Game reviews for the transition from TPK to DDK

Continued from Newbie seeking reviews

After a hundred proper correspondence games (and seventeen wins by timeout/resignation before move 50), my ranking has settled at around 19 kyu. I have been advised that I should make bigger moves and how to handle unsound invasions. Time to deeply think through moves and read sequences (as opposed to moving quickly to get a feel for the basics), as well as do some serious studying.

Reviews on the following games could help identify my relative strong and weak points, as well as which resources could help me make the transition from TPK to full DDK:

    Black, won by resignation against 16 kyu, 163 moves
    Since I was advised to make bigger moves, I did two corner invasions (tried to neutralise the outer influence first). Managed to kill an invading group at the top and another just below. However, was I really winning when White resigned? I do not see how I could invade (or at least reduce) the bottom and right sides.

    Black, lost by 8.5 against 16 kyu, 233 moves
    How could I have better handled from move 27 (making a group very heavy to save it) to move 87 (lost a five-stone group while starting an invasion on the right)? Fortunately, I managed to catch up later and only an elementary reading error on move 223 (I saw A2 but though my own bottom-left group was in danger) prevented a memorable upset.

    White, lost by 7.5 against 18 kyu, 228 moves
    In the opening, I tried to tenuki (as opposed to making small moves) whenever I felt my big group was safe, but securing life for the big group made it very heavy (similar problem to game 2). Which tenukis were good, were there lighter ways to secure life for the big group and how could I have made more territory elsewhere?

    Black, lost by 23.5 against 14 kyu, 228 moves
    Was my invasion starting move 115 objectively bad (I only did it because I was behind)? Of course, my move 151 was a serious error. On move 188, I had the chance to start my first-ever ko fight, but did not; some advice on ko fights would be helpful.

    White, lost by 0.5 against 16 kyu, 212 moves
    Could I have saved my top-right corner? Was there a way to connect my bottom side and bottom-right corner groups? How could I have further reduced his central formation?

    White, lost by resignation against 16 kyu, 161 moves
    How could I have connected my disjointed groups? Which move was the mistake that killed my right side: 148, 150 or later? If I had secured the right side, what would my winning chances be? What are good techniques for contesting areas like E9 to J6?

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Check your links, first one and forth one are wrong.

Oops! Fixed the links.

It could be time for you to watch Dwyrin’s “Back to Basics” (if you haven’t already).

The lessons in there took me from about 19k to 12k, while being entertaining and very approachable: not like “work” at all. They are all about “where is the next big move”.


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It seems for you big moves are just star points, but here’s list of big moves:

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Game 6:

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Review for game 5:

  • The top right corner needed one more move. However, even without that extra move, you could have gone to ko at the end. Even if you lost the corner, you’d have probably gained at least a point somewhere.
  • Connecting the bottom and bottom right doesn’t matter that much if they’re both alive. That being said, look for opportunities to cut. You probably could’ve cut at move 148 and connected with some profit.
  • In endgame situations, play all of your forcing moves before dropping back and playing gote. Had you pushed all of the weaknesses in the middle before the endgame, you could’ve gotten an even better result.
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Interested in what TPK even means. Never heard that terminology anywhere.


Twenty Plus Kyu.

It’s useful, because there’s a world of difference between 10k and 20k, let alone between 10k and 25k.

There’s even a world of difference between 19k and 25k. I remember when I was 22k wondering how I’d ever break 20: while I could see what I needed to learn to beat beginners, the things that 19k people could do had me in awe :slight_smile:


To my TPK mind, star points are the most obvious big moves, so a list like this is really helpful.

So approaching a corner is actually bigger than playing at the side star point between two corners (to form a sanrensei or prevent the opponent from making one)?

Are big moves much rarer after the opening?

I know about the proverb “play urgent moves before big moves” but often have difficulty determining whether a move is urgent. This is most obvious in games 2 and especially 3 above, where I try to tenuki when I feel a big group is secure and the big group ends up alive but very heavy.

“Dywrin’s Back To Basics” addresses exactly these questions.

It is true that generally enclosing the corners is considered “bigger” and therefore “higher priority” than taking a side.

We learn “Protect weak groups above all. Then for consideration: corners first, then sides, then centre”. Slightly elaborated, this could be taken to mean “contest corner enclosures first, then take at least a base on a side, then make what you can out of the centre”.

And taking a side does not necessarily mean the star point.

Also, Dwyrin shows that for sides, the biggest is literally numerically the biggest. His basic principles are "play into the biggest gap on the sides, after the corners are settled.

