Which openings should DDKs learn and how to learn them?


  1. “Openings” include both joseki and fuseki.
  2. “DDKs” means players between 10 kyu and 19 kyu inclusive. TPKs do not need to learn openings (except perhaps the 3-3 invasion on a star point - learning this was a factor in my transition from TPK to DDK). It is assumed that the DDK player wants to improve at least a few kyu by learning these openings.
  3. “Learn” means not just remembering the moves, but understanding (at a basic level) the rationale for the moves and the evaluation/plans for the resulting formation. It includes both openings that DDKs should play and openings that DDKs should not play but are likely to face (and thus should learn how to respond to).
  4. “How” means selecting resources (such as e-books) and methods of learning through said resources. It can also include things to pay special attention to when playing or facing the opening in a real game.

I think that the range 19-10k is to broad to generalise.

10ks are god-like in their play compared to 19k, what they should be learning will be completely different.


In that case, focus on the weaker half (15 kyu to 19 kyu), because that is where I am at.

I am randomly playing low Chinese, nirensei with knight’s move invasion and sanrensei, but not understanding them.


In my own opinion, a DDK can stay away from all pattern of opening.
He will have better time to simply explore ways to share the corners (later called josekis) and to make them work together (opening or “fuseki”) at his own level.
He should enjoy the freedom of exploring without any frame because it’s nice time to do that before being caught into the today’s fashion.
Books like “opening made easy” or “in the beginning” ( nice but a bit old) may help to grasp some basic understanding. The joseki tool on OGS or some puzzles can offer something to play with.
He can try any point (3-3, 3-4 4-4 4-5 3-5 and even others 9-10 10-10 2-2 6-4 6-3…) and grasp some experience with each of them


In 19-15k my experience was that it is good to know what some of the openings (fuseki) are.

San-ren-sei, Chinese, mini-chinese, Kobyashi leap to mind.

Then for me, watching videos describing how they are played helped. Dwyrin’s openings videos go through the sequences that can result with the rationale for what is being attempted.

It’s fascinating to see all the variations. But …

What I took away was not any sort of memorisation of sequences or formations.

Only the principles of what the opening is trying to do and what you might avoid in general. Also what you don’t have to be scared of (eg san-ren-sei feels intimidating to face, but when you see how it’s handled it’s not so scary).

For joseki, I do think it is worth 19-15k knowing the very standard everyday ones:

  • Response to small knight approach to 4-4 (old version and new one)
  • 3-3 invasion of 4-4 (nice simple early AI version, and maybe one or two variants)
  • one or two possibilities for low approach to 3-4
  • one or two possibilities for high approach to 3-4

That’d be it.


Probably just double 4-4 or orthodox.

I still just use those… but I did learn the low chinese and mini chinese so that i knew what they were aiming for.

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Oh yeah - orthodox is common enough and “simple enough in principle” to definitely be worth a look.


Modern Go no longer has any formal openings. Instead, modern players fight from the first move, starting around the corners.

There are a handful of josekis worth learning, however. Why not give Yeonwoo’s excellent videos some views on Ye Ol’ YouTube:

This one is for those on the higher end of DDK aiming at SDK:


I feel like DDKs would benefit the most from focusing on the classic opening priorities

  1. Corners
  2. Enclose your own corner or approach your opponent’s corner
  3. Create large extensions or disrupt large extensions
  4. Create small extensions or disrupt small extensions
  5. Make vertical moves away from the edge into the middle

And then see all of the available joseki options as a tool for helping their groups work together across the board, regardless of what variations their opponent throws at them.

I feel like many beginners try aggressive openings too early - pincer attacks, crosscut games etc - before they really understand direction of play, or how to gauge whether one area of potential on the board is more valuable than another.

Where more advanced players start fighting within the first 10-15 moves, I often feel like it would be better for DDKs to avoid lengthy life-or-death fights in the Opening, settle their stones as quickly as possible, and use their sente moves to tenuki and grab unclaimed potential rather than pursuing local fights.

I feel like being able to grasp the whole-board implications of local moves, and be flexible in seeing big moves across the board can help beginners “grow new eyes” and get a better understanding of the game than drilling down into more complex contact fights.

My 2 cents anyway. I wrote a lot more about it here:


One more thing about josekis: don’t get too confused about your way not being considered as joseki.
Many times it’s a very small thing, a small difference of points or a bit less aji (bad taste left in the position) which even a SDK will not really benefit. So don’t search a crushing punishment when there is not.
See when you can tenuki (=the first to go play somewhere else, most important) if you (or he) have sufficient prospects of life, if you can cut or not, if you are in a way you like to build something. Try get something fair, taking in account who was first in the corner.
The joseki tool then can help to correct your experiment, with more efficient moves, tenuki earlier or later, how to live or kill… Expect and be ready for your opponent not playing what you want him to.


Eugene +1

Yes, I think that’s enough for the beginning. The most important is not to memorize openings, but to get a feeling for how to play a good opening and to find a good balance. Getting a grasp of influence and territory, getting a feeling for which points are big and so on.

