# Forum for Stone Counting Teaching Method

ThorAvaTahr: how about sizes? (2008-03-26 11:47) [#4553]

I see Dieter using board sizes of 5x5 and 7x7 for the stone counting teaching method. Dieter, how do you implement this, do you have special sized gobans for this or do you hide a part of the 9x9 board. The latter implementation might give introducees the impression that they are not playing the "real" game after all.

Also, how do these games end. It seems to me that one of the players will destroy all the stones of the oponent, or do living groups evolve on such small boards with beginner players?

What if living groups do arise, will beginners fill up their own eyes in the end or won't they do that, and how do you facilitate these events as a learning experience?

I am giving an introduction course in the near future, and I would like to adapt the stone counting method. However, I would like to feel comfortable with it, before I start.

What is the topic of the first continuation lesson, so what do you teach the first thing after the stone counting game. It seems that using the stone counting game, the pupils get naturally introduced to life and death, do you still go into this matter in the next lesson?

I hope you can give me some answers to my questions, especially Dieter seems to have some experience with this matter.

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Dieter: Re: how about sizes? (2008-03-27 11:22) [#4561]

ThorAvaTahr wrote:

I see Dieter using board sizes of 5x5 and 7x7 for the stone counting teaching method. Dieter, how do you implement this, do you have special sized gobans for this or do you hide a part of the 9x9 board. The latter implementation might give introducees the impression that they are not playing the "real" game after all.

Yes, I hide part of the 9x9. It's unfortunate more from a practical standpoint than a philosophical one. Let them play the real game from the start and you'll have them frustrated, for sure. Believe me, no one ever complained about the small board, on the contrary: the goal was clear (living stones) and the end was near (small boards). The focused faces made a real difference with the puzzled gazes I've witnessed with the classical method or larger board sizes.

Also, how do these games end. It seems to me that one of the players will destroy all the stones of the oponent, or do living groups evolve on such small boards with beginner players?

Mostly, one destroys all stones of the other on 5x5. It doesn't harm: they rematch immediately. As soon as they understand how to keep the first stone advantage, I move to 7x7.

What if living groups do arise, will beginners fill up their own eyes in the end or won't they do that, and how do you facilitate these events as a learning experience?

That is proabably the biggest weakness of the method. Beginners do not see the danger coming of filling eyes. So they need a few failures before they understand this. Too many failures and they're frustrated, so he're I'll jump in and explain the two eyes concept. Still, I want to have them discover it at least partly.

I am giving an introduction course in the near future, and I would like to adapt the stone counting method. However, I would like to feel comfortable with it, before I start.

What is the topic of the first continuation lesson, so what do you teach the first thing after the stone counting game. It seems that using the stone counting game, the pupils get naturally introduced to life and death, do you still go into this matter in the next lesson?

Yes. For newcomers who just want to taste the game, I let them play as much as possible, with no teaching, just intervening for questions about suicide, life, ko and possibly seki. If they get the taste of it, I give a few easy L&D exercises such as vital points of three in a row. Really basic stuff. Remember they haven't gotten to the point where the eyeshape abstracts the group and outside liberties don't matter. For beginners, all liberties are the same.

If you're teaching a preconditioned audience, you can be more ambitious, though I think they should play, play, play. I'd rather move in some cultural stuff (Chinese origins, Edo Go, Korean dominance, where do computers stand ...) than any of sente, thickness, aji, miai ...

I hope you can give me some answers to my questions, especially Dieter seems to have some experience with this matter.

ThorAvaTahr: How about sacrifices? (2008-03-27 10:32) [#4559]

How does the stone counting method affect the "love for stones". If the objective of the game is to put as many stones on the board as possible, does this contribute to the development of a "love for stones" and a consequent unreadiness for sacrifices.

How can this way of thinking be suppressed in introducees before it develops?

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HermanHiddema: Re: How about sacrifices? (2008-03-27 10:51) [#4560]

I don't think you should suppress it, I think that would be counterproductive.

Go is a game that relies very heavily on pattern recognition. Some of the easiest patterns for beginners to learn are: "Capture stones when you can" and "Protect from atari". These are good patterns, learning them will increase a beginners level of play drastically. After they have learned these patterns, they need to refine them, learning not to always capture, or always defend. A few of the earliest patterns beginners learn are concerned with this refinement. For example, ladders, stones on the second line and oiotoshi are situations in which beginners will learn early not to defend stones in atari. Later, players will get progressively better at recognizing when stones are important and when they are not.

I don't think there is any way you can skip the first step in this process. Starting from scratch and immediately going to "only capture and defend stones that are important" is pretty much impossible, as the saying goes: "You have to walk before you can run".

Dieter: Re: How about sacrifices? (2008-03-27 11:40) [#4562]

I take care of this during the explanation of the rule of capture.

Typical explanation

"Black puts a stone down here (), and White there (). Then Black plays in another part and White too."

"The White stone has four adjacent empty spots. We call these liberties.

"Black plays ". How many liberties does have now? (answer) And how many has ? (answer by novice - this question already subtly hints that attachment is a suspect move)

"Now White answers " - How many liberties does have now?

"Now for some reason, Black plays elsewhere. White continues at . How many liberties does have now?"

"Black still doesn't answer and takes away the last liberty of . is now removed from the board. This is the way stones are taken off the board. White now has more living stones on the board, but in return Black has played in places where there may be more scope for putting new living stones.

(Then I continue showing how Black can defend his stone and how chains share liberties).

You can see how, during the explanation there are subtle hints to strategy (play in the corners first), technique (attachment removes own liberty), efficiency (capturing takes time), territory (other places are promising), without mentioning any of these concepts, or trying to teach anything about it. This is the way I will continue during the course, keeping things very simple but always lifting the surface just a little bit.

Really Go explains itself, don't you think?

Bill: Re: How about sacrifices? (2008-03-27 16:15) [#4563]

Really Go explains itself, don't you think?

Would it were so! <sigh>