Absolute newbie here. I have a lotta troubles with 9×9

I have a lot of trouble playing on 9×9. I honestly don’t know why. Aside from my welp… Skill issues, I can’t seem to play a game on 9×9 that doesn’t either end with me being boxed up and losing due to territory or making risky moves that don’t pay off. 9×9 somehow feels more foreign to me than 19×19 weirdly enough. Am I missing something? Does 9×9 not abide by opening theory of Corner, Side, Center? Am I just playing stupid? Am I doing something wrong that’s making me slow to develop hence why I get boxed up most of the time?

(Also just a quick P.S:

I’m unfamiliar if this should be in teaching or support category so I’ll just take the safe bet. If it doesn’t belong just mention so I can change it)


Play on 19x19 then.

This might be an important insight. There are basically no sides or centre on 9x9.



Not really. 9x9 is basically only corners and then endgame.


Yeah valid point but I’m trying to get used to unfamiliar things and understand why I’m so shit at 9×9, hence why I play it a lot.

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Maybe give us a game link then, more easy to give you a bit of advices.

For the distance from the edge, starting from the first or second line is same as on 19x19, not the best to accumulate space. Now the board is small and all can become tense quickly. A bad move well answered and game over. Basically still you have the same questions to investigate as on a big board. Does it cut? Am I connected? Who will capture first?


The strategic concepts of corners, sides, and center still apply to 9x9, just on a more compact scale. These areas have different strategic values and tendencies though.

In the opening, you really don’t want to follow the 19x19 principle “corners, sides, center.” That principle has no application on the 9x9 board, where the whole board consists of overlapping corners. As a result, the center “diamond” consisting of the 5-5, 4-5, 4-4, and 3-5 points is the optimal location for Black’s first move and is where much of the early action will be seen at higher levels of play.


I hope you don’t mind but I moved it to strategy and tactics. Not that I’m really sure it matters too much

9x9 is very different from 19x19.

Pros have remarked that they consider it harder than 19x19, and I’ve had (and seen other mid-high dans have) the same sentiments.

There was a discussion about this recently too which you might find interesting.

It was difficult for me to play 9x9 when I first started too, and I still find it more difficult and very different from the 19x19

9x9 is a lot more intertwined than 19x19 due to everything being so close together.

Tengen (the centre point) can be a good move for Black on 9x9 even more so than on larger board sizes in terms of exerting influence and an impact on the sides, for example.

Whereas opening on the 3-3 can be too slow for Black, only emphasising and taking the corner, without also affecting the sides and centre as much.

So the efficiency and implications of playing moves which only focus on corners vs. corner+side or side+centre, or corner+side+centre is very different on 9x9.

There are similarities, such as following the opponent and letting the opponent build on a large global scale whilst you are answering in gote, generally being bad, which is the same as in 19x19.

(for example when a player seals in your groups in sente, or forces you to defend in gote whilst building a really big influence which your territory/group doesn’t equal or compensate for, on 19x19)

It’s possible, yes, in 9x9 it’s still necessary to tenuki and see where the biggest global points are, so if you’re getting boxed in, you’re very likely not developing your stones as quickly in the opening, or creating weak groups, or responding too much in gote to protect a small group/live, rather than thinnking of sacrificing portions of the group & playing flexibly ( for example, letting the opponent capture part of the group whilst playing a move which threatens to live by running into an open area, or their territory )

In 9x9 I’ve found that it tends to be bad to get too bogged down locally in one’s groups if they aren’t making enough territory and need to be defended – walls and influence can be worth a lot more to give away in sente to the opponent.

It’s similar in concept to the principle of overconcentration on 19x19, as well as the principles of sente and gote (having or losing the intitiative, and using it well) and efficiency.

(In general, for example, it’s bad to let one get sealed in in sente and have to live small in gote, be it on 19x19, 9x9 or other board sizes – the opponent will profit more in sente, then use the initiative to take big moves globally after you have to defend)

But the strategies may apply differently than on 19x19.

It’s fine to play 19x19, though, and especially if you enjoy or like it more – it’s not surprising to me that it feels more natural to some and that seems a good thing in many ways.

(It does to me also, though I began playing on 19x19 and only began the 9x9 (apart from a few scattered games years ago) very recently after reaching mid-high dan.)

I think they are both just very different games, and the play takes very different forms, even though one can apply some similar principles of shape, efficiency etc.


In your most recent game,

… you opened 3-3, 3-5, 3-3 on the left side playing as Black.

But in 9x9 Go, nine times out of ten, Black will end the game with one group. That one group needs to occupy or surround just over half the 81 points available.

With this in mind, opening solely on the third line is placing your border with White too low, leaving you significantly behind in territory. Instead, try dividing the board more down the middle, then expanding your reach as much as you can afterward.


From the same game

1 is too slow, your opponent takes advantage with 2.

don’t forget the komi, just getting half is not enough for black.

keep a global view.


this delta move has a negative value. instead of making your territory bigger with playing A, you connect stones connected (if black cut here you will capture his stone). Useless moves are a plague in a game at whatever level of play.

this move is over cautious, you offer more space to white as what he should have

Let’s consider that you grow instead bigger like this

what can white do now?

See. nothing to fear, you get your 2 eyes and capture later the invading stones

More about life

Because later you added more stones in your territory i added these two diagrams

The worst case if you never answer and let white do what he wants inside is him making one eye himself.

That is a seki, none can capture the other, no points anymore but still alive.

But that is if you do not add even 1 stone. For example here

all white stones are sure dead.


Thanks for the insight! It does make sense in hindsight why I should prob not get too comfortable with those corner starts.


I have some youtube videos for 9x9 if you’d like. https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5mVjO5OFYSymMy2Mixl7E5vpwFDO_0B4&si=8_SFWZbkvhiRw2Vb

I think the issue is one mistake is a lot heavier on 9x9. On 19x19 you have a lot more moves to make up for mistakes. I also think it is more obvious that something is a mistake on 9x9.

Corner side center is fine. For new players it doesn’t change a ton from play the center. Also it helps develop skills for the 19x19 if you play corner side center.

I think its a totally wrong model to thing of corner-side-center on 9x9. You need to be thinking bigger picture about how you’re going to get over half the board as Black, or almost half the board as White; just taking two corners, an extension/enclosure, and then trying to attack is likely to just let your opponent easily secure over half the board and comfortably win if they’re of similar skill to you. Every initial move is corner, side, and center

What you are saying is true to improve your 9x9 abilities. What I am suggesting is learning a couple habits on the small board that will transfer up to the 19x19 which I assume is the goal.

But they’re bad habits on 9x9. Habits that happen to be right twice a day at best. They’re good habits on 13x13 and 19x19, so I’d highly recommend 13x13 to someone who wanted to practice basic early opening direction of play, but felt 19x19 was overwhelming or just preferred smaller boards, but I don’t see the utility in practicing bad habits just because they’re good habits in another context

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Yes, that can happen. In 9x9 games, each move must be a good one, or else disaster can occur, just as toward the end of a game of Tetris. 19x19 games are more forgiving of mistakes like leaving cuttable links.

Since you are currently rated as 25k, and I am rated as 10k, I think I could give you a big boost in a reasonable amount of time. Contact me in private so we can arrange to play together. I haven’t found an ideal site for doing go teaching, but at least I can chat with you while we are playing.

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I agree, but only when playing against a really expert player, since the provably best first move is black in the center. And you’d better be able to back up such a center strategy by knowing how to move in the beginning and middle game after the first move. As far as I know, the overall play starting with black at center on 9x9 is not taught anywhere (I’ve read 25 books on go).

I’m working on this.