The Theory And Practice Of Analysis / Review by Robert Jasiek

General Specification

  • Title: The Theory and Practice of Analysis
  • Author: Valery Shikshin
  • Publisher: Hinoki Press
  • Edition: First English Printing, May 2013
  • Language: English
  • Price: USD 24.50
  • Contents: analysis
  • ISBN: 978-0-9819121-7-2
  • Printing: acceptable
  • Layout: inefficient
  • Editing: weak
  • Pages: 231
  • Size: 136mm x 212mm
  • Diagrams per Page on Average: 1
  • Method of Teaching: principles, methods, examples
  • Read when EGF: 5k - 3d
  • Subjective Rank Improvement: -
  • Subjective Topic Coverage: o
  • Subjective Aims' Achievement: o


Chapter 1 distinguishes 'sure territory' and 'incomplete territory', estimates the territory of influence stones and thickness, and estimates the territory of moyos. Each of the three aspects is explained with one example having a few diagrams. Sure territory appears to be just another name for what is known as 'current territory' in the literature since 2009: a player's amount of territory remaining after the opponent's sente reductions. Excess influence stones and excess thickness stones are assumed to be worth additional 5 points each. The major method used for assessing a moyo's territory is called 'conditional half' and, only at first glance, the same idea as my 'half territory', that is, count half the number of intersections.

Chapter 2 consists of 25 problems and answers about counting simple, local standard shapes.

Chapter 3 explains how to use the seven aspects of estimating the territory balance, noticing urgent moves, noticing sente moves, attack and defense, noticing big fuseki points, controlling the center, and noticing big versus small formations. Per aspect, there are zero to four examples. Attack and defense is emphasised a bit, but the book mentions only 5 of 13 major types of fights. An 'attack on one group' is called a 'direct attack'. Next moves are occasionally queried as short exercises.

Chapter 4 analyses seven game positions by applying the aspects of Chapter 3 (and so also Chapter 1) and implying good strategic planning. Although only seven aspects are studied, they are, according to the author, the important ones. When necessary, attack and defense are discussed a bit more carefully than the other aspects. Although discussion is short and only very few variations are shown, the reasoning developing strategic plans is convincing.

Chapter 5 carries the bombastic title 'Path to Perfection', but mainly consists of studying key decision moments of games as next move problems. In a text section, the author recommends intuition for speedy preliminary strategic planning and time-consuming logical analysis for verification. It remains, however, a not discussed mystery why speedy, sparse logical analysis could not replace intuition.

Chapter 6 outlines a teacher's perspective of a way to study a player's games and identify and correct his mistakes. Chapter 7 suggests how to prepare against a particular tournament opponent by studying his games. Finally, Chapter 8 gives a few hints for studying professional games.

The games are from Russian (top) players. In between, there are a few unrelated notes on Russian go history. An incomplete glossary of the used Japanese terms and a few photos finish the book. However, there is no index of keywords referring to the contents; this would have been more useful than the glossary.

Wasted Space

A big Arial font, much empty space and whole board diagrams, when only a corner or half of the board is interesting, waste so much space that the entire book contents could fit on half the number of its pages. I needed 11 hours to read the book carefully, but I am familiar with the topic. Despite only 1 diagram per page on average, the situation is not too bad, because readers unfamiliar with the topic can find enough interesting text, principles or methods to justify reading the book.

Nevertheless, the saved space could have improved the book a lot by showing als the imagined move sequences for determining territories instead of only the resulting diagrams showing the territory boundaries. Game sequences with very many moves could have been split into more diagrams.


A quarter of the diagrams show territory boundaries and numbers of every region's territory points. Chapters and subchapters start with introductory text. The principles and methods are pretty useful, but not as general or worked out as detailed as possible. This can be perceived as simplification for kyu readers or as incomplete study by the author; maybe it is a combination of both. Further hints with general applicability can be found in ordinary text sections, but a note that 'points' are "only the newly gained additional points" would sometimes be very helpful for the reader's understanding. There are elliptical parts, where the reader wishes further explanation and diagrams, but must continue study by himself. This has the side effect that I recommend EGF 5 kyu as the weakest reader level. The missing sequences presumed for territory boundaries hint in the same direction. As far as the author shows variations at all, they are (with the exception of one typo) correct and instructive.

Altogether, Shikshin shows that there is some justification for being the only person carrying the highest possible degree of Russian go teachers, and this could have led to a '+' value for Subjective Rank Improvement. Unfortunately, there is also the black side of this book, which devalues to '-'.

Systematic Mistakes

One can choose to tolerate the mistakes in translation and language proofreading. However, they exist in quite a number. It can be too much for readers with only an intermediate tolerance level that, for example, the co-translater and co-proofreader Svetlana Shikshina 3p, who was European Champion, overlooked that that tournament is not Men's only and that 'handicap stones' is not the English expression for 'star points' ('hoshis'). For a book translated from Russian, I can easily tolerate such trivialities. The very many mistakes related to assessing amounts or values of territory, however, are an entirely different matter.

