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"How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" [#459]

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reply "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-27 10:02) [#1634]

Hi all! I'm very new to Go; I'm just barely at the level where the tips in the Basic Instinct article seem intuitive to me. I'm interested in things like life-or-death problems, but even when I find out my solution is wrong I'm often unable to divine why. Worse, when I'm going through the explanation of the solution, the authors will toss out tidbits like "White plays 'here', forcing black to play 'there'," and I'll have no idea why white's move forced black's move. I've tried playing out alternate continuations for black, but because I'm not a skilled enough player I can't make white punish what I assume are black's errors, so I end up learning very little. Do any of you have this problem? What do you do in those situations? Can anyone suggest a website or other instructive literature that presents life-or-death problems with the kind of blindingly obvious commentary I need to understand the solutions? :)


X Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-27 16:00) [#1635]

Bob McGuigan: Have you looked at _Go Problems for Beginners_ volume 1? It might have the sort of detail you want. Another idea is to find someone to teach you. There are many people who will teach on-line at one of the go servers. Go to the KGS beginners' room and ask for a teacher and you can probably get someone to help you for free. Understanding comments about moves being forced can require a lot of experience and knowledge so you probably just need something more elementary or a one-on-one teacher to explain it.

Bill: Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-27 18:10) [#1636]

Hi, Brian! Welcome to the great game of go. :-)

Bob has given some good advice. In time what is mysterious to you will be familiar, and you will have new mysteries to ponder.

Have you tried the beginner problems here on SL? How about Beginner Exercises Consolidated? and other Beginner Exercises? If they and other introductory and beginner pages don't meet your needs, please let us know. We want to have good material at all levels here.


Bill Spight Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-28 03:58) [#1637]

Thanks for pointing me to these! The commentary is exceptionally thorough, and generally very helpful. There are exceptions, though, where the commentary actually serves to obfuscate what is supposed to be the correct solution. An extreme example is BeginnerExercisesConsolidated? problem 15, where the problem is "white to play and live" -- and the commentary fails to arrive at any answer that has white doing any better than seki, which I'm not sure counts as living. Certainly no solution is presented as the definitive answer, which makes me wonder if this is really a beginner problem :) There are others where debates follow the explanation, raising relevant points that dispute the "correct" answer. Wikis are great, and debates are even better, but these are beginners' problems!

All that said, though: this is an incredible resource. I'll be mulling over these problems for a while. Thanks so much!


Bill: Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-28 04:21) [#1638]

Thanks for your comments, Brian. Yes, wiki can be messy.

BTW, seki is life. And the first answer is correct for problem 15.

Almost always the solution page gives the correct answer, and has been checked. But this is a wiki, and there can be later discussion. Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-28 13:12) [#1640]

Hello Brian,

I remember having the same struggle when I was first getting started, and sometimes even now still.

I would like to reccomend the book Tesuji by James Davies. While the problems may still be above you yet, I think the lesson in the 1st Chapter alone will be worth the price of the book. He goes into great detail exploring the various incorrect variations and understanding why they are incorrect before finally ending with the correct solution.

Learning to read out a problem like this could be perhaps one's best asset in the game of Go, and yet not at all intutive for a beginner. You shouldn't guess at the best move for a solution, but you should read out the variations, searching for the best moves for each side, until the solution is found. That way, if your opponent doesn't respond with what you've already discovered to be his best response, then you will also know how to punish his mistakes.

There is a thread on GoDiscussion.com where we've been discussing/solving Go problems, and some of the posts go into great detail exploring all the variations. [ext] http://www.godiscussions.com/forum/showthread.php?t=234

Bill: Re: "How's it going?" "Bad!" "Why bad?" (2006-05-31 19:38) [#1666]

Dear Brian,

I have found a nice [ext] Japanese web site that has a thorough presentation of basic life and death, by Mr. K. Reading Japanese helps, of course, but he uses the Good Shape applet to show a large number of variations for each basic position, so what is happening and why is pretty clear. (Best play is usually last, as far as I can tell.) To go through the variations, click the ( > ) button to the top right of the board. Usually the first board just presents the position, and then he will put four copies of the position on the next board and show four variations, and then he will have another board, etc.

To understand it all you need to know some basic dead shapes, such as

White is dead  

something about seki,


and know about Bent four in the corner, which has a few variants. For instance,

Black is dead by bent four  

BTW, I would skip the first group of links, since it is mostly verbal explanation.

Best wishes,


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