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 Post subject: Opening principles for beginners
Post #1 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:59 am 
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Hello everybody! In the book "Opening theorie made easy" by Hideo Otake 9p I read the following:
Enclosing a corner takes priority over a side extension. Hideo gives 20 opening principles in his book (the above is in the 1st chapter "Corner Enclosures aim at side extensions") which I find very helpful as I am so used to it from 30 years of chess.
There are e.g. the classical openings, which should be learned especially by beginners. Something like "the Spanish Game", or the "Queen's Gambit". So far I have not found anything like that in Go. It is also difficult to find games that illustrate these 20 principles. At least I can't find anything.
For me, master games I find everything that can be played like that.
Does anyone have a tip for me where I can find games for beginners that are really instructive?

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Post #2 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:13 am 
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Go doesn't have full-board named openings like chess, instead you have the standard corner joseki, some of which have names, plus various named openings that take up a side or two (typically for black) like Chinese opening, Kobayashi opening, or san-ren-sei. San-ren-sei is still a san-ren-sei if white changes her 2 first corner moves from say 4-4s to 3-4s, though how it continues will depend on them. Otake's book will be a bit dated on some principles vs the latest understanding of high level go from AI (e.g. side extensions you mention are now seen as less valuable than back then), but most of it will still be good ideas and I still recommend it to beginners. If you want to find games following these kinds of principles, I recommend to look for older Japanese pro games from mid to late 20th century, Otake himself is a prime candidate as he was known for his clean and elegant style with an emphasis on good shape. Kobayashi Koichi from the 80s - 90s is another.


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Post #3 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:17 am 
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Uberdude wrote:
Go doesn't have full-board named openings like chess, instead you have the standard corner joseki, some of which have names, plus various named openings that take up a side or two (typically for black) like Chinese opening, Kobayashi opening, or san-ren-sei. San-ren-sei is still a san-ren-sei if white changes her 2 first corner moves from say 4-4s to 3-4s, though how it continues will depend on them. Otake's book will be a bit dated on some principles vs the latest understanding of high level go from AI (e.g. side extensions you mention are now seen as less valuable than back then), but most of it will still be good ideas and I still recommend it to beginners. If you want to find games following these kinds of principles, I recommend to look for older Japanese pro games from mid to late 20th century, Otake himself is a prime candidate as he was known for his clean and elegant style with an emphasis on good shape. Kobayashi Koichi from the 80s - 90s is another.


Many thanks!!!

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Post #4 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:46 am 
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https://senseis.xmp.net/?GeneralOpeningPrinciples

is a good set of principles, with the most helpful in my opinion being:

* Corners, then sides, then center
* Do not get hemmed in
* Play urgent moves before big moves; (aka stabilize existing groups before moving into undisputed area)
* Take the last big point
* Play away from thickness and Push the enemy towards your thickness
* Play dual-purpose moves
* Your opponent's good move is your good move

You will find separate pages for each of those in above mentioned index.


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Post #5 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:39 am 
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These "general" opening principles are not general but, if seen as advice for beginners, later require unlearning.

In the opening, play what you want as long as you also consider the global picture and avoid (big) mistakes, such as choosing the smaller or dying big.

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Post #6 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:34 am 
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Let me use the states of matter as an analogy:

In the opening, a go position is similar to a gas. There are only a few pieces on the board and they have a maximum amount of space and freedom.
Then it becomes more like a fluid: the middle game is more crowded, but very dynamic with lots of interactions between pieces.
Towards the end of the game the board fills up more and more and everything gradually becomes fixed like a solid.

A game of chess progresses more or less in the reverse order,
from a fixed position in the opening with a maximum number of pieces on the board,
towards a very dynamic middle game with lots of interactions between pieces,
then towards the endgame with less and less pieces on the board, that have a maximum amount of space and freedom.

So perhaps the opening of go is more like the endgame in chess.
I think the endgame of chess also has lots of general principles and theoretical considerations, but chess endgames don't have names like chess openings. I think that is because there is just too much variation in chess endgames to name every position. So that would be my explanation for go openings in general not having a name.

But there are names for common patterns in go (joseki). I suppose chess also has named patterns (besides names for openings).

