Use Your Opponents Time Too


Just because it is not your turn, it doesn't mean you can't think. Some people have the tendency to get impatient when their opponent takes his time to consider a move, but this is actually a good opportunity for you, especially if time is limited. Here are some things you can do during your opponent's turn:

  • Re-read the position - If you are sure your opponent will not tenuki, try and read all of his possible responses. This can give you a head start, but it can also unnerve your opponent when you respond to a difficult position instantly, having already examined the same possibilities he has.
  • Count the score - If it's not all that clear where your opponent's next move might be, this can be a good time to count the score and decide what measures need to be taken for the rest of the game.
  • Search for Aji - You can do a lot of reading of various positions around the board to see if there is any aji you or your opponent might have missed. You might discover something surprising, such as a profitable forcing sequence you can play before returning to the current position.

Eratos - a chess book I once read had the following piece of advice "Write your moves on your opponent's time, edit them on yours." If anyone can understand the difference between writing and editing it's SL readers :)

The idea being during your opponent's time, you have plenty of room for reading as many moves ahead as you like, 'writing' a detailed script of what could happen next if you like. Then, when your own clock is ticking, you edit this information down to just the correct move.

None of this helps if your opponent responds in 1 second in a way you hadn't yet considered :)

Felplats? -"Write your moves on your opponent's time, edit them on yours." In Chess tournaments you are required to write down your move during the game.

KD - I'd like to give some related advice: when you are currently in the middle of (or about to start) a forced sequence that will end in your sente, think about your next move before (as opposed to after) playing out the sequence. Because your opponent doesn't know what you are going to play yet, he will be using your time less efficiently.

Tamsin: The older I get, the less I like this kind of gamesmanship[1]. Trying to beat your opponent through trickery as opposed to better go plays seems against the spirit of the game. Of course, it's difficult to know where to draw the line: in a game with time limits, obviously the clocks are going to add a certain dimension, and especially when the time limit is short; but the above suggestion seems to be crossing a line.

KD - Your opponent is trying to steal your time to think. I don't see why one should assist by revealing your plan sooner than is necessary.

Tamsin: That's a strange point of view. Both sides can think on the same time - there's nothing underhand about that. But what you were advocating was trickery to confuse the opponent, and I think that's against the spirit of go. Besides, it's self-defeating: you can waste time to confuse the opponent, but what if you need it later on?

KD - I'm comparing these two scenarios:

1. You have just decided to play a sente sequence. You play this sequence out, then spend a certain amount of time on your next move after the sequence.

2. You have just decided to play a sente sequence. You spend the same amount of time thinking about what to play after the sequence, then play the sequence out and follow it with another move immediately.

I can't discover any trickery or self-defeating behavior. You are hindering your opponent in using your time well, but it seems perfectly fair to me.

xela: This has nothing to do with time management or gamesmanship. Let's look a little more closely at these two cases:

1. You have just decided to play a sente sequence, but you haven't spent any time evaluating the final position or deciding what you will do afterwards. In other words, you are about to push the opponent around just because it feels good. Possibly you are making a huge blunder here.

2. You are considering playing a sente sequence, and are spending some time making sure that you avoid the pitfalls of case 1. If your opponent isn't capable of seeing that you have a sente move available, and thinking about it, then they have problems that have nothing to do with time management.

This isn't about "hindering your opponent", it's just about finding the right move.

KD - Of course when the decision of playing the sequence hasn't been made yet, this doesn't apply. However, sometimes you already know what you are going to play (joseki, forced defend, free points, etc). Yes your opponent can see it too, but there may be more than one way for you to play, and he doesn't know what position to evaluate until he sees your move.

Dave: How often have we all embarked on some sente sequence only to have our opponent play elsewhere anyway, demonstrating a more profound understanding of the position? :-) I would say this is a double-edged sword at best.


Patrick Taylor: Also known as "mind games". Any action that affects your opponent's ability to play falls into this category. In addition to the time strategies mentioned here, slapping the stones down on the board, drinking or eating loudly during the game, or humming on your opponent's turn could be considered gamesmanship.

Use Your Opponents Time Too last edited by Felplats on January 7, 2011 - 15:49
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