The proper way to deal with aggressive invasion

Hi everyone, :blush:

I really need some advice how to deal with aggressive invasion.

The recent game that I played

The flow seems normal until move 56, I was stunned by my opponent’s aggression, I’m not sure whether is it considered overplayed.

There are two option for me

  1. Compromiser: Reduce the damage as much as possible, and let my opponent escape or live. But the game will favor to my opponent.
  2. Punisher: Be the dragon hunter and kill the whole group, but if my failed to do it, I will lose the game.

Although I won the game, but it’s kind of “wirewalking” for me. Actually I’ve experience many times that I just lost the game due to failed capture the crazy invading stones. :disappointed_relieved:

This also reminds me couple of games that I played in tygem. It most probably occurs when I play san ren sei. The game roughly goes in this way,0
My opponent takes my both corners at the beginning of the game and invades my strong moyo after that, and forcing me to play capturing game.

I would like to know how strong player deal with this problem in a safer way? I’m not the fan of risky play, and I was being taught that Go is not about capturing stones :sob:

Thanks~ :grimacing:

1 Like

I can’t help but feel a little bit responsible for this question, because in a recent review I told you not to invade too aggressively. I tried to show that it would not give you any points and not really take anything from your opponent either.
Of course, it all depends on the tactical particulars of the game.

Many players, myself included, find aggressive invasions annoying. Sometimes I get dismissive; I think my opponent is probably overplaying, doesn’t have a plan, is not reading and merely wants to ‘try something’ to cheat me. I wonder whether, if my opponent was just a bit stronger, they would see that the deep invasion was a bad move and play something more calm instead.
The truth is that players of all levels play like this as a matter of style. It is not (always) overplay. 1kyus like me and presumably dan players still struggle to handle invasions because they are so tactical and diverse. Sometimes the invasion is just the correct move on the board. If it never was, I wouldn’t myself invade, ever. :smile:

I’m not strong enough to lecture on the subject and I haven’t looked at your game (I don’t review won games on principle). But because of this feeling of responsibility, and because the thread is still empty, let me share my personal thoughts. This is not commonly accepted Go philosophy and you won’t find these ramblings on Sensei’s Library :smile:

So your opponent throws a stone right in the middle of your moyo - what should you do? You can prepare yourself by doing tsumego until your hair catches fire, then read out all the variations and pick the best one.
Let’s scrap that approach right away. Calculation is for computers. We need a way of thinking that uses human qualities like common sense reasoning, and the view that you get when you look at the board through human eyes, not a bunch of numbers (if that makes sense).

What you should do first is remind yourself that Go is a balanced game of sharing. No player can get less than half of the board unless they make a mistake. A player who loses by 10 points has made 10 points worth of mistakes (if their opponent is perfect).

While you keep this in mind, ask yourself how much you deserve. If your moyo (in very vague terms) has a potential of 50 points and can be reduced to 30 points, you deserve to get 30 points.
Let’s say your opponent does the invasion. You skillfully capture and kill it. Now your moyo is 50 points of solid territory (influence balance is magically accounted for in this). Your opponent has made a blunder of 20 points!
Let’s say that the best move on the board is also worth 20 points (it might be, in the middle game). Your opponent’s blunder is the same as a pass!
Is this realistic? The invasion may be dubious - call it bad style or whatever. But as long as it is a purposeful move, it must be better than a pass. You should not start from the assumption that your opponent makes moves without purpose.

So it is theoretically impossible, if Go is truly balanced, for you to get these 50 points. There must be some benefit for the invader. If you cannot see what it is, it will still be on the board, but in hidden form (aji, counterattacks etc). Sooner or later this benefit will manifest itself and catch you by surprise.

