Maxims for Eager Kyus

British Go Journal No. 61. March 1984. Page 22.

By Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly was recently observed to appear briefly from some hole in the woodwork and play a few games of go. Before returning, he left us this piece, written eight years ago but with much topical relevance.

Only the most intelligent BGA members have suspected that the Grading Subcommittee exists solely to prevent promotions. The policy was adopted some years ago when the rising cost of Dan diplomas became a problem.

The grading Subcommittee are however experiencing great difficulty in dealing with the kamikaze tactics adopted by first kyus, who have entered in great numbers for some tournaments. (Indeed the suspicion has arisen that most members of the association are first kyus and the grading subcommittee wish to deny that this has anything at all to do with their policies) With such great numbers entered for tournaments it is inevitable that some will win some games, particularly since many of this tribe have quite inadequate respect for their betters, the Dan players. Sane upstarts even have sufficient temerity to be ahead on the board against their superiors some of the time (only during the unimportant part at the end, of course).

To avoid the embarrassment caused by all these undeserving candidates winning their games, and the mistaken conception that a few of them get that they have so prematurely attained the rarified heights of dan-dom, the grading subcommittee have asked me to pass on a few words of advice. Following these " Eight maxims for eager kyus" is a sure way to avoid premature (or indeed any) promotion, and the student of my wisdom may be certain that his efforts are duly appreciated in the most elevated circles, The maxims are brief and succinct. Learn them well:

Maxim 1: A dead group is a symbol of fighting spirit.
No really satisfactory game is ever played without an unstable group, or preferably two, being left unattended for a few dozen moves, The weakie you are playing will never spot how to kill it.
(Note - an unstable group is one that hasn't got two eyes at this precise moment, but you know for sure that you will be able to live, or kill something, or maybe make a ko, or find some tesuji - you know the sort of thing. It's quite different from your opponent's dead group, the one you know you can kill, but you just can't see how right now).

Maxim 2: A stone added to a dead group is sente.
Your opponent couldn't conceivably be so despicable as to let you dig (DIG - Die in Gote - the only fate indisputably worse than death). So go right ahead, he's bound to answer, you don't need to read it out.

Maxim 3: Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes,
Find your opponent's strongest wall and kill it immediately - he'll be so disconsolate he'll resign. Derek Hunter, author of this most valuable maxim, mysteriously seems to ignore it and doesn't play near walls until they are already dead. But I fear my help has come too late for him.

Maxim 4: Kesh your aji quick.
Aji (you remember aji?) is the places in your opponent's group where you might rip him off if he's not careful, Play there quickly before you forget about it or get confused by noticing different ways to play there.

Maxim 5: There's always a ko threat.
It doesn't matter if you waste a few, you'll always be able to find something, a really nasty one, an atari perhaps, So don't worry about kos, they're no trouble at all if you're cunning.

Maxim 6: Stones lost in your opponent's territory cost nothing.
So always attack from the inside, it's obvious really.

Maxim 7: Counting comes at the end.
Another obvious one. It's amazing how many people don't know this.

Maxim 8: The really decisive moves come at the beginning.
So use nearly all your time for the first twenty moves, The middle of the game is quite easy, and yose (the fiddly bits round the edge) can always be done in byo-yomi.

Take your time, study these maxims carefully, you'll grasp them in the end, I know it will be difficult for the less gifted, but remember the goal you're aiming at is well worthwhile - promotion CAN be avoided,

Good luck (Teaching games 50 guineas, by prior appointment only).


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 61
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

Last updated Thu Jan 03 2013. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.