If you don't know ladders, don't play go

    Keywords: Tactics, Proverb

This doesn't sound like a very nice proverb, so let me rephrase that in a slightly more positive way. "If you don't know how to read a ladder yet, invest a little effort to learn how to do it properly"

Ladders are relatively easy reading problems, since they have almost no branching into variations. This means that if you haven't trained your eye yet to visualise a ladder on the goban, it probably doesn't make sense to invest a lot of effort in trying to accurately read problems that have a fair amount of branching. Kageyama advises in "Lessons in the Fundamentals" to practice until you can read all the moves in a ladder on the board. Without using tricks or reading aids.

As usual, you are your own boss to decide on how seriously you take your go study - ranging from the pure fun seeker to the candidate insei. However there is another good reason to train your ladder-reading muscles: ladders, or the threat thereof, are a type of problem occurring in almost any game. You're assured of a good return on investment.

Other than that, you only need to know that it is a good idea to capture the stone in the ladder as soon as you can afford to (Capture stones caught in a ladder at the earliest opportunity), in order to deny your opponent good ladder-breakers. And every stone in a ladder is worth about seven points, so use them sparingly as ko threats.

If we all were to take this proverb literally, a professional 9 dan would have ended his career in 2000: take a look at the first game of the 2000 Honinbo match between O Meien and Cho Sonjin...


I'd put that slightly differently, too: "Until you know ladders better, Go is going to be that much harder for you." ~~OneWeirdDude

If you don't know ladders, don't play go last edited by OneWeirdDude on April 8, 2009 - 21:26
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