A Tip For Kyus? (A thing I do that apparently not many others do?)

After trying to describe how I think about moves and where to play, I realized that no one else seems to take the approach I do. So hopefully this helps you in some way, but who knows.

These are the two “axioms” I play with that guide most of my local play:

  1. 99% of the moves I consider/read are one of the following four: Extension/Iron Pillar, Diagonal, One Space Jump, Knights Move

  2. Choose a result that ends with a nice shape for me: Tiger’s mouth, filled triangle, table shape, mouth shape, etc.

That’s it really… “How can I make a nice shape”?

Here’s some examples from the Honte book Tokumoto and I were working on that might help. Basically, if you need to overthink it or if you can’t see the answer “right away”, then studying shapes and honte might help you:


And some whole-board problems:


The point of all this is that I personally don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what should be an instinct move. I would rather spend my time reading some annoying fight and get tired from that, than to be tired before that fight even begins.

I’ll also prefer moves like the clamp where either result is good for me and my opponent can spend the time to read it out and put in the effort to count and read. I’ll just play whatever they choose, knowing the result is good for me, and at best mediocre for the opponent.

There’s a lot more, like “when not to defend”, “finding shapes during a fight”, “identifying followups” etc, but, it seems like everyone can at least benefit in some way from being able to simplify their game.


Wasn’t it dwyrin who said studying shape alone can get you to 1 dan?


The one space jump was the very first shape move I learned as beginner. Was awesome and really useful.

Sadly, there are always exception in go. The shape move is not always the move to play. As you climb the ranks this reduction can become more a problem.


Possibly, I heard from people that went to Korea and China to study that the elementary school age kids that learn go just play shapes and end up mid to high sdk from that. There’s a lot more to shapes and common moves than it seems.

Sure, but by the time you hit dan you have to have good instincts on shape and vital points. Your time and effort is shifted to judging sequences and counting, rather than reading out generic local stuff.

That’s kinda why it’s a “tip for kyus” rather than a tip for dans. A lot of the kyus I talked to recently were overcomplicating things and assumed dans had some sorta “40 move sequence” planned out when that ain’t really the case.


Man this is such a “mood” :rofl:

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Answer 6-11: letter “a” is missing from the board. :grin:

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For problem 6-10 I did see the weakness but I thought about that move:

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By leaving weaknesses in your own shapes, along with creating more with that knight’s move, you give your opponent a lot more options, and it gives you more chances to make a mistake.

White isn’t going to gain any points if you connect solidly, and white has run out, giving you a lot of free moves and influence. Otherwise, if you leave weaknesses around and start creating more, you make it easier for your opponent.

The thing about honte is that it massively simplifies the game for you, but doesn’t make it any easier for your opponent. Pros deal with their weak groups and aji very early on, and Hane Naoki recommends this. “Let’s not get into trouble, we should deal with aji early on”.


Some tips for kyus:

Seconding @Kaworu_Nagisa’s comment: IIRC playing more solidly was an important factor for me to to progress to dan level. I got this advice from a 3d player who played a lot of teaching games with me for a while. He pointed out that my attacks on his weak groups (in handicap games) often failed because my shapes allowed him to cut through like a hot knife cuts through butter. So “Make solid shapes, not butter shapes”.

Pick fights over something that is actually worth fighting for. In kyu games up to mid SDK I often see fights where a fight starts for unclear reasons, but once the fight started it’s hard to back down and it becomes sort of a bar fight where there’s no telling what will happen, so you lose control of the game.

Focus more on endgame moves near the edge of the board. Kyu players up to mid SDK often give away sente too cheaply, playing smallish (but good-looking) ~5 points endgame moves in the center, while the value of endgame moves on the 2nd line is often worth more like ~10 points.

Avoid aji-keshi / thank-you moves. I often see kyu players up to mid SDK make exchanges that help the opponent fix bad aji (pushing into a knight’s move, unneccessary ataris, peeping where you can cut). Maybe it feels good to make those exchanges (forcing your opponent to respond gives you a feeling of dominance), but often it’s better to not make any exchange and keep alternative options for later.