Playing Styles And Player Types

Paths: <= Go Humour =>   ·   <= Playing style =>   ·   <= SL Journal =>   ·   <= Style path =>
    Keywords: Humour

(See also Professional Players' Go Styles and playing style for a more serious discussion of this topic)

This test will show your own style: [ext]

Table of contents

Playing Styles

The Bizarre Style

We've all played against people using this style before. They open on the 5-5 point and 3-6 point. Every move they make seems to defy convention. Yet for some reason finding a suitable play against it is always impossible. You end up losing by 20 points and are at a loss to see how you got so far behind. Not to be confused with the "Beginner Style" where bizarre moves are played, yet in the end, they are left with a couple small barely living groups.

The Extremely Bizarre Style

The Bizarre Style is too conventional. Some of the first few moves are played higher than 3-6 or 5-5. During the middle game, kibitzes begin to wonder why the shapes look familiar and the position is even again. The reason is, of course, that centre stones are worth as much as corner stones, if only the strategy is chosen appropriately. The style cannot be recommended for kyu players because a firm understanding of thickness and influence is required. (Example players on KGS: "sum" as Black, "dezomb".)

The Anti-Bizarre Style

God does not play dice, He plays Go.

The Belligerent Style

Players using this can't seem to stay away from a fight. Forget any concept of a fuseki, two stones are plonked down in two random corners, then a violent fight is started. Every time you free yourself from one violent aggressive mess, another is started. The position on the board never grows evenly, always in huge amorphous blobs marking the site of each bitter struggle.

The Timid Style

This player has played a lot of games where they receive high handicaps, and as a result thinks that they're just bad at fighting. They assume that the opponent will stomp them in any fight even though the opponent is really only about as strong as they are.

The Fatalistic Style

This player assumes that any moyo will easily become solid territory. They rarely invade, and when an invasion is made, even if it would be more reasonable to take influence, they throw themselves at it like a rabid weasel diving into a drainpipe full of field mice.

The Jealous Style

This player constantly fears that the opponent has too much territory, and will therefore tend to immediately invade any moyo or large territory the opponent creates, rather than build up their own position.

The Extremely Jealous Style

(Also known as The Extremely Unreasonable Style) This player illustrates what happens to devotees of the Jealous Style and the Belligerent Style when they become old and bitter, or occasionally, a very new player. Their view of the game is that you are not only forbidden to make territory, but you are also forbidden to make any live groups at all. So, even your smallest areas will be invaded on sight, and all your stones will be attacked endlessly from the moment you place them on the board. Often, this player is very skilled tactically and very experienced, which makes them very, very fast. The unwary are intimidated and get slaughtered, leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth. It is vital to remain calm and to punish followers of the Extremely Jealous Style, not only for your own sake and sanity, but also to defend the higher morals of the game. :-) Tamsin

Listless Style

Tamsin: I reached my best rank yet on IGS at the end of August and suddenly I lost all motivation. I slipped back down to 2k*. Since then, my play has been pathetic, and I cannot put my finger on what's wrong. My groups always seem to be weak and my severest moves are answered by tenuki. I can't be bothered to calculate anything and there's always fatal bad aji, even where my position is replete with ponnuki. I used to get like this at chess, too, where I couldn't win no matter what. It feels that all of the power has gone out of my play. I cannot describe my enfeebled go at the moment any better than as the "listless style".

Velobici: Sounds just like an overtrained athlete...hard to get out of bed in the morning, elevated morning pulse rate, loss of appetite, no zest in training, poor results in competition. Give Go a rest for one week. Do not play at all. Do not read any books. No Sensei's (that might be the hardest part ;) Then come back to Go. The difference will be amazing if this is the problem.

Puppy Style

chrisg: This player just follows you around the board, assuming all your moves are sente. Normally this style is met by white in high handicap games. This is probably a substyle of "The Timid Style" above.

Practices-Against-the-Computer Style

ssfsx17: This player has incredible life and death skills but has no idea of whole board thinking or ko fighting. This player's methods consist entirely of relentlessly reducing and creeping in to whatever is yours. Games played against this player tend to have large open areas.

