During an opening how do you know what to do?

Hi! I’m a relatively new player. Based on playing against computers my strength is ~20kyu.

So, I have a game going on here: http://online-go.com/game/612158

I’m not asking for help with this specific game, but just generally. I am showing the game as context for my question.

I’m playing white and I’m having trouble in that I’m uncertain what I should be doing in the opening. I this particular game I could defend in the lower right or left, grab some territory with my stone in the lower left, or mess with his position at the top, or extend on three of the sides. I could also split his stones in the top middle.

So, how do you decide what the best task is to do in any position in the opening? At what point is it just too dangerous and you have to defend your territory and when is it important to invade? In chess the tasks are easy-- develop, grab the center, don’t get distracted.

I know the idea is to grab the corners, then the sides, then the center, but the fuseki book that I have suggested the O17 move with a position very similar to this.

Anyway, that’s the question. How do you balance defending your territory, offense, and grabbing more territory?

Your questions show a good understanding, of what Go is about. Until you play at a high level, knowing where to best play next, is not easily answered. Generally go with your style: Are you good at capturing races? Then fight. Do you like to take territory quickly? Play more defensively.

A good move also tries to make several things at once; e.g. attack an enemy stone and make territory at the same time.

I can’t answer your question to a full extend, but I would start a fight in the lower left corner. That is, from a 18k OGS point of view. (Approx. 10k EGF)

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Nick Sibicky has a great video on the opening here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-td9ah-cM2k

His videos are aimed specifically at double digit kyus.

To Summarize:

  1. Corners
  2. enclosures/approaches
  3. large side extensions
  4. small extensions
  5. center

That being said, an urgent move (one that stabilizes or threatens group safety) should always come first. Once you understand a little more about the opening you can use your judgement and diverge from this list.


Thanks everybody. This was very helpful. I haven’t gotten through that whole video yet but I plan to watch it soon. I definitely see what you mean about style, Franzisa. As a chess player I always had a very particular (and unusual) style, so maybe my comfort level in that way will come eventually.