Review request (handicap 19x19, DDK vs SDK)

Cadspen is so fun to play against, 10/10 would recommend. I needed an ambulance in the end, but other people stronger than me, 10/10 would recommend.

I was too late to connect the bottom, that much I can tell, but the rest is a web.

Handicap stones give me migraines.

Any comments welcome, as always.


Two quick remarks:

  1. In handicap games, Black has a big advantage at the beginning and should use it. Black’s goal is to stay strong and keep White weak. In general, letting White get a ponnuki (move 35 for instance) is not good. Or at move 72, Black could have extended at Q8. The stone Q7 is important because it separates the weak group O8 from the strong group S7.

  2. Exception: the double hane joseki 4-4 point 3-3 invasion double hane at Sensei's Library gives White a ponnuki but gives an even result because Black gets a lot of points in the corner. You can learn this joseki, that’s what you should have played in the lower right corner.


It feels like you’re too “scared”. Like for the first 50 moves you just tried to defend your stones. Games, in general, are more or less over by move 100.

White is the one that should be scared in a handicap game, but you let white settle all of his groups, at which point white has nothing to worry about and can just slowly take points.

If you only remember one thing going forward, I would say…

Cut when you can cut, connect when you can connect

Note that this goes for every Go game, not just handicap games.

With that in mind, go back and look at the bot’s recommended moves. You’’ notice it wants you to cut white off from its other groups all the time.

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  1. I recommend kicking as a matter of course whenever you have a side star, if there are no obvious circumstances to dictate to the contrary. This move places the greatest pressure on White, making most efficient use of the side stone to attack. This is a major idea that sets 6+ stone games apart from ones at lesser handicap.


  1. I don’t think you’re comfortable with this atari (1) in the diagram. Next time you have a side star, if you’re not going to kick (which I think you should) then consider this line.


  1. When White attached on the bottom side it was necessary to hane. A and B are (at least naively) miai.


  1. Even after White’s hane you can still make a counterhane. The marked stone supports your hane and the possible ladder exits the diagram through X, eventually hitting your stone at Q10 on the right side.


  1. You can be more severe in the lower right, containing and splitting like this:


  1. The shape here should continue in this way:


  1. On (30) a hane was, again, required.

  2. On (34) the ataried stone was indisposable and had to be connected.

  3. Beautiful play from (39) to (50). (52) was small, though; it would have been better capturing at T5.

  4. Note White’s strange mistake on (71), which should have been at Q8. You can now play Q8 yourself, drawing out the ataried stone and cutting White. Q8 remains big until White’s defence on (76).

The close fight after (85) is a position that I find interesting, but the fact that I do find it interesting probably renders it unsuitable for discussion :D I did uncover several different possible ko, outside of the best line which looks to connect cleanly with this damezumari tactic.

I’d be surprised to see a player under 5–8k find that under any level of time pressure.

  1. After White ignored (90), your (91) to (96) was very good. However, you crucially forgot to actually take the ko on (98).

  2. On (104) you can still capture on the right side with S10. Forcing from the outside was also OK imo; in that case, though, it would’ve been interesting to continue with S16, hitting the key point. Note that White defended there immediately.


  1. This move would have been very good on (112), isolating the ponnuki. Despite White’s resort to the 2-2 point, the sting of S16 has not been entirely removed.


The bot claims you have ~30 pt with this keima and ~20 pt with the game move. To my eyes, though, occupation of that point by either colour was at the heart of the top-side position and – the lower side having already been decided – the game.


Again I thought that you played very well Gia. I’d be interested in how you’d perform now against an even opponent, as I believe that you’ve improved a lot.

There are few technical details I’d like to add to the excellent remarks that have already been made:

Move 86

At this critical moment a lot of points are on the line. Cutting with 1 is good and after white exchanges 2 for 3, the three white stones at the bottom get captured. White has no time to try anything tricky at the bottom, because they need to defend against black A first and foremost, which would capture the 7 white stones due to their severe shortage of liberties.

Move 94

This was a good opportunity to capture two white stones due to shortage of liberties, which saves the two black cutting stones and puts pressure on the white groups on both sides.

Everything considered, this fight in the bottom right was very tricky for both black and white!

Keep it up Gia, you’re doing great! :smile:


White has no time to try anything tricky at the bottom, because they need to defend against black A first and foremost, which would capture the 7 white stones due to their severe shortage of liberties.

Where’s this forest you speak of? I can’t see past all these trees…

(I missed that Black could still have moved out with that stone.)


I thought at this point black has to take the corner. It’s the AI move, ofc it is correct. But without knowing that, I am just thinking black takes the corner, takes away white’s eye space and white can’t separate black. It can’t be too wrong.

The AI suggested white response ofc is elegant. Black still pushes white low and has secured the corner and has the sente to play elsewhere. Pretty happy.


The second thing I notice is hane. Don’t know if you are familiar with it or not. The hane is always the first thought. Unless you read out a good reason not to, I would suggest just play it. :grinning: You will scare opponents at your rank and if does not work out, learn around this move.

This example, my “suggested” moves are not necessary good, but you can see black at minimum does not have any danger and start settling the territory on the left and right, while white does not have clear eye space yet.

Here is another example:

The response to hane can get very complicated, double hane and cross. More often than not, I read and play them wrong, but this is too useful move not to practice and learn.

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