The only things I want to add to the already great suggestions are these two:
a) Getting the hang of the concept of “Direction of play” in the easiest form possible by just trying to implement two guidelines “extend towards the largest side” and “Try to build/extend on your already invested stones, using good shapes”, thus reducing the creation of 5+ groups that are all in precarious positions and all have to fight to survive
b) Learn the basic good shapes and relations between stones (one/two space jump, small/large knight’s move, iron pillar, bamboo joint, tiger’s mouth, jump x+1 points away from your walls etc) and have a basic understanding of their possible weaknesses.
c) Always try new stuff, but once you decide on a strategy in a particular game, do not switch strategies trying to get everything from your opponent. E.g. if you play for the top and left, do not abandon them to suddenly invade everywhere else early.
d) Building on the previous three - even though it is about the middle game - attacking and defending are interconnected. Sometimes after you defend and get stronger in a position, now you are able to launch attacks that were previously overplays. Getting the patience to invade after you are stronger outside, instead of just going for the overplay early, is a good tactic.

I think those four points, even if they are lightly implemented, can make a lot of difference in the 19k-15k range :slight_smile:


My way from 20k to 10k on the 19x19 board:

  • Learn the basic approach and enclosures and their advantages/disadvantages. I didn’t memorize long joseki sequences.
  • The only longer sequence I memorized was how to play against a 3-3 invasion (the pre AI joseki).
  • Watching dwyrin’s basic videos. For me this were the easiest way to learn some more basic concepts. (I don’t enjoy reading go books)
  • play
  • play
  • play

I strongly agree.
DDK and also “barely-SDK” like me can take great advantage by learning simple answers to standard moves:

  • approach - back-off
  • don’t ignore attach
  • don’t ignore cap
  • don’t ever be surrounded

Any real SDK knows this is crap just for noobs, but hey, we ARE noobs! :grin:

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You can’t just stay away from openings. If you’re playing White in particular you’re opponent can choose to play sanrensei Chinese kobayashi etc. I don’t think you can prevent these openings even without studying them some amount.

Joseki are definitely handy when playing stronger player who probably know some joseki. Managing to stay even for a while into the middle game has to be better than being behind against a stronger player in the middle/endgame.

I could probably remember a couple of things that made me improve over the ranks.

-TPK learning how to block off your territory, whether it’s simple endgame like when to hane on the first line or not, or just backing off a bit from opponents stones.
-DDK Some simple 3-3, 4-4, 3-4 joseki, it kind of has to include pincers because you sometimes can’t choose whether an opponent pincers or not. It’s not easy to decide though when to pincer or not, even ai have probably questioned traditional pincers. Basically if you can get a semi even result in a corner you can move onto the rest of the game - there’s lots more game to go and practice and learn!
-DDK A huge thing that helps when trying to rank up is learning (asking yourself) when to play away, do I need to answer my opponents move? What can they do if they got two moves in a row here and is that important or not. It’s a hard question but stronger players can help and to an extent ai but they even tenuki too much for my SDK comfort :slight_smile:
-DDK being aware of different haengma is also a plus. Just thinking of bamboo joints, table shapes different types of jumps and connections. I know someone recommended Dsauns shape lecture to me and it was interesting to be aware of some good and bad shapes and drawbacks to some shapes.

I usually like learning from books and YouTube videos but that might not suit everyone. But I could link a bunch of things.


Honestly, I don’t see DDK building a game on a opening. I don’t see even building a game at all, there are too many weaknesses in their practice to try to apply an opening. The classic openings may be useful later like 8k-3k because then you have enough knowledge to try to build a game. If a DDK get a good start because he spend time to study the sanrensei, it will melt very quickly in my opinion to nothing. Then I think that time would be better spent on more very basic fundamentals (cut/connect, capture, liberties… ), or just on playing more experimentation in games.

Besides, investing himself quickly into opening can be very tempting (even more maybe for players coming from the chess?) but that’s something I regret deeply: because later as a SDK which knows better what you have to play and indeed have to restrict yourself for progress, you will find less opportunity to some kind of crazy but free play in a pure DDK style!

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Well, I’m rated as a 6k on OGS, have never looked at any fuseki and don’t plan to so in the foreseeable future. Obviously I can’t know if my approach is the best (or even good at all), but ‘can’t stay away’, I would strongly disagree with that.


Against you maybe? Even if there are weaknesses it’s not clear if those weaknesses will be obvious to another player of similar strength. I think if you polled SDK players they probably (majority -maybe my expectations are off?) have looked at some openings before they reached SDK. Even if it’s not the reason they got there, it does give you and idea of planning in your game. Like trying to come up with something consistent, make points on the side or the centre etc. I think it helps strategy.

I will be surprised if you tell me that you’ve never looked up anything about any opening, had a stronger player give you advice about direction of play, joseki in the context of a fuseki, watched/read/got advice on anything about a particular opening after possibly losing to that opening.

I know you can get good on your own, but I’m not ashamed that I’ve used books and things to help me improve - I didn’t figure it all out on my own.

I don’t think telling people to stay away from an opening pattern makes sense.


Not against me of course, between 15-20k as the OP asked. Ok seems we don’t have the same experience of these levels.
In some way all is good, a few shapes, a direction, dreams (if you have fun even better at least!) So I did enjoy a few reading too, but opening was the kind of book completely useless to me below 13k


I am not entirely sure what you mean when you say opening. I strictly spoke about fuseki. I din’t say I never used any advice about direction of play, I definitely did (though I still struggle to apply any but the most simple concepts).

Also I told nobody to stay away from anything. I just said ‘you can’ (stay away from fusekis).

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