I’m by no means an authority on the 9x9 board, or any board for that matter. But I won’t wait around for permission to delve into a flighty dissection of the 9x9 board, which, on closer inspection, begins to unravel an inspiring level of complexity distinct from that of the larger boards. I should know; I’m giving a lecture on 9x9 for Learn Go Week. And like many overly anxious teachers, I’ve lately felt the motivation to impart my own brand of “hype” on some of the material I hope to discuss on this transcendental lecture. This forum post is meant as my own opinionated primer—a navigational brochure, per se—on the 9x9 board.
First things first: 9x9 is about fighting, and reading is key. (If 19x19 is a battlefield, 9x9 is a knife fight in a phone booth.) Sometimes the game is like one big go problem. A unique feature of 9x9 is that after a few moves it becomes possible to read out lines of play to the very end. Quite often I realize that the “natural” line leaves me behind by half a point, and then decide to change my plan. Generally speaking, a calm game to the very end means one player didn’t realize they were losing and failed to complicate the game in looking for a chance to catch up.
The opening is not complicated. Pros play anywhere on the third line or above, and the opening is usually over by move 5.
If you’ve got a taste for tengen, check out senseis’ take on tengen continuations. A box of rocks, if you ask me.