As a defensive player, I feel out of my comfort zone

Maybe it’s because I’m only a 23k player, but I feel like this game caters towards an aggressive play style. I guess the saying " a good offense is the best defense" really rings true with GO, still, I’d prefer to be more peaceful. Call me a hippie I guess

Mind you, I am not that much higher rank than you, somebody more versed in go may think otherwise. However I wouldn’t say, that being aggresive is advantegous. It is all about balance. Not too little, not too much so to say.

Of course, if you want to win, you have to gain more territory than your opponent, so some aggresivity is implied. The way you do it is up to you. If you chose to create a big moyo in the beginning then you can play the rest of the game defensively. However, in the moment your opponent realizes you seem to have more than him, he/her has no choice (provided he/she wants to win) than to attack. It is just a logical part of the game. If I am losing I have to attack…
But those who only attack can often end up with nothing.

Being out of your comfort zone is a good thing :slight_smile: Try something new and become someone new.

Adam3141 raises a good point. There are professional players who are ‘territorial’, but not just ‘defensive’. After all, Go is war for territory, just like all wars, you can’t expect to win by simply defending. Even legendary territorial players like Lee Changho will have to attack every now and then. The successful defenders of a castle siege must then strike back when their foe is weak.

If you simply defend, you’re letting your opponent take control of the game. Whatever he wants, he gets. For the brave defender, eventually the bastion will collapse, and the enemy will rearm their forces for another siege. Unfortunately, a war doesn’t work that way. Your opponent can only get what he can successfully contest for. It’s an innate part of humans to contest over possessions and territory. The attitude should not be: “You want it? Oh, okay, you can have it, leave me alone.” Rather: " You want it? Prove to me you got what it takes to take it from me." or “You want this? Cool, I’ll go surround somewhere bigger.”

That being said, it’s not wise to be over-aggressive. Go is all about that balance. A balance between territory and influence, and importantly: balance between attack and defense. If your opponent always attacks, and throws stones in whatever gap they can find, then they’ll find themselves with many weak groups to tend to. It is then up to you to punish him for his aggression. The one who disturbs the balance should expect to pay. But it is up to the other player to punish him. Simply defending puts no pressure, and lets them away with things they shouldn’t be let away with.

If you prefer to be peaceful, then you might be implying that you are territorial – just want to surround your own points on the board. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure you make at least half point more than your opponent that way. However, it doesn’t mean bowing to your opponent’s demands. Think of those medieval times, you’re not going to hand your lover to some filthy 3rd-class bastard eh? Instead, they shout ‘on guard’ in a posh accent and draw out their rapiers under the silver moonlight for an extravagant duel to the death. Same thing, almost.

Maybe because you’re still newish to the game. I believe the blood lust really gets to you once you realise you can kill things, and oh the sweet joy from 20k to 15k doing that. Until at 14k you realise you must keep that killing spree under control and spend 13k - 9k trying to regain that peaceful mind again. Anything above 8k is just concealed aggression. The deadly toxin from a seemingly harmless fancy mushroom. Same thing… almost. :wink:

1 Like

I came here from chess. And I feel the same way. In chess I could sit in my solid castle waiting for opponent’s mistake and ready to launch a counterattack. Here you just can’t wait, you need to expand your domain and this why I think the nature of go is more aggressive.

1 Like

@S_Alexander Since when has humanity’s wars over territory not been a bloody one? :wink:

Speaking of chess, I could never get it. I remembered the last game played before I quit I captured one of my own knight in front of my opponent. He looked at me, and I looked at him. For a moment all that occurred to me was: you did not see that one coming did ya? I’ll save the embarrassing part.


Exactly the same here. In chess I rarely make the first move. I just sit back, probe, and wait for my opponent to give me an opening

I think both games are somewhat realistic. GO is probably more realistic, chess just plays better to my nature.

I wonder if someone in the future will make a game that combines the strengths of both games. Maybe allow all stones to move by one space? Or maybe add square stones that can move diagonally. Call it Goess.

Funny, I always hear the opposite.

You might be interested in this review of a peaceful game.

Nick Sibicky - Takemiya Masaki vs Cho U

This is a perfectly valid play style in Go, too. If I remember correctly, that’s more or less how Nick Sibicky describes Iyama Yuta’s play style.

Nick Sibicky - Iyama Yuta

I would also add that part of the reason I like go is that you can view a game in so many different lights.

The emphasis on attacking is only one way of looking at it. I enjoy go more when I view it as trying paint a perfectly balanced picture with a friend. The whole game encourages balance in that if black tries to claim too much it will crumble but ideal play should be nearly balanced with just a slight edge to one player or the other.

Since in reality at my level there a major misteps sometimes black or white takes over the whole board but that tends to not be an enjoyable game(sometimes killing a big group can be fun I will admit). The most enjoyable games are those where it ends up being a very small point difference between the players.

Try thinking about the game as doing your best to create that perfectly balanced game. The better the moves you play(some of which could be termed attacks) the better the moves your opponent must play to maintain the balance.

I find this improves my play and enjoyment but to each his own interpretation of the game we play.


I agree with qianyilong, there are different sides to the game.

Of course it is competitive like Chess or even Golf. But GO is not just about attacking. It is about building, the relationships of stones together. I played with a social worker who was interested but did not care for the fighting. When I explained the stones are in relationships with each other, it is good to have friends nearby, not to be isolated etc… She got it. GO unlike Chess has sharing. Someone approaches you take some I take the other. If u want this ok, Ill take this, as long as I get a bit more for it, sente, territory, etc…

Too aggressive is often a mistake of beginners. : ) Have fun and give it time, you will probably get new insights as you continue playing.