First impressions at playing: I can't take the lead!

Just started playing. Followed basic rules and quizzes.
I’m just playing black against first-level computer.

I usually start occupying the corners and trying to move along 4th and 3th lines…but even if I’m the black and the first one moving, very soon the white encircle me and I found myself trying to defend my stones.

It’s like I don’t understand the basic strategy of “opening”…
After 20 stones it’s already obvious to me that I’m going to lose…

Any advice appreciated


First of all: Welcome!

Second: Even very strong players struggle with openings, it’s nothing to worry about. And when I say struggle, I mean “spends sleepless nights studying openings”. Openings are tough.

When you say “first level computer” you mean AI around 25k? Maybe it would benefit your playing style to mix up some different AI, or even better to play some human players.

Also, I would suggest reviewing your openings (I never do it, but it’s good advice, do as I say not as I do), so you can consider moves where you think things were wrong. Not necessarily all of them, but maybe a review before a new game will help you spot some mistakes before they happen.


You are doing what all beginners do, and which many of us still struggle with, which is to engage in early, sprawling fights in one area, while most of the board is wide open. This occurs because beginners don’t know whether their groups are safe, and have no confidence in the idea that staking out new territory is often preferable to defending a few stones. Players also fall into the trap of attack, attack, attack the opponent’s group, which may be a good idea if it is weak, but they often forget that the game is really about surrounding territory, which is a more reliable route to victory. The crucial question in the opening is “what is the biggest move” (i.e. the move that stakes out territory while, one hopes, threatening the opponent and thereby retaining the initiative). Developing this understanding is difficult.

We recommend that you play humans, because the weaker bots will tend to reinforce bad habits such as early fights. Also, watch some games between SDKs to get an idea of what a normal game looks like. Stronger games, between dans, might be too confusing, and weaker games, between DDKs may still have some very bad habits. Finally, watch some of the Dwyrin Back to Basics series on YouTube, which will help you develop some idea of the biggest move.


I wrote this article regarding playing a balanced opening in 19x19 game. Hope it helps:


Your doing much better then me when I started.

It took me about 85 games to get above 25k, and even then, I was still loosing 3/4 of my games.


Here are some more tips that might help you:

I’ve looked through a few of your games on OGS and I will echo what Conrad said above - you begin fighting (especially attaching your stones to your opponent’s stones) very early in the game. As soon as the contact fight starts, it demands your attention, and - in the act of saving your stones or attacking your opponent - you lose sight of the other priorities in the game (i.e. using direction-of-play to maximize your potential territory and minimize the territory of your opponent). Your opponent bots are a bit better at using this strategy, and that’s how they take the early lead.

Besides playing a balanced opening, it might also be useful for you to read a bit more regarding the STAGES of the game. I’m planning to write a chapter of the 19x19 series about it some time later, but here’s the short version:

  • The Opening - your goals here are to grab as much unclaimed potential as possible while it’s free for the taking (corners > sides > middle), prevent your opponent from grabbing the same, or create weak groups for your opponent that you can chase later (that last one is a slightly more advanced strategy)

  • Early Midgame - expand your existing potential away from the sides of the board into the middle. If you have created a situation where your opponent has a weak group that needs to run, try to chase it in such a way that it increases your potential

  • Midgame - using your existing groups as bases of operation, try to grab as much of the middle as you can, prevent your opponent from grabbing it, and keep their weak groups from connecting (either capture them or make them fight to get eyes). Even if you don’t completely kill them, you can steal eye-space by filling that potential with stone walls as they negotiate for whose is whose.

  • Endgame - Pay attention to what crucial gaps need to be closed to ensure that all your groups are alive or connected, and close them up so that the biggest are secured first. Poke at the edges and loose connections of your opponent to make them spend as many stones as they can securing those. Try to chain as many sente moves together in a row so that you can keep taking action/initiative rather than handing it over to your opponent.

So yeah - for me - as I play I’m paying a LOT of attention to what the current main priority is, and making moves that further those goals. I actually avoid prolonged contact fights as much as I can until they’re absolutely necessary - either for a joseki, or if it comes time to chase / try to capture a weak group, etc.

Good luck!


wow, very good article and enjoyable reading too, I’ll take my time to go through it…thx


Thanks I’m glad you liked it. If you found it helpful, you may find my other 3 articles helpful as well -