What to expect from joseki pages at SL


Issue 3: What can we expect from joseki pages at SL

Floris: I think the current pages on joseki are very flat and not very much of a help. They just give ya a few sequences and a bit of information that really I (and I asume there are others) don't care about such as "This is a traditional joseki that is still played". It really gives you the idea of: "Here is a sequence, play it or lose". I think SL should add extremely detailed commentary explaing when it is appropriate to use the joseki, when not to use it, what the joseki focuses on (influence, corner, left side, etc.), and i guess also some history and many heavy commented examples (from pro games) of global situations of when and when not to apply this joseki sequence. I realize this seems like an impossible task, which it is. But still I feel it would add a lot of value to SL. I can contribute a lot too, but I feel some high dan player should take the initiative.

P.S. Should i add discussion items to the bottom of the page or the top? I've seen both done.

Hu: Discussion is usually added at the bottom, unless one is addressing a specific point in context, as I am here. In a few cases, discussion is added at the top, most notably Messages to People Currently Present in the Library and similar pages, which are voluminous.

Velobici: [ext] Gobase.org provides one element of what Floris has suggested, the many examples from professional games of when a particular joseki was used and when not. The game records are not commented. It is beyond the scope of SL to provide all that is suggested. However, general recommendations of when a joseki is appropriate and when it is not would be most welcome. One question is at what level does this become suitable. My son (now 1D AGA, 2k KGS, regularly plays winning a fair share of games against a 5D AGA/3D IGS at three/four stones) has been taking lessons weekly from a professional residing in the United States for a year. The teacher has indicated which direction of play is larger/better and what general type of joseki is desired, but never said that a particular joseki is to be used in a particular situation. This is interesting. The idea of "use this joseki when these conditions arise" seems to be too formulaic to support good go play. Perhaps, when my son is stronger this will change. Perhaps, the direction of thought is not the right direction of play.

Charles My explanation.

First, it may be that SL isn't the ideal joseki dictionary. That wouldn't be surprising: no joseki dictionary that exists is the ideal joseki dictionary.

Secondly, when I post a joseki page here, it is never copied from a book. It is always researched from a database. So the information is actually more reliable in certain ways than many joseki books. We point out here some ways in which the Ishida Joseki Dictionary is misleading, for example.

Thirdly, I think the most important achievement so far is to get a structure on SL to which joseki information can be added, and then found. Please note that even this much took a number of people many hours of work.

Fourthly, it is basically a lazy attitude that someone else should work hard, so that others should have free instant access to research. My experience is that giving people hundreds of free web pages doesn't really cause gratitude. Well, human nature as usual. But it makes no sense on a Wiki to say 'someone else should do this for me'. A wiki is a community first: if it is treated like a service, eventually those doing the real work may lose interest.

Fifthly, the importance of joseki study is vastly overrated. I do think we need a reference section here on joseki. The reason is that links out of other discussions can happen. And so that backlinks can handle 'how do you use this joseki' questions. Floris, have you thought of using backlinks? In time, they should build up naturally.

Sixth, for myself I would certainly give fuseki patterns, and in particular side patterns, priority over joseki.

Seventh, there is a fair amount posted here already that isn't easily available in English. If it is due to me, then that's because I think it has some value. I have posted comments before, putting words in the mouth of Sensei (our mythical founder). I don't believe that Sensei approves of trying to tell the whole story on a joseki. It's too narrow a view of the game.

Finally, I have just checked and there are 411 pages here with the Joseki keyword. That's a number of books' worth, already. And that's without some sort of Editor figure.

Hu: As usual, Charles has expressed a thoughtful point of view, cogently, which I endorse. To address Floris' concerns, yes, it would be nice. Just do it. Where it might be wrong it will soon be corrected. What will be most right about it will be that it will have been started. Coincidentally, just a day before, I finally got working on a Joseki Heuristics page, despite my lack of knowledge, thanks to Bob kindly sparking me into life. This may be a place to help guide some selections between joseki, or perhaps a jumping off point to some more specific guidelines for selecting between joseki.

