Shopping list versus investment

    Keywords: Strategy

Charles Matthews

Some thoughts provoked by recent and ongoing SL discussions. There is clearly a demand for overviews here, and I have no difficulty seeing why. Anyone coming to go for the first time is going to see quickly the gap between the rules and first indications of strategy (for example pages I've been adding to at rules of go - introductory, strategy of go - introductory) and the full, majestic business of a game with 100 moves of tense fighting and another 100 endgame plays before matters are clearly close to being settled. It is quite natural to reach out for some 'big picture' of the content of go, with which to understand the content of games. (Though that might turn out to be the wrong way round.)

Therefore there begin to be a number of such panoramic pages here, to balance the material that is closely focused on a single technical issue. I'll list some of those here.[1] But in a sense your trouble is just beginning when you have some such view of what you're doing (say a list of the 100 best go proverbs). It is unlikely to bisect the problems of (a) not seeing anything interesting to do and (b) seeing far too many interesting things to do, leaving you with just one thing to which to give clear priority. What if it tells you two, equally attractive things to do (the paradox or parable of Buridan's ass)? What if move A does two desirable things, and move B three interesting things - do you go for the greedy approach and play B?

That is, a rich outlook on go is probably potentially a good thing. Setting up a mental 'shopping list' of aims and objectives, vital points and targets and nerai (Japanese term recently reconsidered by John Fairbairn), useful aji and virtual groups one shouldn't allow to die of neglect, is an aid to becoming a good player. But where's the integrating factor in all this?

The urgency/temperature talk is one way that consistently comes good. You get one play at a time, however many mental bees you have buzzing in your bonnet. Seeing through the fog of possibilities, relegating enough of them to 'day-after-tomorrow' moves as Kajiwara puts it and coming down to the really vital issues, is key to becoming stronger in the way of better selection of the problem to solve.

Invest your one play wisely: trying to buy the whole market of things to do can be active (good) or busy (too frantic). For example in the joseki and tenuki discussion, active play notes with keen attention when the local temperature drops and takes this as a cue to play tenuki; busy play cannot bear that the opponent takes sente at all in the opening, and leaves unfinished business in too many places, a recipe for loss of influence and/or a thin position.


I'm thinking of pages like

Shopping list versus investment last edited by CharlesMatthews on May 31, 2003 - 20:24
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