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 Post subject: Re: Opening principles for beginners
Post #7 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:43 am 
Honinbo

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Uberdude wrote:
Go doesn't have full-board named openings like chess, instead you have the standard corner joseki, some of which have names, plus various named openings that take up a side or two (typically for black) like Chinese opening, Kobayashi opening, or san-ren-sei. San-ren-sei is still a san-ren-sei if white changes her 2 first corner moves from say 4-4s to 3-4s, though how it continues will depend on them. Otake's book will be a bit dated on some principles vs the latest understanding of high level go from AI (e.g. side extensions you mention are now seen as less valuable than back then), but most of it will still be good ideas and I still recommend it to beginners.


Otake's ideas are fairly standard. IMHO, they are more than dated. I would strongly suggest looking at pro games from 2018 onward. The pros have learned to play better openings. :)

Quote:
If you want to find games following these kinds of principles, I recommend to look for older Japanese pro games from mid to late 20th century, Otake himself is a prime candidate as he was known for his clean and elegant style with an emphasis on good shape. Kobayashi Koichi from the 80s - 90s is another.


Here I would strongly suggest looking at games from the mid to late 19th century. Why? Two reasons: 1) That's when these ideas were almost fully developed. 2) They are almost all validated by AI, in context. The reason, I think, is that the initial 4-4 in the corner was not popular back then. In that case, the corners were mostly enclosed or approached before extensions on the side were made. It is the early extensions and pincers that are questionable or even mistakes, as a rule.

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 Post subject: Re: Opening principles for beginners
Post #8 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:45 am 
Honinbo

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RobertJasiek wrote:
These "general" opening principles are not general but, if seen as advice for beginners, later require unlearning.


Well worth repeating. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Opening principles for beginners
Post #9 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:50 am 
Honinbo

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Here is an opening principle that I think I am the first to formulate.

Occupy the last open corner, as a rule.

OC, today that usually happens an move 4, but it's still a good rule of thumb. :)

Also, in general avoid the initial 5-4 and 5-3 in a corner.

Hint: If your opponent plays an initial 5-4 or 5-3, invading on the 3-3 is usually right.

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 Post subject: Re: Opening principles for beginners
Post #10 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:02 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
I would strongly suggest looking at pro games from 2018 onward. The pros have learned to play better openings. :)



Thanks for your insights!

In chess it better to learn the classics first.

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Post #11 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:15 pm 
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Caveats about 19th century and early 20th century games.

They were nearly all no komi games, which affected the play in a number of ways. One way is that Black tended to play keima (small knight's move) enclosures, which are not preferred by AI today. But keima enclosures are more solid than large knight's move enclosures, which were preferred by White, and by AI today. AI also like high 2 space enclosures from the 3-4.

Another way is that White generally preferred to approach a corner instead of occupying the last open corner. Occupying an empty corner was considered to be theoretically superior to approaching a corner, but as a practical matter it was felt that the approach made more difficulties for Black.

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Post #12 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:33 pm 
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jumapari wrote:
In chess it better to learn the classics first.

These days I suppose that aspriring young players study a lot with AI. But previous generations studied the classics a lot. The openings of those classic games are considered old fashioned, but other than that, these games are of high quality.

The most famous examples are Honinbo Shusaku (who lived about 200 years ago) and Honinbo Dosaku (who lived about 350 years ago).

Here is a video review of one of Dosaku's games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STr1o1JrC20


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Post #13 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:18 pm 
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gennan wrote:
jumapari wrote:
In chess it better to learn the classics first.

These days I suppose that aspriring young players study a lot with AI. But previous generations studied the classics a lot. The openings of those classic games are considered old fashioned, but other than that, these games are of high quality.

The most famous examples are Honinbo Shusaku (who lived about 200 years ago) and Honinbo Dosaku (who lived about 350 years ago).

Here is a video review of one of Dosaku's games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STr1o1JrC20


Thanks!

In chess, computers have been stronger than any human for more than 20 years right now. A development which, however, was not as surprising as in Go, but was already taking place for about 20 years since the end of the 70s of the 20th century.
But up to a playing strength of at least Elo 2500 (I'm close to 2300) it is irrelevant if you try to learn something from the AI. Here the study of human games, beginning with classical music, is sufficient. It is also of little use to analyze your games with a computer. It just shows you tactical errors, but it doesn't explain concepts ;-)
Surprisingly, the opening theory was hardly changed by the AI in chess.
Magnus Carlsen is an exception. He claimed to have studied the games of Alpha Zero before the last World Cup match. He is not by chance the strongest player in chess.
There are, however, a number of strong grandmasters who are completely indifferent to computer and AI chess, and who still maintain their playing strength.

