Ten Commandments of Handicap Go

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The Ten Commandments of Handicap Go was published by Bob Terry (5 dan) in "The American Go Journal", Vol. 27, No. 2: 1993.

This article is not reproduced on SL due to copyright reasons. Bob Terry may be contacted [ext] here

Couldn't we, here on Senseis, make our own 10 commandments?

  1. Connection brings strength
  2. Fear is a poor teacher
  3. <removed>, see [ext] https://senseis.xmp.net/?topic=9190
  4. Take the initiative; do not follow your opponent's lead
  5. Attacking moves are not contact moves.

tderz: #2 is very vague: the parole 'A cow has four legs' is true too
and helps you as much playing your handicap game. Vagueness thus increases validity, but does not help playing a good game.
No. #3 has already been commented on.

Warfreak2: My suggestion: White's greatest weapon is confusion. Black does well to play simple moves and keep the situations as understandable as possible.

bayesian: I don't have Bob Terry's original list, so I am not knowingly violating any copyright issues. But my list would include:

- Defend now to attack later
- Favor connecting stones over taking territory unless your opponent makes you an unbelievable offer
- Plan to win the game on move 115, not move 15

Alex: My suggestions...

- Some of your stones will die. Make sure they die small, in sente, and preferably with aji. Don't try to save stones unless you're fairly sure you can, since it just compounds the loss.

- Don't let White get thick; trade the side territory for centre influence.

tderz: First of all, this list - any list - should make clear to whom it may concern.
Tamsin's, Warfreak2's and Alex's comments seem to address White's side,
while LukeNine45, Bob McGuigan, xela and bayesian have suggestions for Black.

In many games it helps very much if you have seen your opponent's style at least once.
White, having more experience, can adapt his/her style more easily to the opponent's For White, the advice from an Ishi book 'Don't play book moves' can be helpful.
Having once heard of Iwamoto's 'Machine gun' or 'Scattering Go' style,
I also like to have a foothold on every part of the board (in high handicap games), even if the stones look weak.
In my personal experience, Black then decides often on unefficient attacks which leave me more freedom. If, on the contrary, had been finishing sequences with book moves (if worst, in gote) then Black would be able to secure more corners with standard moves s/he knows.
Coming back to the styles, it helps me, White (because I play few games, I very seldom receive handicap) so much to know that a certain player will 'crumble' if the positions become more dense.
OTOH, I played a 2-kyu (EGF) in a long Biergarten pub game (Aug. 2004?, Turandot, Berlin), giving him 4 stones. I didn't know him, playing for the first time. I play at a rythm that one would expect to finish the (pub!) game in about an hour and he commits a small Joseki deviation, which I wanted to punish forcefully, perhaps too immediately.
Then he switched to a playing rythm of a 3 hour game (we were playing without a clock), while EGF 4 dan C.W. and 3 dan H.L. were happily commenting on my moves. True humour is when you are able to laugh about yourself, so I had no problems with that, but the kibitzers really see more. In the end I resigned despite some nice shinogies, which were necessary after my initial attack was counterproductive.
What would be my conclusions for a future game vs. this 2 kyu?
First I would only play with a clock, because he might be totally unable within time limits (although I recognized something of myself in him, I also can play fast),
secondly I would not force things with him, rather play patient.

If I receive handicap myself (Japanese style, hoshi stones) I use them for attacking.
I often play side hoshi pincers to any White corner kakari, awaiting the white double kakari, then playing the split (easiest with kosumi), then wait for the free flow of moves.

Alex: Actually, my comments were meant for Black in high handicap games. My experience playing White is that, if I win, it's either because Black a) gave me a couple of ponnuki or strong walls early on so I could fight strongly, or b) tried to save a small group, which then became a big group prior to dying, when Black would still have had a large lead if the group had died small. Thus, my advice is: don't let White get thick too early, and when you're doubtful that you can save a group, let it die small.

WillerZ: If either player has all four corners, Black should resign

Phelan: This is not a certainty, and therefore not a commandment, I think. See Black Should Resign If One Player Has Four Corners.

Bill (2020): To replace commandment #3, how about Sakata's idea in "The Killer of Go"? Thou shalt kill White's stones.

Path: <= Handicap =>
Ten Commandments of Handicap Go last edited by on May 13, 2020 - 10:44
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