Beginner looking for feedback on 9x9 games

I am not an avid player, but I thought I would get back into it. I know some of the basic stuff and sometimes play with my partner (like in the following games). The biggest struggle I have is visualizing the board and figuring out the moves I should be making. Good example of that would be in the last game, where I just killed my own group with one stone.


Thank you for reaching out for feedback on these games. Visualizing the board and figuring out the best moves can be a challenge for new players. Here are a few tips that may help, based on these game records:

  1. Study others’ game records to get a sense of how they think about the board and make their moves.

  2. Use the analysis and review features to play through the game and explore the possible variations of each move.

  3. Focus on the most important points on the board, such as the corners and edges, where it’s easier to make territory.

  4. Think about the potential of each move. You want moves that can surround a little territory, influence other parts of the board, or both.

  5. Play with stronger players whenever possible. They can give you valuable feedback and help you see the board from different perspectives.

Go is a game of patience. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at visualizing the board and making the right moves.


My advice is: get an app that allows “undo”, choose a fair level of AI strength and play a game going back and forth and exploring possibilities.

On android I used “go free” by “AI factory” and I think it’s perfect for the task: you can choose strength level, you can undo your moves and you can also visualise influence and understand how it changes after a move.

Going back and forth, understanding consequences for moves played, to me is the best help for a beginner.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that there are some “foundational” ways of thinking involved in playing turn based board games which are not natural to everyone - but everyone who plays these games assumes that these things are natural.

  1. Each move you play does need a specific reason, that you can explain to yourself.

“I am playing here because…”.

And not “because my instinct tells me”. That’s not a “reason”.

Rather, you need reasons like “because it seems like it will increase the territory that I have” or “because it’s surrounding the other person”.

The “right move to play” doesn’t materialize in our minds “magically for no reason (*)” but rather it appears “logically, for reasons”.

For example, move 6 in this game that you linked would be an interesting one to explore. “Why did you play here?” is the question.

One beginner answer is “to see what happens next if I play in this random place”.

That is certainly an OK approach, but if you can get more deliberate with your choices you’ll improve much more quickly. There are a lot of random places you can experiment with playing, and most of them are not much good for you.

In order to be deliberate with your choices, you need a basic idea of what you are trying to do. Do you have such an idea for Go?

The basic idea is “surround as much territory as you can, while stopping your opponent doing that”.

In the light of this, you might like to ponder “how does that move 6 contribute to this goal?”

To my eyes, a move like F7 seems to “add more to the territory surrounded by black” than the H8 which you played. H8 is kind of already inside the territory you have started surrounding with your other stones, so it doesn’t add anything.

If you can agree with this, then you could also think about moves that would do even better.

If you don’t see why this is true, then it’s a good question for you to ask - your teacher, partner, or us here in the forum, because it’s at the heart of “what are we trying to do when we play go”.

This is the purpose of “reviewing our games”. Someone more skilled than us asks us “why did we play there” and we explain, and hear from them where would have been better and why.

  1. You need to ask “what will my opponent do next, if I play here”.

Once you’ve started playing stones deliberately for a reason, you need to start considering how your opponent will respond.

This is where visualisation does come in - we call it “reading”. Making a mental picture of the board with your stone on it, and then what might they do. Is that thing good or bad for you - that’s the question.

With these two “ways of thinking” I think you can start learning more quickly.



(*) players with experience often do “magically visualise instinctively” where good moves are. But this is based on tons of experience about what good moves look like, and is not a technique available to beginners :slight_smile:


mark5000 looks like advice by ChatGPT.

More seriously I would advise to

  1. Practice easy life and death problems.
  2. In your games, watch if your opponent tries to disconnect your groups, and if you have to connect them or can afford to defend them separately.
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Judging from those games, the handicap is not big enough against your partner. Maybe try 4 handicap and add/remove a handicap stone according to the game result?


I browsed through the variations your partner added to the games.
Almost all variations are about closing the borders to your territory.
So close your borders of your groups with concrete walls.
And then attack your opponent.
It is so much more fun attacking when your groups are safe.

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That’s key, but…

These reasons aren’t instinctive as well.
Someone could tell them to you. Probably someone did with @shroomgirl (looking at those games, there are many variations that sound like a review by a more experienced player), but you can’t really figure out how that works if you don’t practice a good dose of “trial and error”.

I agree that “why did you play there” or “why would I play here” are very fundamental questions, but they apply only once you’ve learnt the game mechanisms. Very often beginners play inside their territory and just can’t explain why, because they don’t understand yet how the game works.
Also it could be very frustrating for beginners when asked with those questions: they may feel intimidated, confused, judged, defective and so on.

When I meet a complete beginner, my first advice is:

Don’t mind for results, go is a hard game to learn, you’re not supposed to win or gain anything. You’re not judged for your results. Just explore the game. If you want, we can talk about choices and reasons, but the first thing to face is exactly “I don’t know where to play!” and that’s perfectly fine!