Floris: Ok, my points:

  • I never accused anyone from simply copying information from a book ^_^ SL even particularly states that it's not allowed to do so.
  • Yes, SL already has a ton of very informative joseki pages that took many hours of work to create with joseki sequences on them, which are very useful if you want to learn the sequences, but to study them you must see game examples and commentary (I guess using them in your own games also helps, if you get the chance, that is).
  • Of course I don't want others to work hard for me to do this, I just mentioned that maybe a strong dan player should start since he/she is much more experienced with joseki than I am. As I said I am more than willing to work on this.
  • I think joseki is a very important aspect of go, yes the fuseki is important but there would be no fuseki without joseki [1]. After the first few moves a pro has already decided which joseki are globally profitable and which are globally bad. Amateurs (esp. at my level, or so I can see in my own and my opponents play) often play joseki very locally, just throwing down stones as we know the sequence (sometimes I think if it isn't good to know no joseki at all), and especially with the short average time limits on KGS we are forced to just randomly pick approach move (high, low, far, near) and follow-ups (extend, pincer, tenuki, whatever).
  • What are backlinks?
  • Yes, I have but two go books (non-joseki) and use sensei's, kogo's and turbogo for all my joseki needs. Sensei's goes the deepest and is best for studying but it is fairly hard to navigate.

Charles The point about navigation is fair; all I can say is that it is constantly being worked on here.

For the rest:

  • The comment about copying from books wasn't aimed at anyone, but pointing out that researching the whole of joseki afresh from pro games (say 3500 variations) takes time; and is valuable because of the silly situation about Ishida, English version, being reprinted without revision.
  • I think Floris still overestimates the value of joseki as set patterns. In advancing to 1 dan amateur I guess it is worth about two stones, to stop making big joseki mistakes. If quick server games make you play badly, that speaks for itself.
  • Backlinks - try this on some joseki page such as 4-4 point low approach one-space low pincer. Look through all the pages that link there (click on the page title to get a good listing). In that case you'll find half-a-dozen discussions of the joseki in a game context.

Floris, why don't you post some particular positions here for discussion? You know, there are other ways, besides asking for a 'perfect' set of joseki pages - as if someone could make them appear, by magic.

Back on the main topic, we know that Michael Redmond, starting as an insei at amateur 5 dan level, had to forget all his joseki knowledge learned up until then. He has told us that. What I don't know is how he then replaced it by joseki knowledge to take him to pro 9 dan. But I suspect it was painstaking work, based on researching in pro games. Sound at all familiar?

jfc: What is best for one person is not necessarily best for another. While it is safe to say that nearly all players want to become the best that they can, different players have different resources at their disposal. as an insei Michael Redmond had the following at his disposal:

  • a great natural ability.
  • fellow insei's to compete and study with on a daily basis
  • regular professional instruction
  • Lots of time to devote to Go. As an insei (and later as a pro) studying Go was his job.

For someone with these assets, forgetting all joseki may be the correct approach in the quest for acheiving the highest level of play. For others with more meager resources, learning joseki and then focusing more time and energy on other aspects of the game (e.g. tsumego) may give better results.


  • It is ok to quote statements or copy a board position from a book if a problem you are interested in is not discussed there.
  • Anybody can add (links to) games where certain joseki are used or deviated from.

There is a very good chance there will be very sensible comments, discussion within 48 hours (my experience: 5 minutes, by Charles and unkx80, but that may be exceptional).

  • On navigating joseki: I think irritation about inadequacy is a major source of good stuff. So I ask you to continue expressing your dissatisfaction with the current state of things. If you can be more specific (Charles e.g. asked for particular positions), this will help yourself and other people thinking about improvements.

Tapir: Navigation improved with the board search and pruning some joseki pages already. Much remains to be done however, especially among lower level indices and overview pages. My take on how a joseki page should look like is Best practice - Joseki or what even a very tiny and humble page can contain is to be found here. Not that much joseki pages added since then... but it is effort to define what I believe is important for a page to be more useful.

