Shortage of liberties / Discussion

Sub-page of ShortageOfLiberties

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Bill's dictionary research

Bill: The first example (now reordered - Dieter) on this page says that Black is short of liberties, not that he has a shortage of liberties. I agree. :-)

The [ext] Free Dictionary gives two senses of shortage.

1. shortage - the property of being an amount by which something is less than expected or required

The only true requirement for liberties in go is that stones cannot remain on the board with no liberties. It is the second sense that applies.

2. shortage - an acute insufficiency

In the first example, while Black is short one liberty of being able to cut off the White groups from each other, he is not suffering an acute insufficiency of liberties. It's not that bad. Just because one is short of liberties for some purpose does not mean that one has a shortage of liberties. A shortage of liberties is a problem.

I agree that, if White's last local play made the connection by taking away one of Black's liberties, it would be correct to say that Black suffered from a shortage of liberties. White's play created the problem. You cannot always look at a position and say whether there is a shortage of liberties. You have to consider the context and dynamics of the situation.

Since seki is not a problem, per se, I do not agree with seki's listing as an example of shortage of liberties. (That may be an oversight in the recent edit, I don't know.)

There is a saying, A shortage of liberties (damezumari) is worse than constipation (funzumari). If you don't feel the constriction, it's not a shortage of liberties.

Shortage of Liberties talk

(Sebastian:) Like liberty, "shortage of liberties" can mean two things:

  1. A group or a player is said to have a shortage of liberties when liberties (or fewness thereof) imposes a tactical constraint.
  2. A group is said to have a shortage of liberties when it has fewer tactical liberties than empty points. This meaning is assumed in statements like "The bamboo joint is short of liberties".

RafaelCaetano: This way of putting it feels odd. The proverb I know is "There is shortage of liberties in the bamboo joint", which is slightly different, and is consistent with the first meaning too. Well, I don't see that there are 2 different meanings anyway.

Charles This will need revision.

(Sebastian:) If I may post my humble opinion here without a question mark: What needs revision, is apparently the page title "The bamboo joint is short of liberties". It confused me, too, and I'd prefer Rafael's version.

Charles I'm changing that to "the bamboo joint may be short of liberties".

As far as discussion goes, I think good players always feel a certain constraint about running down liberties on their chains.

More discussion

John F. There have been some robust exchanges on SL occasioned by liberties. I must say that if you approach it from the first sentence of this page: shortage of liberties (damezumari in Japanese), you would have to go with Bill Spight.[1] Damezumari in Japanese is a painful thing, it is a problem. Being tsumaried is not a nice thing at all. It is not a mere description of not having very many liberties. If, however, you start the page simply: Shortage of liberties, with no reference to Japanese usage, then it is perfectly proper to allow for this latter meaning. Indeed, I suspect it is the latter that would be taken as the normal meaning by most native speakers when no extra context is given. But once you give the context as being a translation of a Japanese term, it seems logical to expect anyone who knows the original term to take the first meaning. Then we are all in a bind - we have been tsumaried.

Charles I usually treat all this talk about real Japanese as a spectator sport. Here, given that this is in the top ten of beginner concepts, I'm actually moved to walk two yards and get down a dictionary.

So tsu(maru): be stopped up, be blocked; be full, be stuffed; be shortened, contract; be hard up; be held up, be deadlocked.

Now, if deadlocked is OK, why is seki not damezumari? Yes, it seems mostly about 'feeling the pinch' in some way. Not just abstractly being in a state of low-libertiness, but being constrained by that, in a disagreeable way. So I'm not disputing John's findings on this.

Bill: I do not take shortage of liberties to be a translation of damezumari, since liberty is not a translation of dame. In fact, much of my emphasis in the discussion of liberty here on SL has been about that fact. I mentioned the saying because it is pithy.

No, I think that the English shortage implies a problem, not just a small number. Also, in the context of playing a game, the point of the phrase is to highlight problems. That's why the seki example, in particular, struck me as inappropriate. If someone goes around thinking, "Seki. Damn! If it weren't for that shortage of liberties I could kill those stones," they are not only wasting their time, they are getting into a bad habit of thinking about the game.

Charles So damezumari would seem to deserve a page of its own. Pedagogically, you show people what leads to liberty shortage problems. That is, the important lessons are about shape, just as much as showing tactics that later exploit the shape.

John F. I'm afraid I haven't read any pages about dame alone, so I hadn't alighted on the fact that Bill is objecting to dame=liberty. I can see why, but the fact of the matter is that Japanese does use dame in two senses (neutral point and, for the sake of exposition, liberty). They don't normally use dame though in the case where extra approach moves are needed - te is the word then. So it seems to me that we in English are merely reflecting a murkiness in the Japanese. Not to mention the fact that liberty is too well ensconced. Let's live with it - pun intended as a special groan for Charles :).

Can I recommend readers of a sensitive disposition not to use the proverb Bill mentioned in that inelegant form: polite society says dame no tsumari wa mi no tsumari. And is the best liberty proverb not just "five alive"?

Bill: I think our murkiness, if that is what it is, is different from the Japanese, but the same as the Chinese. Qi = liberty. What is the Chinese equivalent for shortage of liberties?

Charles It becomes ever clearer to me, that I have a basic problem with the Japanese technical go vocabulary. It is this: it is not the language of an academic subject. Now, since go is a leisure activity and traditional art, that is not so surprising. It consistently causes problems (here, for me - and I think for others). It is also clear enough that standard usage by Western players of Japanese terms is something else again: more like the language of a technical subject with a good measure of ill-defined buzzwords thrown in. The language of CGT is more like an academic one, but is not likely to catch on in its current form.

