Japanese Go proverbs

    Keywords: Proverb

General Principles


  • 勝ち碁を勝ちきる難しさ It's tough to win a winning game
  • 負け碁の打ちよさ You have a free hand when losing
  • 争碁に名局なし Official challenge matches produce no beautiful games (...you can't show your best under psychological pressure)
  • 白の地は大きく見ゆるものなり White's territories look larger (...against a stronger player, don't fear too much)
  • 岡目八目 Spectator sees farther
  • 石飛んで碁に勝たず Who displaces stones can't win the game (...always keep calm)
  • 酒は別腸碁は別智 Drinking is different from eating, Go is different from intelligence
  • 師匠の初負け The teacher loses the first game (...it's difficult to play without knowing the opponent's strength. And a pro teacher doesn't like losing a new customer...)
  • 見損じはコウで誘え Lure him into oversight with a ko threat (...he might think it is a simple ko threat and make a natural looking reply which is in fact a mistake)
  • 碁は運の芸と知るべし Go is, after all, an art of luck (Gennan Inseki)


Middlegame: Life-and-death

Middlegame: Capturing Race & Ko fight

Middlegame: Typical Shapes and Tactics

Middlegame: Territory and Framework

Middlegame: Attack and Defence

  • 碁はキリにあり Go is about cutting (...that is, where and when to start local fights) (Hosokawa Senjin)
  • 攻むるは守るなり Attacking is defending (...play moves useful for both purposes)
  • 攻めは大きく Attack From A Distance (...far moves are more likely to have additional effects and make the target difficult to sacrifice)
  • 攻めはまっすぐサバキは斜め Attack with straight moves, defend with diagonal moves (...because diagonals offer eyeshapes and ko possiblities) (Sonoda Yuichi)
  • 重くして攻めよ First make him heavy, then start attacking
  • モタレて攻めよ Attack with leaning
  • カラんで攻めよ Use splitting attacks
  • 三方ガラミにシノギなし Three weak groups can't defend against a splitting attack
  • 強い石にツケよ Attach to the stronger stone in a pincer
  • 弱い石(攻めたい石)にツケるな Don't attach when attacking or Don't touch weak stones
  • サバキはツケから Use contact moves for defence
  • 大石死せず Big dragons never die
  • 浮き石を作るな Don't make floating stones
  • 一方石に死になし One weak group can defend (...if there are more than one, splitting attack may kill one of them)
  • 取ろう取ろうは取られの元 Your wish to kill causes you killed
  • ヘボの長追い Duffers drive longer (...a long fight makes opponent's far stones effective)

Middlegame: Overall Strategy


  • 両先手逃がすべからず Play double sente early
  • 上からキカシて下から寄せよ First restrict from above, then reduce from below
  • ハネツギ六目 hane and connect is worth six points (on the second line)
  • 大ザル八目 Big monkey jump is worth eight points

Other proverbs (that may apply to Go)

See also

Go Strategy by Sonoda Yuichi contains some of his innovative proverbs.

Japanese Go proverbs last edited by hnishy on February 16, 2023 - 06:08
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