How to Play in the Opening

What a strange start to a game! Who do you think is doing better?

Black's group is completely alive and he has 2 points of definite territory. White hasn't yet made two eyes for any of his stones and he has no points of definite territory.

But White is winning easily! His stones are like guardsmen watching over all the x's, ready to attack any intruders.

There are exactly 100 x's on this diagram. If they all become White territory, Black won't stand a chance. So he'd better invade!

On sensible kind of place to invade is wherever there's the widest space, because Black needs room to make eyes for his group.

White's reply attacks the Black stone by stopping it using the corner to make eyes.

White is fencing off territory in the upper left at the same time. This is a good example of Making Territory While Attacking.


Attacking something doesn't mean trying to capture it straight away! Just blocking the places where it wants eyes and you want territory is usually a better way.

Black looks for eyes down below, and White blocks him there too.

White's territory in the lower left is already bigger than Black's in the lower right. And on the rest of the board, White is mapping out a big area, while all Black is getting is a weak group to defend!

That's because Black was too timid at the very beginning.


In the opening, don't be timid! Make sure to get your share of the whole board!

Let's look at a better opening.

Go games often begin by both sides sharing out the corners. The corners are best for territory because you only have to fence off two sides.

After sharing the four corners, we're looking for multi-purpose moves. Remember the 4 projects!

Black's move aims to ...

  • work with to start making territory on the upper side
  • hinder White from doing the same
  • attack White with a move somewhere around x.

White has a good multi-purpose move in reply. It ...
  • protects the stone
  • builds towards some territory on the left
  • gets ready to attack the stone with a move somewhere around x

Black protects his stone and grows his area still more. It's getting very big now, so White decides to invade before it becomes too solid.

When the opponent invades your area, he gets a weak group. This is your chance to Make Territory While Attackng!

Which of A and B do you like better for Black's next move?

Answer: both moves are very good!

This move (A) attacks while building towards some territory above. It works well with Black's other stones. You could try it in some of your own games to find out what happens.

Option B looks strange, because it drives White into an area where Black might have made some territory.

But it's all right, because Black has a special plan. After both sides have strengthened their groups ...

... Black takes his revenge by cutting off the stone. While he's attacking it, he'll ruin White's hopes of territory on the left. That makes up for what he gave up on the right.

Giving up something in return for something else is called a trade. In Go, it's often best to give up something that's difficult to hang on to and take something different in return. Just like life!


In the opening we just looked at, White played at x. If he had played at instead, would it have been good or bad?

It would be a great idea to try this out a few times with a friend to see what happens. Set the position up on a board and take it in turns to play Black and White.

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Where to look for good moves table of contents Ko fights

UK Go Challenge home 1 November 2003