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Sub-page of Slow

BobMcGuigan: There is a difficult line to be drawn between between "slow" and "solid". I recall that Kobayashi Koichi used to be criticized by some for so-called slow moves which he defended as "solid" or "thick".

Charles There are clearly plays that look slow, but are not mistakes. Question is, do we follow Bill and call them slow? Or say they are steady?

Bill: Something worth noting, I think, is the tendency in Japanese for adjectives to have comparative force. (The same tendency exists in English, but is much stronger in Japanese.) So if a play is called slow in Japanese go commentary, there is a strong suggestion that is it too slow. By contrast, fleet-footed play (ashi ga hayai?) is mainly a question of style.

(Sebastian:) Incidentally, the word "slow" clearly has a comparative force in English, when applied to a clock. (BTW, I just typo'ed "click" - which would make sense as well, in the context of a Go server :-)) Now I leave it up to you experts to decide how much Go resembles a clockwork.

Anyway, Charles, I do not think it is a question of following me. I am not advocating any new meaning for the word. I am not going anywhere. ;-)

Charles Well, in the end gote came off the mistake path - it isn't in itself a mistake to take gote. Now, should we be saying that too slow is the mistake, or slow by itself?

Bill: Well, I think that a slow play is more likely to be a mistake than a fast one. But I'm Mr. Tenuki. ;-)

Charles A slow(er)-developing option needn't be wrong - Edo period go theory in a nutshell, I think.

John F. I've never seen a satisfactory definition of fast and slow in Japanese, and I did try hard to find one once when I was working a lot on Go Seigen's games. Even the sublime Hayashi can do no better than describe slow (osoi) as playing in "slow motion" - he uses the English term!

One problem is that the range of use covers play I (and others here, judging by what I see above) would not normally refer to as slow. Rather than solid moves such as honte, the Japanese term seems mostly to cover examples such as an invasion at san-san or a splitting attack (wariuchi). Since the characteristic of such plays is that they hand the initiative to the opponent, osoi in practice may often be no more than a fancy way of saying gote. Note also that a play is rarely described as osoi - it is more likely to be wrapped up in a phrase such as osoku naru (becomes slow, i,e, has fallen behind in tempo). Tempo is a word several people have tried unsuccessfully to introduce into go - maybe there is still a place for it.

(Sebastian:) Interesting connection to "gote". Maybe we could define "slow" and "tempo" in terms of temperature?

Charles Maybe - once again I feel a bit uncomfortable with letting what is in effect meta-language (i.e. model-discussion mode talk) replace the natural language of players: we need both.

(Sebastian:) Sorry, I don't understand why you write "replace". (Even though Bill understands you - could you pls explain for a slow thinker?)

Charles Temperature is only defined in the world of abstract models. Plays are slow, or not, on the board. Your suggestion mixes up these different levels of discussion.

Actually I think I'll come off the fence. There is something problematic in calling joseki plays 'slow' - while of course one can perfectly well criticise the use of a joseki line as slow. If Japanese usage, with its broader scope, leads into some confusion for the English speaker here, I say it's the fault of the translation.

Bill: Charles, by metalanguage are you talking about temperature? If so, I agree. :-)

Charles Yes, in this case: I'd prefer slow = non-urgent.

As for calling joseki plays slow, I think that's about right, that slowness, as an error, is fairly subtle. For instance, a non-urgent play is very likely to be slow, but we do not typically bother to say so, first, because being non-urgent strongly suggests slowness, and second, because being non-urgent is worse. Similarly for being kikasare, overconcentrated, heavy, and lukewarm. All imply slowness and have other problems on top of that. So if all you say about a problematic play is that it is slow, that's about right for choosing the wrong joseki, I think.

Also, Hayashi's reference to slow motion bolsters my impression that the term, while normally used for questionable plays, does not necessarily imply error, and has to do with the speed of development. In that regard, some joseki plays are slower than others.

I am not sure that the Japanese usage is broader. For instance, I would not have called White's shimari in the example above slow. But I think that reflects the difference in judgement between me and Go Seigen rather than a difference in language. ;-) Once he explained it, I see his point. (There is more in the book.) And a little slow seems to about right. (I think I'll go back and say a little more about the example.)

John F. Maybe chess offers a good word: passive?

Andy: From chess usage I would say the chess term 'passive' would be more akin to 'absence of fighting spirit (kiai)' rather than 'slow'.

Path: <= Mistake =>
Slow/Discussion last edited by Dieter on July 24, 2013 - 16:21
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