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Post #14 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:36 pm 
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jumapari wrote:
In chess, computers have been stronger than any human for more than 20 years right now. A development which, however, was not as surprising as in Go, but was already taking place for about 20 years since the end of the 70s of the 20th century.
But up to a playing strength of at least Elo 2500 (I'm close to 2300) it is irrelevant if you try to learn something from the AI. Here the study of human games, beginning with classical music, is sufficient. It is also of little use to analyze your games with a computer. It just shows you tactical errors, but it doesn't explain concepts ;-)

I think it's somewhat similar in go. Studying with AI is probably not very useful until you're getting close to dan level. Below that level you need human teachers to explain concepts and heuristics that guide human thinking about the game.

jumapari wrote:
Surprisingly, the opening theory was hardly changed by the AI in chess.
Magnus Carlsen is an exception. He claimed to have studied the games of Alpha Zero before the last World Cup match. He is not by chance the strongest player in chess.
There are, however, a number of strong grandmasters who are completely indifferent to computer and AI chess, and who still maintain their playing strength.

I think there's a big difference between AI (large neural networks trained by many millions of self-play games) and engines (alfa-beta search with highly tuned human coded algorithms and evaluation functions).

In chess, engines beat humans mainly by superior tactics for decades already, while the engines' openings are still based on a database of human knowledge. So for top human players there is not much to learn from the engines in regard to the opening and strategy.

But there is currently a revolution going on in computer chess, where the superior tactics of the mighty engines is being trumped by the superior strategy of highly creative AI like A0 and Lc0 (which also learned about the opening all by themselves). I think that young aspiring chess players may learn novel strategic concepts from these AI (even in the opening), that the older generation couldn't learn from the engines.

BTW: Nobody ever managed to make a strong go engine, so go players never had to deal with that. So it's been quite a sudden jump for us from pretty crappy engines to demi-god level AI (tactics and strategy) in just a few years.

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Post #15 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:32 pm 
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Even if some pre-AI opening are now out of fashion (sanrensei, Chinese opening, Kobayashi,...) I think it's still interesting to study them at least at kyu level. First because the ideas you learn may be useful in other situations. And second, because these openings are still played in amateur games, and an opponent who knows these openings well may be able to trick you.


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Post #16 Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:21 pm 
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jlt wrote:
Even if some pre-AI opening are now out of fashion (sanrensei, Chinese opening, Kobayashi,...) I think it's still interesting to study them at least at kyu level. First because the ideas you learn may be useful in other situations. And second, because these openings are still played in amateur games, and an opponent who knows these openings well may be able to trick you.

It's like learning reading and writing, before one starts to think about writing his own book ;-)
As long as I frequently make huge mistakes in every game (for instance in life and death situations), it not really depents on some small difference out of the opening.
but learning the old school and old common josekis is like learning how to play this game at the opening. If I managed to understand, what is a good shape, and why some josekis are better in a certain situation, I can practice that. Than someday somebody will knock me down with a 3x3 Invasion like Alpha Go, and I will go into that. I think that's a good way.
Thank you very much for your answers.

And thanks for Mr. Jasiek for this great joseki books. Thats exactly what a beginner like me needs to understand them. Even it's a bit strange to read them in english when I know that Mr. Jasiek is a german like me ;-)

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Post #17 Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:00 am 
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jumapari wrote:
And thanks for Mr. Jasiek for this great joseki books. Thats exactly what a beginner like me needs to understand them. Even it's a bit strange to read them in english when I know that Mr. Jasiek is a german like me ;-)


Cher Robert's mastery of English over the past several years is an example of his persistent and thorough pursuit of excellence. :)

jumapari wrote:
As long as I frequently make huge mistakes in every game (for instance in life and death situations), it not really depents on some small difference out of the opening.
but learning the old school and old common josekis is like learning how to play this game at the opening. If I managed to understand, what is a good shape, and why some josekis are better in a certain situation, I can practice that. Than someday somebody will knock me down with a 3x3 Invasion like Alpha Go, and I will go into that. I think that's a good way.


As Robert indicated above, the less you have to unlearn, the better. :) Go is a long game in which small errors tend to accumulate and persist. In terms of the temperature of the whole board, it reduces over time, with fluctuations, such that the swings at the end of play are much smaller, as a rule, than the swings at the beginning. As gennan indicates, in chess the temperature at the end can be greater than at the beginning. For instance, when a pawn promotes there is typically a large increase in temperature in chess. The same is true, as Reti pointed out (without using the term), when a closed position opens up. That's why Reti advised beginners to play openings such as the King's Gambit, to learn how to play open positions, so that they learn to be prepared for when the game opens up.

