Are trick moves wrong?


Sometimes I try to trick a player into doing an inefficient or faulty move.
There are people who find that a bad attitude. I know that the word trick has a negative connotation, but the adjective trick is defined as "a cunning act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone.
Is intending to deceive or outwit your opponent not a legitimate tool in playing go?
In my book creating board situation in which you can play a tesuji are legitimate.
And a tesuji could be defined (at least that is what I think) as a trick play.
Just my opinion.
Maybe you agree or disagree. Curious to hear what your opinion is.

Okay, but first POLL TIME :smiley:

Tricking your opponent is

  • a wrong attitude in go.
  • just one of tools in your go toolkit that you can use to outwit your opponent.
  • an issue I have no opinion about.

0 voters


My only issue would be in a teaching game, other than that, :woman_shrugging:t2:.

EDIT to add: IMHO it’s inherent to the human nature of the game (yes, there is a perfect game out there and at some point Go will be “solved” etcetcetc" but the same way we are not doing 100m sprint against Ferrrari’s, nominally humans are playing against each other in a game of Go).
So, if I know that my opponent tends to go for capturing stones, and I kinda “bait” them to capture and miss something else, it’s maybe a “trick”, but it’s also a tool. They can overcome their attitude and outwit me, or they can succumb to their “safe plays” and watch me take the corner.


Tesuji is a skillful move that actually works.

Trick play is a move that hopes for opponent’s mistake and doesn’t work with the correct opponent’s response.

Hoping for opponent’s mistakes instead of playing honest strong moves is considered bad for learning. As Ben Finegold often says tricks are for kids.


I picked “a wrong attitude” but to be fair, it depends on how you approach the game. If you want to be a casual player who doesn’t have big aspirations regarding strength, playing trick moves could be fun and fine. From time to time, even players who want to get better might use trick moves, especially if they are losing and don’t see any other way out.

My definition of a trick move is a move I can refute and know that’ll give me a bad result if opponent plays it right and it feels like playing such moves in most situations leads to the opponent playing the game, not me.


I think it’s fine to try, and even strategic under the right circumstances. For instance, if you’re going to lose otherwise, but a trick move would save you, then absolutely go for it. I see this a lot in blitz chess, where it’s often “correct” to throw a hail mary checkmate threat when you’re positionally and materially lost, but perhaps up on time, and hoping for a mistake by your opponent. The goal is to play to win, not to play to lose more slowly, and if you’ve got no other real chances you may as well go for a trick.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong, from a competitive point of view, of playing trick moves in such a situation or otherwise, but I don’t think they’re a good way to progress. Any time you’re playing a trick move, you’re playing a move you know is ultimately bad, and hoping that your opponent will respond incorrectly. For improving at the game, identifying that it’s a bad move and then playing a good move instead is a better approach.


Ok when I first read the title I thought this was the kinda tricking like “I promise I will play x” but then the person actually plays y.

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I would never condemn trick moves as unethical, but i would observe that depending on your opponent’s mistakes is a generally unsound idea. Speaking for myself, I would never use a trick move because it does not comport with my own ideals. I aim to play the best moves I know how, and I really hate losing or winning a game based on blunders.

Coincidentally, I have just finished Hannak’s biography of Emanual Lasker, who introduced “psychological chess”—playing to the player rather than the board. He often complicated a position if someone liked playing simple positions, and he reintroduced the Exchange Variation (thought to be moribund at the time) when playing someone who liked complexity. Most of his contemporaries didn’t understand what he was doing. One person famously said that Lasker was lucky to win so often with so many bad moves. This isn’t quite the same as “trick” moves, of course, because it is more of a strategic choice than a tactical one, and he was a pro earning a living. Still, it is not something I would care to do, even if I had the sharp psychological insight of a Lasker.


Always appreciate your posts. They are erudite and have a mild tone.

When you mentioned Lasker, I thought of Max Euwe and later of Adriaan de Groot. De Groot was a psychologist who wrote the Dutch standard work on psychosocial research methodology.
He wrote his thesis in 1946 about the way chess players think. Translated into english in 1966 (?), and in 1996 he published Perception and memory in chess: Heuristics of the professional eye.