Former chess players tend to be in this category

Internet style

    • Don't think during opening, just scatter some stones
    • When your opponent seems to build something that might become big, put some stones in it and live
    • Fight through middle game. Whoever kills first, wins.
    • If, per chance, you reach the endgame, the winner is more or less randomly determined

The Inquisitive Style

karel?: A player of the Inquisitive style tends to have a good grasp of fundamentals and the style is characterized by a strong, balanced opening which shuns petty conflicts and develops strong groups all over the board, initially seeming favourable. But as the player's territory inevitably suffers an invasion, the Inquisitive player becomes curious - does his opponent's attack really work? So he decides to fight the uncertain battle even if he is leading and could easily play safe. Despite the similiarity to Fatalistic Style, a player of the Inquisitive style tends to take his time during fights and, in fact, relishes elegant resolutions to conflicts when presented, so long as he has, in his mind, adequately answered the pressing question of the original interesting move's correctness. Despite overall reasonable play, a player of the Inquisitive style is easily beaten by creating a trap so neat that he is overcome by curiosity and enters it in order to learn how it works.

Rubyflame: IME, while playing this way may create losses in the short term, inquisitive players learn more quickly, so in the long term they will become very strong. On the other hand, you may be able to learn just as much by always reviewing your game afterwards. Most players don't have the patience for this.
AnonLinguist: The reviews don't work if you don't know what they really would have done. Well, they might work if you come up with it, but it doesn't if you don't see something vital to the opponent's tesuji. You have to see what your opponent saw, and for some things, the best way is to let them play it. Another aspect of inquisitive play is seeing some possibility you never tried before, and trying it regardless of need or suitability, just because you want to see if it pans out.

The Fire Style

Anonymous: This style is one similar to the belligerent style: extremely aggressive. However, they will use moves that either a) completely destroy the opponent, or b) eat away the opponents positions from the inside. Users tend to have extremely good tactics. They will use keima excessively, and favor territory over influence. These are the players who started immediately making territory the first time they played go.


The Side Style

anonymous: This is the style when the guy you're playing attacks the side but completely forgets the center. Probably a distant cousin of the timid type.

The Sleeping Style

Anonymous: A person who is this style snoozes a lot during Go games, and doesn't really care if he loses a big group or the opponent uses Nuclear Tesuji because "You Snooze You Lose"

The Irrational Style

(to be added later)

The Nuclear Style

This Style is used by people who are good at Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics, etc. They usually use some not so well known tesujis, fusekis, and josekis like the Quantum Tunneling Tesuji and the Nuclear Tesuji. Their plays involve lots of trick plays, like seemingly letting a powerful B2 Bomber get captured but suddenly use a trick play to gain freedom and destroying their opponent's eye shape. They can also utilize the stone-moving tesuji for atomic reactions with their dangos to create enough energy to send their opponent's shapes flying into their prisoner bowl, not to mention if the dango gets big enough, it might collapse into a black hole. These are the players that usually win against the people who fall for their traps like the Belligerent style and the Puppy style.

The Proverb Style

This style is for people who follow proverbs mindlessly like "Even a Moron connects against the peep". A very distant cousin of the Puppy Style, but instead of following the opponent mindlessly around, they follow proverbs mindlessly, and then wonder why they lost.

Stanley style

See Stanley Style go

Player Types

The Oblivious Genius

This player has an incredible talent and understanding of the game and often plays sparkling moves that completely dumbfound the opponent. Their attention to detail is seriously lacking however and in almost every game, they will make one or two enormous oversights that allow them to lose the game. This one is often accused of sandbagging, as they will play games brilliantly only to get their rating smashed down by the most ridiculous mistakes. A close cousin of "Inconsistent", a player whose skill can vary by 10 or more stones depending on how they are feeling that day.

The Postman

(the one that always rings twice). In the endgame they play a dame. "Huh ? The guy plays dame ... Oh, right, yeah, next comes a sente dame. Let's play elsewhere." So the postman rings twice and plays the sente dame, to which you respond. They look at you, bemused: "Hm, you saw it, ay ?"

