Best Strategy for ranking up .. I think I found it

So, I’ve been playing a strategy on my non-teaching account that basically ditches all the fancy invasion and clamp moves that may be hard to read and work if you have AI levels of reading. I basically have gone back to just making basic openings and taking time to think about Big moves and then just playing regularly and more safely while I wait for my opponent to defeat themself. It has worked brilliantly and I’ve won like 14 out of my last15 games(the only game I lost was to some provisional high dan player ranking up) on OGS. What’s more, this strategy works even better on Fox, at least up to the 6d-7d level since Fox players are usually overly aggressive, they defeat themselves a lot more often than here on OGS.
If you wait long enough, in almost every game up to the mid dan level, your opponent generally can’t help themselves into make a bad clamp, invasion, or cut. If you just lay in wait and seize the chance, they will defeat themselves for you.

So in short, don’t try to play amazing, just play clean and wait for you opponent to lose the game. After all, the best way to win a game is to not lose the game first.


I’m not surprised. When I started decades ago, people were already saying that if you can play normal moves all the time, you’re pro level. You don’t need to play brilliantly to play at pro level, unless you’re aiming at world champion level.

Also, quite a few high dans in the Netherlands play in a style that I’d describe as “nothing fancy”.

I suppose I’m a more “fancy” style player, but all teachers that I had basically told me to cut it out. It’s detrimental to my results. But hey, it’s something that I enjoy doing. And other teachers advocate to play the sort of game that you enjoy playing (at least if you’re an amateur).


In 2008 I had the chance to watch a tournament game between a mid sdk and GuLi 9p.

We were expecting some quick blood but no. It was like those peaceful ddk games wihout clashes, each one taking what he think worthy.
GuLi was playing like a pro i mean very calm and focused.
Well no use to tell you who won with a confortable margin.


IME strong players will only fight hard when they really need to in order to win. When a strong player plays a much weaker player in an even game, it is unlikely that this need ever arises, so they can just keep collecting points with very safe and straightforward moves and win in a boring way.

I think the desire to win by utterly crushing your opponent in every game is more usually found in amateurs up to mid dan level.


A french friend, strong player, called these games “pousse cailloux” when for example he was reporting on his last tournament.

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When I’m having teaching games with TPK, I set myself the private challenge to win without invading. I do allow myself to kill their invasions if I need to though :smirk: but if I can let it live small and still win I usually will.


With TPK, chaos may arise easely too, giving some difficulties to keep up with that strategy.

For example, some are not playing go but capture go which gives some extra consideration on how to follow them.

Had to look this one up. In English pousse cailloux can be translated as the grunts or mud thumpers. Referring to infantry, foot soldiers.

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I found that too, and this:


“Pousse cailloux” is not commonly used in the context of go game, I’ve never heard it before. It’s probably a reference to “pousseur de bois” (patzer in chess).

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Cailloux=little stones
Pousse =push

It’s sounds a bit poetic in french like you are simply building the game by pushing each other stones, a bit like playing with sand in a zen garden. And that’s enough to get a win, no counteracting or such things.

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In the Dutch go scene we’d probably say “prutser” (bungler, botcher, muddler)

So “pushing pebbles” is not like “pushing wood”.
I don’t know of a term for that in Dutch or English. Perhaps something like calmly playing out the game?

I am out with the patzer or prutser thing, sorry my chess knowledge is very limited and a short research didn’t help either.
@jlt yes that was an expression of that player himself, no idea if used by more, but that was a nice way to summerize some game.

Sounds nice in english too :blush: but we need some native speaker feedback!

Idk - sounds a bit sisyphean to me. Maybe “pebble pushing” would be better. Could also mean “trying to get people addicted to Go” but might also sound a bit like “pen pushing”, boring procedural emphasis…

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So if a player tell you that his last game was pebble pushing, you’ll get the idea?

Not at all! I’m not sure that I would understand pousse cailloux though so maybe it’s just me!

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I’ve heard the term pousse-caillou several times before, by several different players, but I don’t think I’ve ever understood it as meaning “a game relying more on simple strategy than on crazy fights”.

I think I’ve mostly heard it used as a general self-deprecative name for the game of go. And occasionally used to say a game in which someone played badly, especially playing lots of nobi without thinking too hard.

But I would have never associated it with a calm strategic game as opposed to a fancy fighting one.


Thinking of it, better as fight/vs simple, maybe more on a lack of deepness or direction of play? Involving that you didn’t have to think too much, just because your opponent choices were insipid.

If it was used as a description of an actual even game between a 5k (say) and a 9p, then maybe he meant that neither player seemed to put any effort into the game. The 9p didn’t because he didn’t need to and the 5k didn’t because he felt there was no hope anyway.
So the game was uninteresting for the spectators, who had been hoping for some drama.