Characteristic Openings of Different Ranks

For stronger players/teachers/those who’ve seen games across many different levels: what are some joseki/fuseki patterns that are characteristic of a certain rank? For me (~5k level now), I’ve noticed that a common pattern (at least on OGS) is that people love to knight’s move approach a 4-4 stone when they have the opposite side 4-4, this happens in basically every game I play, but basically never happened until I got to 6-7k. Would be curious to hear about other ranks/patterns too.

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Kinda goes with the old “guess what rank the players were in this game” that we used to play.

If you’re curious you might find some old threads about that. I think it got messed up after the advent of AI though.

A kyu player can play the exact same opening as the top pro player. I think the main difference will only start to show from middle game onwards.


It’s not a question of “can” though … more of “what do they typically chose?” or “do we think people of different rank bands choose different openings typically?”


Yeah, that’s sort of why I was curious about the opening specifically, since it’s often regarded as less informative for someone’s overall skill than other phases of the game. However, there are certainly patterns which are likely only to be played by players of a certain level.

For example, the low knight’s move invasion against a 4-4 + supporting knight’s move on the other side - to me this indicates at least SDK (I never saw this in any game when I was DDK, did not know about it until a stronger player showed me).

I think you are talking about specific moves rather than the opening in general.

IMO what opening a beginner plays depends largely on what his teacher teaches and what he reads. It’s hard to play the knight’s approach to a hoshi unless you already know about it. But if you already know the 3-3 invasion to a hoshi you can play it in every game.

Unless you are talking about what openings are recommended for beginners then that’s a different topic.

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Sure, specific moves in the opening.

My gut-feeling is that most higher-ranked players do not play “old school” fusekis anymore, maybe thats because they’re more familiar with the modern post-ai openings and ideas behind early 3-3 invasions.

But when i see some low-chinese or kobayashi fuseki being played, its often by a kyu level player with over a decade of game history. I assume its because they have learned the game when those openings were still in fashion, but have not actively studied in recent years.

Kinda same thing with this joseki:

Nowdays most strong players will not play the D2-E2-C2-F3 exchanges after blacks C7, current meta says its ok to simply tenuki there after placing 4 stones as white, so most dans and pros will just tenuki instead forcing a good shape for black.

Before alphago and other modern AI’s, that joseki used to be the gold standard for 3-3 invasions, but now its mostly played by kyus ://

To some extend same thing has happened for this simple basic joseki too:

Its still being played somewhat often by players of all ranks, but if you watch high ranked players its more common that white plays the attachment at D3 instead the knights move slide at D2. And if white happens to play D2, you often see black tenuki instead answering at C3.
So generally speaking, this joseki is more popular with kyus ^___^


This has become a bit “meta”, but your observation is of course true.

That doesn’t make it any less interesting - it means that the question is “can we see a characteristic pattern of what beginners are taught these days?”.

It used to be that beginners would always do 4-4 and approach-backoff. Now that AI messed up all the josekis this isn’t true anymore. :sob:

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Isn’t it the opposite? Feel like 3-4 fuseki were more popular before AI and then 4-4 approach back off became more popular after AI said it was basically the best, main difference being after back off you attach rather than keima.

And to be fair, the old joseki is still fine for a beginner. Nobody is going to lose a game for such a minor points loss at kyu level, much bigger blunders await them (us) :sweat_smile:


I dunno - not for me! It used to be that 4-4 was safe from invasion, and the 4-4 approach and back off was completely predictable.

In contrast 3-4 josekis had and still have variations that annoy me :slight_smile:

Now there are no safe (understandable) opening joseki.


Well that is quite a shortcut because I’m not sure about the existence of teachers, and even students following their patterns. I mean there is habits, fashion, what you like or master, what you want to try…

Myself I only see patterns in strong players games.

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Maybe we should do the “guess the rank” game again… showing only opening to guess from!


Yeah, maybe a better way to phrase this question would have been, “are there patterns/moves in the opening, that when they are played, indicate a certain rank range”. Obviously some openings/moves are going to be universal/played across a wide variety of ranks.


I think the biggest “tells” will just be mistakes, for example, at the very low levels:



But any joseki which is easy to memorize is going to be common at many levels, like some of the popular 3-3 invasion lines.



This looks very familiar lol. Another common one is tenuki and not extending one more.


How about this one then?

Tho i guess we’re now just pointing out “joseki mistakes” >__>

I remember when this kick was considered as slightly bad move unless white was already pincered someway, since on an empty board white is able to get a strong shape with optimal extension on the side. It was often pointed out as “ddk move”… But nowdays its maybe just as common than backing off at O17, so i don’t really know anymore xD

@Sadaharu btw do you happen to know how the kick became so popular in recent years? For me it still feels like black is helping white there, so i’d love to understand why it is played so much


I wouldn’t say the first one is a mistake. This is more like a trick move where black gains if white responds wrongly. Even if white responds correctly, black wouldn’t lose out much. (Provided black knows how to play lol)

I think like you said, previously this kick was mainly used for attacking. It makes white heavy and if white doesn’t have a good enough extension, it’s good for black. Nowadays I guess if black answers the knight’s move white will more or less attach at R16, so this is a way of preventing it while semi-securing the corner at the same time. Having the “strong shape” with extension is also valued less, because black can invade easily later at S12. I wouldn’t really recommend it though unless you know the 3-3 variations after this kick very well.


As I wandered through already 20 noob ranks since I startet, I can say from my experience: Beginners play openings that they know - That can be pretty much any tho. Basic to 3-3 flying knife patterns (if played correctly is a other thing)
Often played are simple and Ai ones (4-4 or 3-4 into knight, kick, extend, play a 3 space extension e.g.)

(Pic from previous post)

This one got already mentioned (old 3-3 Invasion Joseki where the Invader gets the corner and the defender huge influence. And variations of it. Like E.g. 3-3 into double extension instead of hane after the first extension) is played very very often in ddk.
In case of a 4-4 invasion I only played this ones and experienced those. Lower ranks like to imidiately ‘finish’ the Joseki (May not be to 100% correctly said but I think you know what I mean.)
That was for me personally to like 8-9kyu when I realized (and others too) that those are ‘wrong’ nowerdays and started to use the ‘standard’ sequence (4-4 on bord, 3-3, both extend, invader knights, finish).

If beginners can be spotted, then with this, small, indicators Id say. The higher the numerical rank, the extremer the points mentioned, Id say.

Funnily, in terms of specific Joseki, I would say beginner ranks are closer to high dans in varity than 'intermediate ’ players who are (i assume at least because I do the same ) strictly doing what they know combined with top ai moves. I think stronger players (dans) often dont care that much if their opening move is not super perfect and rather play with the idea behinde the moves. It happens less often on my rank I feel. On my rank (~5k) I would say, there is mostly played the same, but it still variates too much in order to categorize it as typical.

The only Thing id maybe say is typical for Dan players, are old ass, complicated Joseki even when there is no need to play them. They just flex sometimes I feel like xd

Conclusion: besides obvious Bad moves, there are indicators you may use to identify lower rated players, but you may also be wrong and it turns out to be the completely other side :wink:
Outdated, complicated patterns => dans perhaps. Maybe. Eventually.
Conclusion de’ conclusion: Its almost impossible to indicate a rank based on Joseki patterns alone imo :smiley: