Desperate moves when losing - etiquette question

Lately I’ve had at least 2 games when i was well ahead and my opponent kept playing stones that had very little chance of surviving, inside my big almost solid territory. I responded automatically with almost no thinking, mentally marking these stones as dead, getting a bit annoyed. No wonder that at one point I missed something important and lost a big group. Do you think it is ok to say something like “I don’t think there’s enough space to make eyes” in a polite way?
I understand that they have the right to play and that i should be careful, but sometimes I have an impression that it is a psychological trick some people use to annoy their opponents and win when they don’t deserve it. To make things clear, my opponents were around my rank so they must have understood what they were doing.


Coincidently (or maybe not?) we’re almost the same rank and I know the exact feeling. I think, at this rank you start getting an understanding of what SHOULD work and what shouldn’t.
However, exactly this is the point:

As long as big mistakes like this happen, it is benefitial for your opponent (and you!) to try crazy looking moves.
When I was 25K, I thought every 4,4 corner is already “safe”. Well, I quickly learned that’s not the case.
Not sure if all this helps but as long as your opponent is not obviously just teasing you, I’m afraid he has the right to try moves.


[quote=“dzikaszmija, post:1, topic:7943”]
No wonder that at one point I missed something important and lost a big group.[/quote]Well …

[quote]Do you think it is ok to say something like “I don’t think there’s enough space to make eyes” in a polite way?
[/quote]I think the way you put it here it is actually “polite”, but I’d advise against commenting that way.

[quote=“dzikaszmija, post:1, topic:7943”]
[…] a psychological trick some people use to annoy their opponents and win when they don’t deserve it.
[/quote]IMHO: if they win this way, they do deserve it. To suggest they didn’t deserve it is indeed impolite, IMNSHO.

The right way to counter would be to …

  • pass or Tenuki if it is safe to do so, and
  • play securing moves if necessary.

Thank you @Kabootle and @trohde for your replies. I won’t let my pride speak next time when this happens :wink:


When you face this situation, it’s better to make your “walls” more solid. When you think you are solid enough, leave it by moving somewhere else, or click “pass” button. Keep playing in your own territory may result in filling your Liberty yourself, which is something your opponent want.


It may be annoying, but there is little you can do to prevent it. You can however make the best out of it and enjoy your free reading exercise.

If it can make you feel better though, I’ve seen it happen a lot less as I climbed ranks. And it did teach me to watch for weaknesses in my groups.


I think anyone who has played at the lowest ranks has seen this happen often. Part of learning the game is learning that you can’t possibly live somewhere, but also learning that the territory you may think is yours really isn’t that secure. You said you made a mistake and your opponents desperate play hurt you. It’s quite possible he saw a weakness and was attacking it.

When I was playing games where this type of thing often happened, I used it to understand just how to properly deal with it. Attacking and surrounding rather than killing is often the better way to handle it, and those lessons have been very valuable for me.


Unlike you, I will tell it as it is and tell that impolite bastar* that he is being awfully rude and if he would like some poison-laced tea and scones while he’s at it. I take pleasure in passing and watching that poor scoundrel flounder about while giving me free points as he does so.

When i first play with really weak people, they would keep trying to survive their dead groups. I would tenuki and generally lose interest. Many times they have caught me off guard and turn an overwhelming lose into a win. At first I was pised. Overtime, I have changed my views on this.

I don’t mind it too much. The goal of the game is to win. If you tenuki, its your choice. The game can quickly turn into a complex situation where the winner is suddenly unclear.

Although amateurs do it terribly, pros do this as well. When pros are losing, they overplay and make it complicated. It is up to the job of the winning person to find calm strong defensive plays.

Pros call this winning a won game.

You can’t be like, “Oh that groups dead, don’t you dare play there.” Person plays there. “FCK you. I’m not playing with you.”


There is a difference. Pros do it when there’s still a chance to try something even if it’s an overplay, which is middle game stuff.

What the OP is posting about is about people playing absolutely impossible moves inside solid territory at the end of the game that will never work unless the other player makes a very silly mistake. That’s not overplay, That’s just trying your luck. That difference in possibilities is a world of difference in etiquette.

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BTW, upon re-reading … [quote=“dzikaszmija, post:4, topic:7943”]I won’t let my pride speak next time when this happens[/quote]

Good :slight_smile:

A friend of mine once said to me: “Pride is the most painful club to throw between one’s own legs.” *

* German idiom: “jemandem einen Knüppel zwischen die Beine werfen”
= “to throw a club between somebody’s legs” (literal transl.) (should lead to a painful fall)
~ to throw a spanner in somebody’s works
~ to put a spoke in somebody’s wheel

I’m not sure how you define “Solid Territory” hiryuu, but things died, I wouldn’t call them solid.


