When to Count on 9x9 board?

I’m trying to improve at my 9x9 playing, and I noticed I never really counted during the game. I’ve been working on it but often I just don’t. So how often are you guys counting, how important is it?

I figure if I want to improve at 9x9 i need to become a tsumego junkie, study endgame, and count. I humbly ask for guidance from the 9x9 monsters here.

Depends on your time settings tbh. Like for correspondence I count a lot more frequently.

I’m looking at the four 9x9 games I played today. Two I resigned because big groups died - counting was not necessary to know I couldn’t win. The other two I could have started counting around move 35-40, but I only “counted” intuitively. Since 9x9 usually has ~2-3 groups, one can eyeball the sizes of the groups to know who is ahead. I’ve even heard “If black has more than one group, white is probably winning”

Not sure your level, but I think becoming a “tsumego junkie” will give you the most bang for your buck. Counting doesn’t help your game as much (though it is important to exercise your positional evaluation).

You can find endgame full board problems on 9x9 for a starter.

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Perhaps you need to pray more vigourously.

Im currently 5k. When I look at reviews from dan players they talk about counting after every move, its the importance of the opening as well i feel. Ive had games i felt i was winning only to be snuffed by komi, but if i had been counting my strategy wouldve changed by maybe move 10.

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Im cool with jokes but atleast offer some advice, arent you a teacher?

Ah yeah maybe my advice won’t be as helpful to get to the next level then - L&D is more than sufficient to get to SDK though!

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When it comes to counting on a 9x9 board, its importance largely depends on your skill level, your familiarity with 9x9 openings, and your win condition in the game.

First, the win condition. In intense fighting games, where your path to victory involves capturing an opposing group, counting may not be as crucial. If you can realistically capture that group, you’ll likely win once you clinch the capture, prompting your opponent’s resignation. But if capturing a big group isn’t realistic, then you’ll typically need to count points at some point in the game.

Next is your knowledge of 9x9 openings. If you’re well-versed in them, you can play moves you know to be good moves on autopilot until you’ve exhausted your mental opening book. At that point, you’ll need to get a rough count right away and a precise count as soon as possible afterward.

Finally, your skill level plays a big role. At first, players should concentrate on making good shape, keeping strong groups, pressuring weak groups, and not wasting moves. As you improve, the need for counting becomes more pronounced. Counting is crucial for accurately assessing the board position when you and your opponent are fighting over the handful of points that will determine the result.


I have changed my openings to the best 3, but I mostly open as black at 4-4 point. I go with the established pattern that i know until white deviates. I have won more, and reaching 5k multiple times after losing it was big for me. I will definitely keep grinding life and death to improve my reading.

Count when the answer could change your strategy and thus choice of move, e.g do I keep growing here or invade there?


Okay, here are my two cents.

4-4 aims at gaining influence, not so much on gaining territory.
Invading at 3-3 is easy.

On a 9x9 board it is (I think) even harder to convert influence in actual territory than on the bigger boards.

Why not try 3-4 or 3-3 for an opening?

Those moves are not that good for black to open with, compared to 4-4, 5-4, tengen. and 3-5, according to <2800 elo 9x9 bots and pro’s. The separation isn’t so much as influence/territory, as much as hoshi is choosing to fight while potentially grabbing a big corner, and invading early can lead to early resignations.