How To Become 1-Dan #2

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This series “How to Become 1-Dan” focuses on habits, mistakes, knowledge, strategy and much more, which in my opinion would help every Go player to reach their desired level.

Furthermore, these articles might also help players who have already reached the level of 1-dan. I noticed that kyu players make many similar strategical mistakes or have a lack of knowledge in certain area. I decided to combine ideas that I find important and to build these series. I hope that by following this series, you will have an easier time reaching the 1-dan level. The topics are numerous and the examples are taken from games of kyu to dan levels.

After spending time thinking about what could help a player to become 1d, I decided that there will be two topics for today.

The first topic is “What is the biggest move on the board?”

The second topic is “Correct timing of moves

For the second topic, I am excited to show you a move which I learned not long time ago from Catalin Taranu 5p. Let’s begin !

This article was grammar edited by: Kevin Remy

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This is a teaching game (4 handicaps) and I played the marked move. Black had to make a positional judgement and should not respond to my move. White has about 6 points on the top (A), 10 points around (B) and about 16 points on the bottom at (C) – for 32 points in total. Black on the other side has about 22 points on the lower left corner (D), about 7 points around (E) and roughly close to 10 points around (F) – 39 points in total. You may notice that I do not count any potential points, I counted only settled points. I excluded black and white’s group in the center, because to my counting, they are pretty similar. My counting is definitely not completely accurate and I believe a professional player would have a much better positional judgement than me, however, the point I am trying to make is that black is indeed ahead. The points marked with 1 up to 4, are the possible points which black can make in that very little area and they are not really important.

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Black extended in the game and I got to play a bigger move somewhere else, this helped white a lot. He was worried too much about the stones at A-B-C and he played a move which is not worth that much.

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I suggested to Black to play this move instead (LZ surprisingly agrees). This way black can enlarge and make more points.

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White will most likely connect at 1 and then black gets to hane at 2. Surprising to me here is that the move which you would see the most – A, is not the most optimal move according to AI. Leela Zero thinks that extension at B is slightly better. I guess it just wants to simplify since black is ahead.

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But we will of course take a look on that what might happen immediately in your next game. Here we are with the lesson about the importance of timing of moves! What you should play first? A or B?

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Be careful not to atari first and then peep, it is not going to work the same, black will not connect at A. Some people hurry too much and they make such blunders. It happens but, it is much better if we avoid it.

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Black will atari at 1 and capture the marked white stones. This would be pretty much game over. If this happens to my student, I would be sure that he was not really focused on the game.

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Once you make the wrong move, you will surely not peep at A. You will come back to defend with the extension. Later, when you peep at A, black will not respond at B but with C.

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The correct way is to peep first. Then if black tries to resist instead of connection at A, we can see there are plenty of ajis with an atari at A now. However, although it seems simple, this enlightening lesson (in a moment) about when to use aji, I learned very late. I believe I was already a dan player. White can atari at A, black connect at B and then white turns at C, however, this might not really work right now. So what do we do? This is what seems simple, but it was really hard for me to grasp – we can just extend at E and we don’t need to use aji now. It is completely fine to extend at E and use the aji later. What’s more, black does not even have a efficient move to defend after that.

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When you just extend calmly, you can see that if black plays A, white will atari at B. If black connects at B, there is still aji in the corner and it will help a lot for invading the right side. There is just no efficient move to solve both problems.

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When black connects, there is still a cut at A and some potential with attaching at C to capture B or reduce right side. Although C might not be such a big deal, the aji in the corner will help later in the game.

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As we saw, black has to connect at 2. White plays atari forcing black to connect his stone at A. The reason to atari is that after black connects at A, white will extend as we saw and black will have to defend his stone outside by capturing white’s last move in this diagram.

This is where AI shocked me! In my experience, I have mostly seen the connection at A and according to human database, there are only 5 professional games out of 45 with this situation, where black does not connect at A. I still do not quite understand it.

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Leela Zero thinks that black has to atari at 1 and after white captures and connects with 4, black defends his shape. That is what is hard for me to understand. How is this shape which strengthens B and has aji with A be better than the other variation where B is not that strong. My interpretation on this is that for white to invade the right side is not really as easy as before. Black is much stronger and the one stone which black gave up, was just not worth it.

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I am also trying to show you all the new things like these AI findings. You can see that this one for example surprised me as well. Showing you just variations that I learned before is not making things “current”. I like it when we refresh old theory with something modern. The diagram shows the ordinary sequence. So let’s take a look at how we get to this and what is the special move is, which Catalin Taranu 5p has shown me !

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After black connects at 1, white extends at 2 and before going back to atari as shown in the diagram, black has to think more creatively ! We are on topic 2 about timing of moves, so what is important here?

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Yes! You should cut before going back. This is very sneaky test and independent of how white responds to this, black is going to gain something. However, you should be careful to not play this in a position where white is not solid on the bottom.

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For example, if white did not have the stones on the bottom, black would have liked to attack the stones of white.

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But if we had some exchange, these stones will already be strengthened. The important thing is to play the cut only when white is solid or does not have the possibility to be attacked later on.

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White has two ways to respond to black’s cut. We do not count tenuki, since there is no bigger move on the board.

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If white responds at 2, black will push in sente. It is sente due to the possibility of extending at A or atari at B, depending on black’s wishes.

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The best move to respond with would be to connect at B, black will capture one stone and we can see that black gained with this A-B exchange. Someone might say that it is not that big of a deal. However, these small things are what matters a lot. You might say that you are ahead by 10 points, but if you lose 1 point each move you play, soon afterwards you will not be ahead.

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If white tries to be active by playing at B. Then black will atari at 1 and go down with 3 and then use 5 to threaten to kill white’s stones. White will indeed defend at 6, but then we can see that the stone at A does not have that much aji anymore. If white tries to play C, there is no more connection at D. We can see that white does not have that much choice, but to play the previous diagram variation which is good for black.

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The strongest possibility to come up in your game is white’s atari at 1 instead of below. Then you can simply atari the stone outside and later if white tries to use the corner stone, we can see that black can play B and threaten to capture some stones of white.

I hope that this second episode of How To Become 1-Dan inspired you, showed you why positional judgement is important and how tiny is the difference between the correct and the bad timing. Share your own experience of how this cut turned out in your games ! Good Luck !

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