Advantage of a Joseki?

What is the advantage of playing a Joseki when your opponent knows the same one and plays along?


I don’t think there’s supposed to be an advantage.

You can see that as an advantage over a position where you come off worse if you want, but roughly even is supposed to be the best result without mistakes.


Advantage comes from not making huge mistakes, which might cost you huge cornerterritories and enormous influences. Also its big advantage if you can choose what joseki you’re going to play, so you can decide what are you going to get out of it.


If I use this as an example: Play Go at! | OGS

And I start with F and my opponent doesn’t play on one of the letters, how do I know where to play my next move?

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Joseki is the studied sequences of moves for which the result is considered balanced for both black and white sides.

Often somewhere in the joseki a player plays a variation and then you are on your own again.


I had the same issue, something that helped me was a thing @tonybe said, that joseki helps you understand how it looks when a certain part of the board is “settled” (I’m probably misquoting).

Think of a joseki as a position where, once it’s settled, it’s better to move to other parts of the board until later. The more advanced a player is, the earlier in the joseki sequence they can play away.

P. S. I may be completely wrong.


I know some will disagree, but for your level my advice would be: forget about joseki entirely for now.

I’m at roughly 6k and I know about 10-15 joseki variations in total, 90% of which are around 3-3 invasions.


Oh you mean on 9x9 board? Normal josekis dont really apply to small board, since josekis generally are trades between different things like “territory vs influence” and “getting sente vs not having weaknesses to worry about later”, but, on small boards the influence is not worth the same as its on large boards, and so on.

If you are interested on 9x9 consepts, that booklet written by same guy who made that demoboard, might help you with your opening moves. 81 Little Lions: An Introduction to the 9x9 Board for Advanced Beginners, by Immanuel deVillers — Revised Edition (2019)


@_KoBa, funny that you note this. I am actually reading that book and that same guy refers to the link with the Joseki’s for 9x9.


This doesn’t really answer my question. I am still wondering :thinking:

I am willing to forget about Joseki’s for now, but I want to understand how useful it is to study them.

There is this proverb: “Learning joseki loses two stones strength, studying joseki gains four stones strength.”
I’d say that you’re making the right decision for now, joseki isnt that important unless you’re playing on 19x19 boards against players who know how to take advantage of you not knowing the josekis ^^

Instead study about shape! Shape is far more important than joseki knowledge, and “just playing good shape” works well as an easy escape from overly-complicated joseki variations.

For studying shape, i recommend reading “shape up” and watching dsaun’s shape lecture Dsaun Shape Lecture 10 18 14 - YouTube
I’m sure those will help lot more than studying joseki ^^


Thanks for your advice.

You wrote: “Joseki isnt that important unless you’re playing on 19x19 boards against players who know how to take advantage of you not knowing the josekis ^^” which brings me back to my previous question.

When I play a Joseki and my opponent plays a position which is not in the Joseki, how do I know where to play my next move? Again for example: Play Go at! | OGS I play on F, the opponent doesn’t play on any letter, how will I continue from there?

Because - since you studied the joseki a lot - you have a deep understanding of it and all the moves therein. If you have just memorised the moves without studying, you simply won’t know where to play next.


By using your reading power your mind your imagination. By figuring the next move by yourself weighting the pros and cons.


At your current level of about 20k, I think it’s too early to study a lot of joseki. But you can use your own games as a starting point to learn some of the simpler joseki. For example, when you feel you are getting bad results in specific corner fights in the early game, you can investigate what went wrong after the game by looking it up in a joseki dictionary.

You may discover that this particular situation from your game is a commonly known situation, where strong players in the past have found ways to handle it well. If many strong players copy that, it can become a standard pattern (=joseki). Later, maybe another strong player finds a good counter to one of the moves in the pattern and then the pattern might change in some situations. This is similar to how science in general progresses.

But ofcourse your opponent can play differently and not follow the pattern you had in mind. It can be that (A) he played a good move that you don’t know yet, or (B) he played a bad move that you could punish. Either way, you are on your own again when this happens.


Basically the answer is: you’ll know what to play when you’ll know what to play :stuck_out_tongue:

You could try to find lectures or books on joseki, preferably from after 2016 (due to modern AI inventions). Often they explain why a joseki is an optimal result for both players.

Note that if an opponent diverts from a joseki, it’s not necessarily bad. In some cases playing the joseki will result in a worse board position overall, and in other cases some non-joseki from the past turned out to be joseki later in history, or the other way around. There’s also a matter of playing style, where it may suit you better not to play certain joseki. And then there is context, of how a joseki interacts with the rest of the board, which decides what joseki is good and what joseki is bad.

It’s a very fluid thing, really.


When you play joseki you play not your own moves, which might not be that good. But the moves much better players came up with, probably over many years. That’s the advantage.


Maybe you want to know what is studying a joseki?

Well, easy. For each move ask yourself why? Why not here or there? Why if this or that? What I am doing, where he is going?

So that needs some fundamental knowledge, some key concepts which in itself you start to get and practice.

If you want to see more, read whatever joseki book like you read some fiction. No really need to understand, just to bathe a bit in the go fantasy.

For me josekis were like shiny diamonds that I could just admire without understanding, later I put hard pain to punish the player who dared to not follow it, even later I stop my joseki saver role, getting a more relax view

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Yep - you nailed it.

@Jesper85 - think of it this way - because following a joseki sequence allows both participants to get something out of the interaction, the other person might complete their half of the sequence because it allows them to keep the smaller portion of that corner, or trade giving you early corner territory in exchange for greater influence they can use in midgame

It also saves you the work of reading out each possible move / re-inventing the wheel every time you play an opening, and the comfort of knowing you’re not going to make a lethal reading blunder, and suddenly lose half of that corner

Lastly, as Gia mentioned above - knowing when a joseki sequence is complete will either let you know your stones are settled, and that you can be fairly confident of retaining your portion of that corner - OR - you can know when it’s almost settled, and play an extra sente move somewhere else - which is very valuable in the opening

This 19x19 FOR BEGINNERS article will hopefully dispel some of the mysteries around joseki

good luck

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Disclaimer 1: Maybe this should be its own thread, but maybe it doesn’t need to.
Disclaimer 2: My rank is laughable, so maybe the following is wrong.

In my mind, Go is more about patterns and shapes and less about sequences, so I don’t know if it’s more beneficial/ recommended to study joseki as a sequence of moves, rather than “snapshots” of the board.
Maybe starting at the end position and working backwards, seeing how each move “narrows down” the board, the tenukis, the big moves etc would help you understand how they work more intuitively?