How to Get Basic Joseki and Fuseki proficiency?

Hey all,

So I’ve been fiddling around playing games and working through puzzles and I’ve been getting a better idea of what I’m needing to comprehend to play better at my level. I’d love to get some input on what helps and the best resources that are out there.

It’s been suggested by many to work on corner and side problems-I’ve been working on them-and I do learn from them-but I think I am missing something-I kind of fumble through them and don’t really get the cause and effect through the trial and error.

The most helpful thing right now is Yang Yilun’s method of approaching life and death. I think I may be missing some understandings about what to consider in order to identify a “vital point” “eye space”

Another thing about life and death is that it highlights a dreaded weakness of mine-being detail oriented and having the reserve to think a few steps close quarters. Part of it is that when I start to look at life and death problems-I think I become too crazed thinking about all the potential things that could happen-rather than having a reasonable idea about what could happen. While I’m still learning-I kind of like the opening the most because it seems to be about taking reasonable gulps of space with every piece-and thinking about the creative potential about the board.and how territory could be created. That said-I’d like to be using the puzzles to be asking the right questions and thinking about potential future moves wisely-this might have to be about reducing the unnessecary “what if’s”?

Which I think takes me to another point-different areas of focus at different areas of the game-Opening-Middle and Endgame. What is emphasized on each one-and what do I -generally- shift to in each phase. I think that would help me to remain -reasonably- competitive in games. I am not super crazy about winning-but I definitely get confused and I kind of shift gears to “oh what the hell, lets mess around and see what happens here if I try this…” 13x13 seems to be my playing standard right now.

Finally-board reading seems to be opening up for me. I really liked markd5000’s “Stone Development for Beginners” because it helped me to understand basic moves-liberties, stability and development, efficiency, thickness-which started to open up the ability to see the board the pieces and the shapes, the liberties as something that is actually like a readable text.

Anyways-for just playing-I would like to understand the phases of the opening, middlegame and endgame better. But for just working on my skills-I would like to learn how to work on corner and side life and death problems better. Any suggestions would be helpful.



If you have 150 Euro to spare buy yourself a year on Guo Juan’s (after trying the free test month, of course). Start with the basic step-by-step course and do all the exercises.

For me, it is highly effective and efficient, and for fuseki, I have found no other source that was even remotely comparable (and yes, I have a lot of the standard books, knowing that urgent comes before big didn’t help me to recognize urgent and big, doing 300 excellent commented exercises on fuseki and automatising them helped me a lot).

The joseki exercises seem very good as well, but I have done too little of them yet to judge their effectiveness from my own experience and I really don’t think that you need joseki at your level. If you like them, look at them.

1 Like

I like this-thank you very much-her system makes sense to me-getting training at the right level and repeating it until it becomes automatic.

Just remembering to stick to Fuseki right now is a good rule of thumb-the less the better.

Also-shout out to markd5000-I had finished writing the last post and found his set of puzzles on tactics. I have found his puzzles to be well written and user friendly and help me to think about how to work with the board.

You know-I think what I like is being given the tools and principles to identify for myself what’s happening on the board depending on area/phase of the game-and then knowing the principles on how to address a move. I trust memorization less-because I like to understand the why and how of it-I like to think on my feet. Do you find that the case with Guo’s School?



Thanks for the kind words, and glad you enjoy my puzzles! I can try to help you understand the phases of the game.

Opening: The opening of the game is the initial disposition of stones. This is where the players array their stones across the board and make their initial claims of territory. Often a joseki arises that temporarily creates an urgent situation, and then the players will either start fighting and transition to the middle game or they will return to making claims of territory.

Middle Game: The middle game is the final disposition of stones. It typically starts when one part of the board is contested by both players and a fight occurs. The fight tends to move out into the center. Play in the middle game is dominated by attack and defense, and this is where “strength of stones” becomes a lot more important than “mere territory,” to borrow my puzzle terminology.

End game: The endgame is the final points after the disposition of stones is decided. Players play the moves with the highest point values in descending order while trying to keep sente. Generally this requires counting, although you can get an imprecise feel for the value of moves at a glance.

Note that not all games have all three parts. Some players fight from move one. Some games involve no major fighting and proceed from claims of territory to taking final points. Many games end by resignation before the end game starts.


Thats great-thanks so much!

Guo Juan explains very basic things and principles in her lectures. I usually try out the exercises first as puzzles, then listen to her lecture and then I repeat the exercises, but only mark them as remembered if I remember the move AND the reason for it.


I think that’s why I like the article on Yilun’s method for life and death-it gives me a general formula to work with in order to procede-that way whatever situation comes up-I know what to think about-but then as I am presented with problems-the more I train-the more I am ready to break down a situation-I get to mylenate my brain more for it.

I signed up and I am checking stuff out-thank you for the reccomendation!

And I got a little bit closer to finding out what “Vital Point” means messing around on markd5000’s Tactics Tutor:

"Since you played here, you already recognize this as the vital point of the mouth shape. Why are you here? :-))
I had no idea I just put the stone there! Great attention to detail-I didn’t even know I was going to learn something and I did!

1 Like

Just another tip: If you’re interested in improving Joseki and Fuseki knowledge, 13x13 is probably not the right board size for you.

Both joseki and common fuseki patterns were developed with a 19x19 board in mind. Many joseki involve trades such as “one player gets territory, the other gets influence” for an equal local result. Smaller boards mean the balance gets thrown off - influence is less useful while the other player still gets the same amount of territory, and joseki tend to overlap on the sides.

Good 13x13 play requires a whole different approach and playstyle than 19x19. It’s great if you want to practice endgame or don’t have enough time for a full game, but it can actually hurt your whole board strategy if it’s not already well developed.

Long story short, my advice is to stick to 19x19 if you’re interested in developing joseki/fuseki knowledge.

1 Like