There is an analogy to that in go, as when the liberties of stones are taken away, it is possible for local situations to heat up considerably, and that can happen at the end of play. Double Digit Kyu players (DDKs) often make make huge mistakes at the end of the game, when liberties are filled in. That's why you should always fill in the liberties before passing. And why you shouldn't resign. :lol:

But, as I said, go is a long game. Some people think that a mistake that loses only 2 points in the opening is not worth worrying about. Well, if that were the only mistake in the opening, that would be so. But the difference between a professional and a DDK is on average, about 2 pts. per move. Small losses tend to persist and accumulate.

The thing is, it is relatively easy to avoid 2 pt. losses in the opening. Imitating current professional opening play, even without learning opening principles, per se, is a good start. It's not like Alpha Go and other AI play early 3-3 invasions, but humans don't. Now everybody plays early 3-3 invasions. :) When reviewing your own games with AI, of course you should learn how to avoid blunders. But also pay attention to the AI's suggestions for the opening, even if they only make small improvements for each play. Go is a long game. Small improvements add up. :) OC, you don't need to spend much time on each suggestion. And you don't have to slavishly follow them. But take note of them.

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Post #18 Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:35 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:

The thing is, it is relatively easy to avoid 2 pt. losses in the opening. Imitating current professional opening play, even without learning opening principles, per se, is a good start. It's not like Alpha Go and other AI play early 3-3 invasions, but humans don't. Now everybody plays early 3-3 invasions. :) When reviewing your own games with AI, of course you should learn how to avoid blunders. But also pay attention to the AI's suggestions for the opening, even if they only make small improvements for each play. Go is a long game. Small improvements add up. :) OC, you don't need to spend much time on each suggestion. And you don't have to slavishly follow them. But take note of them.


That's a big difference between go and chess. In chess the computer Innovations start mostly in very complicated variations after something like the 15th move. I Go a 3x3 invasion may start with the 3rd move.

I try to take note of every suggestion, think about it and put it in my kind of thinking. Thanks a lot for that!!!

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Post #19 Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:36 am 
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As Robert indicated above, the less you have to unlearn, the better.


Is this really true? My experience in many fields, including go, is that it is probably not - at least it is only with very strong qualification.

Leaving aside the usual problem with apparently logical statements, that it all depends where you start - you can get a totally different answer if you start with different assumptions - straight off, I posit two objections.

1. It may work best for people with a certain cast of mind, and not for others with a different cast of mind. It may work better for some subjects than others.

2. It all depends what you mean by learn. Learning from mistakes is often the most powerful way to learn. Deep learning. In fact, the whole process of unlearning can a form of reinforcement learning. You often have to learn that way so that you know what a mistake even is. Being bitten in the bum by losing a group because you filled in a liberty through making a sente and not obviously bad Atari 100 moves earlier is more powerful than reading a list that just says "1. Don't make unnecessary ataris." Even if it shows an example. You usually learn more from your own experience than from others - hence the advice to play lots of games.

I suspect the real best method is a mixture of instruction and experience, and that the proportions in the mix vary according to type of person, subject matter, culture and need, teachers, etc etc. But I am inclined to think experience is almost always the flour in the bread, and that way you always end up with a loaf. Adding sunflower seeds from recipe list might make the load tastier, but without the flour you're up a gum tree. And as I've often said before, it's a long lane that has no loaf on the bread. It sounds less logical than the opening statement, but I think it contains more truth.

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Post #20 Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:03 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
As Robert indicated above, the less you have to unlearn, the better.


Is this really true? My experience in many fields, including go, is that it is probably not - at least it is only with very strong qualification.


Learning from mistakes, when promptly pointed out, is one thing. Unlearning bad habits is another story. OC, with the death of neurons and the alteration of synapses, true unlearning is possible, in the sense of erasure. However, what happens as a rule is that the original neural connections remain in place, but are inhibited and replaced by new connections which produce new habits. Under stress, such as may happen during the play of a game, that inhibition may fail and the old bad habit resurface. Akin to what Freud called the return of the repressed.

Edit: That is one reason that overlearning corrections to mistakes is very important. Overlearning reinforces the corrections and also the inhibition of the old mistakes.

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