# Sensei’s Definitions: Tsumego

Tsumego problems are board positions used for players to practice their skills at solving tsumego problems. These problems range from the really difficult to the absolutely impossible, so it may be difficult for a new player to get into them. But do not fear! Sensei has compiled a handy step-by-step guide for how to solve a tsumego problem.

1. Guess the obvious move.

2. Find out that the obvious move doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t, it’s a tsumego problem; the solution is never the obvious move.

3. Guess the second-most obvious move, and find out that that doesn’t work either. Repeat with the third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-most obvious moves.

4. Throw your hands up in frustration.

5. Guess the most obviously-losing move, just in case that works. It doesn’t; it’s obviously losing.

6. Notice that your opponent always plays the same move in response to all your obvious moves. Analyze the line where you play that move. It doesn’t work, because of course it doesn’t; they just play a different move instead, and you playing that move just results in your opponent playing the first move again.

7. Read everything, as a last resort.

8. Find out that you still can’t finagle the position into a win, and wonder what you missed when you tried to read everything.

9. Read everything again, double-checking your moves, and making sure that you really have read everything. Including playing other moves on the other side of the board, as well as the underside, where there’s a space to hold your stone.

10. Still be unable to find the solution.

11. Flip to the back of the book to find the solution.

12. Realize that you’re reading Cho Chikun’s Encyclopedia of Life and Death , which doesn’t come with solutions. Of course it doesn’t. None of the tsumego books do. What did you think this was, a chess problem book?

13. Read everything one last time, just to make absolutely sure that you haven’t missed anything.

14. Find a solution! It was the obvious move all along.

15. Oh wait, you forgot about the snapback. Back to square one.

16. Call up Sensei. Actually, don’t; Sensei is VERY busy attending a conference in the Bahamas. A very comfortable conference-cum-vacation. Without the conference.

17. Ask your “friends” online about the position. Get a response that leaves you even more confused; why can’t your opponent play at that same spot in response to that obviously-losing move?

18. Oh wait, they forgot about the snapback too.

19. Consider making a tenuki for the prosperity and good luck.

20. Make one.

21. Realize that you made an anaguma by accident instead. Can’t you do anything right, you stupid thing?

22. Go to sleep. Maybe, just maybe, inspiration will strike while you’re asleep.

23. Wake up with a new idea… oh wait, it’s the obvious move again.

24. Give up and skip the problem, moving onto the next problem.

25. , and has a really obvious solution. Solve that one.

26. Solve the original problem by reducing the original problem to the next problem.

27. Wonder what fucking idiot wrote a book of tsumego where the easier problems come after the hard ones.

28. Re-realize you’re reading Cho Chikun’s Encyclopedia of Life and Death , the “gold standard” for tsumego, written by supposed “Honorary Meijin” Cho Chikun.

29. Post a rant online calling Cho Chikun an idiot. Because he fucking is. Can’t even write a book of tsumego problems in the right order, or give the solutions with commentary to help people learn (unlike in chess problem books, which almost always have solutions with commentary or which are in order of difficulty, or both).

30. Attend that conference in the Bahamas.

With these 30 easy steps, you too can become a self-styled expert at tsumego, and win your luxury in the Bahamas!

What’s that you say? These steps don’t teach you how to actually solve the problem? Nonsense, they do! Look, who’s the Sensei here? Me, the Sensei writing a series by a Sensei called Sensei’s Definitions, or you, you stupid idiot who couldn’t even make a fucking tenuki statue without accidentally breaking out a shogi board? And who’s in the Bahamas sipping mojitoes? That’s right, NOT you.

In conclusion, don’t forget about the snapback.

8 Likes

I think there is one step missing:

Find the solution that kills very elegantly and boast about it, only to be told by some smartass that in fact all you got is a ko. Look at the tsumego description again and find that it explicitly tells you: no ko

4 Likes

I want the minutes of my life back that I spent reading this

5 Likes

No! They’re mine.