The most important aspect of joseki presentation in my opinion is to refrain from teaching bad habits to our readers. (Especially the more impressable ones who just started learning.) The new introductory joseki page is a good start in my opinion. Less talk about "even results" (can we reduce this even further?), emphasis on change, properness of the moves and an introduction into the internal search mechanism of SL. As soon as the Joseki choice page is more settled, I would like to add it right at the beginning of the main page as well. This may help in containing the worst mistake joseki learners happen to do -> following those joseki they know regardless of the whole board.

As the normal joseki tree is filled with diagrams already, I would like to keep Taxonomy of Joseki instead of Joseki Quick Reference as the main index. Those preferring clickable ways to reach their beloved joseki have plenty ways to go already. A strictly textual has some surplus value for more text minded people, imo. Any takers?

After all this... I expect joseki pages on Sensei's Library.

  1. To encourage study.
  2. To be a useful tool for this study.
  3. To prevent the most common bad habits related to Joseki among the readers.
  4. To be never completed.

To add something I stumbled upon recently, joseki dictionary style presentation tends to create artificial distinctions. In fact the lines played when PressingDownOnThe34Point are very similar for all the different pincers, and the difference is the effectiveness of the pincer stone. This is best explained in an unified page not by scattering the information over a dozen "systematic" (low, high, far, near pincer) pages.


  • Floris, it is a possible task! It is impossible only if everybody says it were impossible.
  • Charles, I agree that empirical information must rely on empirical data such as databases. Therefore my dictionary relies also on databases.
  • Charles, I disagree that the importance of joseki study were vastly overrated. Those (incl. me) recommending joseki study do not recommend it exclusively but recommend it besides many other study topics. So where would there be "overrating"? As occasional evidence (such as that of myself; as a kyu player, I spent ca. 3 months of full work on study of both joseki and strategic concepts to increase from 5k to 1k in 4 months) suggests, there is the potential of a kyu player's rank increment of up to 2 to 5 ranks if he does study joseki very thoroughly and in context of other study topics such as strategic concepts. If anything, the potential is underrated because of the too popular proverb ("Study joseki (by rote learning) to become 2 stones weaker.").
  • Charles, you point out that researching the whole of joseki afresh form pro games (3500 variations) would take time. Now I can report how much time: For my book, extracting and move-wise database-verifying 400 relevant modern josekis took about 6 weeks. During the process, I went through an unknown number of side variations and failures; I do not know if that amounted to 3500 variations or less. If you have meant 3500 different josekis, then I'd suggest to continue my work by filling the tactical details' gaps in between the 400 josekis. Since their structure can be applied, I would expect another ca. 6 weeks to reach 3500 representative josekis.
  • Redmond's forgetting of all his joseki knowledge: Surely that depends on what kind of bad knowledge he might have had! Good knowledge need not be forgotten!

Tapir: I agree with many things you said here, especially I disagree with the abundant anti-joseki-study proverbs, opinion pieces etc. as well. The blind joseki followers are usually people who respect joseki and learn too few joseki and then stick to them blindly, instead of those who learn many joseki and see the problem of the many possible choices all the time.
I don't believe, that you can reconstruct joseki knowledge completely from games although it is a great tool. If you look into books written by or lessons given by professional teachers you often see them referring to what they call standard joseki that are rarely or never used in the games you find in your database (even with a more flexible search tool than kombilo is). But happily it isn't an all-or-nothing choice, it is not necessary to research the whole of joseki afresh but you can do them one at a time.
I would love to see comments on PressingDownOnThe34Point. The main point in question is whether there could be a different presentation of many joseki which doesn't artificially divide similar sequences - that differ by only one but crucial early stone, in this case the pincer - and is more organized around concepts and show how this early stone makes a difference.

What to expect from joseki pages at SL last edited by tapir on May 29, 2012 - 16:29
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