Endless examples of this decision and what it looks like in Dwyrin’s videos. By and large, a move is urgent if it is a contact move on a weak stone, or threatening weak group. A group is weak if it doesn’t have “shape”. What that means exactly is hard to define, and only really learned by watching. It kind of means “does it have enough basic structure to form eyes?”

(Edit - a note about starting at Back to Basics #1 (which is a good idea). At the beginning Dwyrin was experimenting with this (now hugely successful) idea, and had to do a fair bit of justifying of it. Also he was experimenting with the “rules” of what “basic play is” and it got a bit of attention. So you need to kind of skim over that when you bump into it. It’s proved itself :slight_smile: )

I just realised that my previous post looks like “don’t ask these questions, just look at the videos”.


That seems rude. Yet I can’t escape from the feeling that the answers to these specific questions are so much more comprehensively given in video form in that series than can every be typed here, that this is almost “the right answer”.

So apologies if it seems rude. It’s genuinely not meant to be rude, just helpful!

Yes :slight_smile:

Sanrensei is a special strategy, as are many of the “named fuseki”. “Special” in the sense that they break from “the basic approach” to do something specific.

As a result you can succeed with them only if you know what they intend to achieve and how to take advantage of it.

As you saw in the first game listed in the top post: if you aren’t equipped with enough experience or knowledge - both general and specific to the fuseki - then it can be a trap to play the fuseki rather than an advantage for you.

In that game, you appeared to mistake “influence” for “territory”. A few stones sketching an area do not secure territory, as you found.

This is why in general as beginners we secure corners first, then sides, and only then try to make points in the centre, because then we have a foundation of territory and strong stones to work with. White’s cut-and-invade at G9 shows you this: you tried to make centre territory, but you had no foundation built on the side, so white just waltzed into your sanrensei framework and dismantled it.

For me the lesson from this is that basics are more important than fuseki :slight_smile:

Sanrensei in particular is tricky, I find. If you are going to chose a fuseki to learn about and beat other DDKs around the head with, I’d suggest low-Chinese, because it starts with a trap that basics-players are likely to fall into. But you need to know how to spring the trap, so you probably need to have studied this like mad before you give it a go.

The advice in your post was helpful and did not sound rude.

Just that real-life considerations make long videos a far from ideal way for me to learn and I would really appreciate something similar in e-book form (even if I have to pay a little for it).

So far, through, I have thoroughly read the first two in the Learn to Play Go series, as well as tried all the problems in the first two Black to Play! Train the Basics books and Volume One of Graded Go Problems for Beginners. Also bought and quickly read How Not to Play Go, Double Digit Kyu Games and the third Learn to Play Go book.

Book titles can be misleading; the Elementary Go Series is not elementary at all, but for SDKs!

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Ah - sorry to hear that you don’t have space for Dywrin :slight_smile:

I reckon 10 minutes a day watching one of those videos would still be good (IE the time you probably spend looking at a turn or two). But I understand sometimes things just don’t work.

I tend to watch them at 1.25x speed, except when something intricate is going on.

Submitting games for review is a good alternative, as you are doing. Then discussion around “what is big” in the context of actual moves can take place. I don’t think you can generalise in typing without pointing to actual positions, very easily.

Of course. As the board gets smaller, bigger moves get smaller in points until the point in the endgame where even a 1 or 2 point move is considered big.

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Thank you so much for the review! Wow, I completely did not see at all that I had a chance to kill (or at least threaten to kill) the top-right corner! In contrast, I did see the possibility of move 112 at B11 but was worried that my left group would not have enough eye space (hence I waited until move 124 to play at B11).

Life-and-death problems for TPKs tend to focus on “play at the vital point in an already-surrounded group” but may be just as important to, a few moves before that, determine whether a group is in danger.


Everyone has difficulty determining that. Obvious way is to play away and see what happens. If it’s bad you probably shouldn’t have played away. Your brained learned a little for the next game!

Go videos often aren’t dense enough, they have gaps where nothing’s going on. Books are way to go but be careful - hard to find a right book. I have a couple of books that I bought but couldn’t read. You may want books on opening since you struggle with big moves.

Thank you so much for the review!

The tip at move 34 (using ladders to protect cuts) is very relevant at my level and I will definiely strive to use it in my games!

Perhaps sharing my rationale for some moves can help correct mistakes in thought process:
Move 4: To be honest, I did not respond to the attachment because I had completely no idea how to respond to it.
Move 10: I was trying to separate the invading stones and allow my group to run out to the centre if that becomes necessary (hence move 26).
Move 52: Wanted to take the corner. How do
Move 70: Again trying to separate the invading groups. Was there a faster way to do so?

