naka in Japanese
  • Type 6: Small eye versus a small eye.

On page 1, I define liberties as the unoccupied points directly adjacent to stones and mention that this is a simplification that will be extended later. On page 16, after introducing approach moves, I redefine liberties as the number of moves it takes to capture the stones. If I want to refer to the dame on a group after that, I use physical liberties.

Use of Japanese terms

I have deliberately made minimal use of Japanese terms in order to make the book easy to read for beginners. The ones I have used are: sente, gote, hane, seki, ko, tesuji.
I have not used semeai, dame, or Me Ari Me Nashi etc.

Specific terms related to capturing races

inside liberty
outside liberty
eye liberty
exclusive liberty
physical liberty
big eye
small eye
weak eye?
dogleg four
approach move


I carefully avoid using the terms mutual liberties and shared liberties, which are the cause of a lot of misunderstanding.
I hate the expression Eyes Win Semeais, which is a terrible proverb designed to ensure that weak players stay weak. It is a mistranslation of Me Ari Me Nashi. I shall comment on the relevant pages later.


Table of Contents

Part One: Basic Principles

1. Counting Liberties
2. It's All Relative
3. Simple Counting Practice
4. Capturing Races Involving Ko

Part Two: Applications

5. Fighting Tactics

  • The Throw-in
  • Making an Eye
  • The Bigger the Better
  • Avoiding and Contriving Ko
  • Bamboo Joints (by Simon Goss)
  • The Art of Strategic Sacrifice

6. Problems
7. Commented Games
8. Additional Problems
9. The L Group

Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races last edited by brose on June 21, 2020 - 15:14
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