To see all this as a problem is comparable to seeing it as a problem that you can only really learn go by means of pro lessons. It's part of the condition of those not in East Asia that it is hard to get the authentic linguistic usage. My solution here at SL has consistently been to cut down the use of Japanese terms; while of course not cutting down the explanations posted of them. I do think those explanations need organisation.

Here we have a case. If the authentic meaning of damezumari is to refer to a state, rather than a tendency - actually being stymied rather than being somewhat constrained - and if the 'deserve' factor is included (you are missing out on something you should be able to aspire to, because liberties are lacking), then this single term isn't enough to cover the range of things one needs in teaching the game. There is a need to speak of 'damezumaroid' shapes, of the tendency of false eyes to cost liberties, of the importance of not frivolously filling one's own liberties, and so on. I want to be 'tough on damezumari, tough on the causes of damezumari'. If the Japanese vocabulary doesn't help me (sometimes apparently ambiguous and sometimes apparently more narrowly defined than is generally suspected), I see plenty of reason to bypass it. That leaves me not teaching go as a traditional art, perhaps - but then I hope I have never represented myself as doing that.+

Bill: Thank you, Charles. I understand better your position on Japanese go terminology, and perhaps a little better why we sometimes clash or seem to speak at cross-purposes. To me, damezumari is a technical term, with a fairly well-defined meaning. But a lot of go terms, such as omoi (heavy), are terms of art. It may take years to understand them, and even then, one's understanding may still be incomplete. I know that I am still learning about the heaviness in my own play, and I was way ahead of most amateurs in my understanding of heaviness years ago.

One place we appear to differ, --correct me if I am wrong--, is that you may see understanding such a term as a question of linquistics, while I see it as a question of go. As I have said, a great deal of my go education has been increasing my understanding of such terms. Approaching them linguistically is to miss their value. That is one reason why I am so resistant to the idea of moving certain material about such terms from a page about go to a page about linguistics. It is already where it belongs, in my view.

I have always understood damezumari in terms of state. If some stones have too few dame to survive, they are plainly in damezumari. Otherwise, whether they are in damezumari depends upon context. If it's not a problem, it's not a problem. But I also realize how someone could interpret it as a tendency, on the same evidence I have. For instance, a position may have the comment, "Because of damezumari, Black cannot <do something>," when Black is not currently in a state of damezumari. However, if Black tried to <do something>, he would get into damezumari. I have always interpreted the damezumari in question as the state Black might get into, not as something current. But I can see how someone else might interpret it as describing the current situation, and hence, as a tendency.

I think that your point about simply learning about damezumari is not enough is well taken. What things lead to damezumari? I was never exposed to any systematic material dealing with such questions, although I have written a little bit about mistakes leading to damezumari. Rather, the material is scattered about, some in game commentaries, but mostly in tesuji and life and death problems. I think that a systematic treatment would be an important contribution to the literature.

Charles Bill puts his finger on the difficulty of writing about shape - which is a tendency not a tesuji area; a kind of inverse analyis indeed. I'll just say, as many people will know, that this is close to my heart, and refer to my home page for more.

John F. If you want a suggestion for an English term for damezumari: in? a liberty bind. Not elegant, and uses liberty against Bill's desires, but I think it conveys all the essential features. I used to use stymied but was told few people understand it outside of golf in the USA. Knowing where Charles went to school, he might like my old man's word: jiggered.

To answer Bill's question on Chinese, there's not a 1:1 correspondence. Qi duan is used for being short of liberties in a capturing, and there is the opposite qi chang for being long on liberties. For the 'in a bind' damezumari meaning they will use something that depends on the actual situation, e.g. jie bu gui (can't go back and connect - after a snapback), which is of course seen from the defender's point of view. For the attacker you would say zhui sha in such a situation.

Charles I have to say that sufficient jiggering might actually cure funzumari. (Sorry.)

Can John authenticate "the bamboo joint is short of liberties" as a Japanese proverb? Is it a 'beware' formulation?

unkx80: Possible Chinese translations include 气紧 (qi4 jin3, direct translation: tight on liberties) and 不入气 (bu4 ru4 qi4, direct translation: cannot enter liberty) but these two are usually used when the group affected by the liberties problem currently has only two liberties. (Note: the latter is also used to refer to suicide.) John correctly pointed out that 气短 (qi4 duan3) and 气长 (qi4 chang2) are usually used in capturing races when the groups involved have many liberties, but as far as I know, the term 接不归 (jie1 bu4 gui1) is a one to one translation to connect and die, so a snapback is not neccessary.

John F. I wasn't familiar with the term connect & die but looking at the page, that's the sort of position I was referring to. Oi-otoshi isn't always used properly by westerners, so I shy away from that, but maybe C&D is what I need. I'll look into it, thanks.

tderz: The diagram #2, now [but no longer] presented on the front page,


was pointed out to me by Hong Seul Ki, amateur 8d at the end of my game (I was White), when Black resigned (!). He spotted the damezumari while glancing at my board (maybe he stood there also some seconds before), however while NONE of the marked stones had yet been played. (perhaps that's standard for 8dans :-) ).

[1] Bill: The context of this discussion has disappeared through editing, and therefore my remark that John was referring to. I was objecting to the example of seki (since removed) for the English phrase, shortage of liberties, because seki per se is not a problem. In that discussion I quoted the saying, "Shortage of liberties (damezumari) is worse than constipation (funzumari)."

Shortage of liberties / Discussion last edited by RobertPauli on December 25, 2018 - 16:16
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