Test your positional judgment


Who is leading?
  • Black, by a lot
  • Black has a slight lead
  • About even
  • White has a slight lead
  • White, by a lot
  • No idea
0 voters

Edit: according to this post below: Test your positional judgment - #9 by jlt a black stone should be added to the bottom group to make sure it’s alive.



I realize I may, by way of my vote, be an embarrassment to myself again :unamused: :sweat_smile:


At least you are not alone.


Is the bottom right black group ok?


Hmm… I realize the status of the bottom black group is not easy to read. Let’s assume it’s not dead (otherwise the question is a bit too easy). I’ll give an answer tomorrow morning.


I don’t think my positional judgement is accurate enough to tell the difference between “black has a slight lead”, “white has a slight lead” and “about even” in any early/middle game position like this.

My error bars may even be as big as 10-15 points in this position, while I consider a “slight lead” as about a 2-4 point lead, and “about even” as a difference of less than about 3 points.

Though professionals might consider a 4 point lead already a “clear lead”, not a “slight lead”.


It seems like as much as a life and death problem as a positional judgement one.


I didn’t think very long about my anwer. I just assumed that life and death is not an issue (because of how the topic is named), but I also assume white has some squeezing potential in the center, adding some virtual influence.


Yes I forgot about the life and death status of the bottom group. Let’s add a Black stone at the bottom group to make sure it’s alive and White to play.

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afaict White is dead on the right, and I don’t see how White can kill the lower-right. If White tries 17-17, then B 17-19, W 16-16, B 16-18, W 19-18, B 17-16 and Black has miai to live, and White still has only 1 eye

In the edited position, Black still looks alive, and White still looks dead, so same conclusion

That’s just a local observation, but the question is about the whole board situation.

The implied conclusion is: “There is no way White isn’t behind after dying on half the board, with the rest of the board still relatively empty and therefore invadable”

Hmm actually (spoiler), interestingly, my count is that the position is fairly even if I give White around 10 points for the centre influence, and the potential to solidify the bottom with a double pincer in the lower left, and the value of the double pincer stone. I could be miscounting, though.

Edit (spoilers) : Also if giving White a bit of points for having more potential to build overall on the board where there isn’t solid territory (for example developing or using the thickness/influence on top).

One important aspect of the situation seems to be that (spoilers) there is a large, solid Black territory in the centre, right and bottom right corner, but Black has much less influence and potential to build or attack on the board currently.

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I wouldn’t qualify the rest of the board as “relatively empty”. I’d say that white dominates the rest of the board. Black has only only 1 stone in it. Black has roughly 80 points on the right, but I think white is guaranteed some 60 points plus komi and sente. That’s why I think it’s still pretty even. At least I’d be OK with taking either black or white in this position.


funnily enough, I was thinking bottom black being assumed dead made it a hell of a lot easier :stuck_out_tongue:

if I estimate b as having 7 in the lower left, the w kill is ~20 stones, or 40 points plus about 7 bits of territory, and then the 8 in the bottom and 13 in the right outside the kill zone
then b expects about 75 points total,
and w expects about 10 points in the upper left, 10 in the upper right, 5 more at least as influence, another 10 in the bottom, and another 5 as influence, plus sente, probably worth 10 points at this point, plus komi for 6.5 totalling 56.5 points, so b still seems to have a significant lead, altho given how wishy-washy influence is, giving 5 point values probably isn’t ideal

What happened in the game

This position is from a blitz game I played, 3d vs 3d on Tygem. I was White, and after Black killed my dragon, I resigned in anger. I could have made two eyes a few moves before but I tenukied instead.

Status of the bottom black group in the position of the initial post

Black seems to be only alive by ko.
Capture d'écran 2024-05-04 081630
Capture d'écran 2024-05-04 081708

AI evaluation

In the initial position, given that Black is alive by ko, White has a lot of ko threats and Black almost none, White’s lead is huge, at least 25 points. Of course I didn’t notice that during the game. So let’s assume Black has added a move at the bottom to live, then White is still leading by 5 points.

Tentative explanation

Black has about 75 guaranteed points which is a lot, but given that White has sente and a huge influence, Black can’t hope to make many more points elsewhere. The question is how White can use his influence to convert it into points.
The first important observation is that Black is not completely alive yet. White can first poke into Black’s potential eyes and try to surround the group in sente, thus continuing to increase his influence.

At this point it’s hard to predict how the fight continues but let’s pick a random variation.

After move 14 Black is still not completely alive, there is a weakness at K14 but let’s say White wants to double-approach the bottom left. Since White already has an extension at L3, Black will again struggle to live in gote. After that White can come back to the center and continue harassing Black. So let’s say we get a late middlegame position like this at move 135:

Black has made at a few additional points but White has sente to play F7 and most of his moyo is likely to become territory. White should be able to kill any invasion in the top left corner given White’s wall G17.


Even if you lose 20+ stones, don’t resign and assess the board position calmly! The AI evaluation says W+5 so the answers “White has a slight lead” and “About even” can both be considered as correct. Even “Black has a slight lead” would be good enough, anyway at that stage the game is playable for both. In the last picture above, not everything is settled yet and both players can still hope to win. For instance if Black can sucessfully invade White’s moyo then Black is likely to win, but even if Black doesn’t try to invade, the endgame depends on how well White is able to continue poking at Black’s weaknesses.


Yeah, if Black responds that way, but why doesn’t my suggestion of connecting under and then living work?

You mean this variation?
Capture d'écran 2024-05-04 112733

After that White connects the atari and Black only has one half eye in the corner.


Oh damn, I’m the one person who voted “white, by a lot” because I read out that black is dead in the lower right. I scrolled down to post “Isn’t this more of a test of life and death?” and saw that the position was changed.


well, i already thought i am wrong with taking black, but white’s so wide open. at my level black seems so far ahead with the 70+ secure points.

AI may make good use of that influence, i couldn’t do that. :smiley: