Keywords: Tactics, Go term

In a capturing race, the underdog is the side that is at a disadvantage because of the special features of the type of fight. The criterion for judging who is the favorite and who is the underdog depends on the type of fight.

For example, in a fight where one side has an eye and the other side has no eyes, the favorite is the side with the eye. In this type of fight the underdog can win if he has lots of outside liberties.

In a fight where both sides have a big eye of the same size, the favorite is the side with more exclusive liberties. In this case, the favorite is alive. The underdog either lives in seki or dies depending how many liberties he has (exclusive liberties plus inside liberties).

John F. Richard: you say in your excellent book that you rejected the term mutual liberties in favour of inside liberties because your experience was that it causes problems. Can you elucidate, please? I find inside liberties most confusing because to me that means, or includes, eye liberties. BTW as far as I can tell most people here use the term shared liberties.

Dieter: Before Richard answers, I'll try to show that I understood his writings. In an "eye against no eye" fight, the inside liberties belong to the eye party. They are not shared or mutual. In a no eye against no eye fight they belong to both (or none) in order to determine the favourite but then they count for the underdog to determine whether he will live in seki (and one of them counts for the favourite). Again, "mutual" suggests something countering the truth.

I don't struggle with the kind of misunderstanding you mention: inside liberties are those in between the two groups. Eye liberties are liberties inside the eye.

John F. Dieter: I don't have any misunderstanding - Richard explains everything splendidly - and that wasn't what I was asking about. I am interested, as a go writer myself, why he's had problems using a particular term. And if, as you probably correctly suggest, the problem lies in a certain ambiguity, I was further pointing out that the term he used to replace the problematical one has its own share of ambiguities.

Dieter: Sorry if I gave the impression you didn't understand. I see you are interested in Go writers' experiences. At least this reader didn't suffer from the "inside" ambiguity. Others may, though, and I understand your question better now. Over to Richard.

Richard Hunter John: that's a very interesting point or three you raise. I would like to explain a bit and also ask you a couple of questions. I don't know how far I'll get in one session. More later. Also, this discussion can all be moved to a discussion page later.

First, I only discuss mutual in the BGJ. The original series was aimed at correcting mistakes in stronger players say 5 kyu to 2 dan. The diagrams are pretty similar in my chapters in The Second Book Of Go and in my book Counting Liberties And Winning Capturing Races, but the text is slightly revised.

The books were both aimed primarily at beginners encountering the ideas for the first time. References to bad habits and misunderstandings were removed. I am fairly certain the word mutual never appears in these books. In my experience, some people counted the mutual liberties for both sides and did not realize that they only count for one side in most cases. A 2 dan told me that the key thing he learned from my book was that in me ari me nashi the inside liberties count only for the side with the eye. It was a revelation for him.

Most people know the proverb, but have not worked out why or how the eye affects the fight. Some do not realize that the side with the eye can die. I wonder if the aim of Eyes win semeais is to force home the message that an eye is really very valuable. That's good for beginners but very soon you need to understand why as well. I have also met Japanese dan players who assumed the side with the eye wins, always. I think that's because the books give examples of it working and don't show the limits or why it can fail. The English books copy the same positions.

I have never encountered inside to include the eye liberties before. That's interesting. Is it widespread? Where does that come from? I use exclusive liberties for the eye liberties and the outside liberties, which are clear. The question is the mutual liberties. Who counts them and who doesn't?

On SL, I've seen discussion of dame. But I wonder where liberties comes from? Japanese pros counting a semeai say: kuro san te, shiro yon te, shiro itte kachi. This includes approach moves in the count. I could believe White wins by one move, but we would say Black has three liberties, White has four liberties. I always think of counting how many moves it takes to capture the stones.

Another word is katsuro. One book that influenced me was Segoe's Semeai to nakade. The first subsection is entitled "dame to katsuro". Surely katsuro is where breathing spaces comes from. Segoe gives one position where he says White's 5-point eye is worth 8-te, Black's soto dame are also 8-te, and there are no uchi dame. I don't think he ever uses inside liberties to include those in the eye.

Question: Where did liberties first appear in English? Was it perhaps Segoe's Go Proverbs? (which I do not have). Which Japanese words does it correspond to?

I agree my terminology could be confusing to existing players. I think the word liberty is already understood in different ways by different people. I could have introduced completely new terms. But I chose to use liberties and define each type clearly. If beginners read my book, I think they will have a clear foundation. It's better that stronger players adapt and change their understanding and usage. They can cope with multiple meanings in the same way as learning UK/US spellings for color/colour or knowing both flower six and rabbity six.

I hope people interested in semeai will read my book. I defined my terminology here on SL to aid discussions for people who do not read it. I don't mind what terms players use, but I think mine are clear and consistent, provided they read the whole chapter and the definitions.

Charles I can answer for Segoe's Go Proverbs Illustrated (1960). He uses dame for dame liberty, consistently. He has three proverbs, the semeai where only one player has an eye is a fight over nothing, balanced by there are times when even a fight over nothing means something, and (not to be neglected) in a semeai attended with ko take it last. It's a pretty useful nine pages.

The translator's glossary does give liberty as a synonym for dame.

Richard Hunter Those seem much better proverbs. I translate me ari me nashi as one eye versus no eyes. I find eyes win semeais confusing. Obviously if you have two eyes you win. But having an eye does not automatically mean you win. You can die, and that is something many people do not realize. As usual, the page eyes win semeais gives only examples that work and not any that fail. Adding the word usually is not sufficient.

By the way, there are also exceptions to: in a semeai attended with ko take it last. Did you know that? I explain in detail in the brand new chapter on ko in Counting Liberties And Winning Capturing Races.

Charles Segoe gives as exception a case in which you have to give priority to stamping out a potential double ko. I assume there are other possible exceptions. There always are with proverbs! It was once suggested in the BGJ that one could list good empty triangle shapes, but I've now given up on that - too many types.

Richard Hunter Speaking of dame, today's NHK lecture was semeai for beginners. Shirae managed to give the whole lecture without using the word dame as far as I could ascertain. He used te and tekazu? (move/liberty and number of moves/liberties). I think dame is just a red herring.

Charles Well, you need to tell Bill that, then! For me, most Japanese terms are like place-holders, until an accepted translation emerges.

Bill: (Much later.) I do not understand Charles's comment about me. I defended the sense of liberty as move to capture.

Underdog last edited by axd on February 26, 2013 - 07:38
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