Proverbial inspiration from other strategic war games?

Not only go is blessed with many proverbs, also other strategic war games (such as chess and shogi) have their own proverbs.
Realising this I wondered if shogi and chess proverbs are also valid for go.
This topic offers a platform to explore if shogi and chess proverbs can be a proverbial inspiration for go.
Feel free to join the discussion and add go/shogi/chess related proverbs.

For starters I selected some examples.

Here they are:

  • Activate idle pieces
  • Without attack there is no chance of winning
  • Keep the foothold for the attack
  • A vulgar move may be brilliant
  • There is always a move at the edge

Websites with proverbs:


I agree only for a few of these, which show how it’s different games, but ok it’s nice to have some arguments so:

What is a idle piece in go? For me there is like an harmony between all the stones, having each his role. If we talk about value no don’t activate stones with few value, it’s reverse advice. (I mean like stones who don’t cut, glued to a wall…)

No I don’t think so. Attack and defense are the engine but there is no priority of attack over defense.

This sorry, I don’t understand

True but very rare.

Well here the different nature of the game interfere obviously, chess being focused on center, and go on edges

And finally when I tried to follow the link provided (the first one), i got that screen:

Does chess players focus a bit too much on attack??

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Don’t know about error 1020. I have no trouble opening the links.

Have a reliable basis if you attack, so that you have something to fall back on.

Idle pieces in go: stone(s) that have served their function but are now “useless”.
Think about a cutting stone, a group sacrificed for a greater gain.

There is a phrase for it in the Chinese Go proverb, 死棋活用 - utilizing the (seemingly) death stones to your advantage/other purposes, usually as tesuji. Or

Leaving cutting stones normally has something to do with aji though

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I assumed this was a similar idea to:

In that, if you are weak (have no foothold/weak group/house on fire) then your attack will be weak/fail. Whereas if you have a strong foothold/group you can attack strongly.


Every battle is won before it is ever fought

孫子 (Sun Tzu)

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what about modern computer strategy games? Do they have any proverbs?

I am not familiar with them…

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“idk red sus”


At the edge of the board or “at the edge of reason”? I can happily agree with the latter.

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Nice touch. :grin:

The most I know about modern computer strategy games are
Gather(resources, information)
Build(buildings, units)
Expand, and Fight.

Not sure how this could be applied to Go.

You can add “select” (which branch or technology)

I prefer the “don’t fight with a knife in your back” which is more precise to me. Go fishing is not exactly the same reference it sounds more general like big vs urgent. With the knife it’s more about fighting when you have weaknesses that you didn’t cover first.

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I think there is a proverb in Go that I’ve only heard in Chinese - “A game will grow from (be sprung out of) cutting points” (棋從斷處生), is probably related to this idea. And cutting, especially cross-cut is viewed as looking for a fight, and an active attack in Go.

The Chinese playing style has always been traditionally very aggressive, semeai all over the place. I feel it has more to do with the ancient Chinese scoring rules, cut off the opponent’s group while keeping your own group connected will earn extra points - Group tax at Sensei's Library.


I would qualify it more as Korean style. Well, first, styles are more noticable between medium ranked amateur players. Top players show less cultural differences although some historic games like ChoChiKun vs Takeimiya may show some cultural differences. Then playing Korean players I was amazed how they won’t allow you any bases, extensions… Even if it smells a lot over playing many times. Chinese style is a bit different I defined it myself more as a taste for reading and complexity. Of course if you want complexity you need to search for fights :wink:
You can oppose the Japanese style, more reserved with more emphasis on global sharing
But there is no attack without defense, it’s a balance both are intimately mixed in a game.
I need a proverb which includes both sides of the coin, because what matters is that your moves takes care of this, that you don’t just draw a territory but that you constantly check the efficiency of your stones in the terms of attack/defense.

For the funny side there is a french proverb: “quand tout est foutu, couper quand même”

May translate like, when all is lost, still cut

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My take is that Korean players tend to favor constant invasion and erosion, trying to dislodge the opponent’s position and end up forcing a fight in the middle game to regain the balance, sometimes result in big exchange and swap positions.

While Chinese players take the fight much earlier in the game, sometimes right from the opening (there is a reason why flying knife joseki variations are first widely adapted and studied by Chinese players), which could quickly spread to the whole board, and heavily rely on local fights to create opportunities, with more emphasis on tesuji, ko fights, and more games ended up with a kill and semeai.

And the Japanese players usually favor more balanced global position, fuseki and joseki that are more settled, and more games go into yose. However, with AI joseki and more interactions and competitions between players from different countries, the differences are getting smaller, and top players are certainly more well-rounded (even though most pros still have very distinct styles of their own).


Sorry maybe I’m not always easy to discuss because I like edit tool, as my ideas just come more and more :slight_smile:

“Patzer sees a check, patzer plays a check.” is a chess proverb originated by Bobby Fischer in self-critical circumstances, following a game in which, presumably, he made a bad check.

It’s easily reworked to “Patzer sees an atari, patzer plays an atari.” and tesselates nicely with the plain and traditional “Don’t atari a cutting stone.”

Perhaps one would want to orientalise patzer a bit: “Deshi [student] sees atari, deshi plays atari.”?