I always ALWAYS find that beginners feel under pressure when playing their first games, and that’s a pity! It isn’t fun, it isn’t engaging, quite the opposite: they run away!

I think you have the best intentions, but I feel your message quite intimidating for a beginner. My feelings.

That’s absolutely true and that’s where my advice about apps comes in handy: if you’re free to undo your moves without bothering anyone, you can freely experiment what would happen after each one of those random moves.
As an example: you can have a group of yours killed and rewind and try something else to save it.
For me this training was crucial even before playing my very first game against a human.

LOL! :smiley:

Handicap is useless if you don’t know where to play and why. Hence especially with beginners.
I experienced that with both my daughters: you can have 9 stones on 9x9 and still lose a game because you don’t know how the game flows.


This is definitely true. In some ways it’s the point that I was making.

The logic I was trying to convey:

  1. I need to have reasons to play somewhere
  2. I know nothing about anything!
  3. So I enquire: what do I need to know?
  4. Most basic: surround territory is the #1 reason to play somewhere.
  5. Place stone that seem to surround territory as the reason.

Trying to work out the “reasons for playing somewhere” by playing randomly and seeing what works is a long road. It’s what AI does … and AI takes hundreds of thousands of games to learn what works.

A quicker way to learn what works is

  1. Know you need reasons to play somewhere
  2. Ask people what reasons should you start with
  3. Try them
  4. Ask what would work better

… and repeat.

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IME there always exists a handicap where they win after 1 or 2 games, except maybe when they are toddlers. How old were your daughters when 9 stones on 9x9 wasn’t enough?

Edit: they might need some hints at the end of the game to pass instead of filling up all their eyes.


My younger daughter is 8 and right now she’s enjoying beating a 10D AI with a 9 stones handi. :smiley:
She choose the settings on the app (strongest opponent and max handi) just to explore.
She was delighted to win the first game with some suggestions from me. :smiley:
Very proud to beat a 10D! :smiley:
She tried the second game all alone but she failed! :slight_smile:
Now looking for the third match! :wink:

I think she can quickly manage to succeed.



You’re scaring me! :smiley:

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I had exactly the same thought. @mark5000 do you have anyrthing to reveal? :slight_smile:

If it was yourself writing this you should apply as an AI trainer at openAI, that style is exactly what they are after.

Mark has been “5000ed”.
He’s not the only one!
Anyone here remember Trung12ly? :cry:


Yes, I remember Trung12ly.

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Probably will sound like bad justification, but every time I get asked why I play a certain move, my mind just blanks out until after the game where I can (probably) explain why I did x or y.

The handicap does not really make a difference in our games, so I do not really mind if it is not there.

Another thing I remembered is that usually I treat most of my groups dead as the game advances and then scramble to play somewhere else in hopes of trying something different. Probably a thing that will mitigate itself when I play more, but just a thing to note.

Perhaps me asking “why did you play there?” is putting it too rudely :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, I’m known for my rudeness, dagnabit,

It’s not really that you should have a spanish inquisition about each move after you play it :open_mouth: It’s not that you need a “justification to someone else after you played it”.

Rather, the idea I was trying to convey was that when you’re wondering where to play, you approach the question from the point of view of “can I chose a move with a conscious reason?”.

I mention this, because quite often I observe beginners who are having trouble, and playing in random places because “they don’t know where to play”, and it emerges that what they really don’t know is “what they are trying to do”.

Here are some ways of thinking about the next move:

  1. “It feels good, I’m going to play here”. That’s a reason, but it’s the least valuable one for human learning.

  2. “I’m going to choose a random place and see what happens”. More or less the same as the previous. We’re not good at remembering the effect of every move we have played in our life, if we can even figure it out.

  3. “Lets see if I can choose a place that will increase the territory I am surrounding”. NOW you are making conscious choices based on an understanding of what matters. You are still experimenting - of course, because you are a learner, but now you have a goal. You have found out (by asking someone!) what it is that matters most, and you are trying to do that.

  4. “I will chose here, because if I chose this other likely looking spot, my opponent will just do this bad thing next”. Solid thinking. You might be wrong, but now you have a goal and are looking forwards.

Each person has to go through each of these stages - some people leap to #3 intuitively, perhaps because they’ve played other similar games and they know how to approach it.

The quicker you progress through these ways of thinking, the quicker you can start learning. IME.

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  1. I’ll play there so to kill that phat group and make a lot of points! :smiley:

I’m going to feel bad myself when giving advices or helping. Is that relevant to the OP anyway?

I can’t speak for jlt, but I made a similar comment, so let me clarify that that wasn’t meant to be derogatory, not one bit. But I can see that it might be interpreted that way, sorry for that. My thought was entirely based on writing style and chatGTP excels at that. I wish someone would tell me I can write like chatGPT! :slight_smile:

And no, it’s not relevant to the OP of course. Guilty as charged with respect to going off topic.