Whether caused by carelessness, laziness or insufficient knowledge of related go theory, the author has made the following systematic, recurring mistakes:

  • The great majority of the territory diagrams (also in Chapter 2) have one or several mistakes with respect to denoting the territory boundaries correctly because of incorrectly imagined, unshown reduction sequences (for example, overlooking per region one or two second line reductions - blocks - hanes - connections) or using visual guesses instead of reduction sequences.
  • A few numbers representing territory intersections are counted wrongly.
  • Quite a few center boundaries of large moyos are marked too generously.
  • If a huge region consists of sure territory and incomplete territory, then even the sure territory is divided by two. It would be correct to divide only the incomplete territory by two.
  • A few moyo regions are without outer territory boundary and so counted as zero points, when the moyo is small and on two sides adjacent to same-coloured sure territory regions. It would be correct to count and divide the moyo's incomplete territory by two.
  • The same applies to the mistake of ignoring the intersections of the boundaries of the adjacent same-coloured sure territory regions.
  • Similarly, intersections on a counted moyo's inner boundary (which is also a boundary of adjacent same-coloured sure territory regions) are overlooked and counted as zero points. Again, it would be correct to count and divide them by two.
  • The attacker's points gained by establishing a living invasion group or by surrounding forced new territory made while reducing are ignored. It would be correct to subtract them from the points of the defender's territory region.
  • The influence value (or an equivalent territory value) of center reduction stones is overlooked.
  • Each single corner stone is counted as 5 points. Not only is this value too small, but different first corner stones should have different territory values.
  • Throughout the game, excess influence or thickness stones are assumed to have the constant value of 5 points. It would be correct to use a dynamic value in the range from 7 (during the early opening) to 0 points (during the late endgame).
  • Although the author is aware of the idea of points per excess stone, he has not developed the idea far enough to apply it to kos. As a consequence, he declares (also in a principle) division by 2 instead of division by 3, when assessing the [per excess move] value of a ko.
  • He speaks of "the value of a move" regardless of three different meanings: 1) only the territory value while ignoring the influence aspect of a move, 2) the miai (per move) value (when there is zero influence value), 3) the deire (difference) value (when there is zero influence value).
  • Intersections representing half a point are counted as 1 point.
  • Basic gote endgame options are sometimes counted incorrectly.

Russian language isolation may explain part of the mistakes. However, this is insufficient excuse: the author could have read diagrams and value calculations in more existing literature about positional judgement. Shikshin shows potential for rediscovering potentially valuable go theory on his own, but he lacks, judging from my similar experience and discoveries, several years as a researcher in go theory. This additional time is needed to replace a level of presenting scrapbook ideas about newly invented go theory by a level of presenting well researched go theory. Shikshin avoids mistakes about commonly circulated go theory, but is too rash with trying to teach his reinventions.

As a consequence of the too many mistakes related to assessing territory, the book can be recommended only with a great warning for the reader. 1) The reader already knows territory assessment and can, with the help of this review, distinguish mistakes from correct information; 2) the reader reads a different, correct and detailed book on territorial positional judgement before starting to read the reviewed book; 3) the reader ignores all territory diagrams, values and related texts and learns only from the other topics in this book. Readers unfamiliar with territory assessment are in the great danger of becoming weaker by trying to learn from the mistakes directly. This can slow down their further improvement, until they learn correct territory judgement elsewhere.

The territory counts in the diagrams can be incorrect by several points. Therefore the introduction's claim for 1/2 point precision, optimistic chapter titles, references to the author's teaching successes and PR speech on the backcover are very misleading.

Besides the mistakes, there are great didactic weaknesses with respect to explaining counting of prisoners, boundary defense and privileges.


The book title speaks of 'the' theory of analysis and the introduction claims the book to cover everything. Therefore, let me point out aspects of analysis missing entirely in the book:

  • nature of reduction sequences beyond their basic aspects of sente and reduction to a minimum
  • general calculation of standard endgame types
  • quiescience, related aspects and making fighting positions quiet
  • middle game kos
  • updating counts and convenient counting
  • area count
  • part of important general strategic principles for territory counting
  • unsettled group average
  • further methods of 'local positional judgement'
  • methods of tewari
  • joseki evaluation
  • judgement of influence as influence and related aspects
  • more detailed study of aji and invasion possibilities

In my opinion, no single book can discuss all the analysis topics, but therefore also no book should pretend to have done the impossible.


The book is a study in black and white: the countless mistakes related to territory assessment oppose the valuable, but short discussion of strategic planning. The quick and dirty work can still be useful for tolerant readers with the ability to ignore the flaws. Needless to say, a second edition and major revision is urgent.

The Theory And Practice Of Analysis / Review by Robert Jasiek last edited by HermanHiddema on July 19, 2013 - 11:28
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