# Masterdam/TeachingKo

Sub-page of Masterdam

What knowledge about the rules is really necessary at the start? Scoring may be a difficult teaching subject, but what about ko?

# Introductory level

## First exposure

Imagine lesson one, just after the teacher checked that liberty, atari and capture are somewhat understood. On the board is an example (example 1) where a white group has just been captured.

• Student: Is white allowed to play back at the empty spot, where his stones were?
• Teacher: In general, yes.
• Student: You say "in general", so ... exceptions?
• Teacher: If it was only one captured stone there may be a problem.

Teacher puts a ko along the side on the board.

• Teacher: Say black just played here and captured the white stone. Now if white would be allowed to play at the same spot where his captured stone was, what would happen if he did?
• Student: He can't play there - it would be dead - it has no libbertee[1] left.
• Teacher: No, that's not the issue here. Look, the black stone would be captured and removed from the board, so the newly played stone would have one liberty there. See?

-removes the black stone

• Student: Ah! So he can play there?
• Teacher: Let's see what would happen. Now it is black's turn, and the new white stone has only one liberty.

Teacher shows repetitive captures.

• Student: This goes on and on. So...white is not allowed to play there?.
• Teacher: Not immediately. He can play there later, but only after he has made another move first.
• Student: Ok. I can't play where I was captured immediately, but later on I can.
• Teacher: That is about right, but too general.

Teacher replays the capture in the first example and a subsequent white play where the white stones were just captured.

• Teacher: Here a play is legal. Not clever, but it is allowed by the rules.

He returns to the ko.

• Teacher: Your move is illegal if your stone would capture the last stone that just captured a single stone of yours.
• Student: So the board would be the same as before the black move. Is that the rule to avoid repetition? Is that what is forbidden? I mean repetition of the situation on the board?
• Teacher: Good question. We are talking about the 'ko'-rule here. The correct answer to your question would be rather tedious, distracting, and not very relevant at the moment. I don't even know the exact wording of ko-rules. For now, just remember: before you recapture a single captured stone you have to play elsewhere.
• Student: Why can't I just remember that the boardsituation cannot repeat? After all this esoteric rule is to avoid repetition, no?
• Teacher: Because that is not true. It won't do you any harm if you find it easier to remember it that way, just ... there is more to it.

I was the student once in a similar scene (three friendly players in a cafe were "the" teacher) and I have been the teacher several times since.

My question:Is the teacher doing a good job?

As the student I did not like the murmur in the background (ko threat ... triple ko ... twin hot stones ... superko) and I didn't like being kept in the dark about the supposedly simple rules. The example was easy, the goal was simple, so why couldn't the rule be?

What if there are two kos?

## First exposure - discussion

Rubyflame: I think the teacher here is making this too complicated. I also don't like how the teacher vaguely hints at rules which are supposedly beyond the ken of the student. I tend to just explain that board repetition is called ko, and is forbidden.

I prefer to use the AGA rules when showing someone how to play Go. After the game I will explain that some people play a bit differently: some people don't use pass stones, and some people don't count it as a ko if the cycle is longer than two plays.

mAsterdam: So, if the last part would have been:

• Student: So the board would be the same as before the black move. Is that the rule to avoid repetition? Is that what is forbidden? I mean repetition of the situation on the board?
• Teacher: Exactly! It is called the "ko"-rule.

...the teacher would have done it right in your view?

or even (the start):

• Student: Is white allowed to play back at the empty spot, where his stones were?
• Teacher: Yes.

No discussion, no distraction.

Rubyflame: Yeah, your first example sounds about right. The second one is also ok, but I think it's best to get all the rules out there quickly. People are often (understandably) annoyed when you introduce new rules during the course of playing a game. You can't really plan ahead when you never know when your opponent is going to tell you there's another rule.

Some might argue that if you're a total beginner, you're not capable of formulating a reasonable plan anyway, but I think that attempting to do so is an important part of the learning process.

# more advanced levels

See:

notes

[1] The spelling should convey that the grasp of the concept isn't really there yet. This note is to prevent somebody from 'correcting' this mistaek (again).

Masterdam/TeachingKo last edited by tapir on December 6, 2011 - 11:53
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