My approach (in an ideal world, not actual games :stuck_out_tongue: ) is to assume that my opponent has not blundered so severely. Instead, I come to terms with the fact that the invasion will live or escape. The moyo is split.
Start looking for things you would like to keep (e.g. the bigger of the 2 parts) and strengthen that.
Figure out where the compensation is. It is impossible for the deserved points to disappear - either they were never there, or they have gone somewhere else. Erased points can transform into influence, counter-attacks or simply points in other places (tenuki/miai).
If you follow proverbs diligently (drive opponent towards thickness; enclose before reduce before kill; don’t play in front of thickness etc), you are more likely to uncover the compensation in the position. Otherwise, the compensation will stay unused and fade away, for example if you attack from the wrong direction.

Part of compensation is that you get to attack the invader severely, so don’t take all this as a suggestion to play passively. That is not the same thing. :wink:

I believe that the best path to avoid complication and therefore, minimize risk, is to take not more than you deserve. What you don’t deserve, you must allow - and even encourage - your opponent to take.
Finding out what it is that each player deserves can be tough. You need accurate, impartial positional judgement, emotional detachment and a cool head.
As a rule of thumb, you can play according to your need. Need 20 points to win? You deserve them, so surely they must be somewhere. :smile: Go get them, whatever it takes!


For the first game, on move 57, I noticed you did not directly respond to the attachment (hane or extend). This creates weakness in your stones without creating a weakness in his. Sometimes it might not be appropriate but here I think it is. In the second game, that’s hardly an invasion. It is a reduction and is very reasonable. This is actually one reason sanrensei isn’t played so often higher up and why you don’t want to create two big walls in that manner.

But to answer your question, it’s really all about life and death when it comes to invasion. It might not be the answer you’re looking for but that’s actually the way it is. One way to look at it though is not to think about whether it’s an overplay or not. You always want to play the best move and this involves keeping yourself strong and your opponent weak during an invasion. That way, if your opponent ends up living, at least you have strength on the outside and he’ll be sealed in.


Hi Animiral, thanks for your reply again :smile:
It’s okay you didn’t review that game, that’s why this topic was not posted under review requests. :grin:

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find aggressive invasions annoying. Because Go rules states that players can place a stone on any unoccupied intersection (except ko and suicide move). Any kind of moves played by opponent should be accepted. I never despise trick moves or overplaying, even if I was tricked. :relaxed:

When I was at the bottleneck of 15kyu, a fella told me that my way of playing go was very unrealistic and greedy. I was advised to try to win by 4.5 points instead of 40.5 points. This advise really helps me alot that hit 10kyu within 2 months after that. As you said “Go is a balanced game of sharing, no player can get less than half of the board unless they make a mistake”, I totally agree with your philosophy and many stronger players said that too.

Well the reason I post this topic is because I’ve been 10kyu for some time without improvement.

Another reason is I’m lost. Recently I had observed some dan player on tygem server, I found that their playstyle violates the theories what I’ve learnt. Instead of avoid complication on the board, tygem pros likes to create complication.

Last week, I’ve watched a professional game with commentary, GuLi vs WangLei. The commentator said that GuLi is one of the best go player with hyper aggressive playstyle. During the game, GuLi creates many complication with alots of ko fights. I remembered one of the commentator criticize some moves made by GuLi, another commentator sat next to him agree with him, and then they started to discuss and analysize why GuLi’s move were bad, because it’s too risky and bla bla bla bla… at the end one of the commentator concludes that, “but he is GuLi, what else we can said.” :joy:

I think l1lshadow was correct, it’s all about reading skills, although it’s not the answer I’m looking for. But I should accept the fact that my reading skill ain’t good enough :dizzy_face: Do more life&death problems and this is what i need at my current level :neutral_face:

Thanks l1lshadow,
Although it’s not the answer I’m looking for, but I think you are totally correct, it’s all about life&death. What I need to do is just practice, there is no shortcut :blush:

I am not very strong, but at move 65 I think I would have played at D14 which is more aggressive.
It seems to me that this closes down the invasion more neatly.


Probably a very good and calm way close down the invasion, but white seems like able to escape to the center. Of course black still can continue attack white since white don’t have base. :grin:

I really need some advice how to deal with aggressive invasion.

call the fun police

Thumbs up!