People have told me more than once that playing moves that only work if your opponent makes a silly mistake like overlooking an atari is utterly impolite. I don’t like being impolite, but it also seems like this is part of the game. You don’t pay attention, your opponent gets rewarded.

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If you read OP’s post, clearly they weren’t impossible moves because they worked. =] In this case, it sounds like a desperate play, but I wouldn’t argue that it sounds like impossible play hoping for a simple mistake like overlooking an atari.

Emphasis added:

“my opponent kept playing stones that had very little chance of surviving, inside my big almost solid territory”


It’s a bit of a judgment call, but there’s a different between making endless moves, drawing a game out that should be over, when those moves only work if your opponent passes repeatedly, or makes very bad moves in response. However, this is different from dropping some stones in someone’s territory and trying to make them live, possibly hoping your opponent will make a mistake in their defense and give you that shot.


[quote=“Harcel, post:13, topic:7943, full:true”]
People have told me more than once that playing moves that only work if your opponent makes a silly mistake like overlooking an atari is utterly impolite.[/quote]Well, yes, this seems like another case of contradicting principles, like “if you have all four corners, resign” vs. “if your opponent has all four corners, resign”. Maybe it’s only true for Black … :wink:

Anyway, it may really be impolite if the player knows that it would be a silly mistake. If OTOH they still are in the stage of such silly mistakes themselves, it would perhaps not be impolite? Just thinking that the opponent Also, what about the common recommendation to complicate the game if you are behind … that’s nothing else but setting up a situation that offers the opponent many opportunities to make a silly mistake :smiley: right?

I think the best suggestion could be for the player: If you yourself believe it would be impolite, then don’t play it.
And for the opponent: Never feel insulted, you don’t really know whether your opponent knows. Rather, teach your opponent by keeping calm and playing Tenuki or passing if you needn’t respond, or by playing those necessary moves.

Also, I am quite convinced that all we can do in Go is to choose this mistake over that mistake … for myself I believe I can only learn to make better mistakes than I made before.

[quote]I don’t like being impolite,[/quote]I actually think that few people really “like” being impolite, it’s rather that many don’t know when what is impolite.


Silly mistake is a bit subjective. It’s very common in my games to have my groups pressured to prove they are alive, even when I knew they couldn’t be killed. I will likewise do the same to my opponent. At times I’ve killed groups that should have lived, and I’ve lost groups that should have lived.

So just how deep or shallow of a read should be required to qualify as a silly mistake?


I understand where you are coming from with regards to opponent trying to win by a trick.

In reality if this happens it still is about you misreading. It just is painful for it to happen so late when you are ahead and should have one. I don’t think it really makes the opponent underserving of the win.

I think as you get stronger and play stronger opponents it will become less of an issue. But for now I would take it as a learning opportunity to hone your end game reading skills. Prove to yourself that you are able to live and work out if you should play or tenuki.

You will occasionally stuff up. It will be painful but you will learn from it too. If you do make an mistake try work out why and how to defend against it in the future.


dzikaszmija, Probably everyone has been in this situation. But there may be more happening than just invasions that do not have enough space to live. Perhaps your own stones have limited liberties and you haven’t noticed. You have a string with 2 liberties connected to a string with 3 liberties connected
to another string with 2 liberties. Your opponent makes crazy moves, which you answer by preventing eyes. What if your opponent is really preparing to atari your groups, make them connect (maybe forcing you to create an empty triangle or two) and then capture all of them, winning the game.

Or your opponent makes some moves in the corner in your territory, and suddenly it’s seki and even though your group still lives, most of your territory is gone.

Admittedly, this is not usually what is happening, but it could be, and such random moves that destroy you are important situations to learn and recognize.

Just saying…


so… i dont know if this is proper forum etiquette (:wink:), but i wanted to revive this topic because i think it is very interesting.

afaic the problem is not one of manners, but of the ruleset. the japanese rules strongly favour the attacker because the chances of losing points are almost zero (at most you give away one point at a time and only if your opponent is confident enough not to answer…). because the risk reward ratio is so incredibly high it is very tempting to play some careless attack and relay the pressure of solving the situation to the defender.

in my opinion the japanese rules are not suited for the way the game is played today, where it is accepted that we play to win and are pressured by time on my many occasions, because of that.

im curious what you think :smile:

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