General proverb discussion

It’s a comedic proverb, made by combining two real ones.

  • If White takes all the corners, Black should resign.

  • If Black is left with all the corners, he should resign.

Both sayings encourage Black to play a balanced game.

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And as I understand it on the assumption that black means “weaker player” maybe.


indeed, the implication being that if w has all 4 corners, they were bigger than the center anyway, and if b does, the center was bigger. Otherwise w, typically having better territorial intuition since w was often handed to the stronger player, would have fought for some section of what b has


Just found some more in “The Way to Go” by Karl Baker:

  • He who counts, wins

(The proverb refers to counting liberties but could equally be applied to counting the score)

a.k.a. he who doesn’t count liberties will surely lose

(Clumsy wording IMO but true at least)

  • Stake a claim

(i.e. outline territory that you intend to surround - I’m not sure this one is very useful - too vague)

  • The one-point jump is never wrong

(as per @bugcat, the wording is a bit strong)

  • Divide and conquer

(basically, this is the same as Kageyama’s “cut where you can cut” but worded in a very vague way)

  • Don’t throw good stones after bad

(This is actually quite useful. Clear, direct and sound advice)

  • Play the big points

(The example given is to capture three stones rather than one - maybe useful for absolute beginners but after that this just seems too obvious. Vague wording too)

  • Keep your stones connected

(Sound advice)

  • A new stone makes a new game

(Basically, pay attention to how every move changes the whole board position. Good advice, not necessarily that clearly worded)

  • Quick play yields experience

(Play fast, make mistakes, learn from them. Good advice)

  • If the Go board throws you, jump right back on

(Make mistakes, learn from them, don’t give up. Good advice for all of life)


Don’t throw good stones after bad

I don’t understand. (Btw I don’t have that book)

Play the big points

Incomplete: play urgent moves before big moves
(Like ensuring or denying life)

Shi Xiangxia composed some proverbs in his book, many of which are still being quoted quite often. Here are 3 of them about (quite concrete) shapes. Unfortunately I can’t translate very well but they are easy to understand with diagrams.

  1. 矩形护断虎输飞. In the bottom left, keima (A) is better than either tiger.
  2. 台象生根点胜托. In the bottome side, to make root for the marked stones, D is better than E.
  3. 两打同情不打. In the top right, where black can atari from two directions, do not atari immediately.



The detail says if you try something and it doesn’t work, like an invasion where it looks like you won’t live, then you’re better off to play elsewhere and leave those stones there as aji as they may be useful or even come back to life later; but if you desperately try to make them live and force them to capture, then you lose the aji. As he says, “trapped stones are better than captured stones”


How about a meta go proverb?

Don’t put all your faith in go proverbs for it will stunt your growth.

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There is more in this proverb. Something about to keep the threat latent. To have a goal in mind when you provoke an answer.
It’s a bit of introduction for a deeper level of building shapes, including hidden lack of liberties for ex. A first warning against playing crude moves.

Make territory by attacking miss the essential part of pushing the attacked stones toward the influence.
Don’t use thickness to make territory has this idea but too hidden to my taste too.
Even if you say after that it’s hard to know what is use, territory, thickness… It’s really one of the most difficult concept to accept and put at work, but still crucial especially for high SDK players who fail at direction of play.
With lower levels, I use “go is not Lego” for introducing these ideas.

It’s a good reminder that go is all about optimization and you should avoid to get over-concentrated.

“Cut/connect” (multiple posts in the thread)

Mentioned many times but only explained as obvious, understandable, with caution…
May be useful to remind that cutting makes the thing harder for your opponent, which has to care about more groups and their life, use more stones to make less points…

To answer @Atorrante posts, what about something like:
Every proverb has its exception.


Including this one?



What! You have to study to be good at Go. I would like to be the exception please. :smiley:


No pain, no gain.

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There has been some acknowledgement in this thread that proverbs should not always be taken literally, but others have provided alternate renderings which seem in many cases to be aiming not at maximum euphony, but at maximum accuracy. This, I believe is not only mistaken, but is entirely backwards: pithiness, metaphor, wit, and inaccuracy should be preferred over accuracy and precision when designing proverbs in order to maximize memorability: an inaccurate proverb may be explained, a forgettable one, will die.

Inaccuracy and extremism can actually be boons to a proverb as they not only encourage discussion and study of the proverb and its appropriate applications, but make it more memorable for its absurdity.

Never may rarely be literally true, but when penning proverbs, always say never.


hence the famous and infinitely useful proverb proverb “Do not follow proverbs blindly”


Is this a go proverb? I could see stones “in pain” by being under pressure, inducing a gain for the attacker. But if for one side it’s efficient to use the attack mechanism to gain something, on the other side it’s easy to get over agressive. So I’m not sure of the usefulness besides opening some debates (following the ideas in @Samraku post)

Or is it one of those popular saying soaked with Catholic morality?

How many times did I answer to a beginner that what counts first is to keep having fun, so why not a
“no fun, no gain”

No that I know of. But feel free to transform it in a go proverb.
Some new go proverbs are welcome.

Maybe a contest for creating new go proverbs would be fun too.

A we already have that OGS go proverbs thread (See OP)

Another one that has come up recently in a few games…

If you don’t like ko, don’t play Go

Ko is such an important part of the game, you can’t just back out of every ko fight. I have seen quite a few opponents at my level (7k) do just that recently. In all cases, I think “damn, this is going to be a tricky ko fight to steal their corner” and then pow! They just avoid the ko and it’s easy corner for me. No, no, no! Fight the ko!!


Every go proverb should have its counter go proverb. In this case:

Only a fool connects against a peep.

“Even a fool resists the peep”