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The two options in the poll are complementary.
Trick if you want but the only progress you’ll get will be (by chance) your rating, not your strength.
Most enjoyable tricks were the ones I discovered they were tricks after having played them (in the review).
Although as a kind of overplay, better to forget them quickly too


Nice topic.

A few weeks ago I looked into trick plays and was wondering how good the tricks - if your opponent falls in the trap - actually are?

So I took the 2-2 invasion ( ) mostly because it was an easy to remember sequence. I made an SGF file and let katago chew on it for a while to find out if it’s worth to learn it.

The outcome was, that kata wasn’t impressed. I don’t have the numbers anymore, but it was like a two point difference.

Has anyone ever did an analysis of these old school tricks with the AI tools we have these days?


In many cases trick plays are just tricky variations of a joseki, where the optimal result is considered favourable for one side (usually the side that “refuted” the trick play). Nonetheless these variations can be quite effective depending on the whole board position, and should not be neglected just because they are labeled as a trick play.


Just some quotes that I think do characterise more or less the over all sentiment.

I see a trick move (probably a bad term, because of negative emotional load) as described above, but also as something more: a move that invites your opponent to make a mistake. Creating a situation that is complicated and/or multi interpretable and liable to take a wrong turn, but also provoking your opponent to show where their priority lies.
In my view (IMHO) tesuji, snapbacks, overplays, probes, pincers, etc. can and often will be trick plays. Every stone you place on the board has some aji and can be used in a (in)direct way in your game.

PS: Go is also a psychological game, but that is another topic.

I think you miss the point that a trick move is a wrong play technically, it has a refutation which give a bad result if founded.
So that doesn’t really apply to the list you provide (pincers, probes…)

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If we take things to the extreme, then almost all moves are “technically wrong”. Nobody knows how to play perfectly. All non-perfect moves can be “refuted” somehow.

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Personally I’m of the opinion that trick moves are OK, and hamete in the opening can teach you some tesujis in its use/refutation, and can be valuable if you’re trying to punch above your weight in tournament, but reliance on such things for games where you’re trying to learn is something I would not recommend, as the review of a game where you get your trick refuted will be quite simple, as you already knew of the refutations.

However, towards the end of the game when you are nearly lost, as long as the trick isn’t insulting to your opponent (too easy to read out) or too small even to come close, then trick away – if you’re lucky you’ll win.

The key is moves that the player playing it knows comes out to a bad result, and (with possible exception of hamete) knows the refutation, but is playing it to see if the opponent does not. That is what a trick play is.


trickplay opening is effective against kyu player

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I think trick plays are simply a part of the game. It’s somewhat hard to precisely draw the line on what is exactly a trick play.

Here is another relevant thread:


Do you often talk when playing a game?

I think you may be searching for a term other than “trick play”. Tesuji, snapbacks and the like aren’t really trick plays, they’re just good technical plays that show and rely on accurate reading. Pincers, similarly, aren’t really trick plays: they often start fights, but getting into fights isn’t “wrong”, it’s a way of playing the game that suits the strengths of certain players.

A trick play is a play where you know the refutation, and either lose points or lose the game if your opponent figures it out. When you successfully make a trick play, you’re getting away with something you objectively shouldn’t do. They’re the “right” move if you have no other chance to win the game, but they remain objectively bad moves that you shouldn’t make unless you’ve got no other recourse.

I would compare intentional overplay with gambit play in chess, more than trick plays. You aren’t usually looking at a specific refutation: you’re challenging your opponent to take some advantage that will lead to lots of fighting. You’re intentionally giving your opponent a short term advantage, but you’re doing so in order to steer the style of the game strongly in your preferred direction, rather than because there’s some specific line you want to play if your opponent messes up.


As other people already said the word “trick” in Go contains the idea of playing a move that might be very bad for you, if the opponent knows or finds the refutation while playing.

As far as I am concerned playing premade tricks is a bad attitude for Go, but if you happen to find a trick move for that particular game on your own then that does lead to growth and it is good to try and take the risk and see what your opponent will do with your move. In that case, even if he does find the solution and you lose points, you gained experience and you probably had fun trying to find and execute the move, as well, which is always a plus imho.

So, really I cannot pick any of the three choices.