# A question about initiative and the boarder wall on the Go board

Hello all,

I am a relatively new player trying to show my friend how to play the game and while going through the rules and playing a few 9x9 games these three topics still did not sit well with them:

1. The first is on the concept of capturing stones. I took a screenshot from sensei’s library to help illustrate the idea. They want to know why playing (1) doesn’t count for black. I tried to talk about it in terms of initiative with capturing stones. And that since white was the one attacking they get the benefit. They want to know why this is the case. If anyone can provide a better, different, or more fundamental explanation I would really appreciate it!

2. Another topic my friend was wondering about is why this boarder example (or similar) is true. I tried to talk about how it is more about the fact that the stones have lost all their liberties. Another explanation would be helpful. I tried talking about how the boarder is like the edge of the world falling off and it counts for both sides.

3. The third topic covered was about eye-space. They were unconvinced that if you have eight white stones in a “circle” creating a single eye and then 16 black stones surrounding those. “Why is it not whites territory?” Or if you have 13 white stones that make two eyes completely surrounded by black stones, why is ~this~ whites territory but the other not?
I tried to mention how you can not place two stones in a single turn but I think it comes back to issue one about why playing inside someone else’s claimed territory doesn’t count just because the other side had the ‘initiative’ so to speak to attack first.

Any clarity on these issues would be much appreciated!!

WIth #1 I can’t understand what the actual question is. What do they mean by why playing (1) doesn’t count for Black? What does count mean here?

With #2 you just have to explain there are no liberties on the edge, or try to compare it to a wall made out the opponent’s stones.

With #3 there is a small logical equation:

1. You have to completely surround a group to capture it
2. You cannot play at a point with no liberties (or, in some rulesets, the stone is immediately captured.)
3. Therefore a group with two eyes cannot ever be surrounded, and so can’t be captured.

Thanks for the reply! I will try to relay these ideas to my friend.

For number 3, my friend would argue that a large group of white stones with a big gap in the middle, that then gets surrounded by black stones is surrounded and thus should be blacks territory. Should I talk more about what completely surrounded means; that it needs to be not just the outer surrounding wall, but the inner liberties need to be cut off as well. They would wonder why the inner ones have to be cut off I will imagine.

As for question number 1, I apologize if I was unclear. My friend is confused as to why when white plays at (1) it isn’t considered suicide for white, and why black would not immediately capture the placed stone. Why does white get to capture the two black stones? Black seemingly has just as much of a right to capturing the recently placed stone.

Is that a better phrasing? Thank you in advance!!

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Yeah, I think you have to explain about all liberties needing to be filled.

Also, it’s important to remember that the validity of a stone to remain on the board is checked after any captures are carried out.

he means both W and B has no liberties. Why is W killing B and not vice versa.

1 and 2 had no “explanation” per se. It’s just the rule. You can invent another game that B kills W and survives on the boarder. It is just not Go as we know it.

3 on the other hand had an explanation. It all depends on if B can kill W inside, as per rule 1.

It’s because it’s White’s turn. On your turn you play your move, remove any stones you capture with the move you made and then it becomes your opponent’s turn.
You cannot capture things if it’s not your turn. Therefore black cannot capture the white stone in the example because it’s not Black’s turn. And it doesn’t become Black’s turn until the two black stones are removed. At that point the white stone has a liberty so is not dead.

Of course, in this position Black’s next move could be to capture the white stone by filling it’s last liberty and removing it. That would all be part of Black’s turn

It sometimes helps my students to think about liberties as “breaths” or breathing space. (I think this is the Chinese term/way of thinking about it)
For a stone or group to live it must breathe. When it’s last breath is taken (liberty filled) it can no longer breathe and is dead.
Being out in the middle of the board you have lots of space and 4 breaths. In the side you are a bit constrained with only 3 breaths and in the corner it’s a struggle to breathe already with only 2 breaths.

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If issue 1 is solved, this should be solved as well.

I usually solve this problem by capturing dead groups at the end of a game.
Territory = Empty points only 1 player can reach.
You obviously need to play with Area scoring to make this work.

The advantage is, you don’t have to declare the live/dead state of every group. It’s not clear to beginners why a given eyespace makes a group alive.

If by “the recently placed stone” you and your friend mean white (1), then yes, black can recapture one stone immediately after white captures the two black stones. I think that might have been the sticking point behind question #1.

Yes, I think this image can be helpful. Then the border of the board can be considered a wall instead of a cliff.

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