For move 128, you advised to “play a bit closer when trying to kill”. In contrast, you previously advised that doing so “gives you lots of weak groups, which make defending difficult”. How do I figure out which principles apply in a given game situation? (My guess is that you advised me to move closer because the to-be-killed group is already next to my dragon.)

Last question: you mentioned that the top-right corner “could have gone to ko at the end”. I know very little about ko fights and almost always connect potential kos. One recent game ( was lost due to a ko fight where I did not really understand what was going on. How much should I learn about ko fights for the transition from TPK to DDK and how often do ko fights feature in DDK games?

Some more thoughts on those moves:

Move 4: In general, you can hane or extend against the attachment. The hane, where you play a stone on another one of the attaching stone’s liberties, is a bit more complicated and aggressive, while the extension is a solid play. The extension more or less says, “I’m not sure what you’re doing, so I’m going to take a big corner,” which is fine for black. As a general rule, it’s usually a good idea to reinforce a weak group if it gets attacked.

Move 10: That’s a good line of thinking, but black can’t connect his stones in one move, and you can live pretty easily in the corner. I’d approach this by asking, “what does black get if he goes where I want to go?” In this situation, if black gets to reinforce the lone stone on the left, he can probably carve out some territory on the side. Attacking that stone disconnects it from the side, and makes it harder for it to live. On the other hand, if black plays where you want to play, there’s two cuts, and if you play them both, black has about as many cuts as stones. Separating black won’t be difficult, and if you’ve got a strong living group in the corner, black won’t really be able to attack it for profit. Being strong and/or alive means you can attack severely, while if you’re weak you need to pull back a bit to limit your opponent’s ability to counterattack.

Move 52: I’d say you already have at least a piece of that corner. Your opponent can take some of the territory there, but that reduction is probably only 10-15 points, at max, and it’s likely gote for whomever gets it. If you’re going to play a gote move, which would also be gote for your opponent (meaning that the other person won’t really need to respond), you should ask yourself if you could gain more than that by playing twice somewhere else. In this case, the bottom is much bigger than 10 points, and also represents where your opponent would most like to play. All of black’s influence points towards the bottom-center of the board, so if you can build a base on the bottom, you can severely reduce their potential there.

Move 70: I’d play C4. If your opponent cuts you, they have to struggle to live in the corner. If they don’t, they can probably live locally, but you get strength on the outside and can probably link up to your lone stone on the left.

Move 128: In this situation, you wouldn’t be creating another weak group, since the stone would be pretty close to connected to your big group. In general, if you’re locally strong, you want to attack severely. If you’re locally weak, you want to keep some distance. Here, you’re locally strong, and your opponent has nowhere to run to. Their only way to survive will be to live locally. Playing severely won’t give you any liabilities, since you’re more or less just building up an already strong group, and it’ll limit the space your opponent has to make eyes. Playing cautiously is more important when you need to defend. If you’re locally weak, and you need to worry about your opponent attacking you for profit, playing a bit further away is advisable, but here, there’s no reason the group you’re attacking should do anything but die.

In terms of ko fights, they aren’t that critical to practice at your level, but they come up occasionally and it’s important to know what they are and how they work. In this situation, connecting the ko isn’t an option. You can either throw in and force your opponent to start a ko fight, or you can die. To help with reading that, I’d recommend learning the killing shapes (, and then transition to the killable eye shapes ( Corner shapes ( are the logical step after that, but there’s more of them and they’re a bit more complicated. I’d recommend against memorizing them all until a bit later. In this case, your opponent was able to almost fill your area with a pyramid four, which is a killing shape. Even if you aren’t great at kos, you should eliminate any move that will give your opponent that shape. If you don’t see any way to stop that from happening, playing elsewhere is best, rather than forcing your opponent to kill you. Ko fights basically come down to “who has more big forcing moves,” with big in this case meaning “bigger than the thing you’re fighting the ko for”. If you’ve got more of them, you’ll generally get whatever you were fighting for, in exchange for something smaller elsewhere on the board. If your opponent has more, but there’s a decent number of smaller threats, you can generally get some smaller concession in exchange for the fight in question. In this situation, it seems like you’ve got more threats, and your opponent will have to give something up if he wants to take that corner, likely an invasion in the center. If he thinks the corner is smaller than the invasion, you can likely just fight until he’s out of threats and then take the ko and live. I’ve added a potential (and rather long) ko fight sequence to show how this might work.

In your other game, you just captured a stone that wasn’t threatening anything, letting your opponent take the ko. To win ko fights, you should keep making forcing moves, instead, only responding once to each of your opponent’s threats. You likely had enough threats to win that game, had you pressed that ko fight.

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