The Speed Merchant

This player plays very quickly and sharply. Their moves are often dubious, but they rely on intimidation to beat you. You try to play at your own pace, but end up playing as quickly as they do, making silly mistakes and falling into their traps because they are better at seeing things quickly than you are. Often, the Speed Merchant relies on the Jealous or the Extremely Jealous Style.

TJ: Worst proponents of this style will actually demand that you play faster, even in a timed game where they decided what time controls to use. Best answered with a smile (or smiley) and a good long think.
Neil: Make sure that when you peg someone as this type that the player is actually any good. If the person is, oh, 12k KGS, don't go accusing the person of some grand psychological strategy, as has been done to me! Some of us just haven't learned the discipline to play carefully yet!

Studious Braggart

If anyone can come up with a better name for this style feel free to change it. This is the closest I could come, but am still not happy with it. These players can be really irritating. They study a lot and are arrogant beyond belief about their Go and Go knowledge, but don't actually spend all that much time playing. Is always quick to flaunt their so called "knowledge" and will constantly quote very strong players or pros. Is quick to call your moves vulgar and to criticise you during play. Has no friends and laughs exhorbitantly at unfunny jokes. Usually has an overinflated opinion of their rank, and as a result, is seemingly afraid of internet go because it will probably tell them they are not as strong as they think they are. Despite being a font of knowledge, their Go is extremely boring. They play something like a mindless pattern matching automata. No fighting spirit whatsoever. Can be entirely thrown off if you play a move that is not overtly conventional, and when faced with a fierce attack, they collapse like a house of cards. While their play won't annoy you necessarily, it will almost assuredly bore you, and if you beat them they will make all kinds of excuses for why they lost, which probably will annoy you, especially when the follow-up is a constant stream of "know-it-all-ness".

Dieter: Ouch. Sounds like me and quite a few other Sensei's.

unkx80: Arrrgh, you got me there.

BlueWyvern: Naw, I don't think so. No one here seems all that arrogant. :-)

George Caplan This guy is a close cousin to the "Japanese Term Dropping Diletant" the type of Western player who recognizes it is more important to know the Japanese term for the tesuji that kills him than to try to find the tesuji that saves him (although he already knows the Japanese term for it).

The Jerk

Mercifully rare, this type of "person" preys on weaker players and takes pleasure in making fun of their lack of skill. They will typically lurk wordlessly on IGS or KGS, waiting for an open game advertised as "Other noobs 30-25k plz" or similar. They'll be around the 15 to 10k mark themselves, but keep their rank secret (though they might use misleading usernames like JBloggs30k?). They will refuse to give a handicap, take black, and respond to "Hi. gg" with stony silence. Then they play in an extremely jealous manner obviously designed to make the beginner feel bad for being a weak player. This includes things like invasions that only work because the jerk knows the newbie won't know the correct response, laughing when the beginner falls for a trick play, and arrogantly wasting moves.


Ellegon: I'd like to add a playing style that I am "guilty" of. I would call it the Text-book style. You recognize that type when you see bits of good shape interspersed by huge and obvious cutting points, and heavy useless chains. It's when a beginner has started reading Go books and reading lessons on the internet, but hasn't figured out how to use them yet. It's mostly a transitional state, during which the player in question is left wondering what they did wrong when their whole moyo on the left side is gone... not that it ever happened to me though:)

Spiritweaver: Yeah, I'd say that's about where I'm stuck. Though it would certainly be better if I had greater playing opportunities - I have few friends who play Go (and those who do were taught by me when I began to learn, so there's little variation in skill) and as soon as I get playing online my internet likes to shut off on me. Then I feel bad for being unable to return to the game, and go sulk someplace until the internet comes back.

Granted, that's just me being pathetic in some ways -.-;;

Tamsin takes a slightly more serious look at playing styles.

...which is why I moved her remarks and the subsequent discussion to another page on style. ---

Paths: <= Go Humour =>   ·   <= Playing style =>   ·   <= SL Journal =>   ·   <= Style path =>
Playing Styles And Player Types last edited by bugcat on September 17, 2021 - 16:25
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library