Go concepts

From Academic Kids

Go concepts are concepts applied to the game of go. To a novice Go player, Go is merely a mechanical thing. But as one advances, one becomes aware of a subtlety beneath stronger play that transcends calculable mechanical thinking.

Conceptual thinking is what allows intelligent beings to deal with very complex issues, with some basic rules of understanding. This exists in go to a degree greater than in other games, as placed stones exert a hard-to-quantify influence of play over the board, and these effects need to be understood for a player to rise to the dan ranks.

Contents

Concepts

Sente & gote (先手&後手)

Sente (gain of initiative) and its opposite, gote. (loss of initiative) - See Go strategy and tactics

Miai

A pair of points on the board that are equivalent in terms of value with respect to a groups development or survival. Miai can be seen in the fuseki stage on a large scale or in a simple life and death problem, like a straight four-space eye. This shape is alive, because if white plays b, black can answer with a and vice versa.

Aji

The closest English we could use is 'latent potential.' From the Japanese, Aji is the word for taste, and in go refers to the lingering quality that even dead stones will provide possible avenues of subtle play. Though aji may not be used at all, it has a bearing on the course of the game. Good aji is when your groups are strong, and have little or no possibility of being compromised. Bad aji, is where dead stones carry a latent threat of compromising an existing area, should the situation become ripe.

Korigatachi

Litterally this means 'frozen shape'. Usually, it's translated as 'over-concentrated'. If a player uses his stones in an inefficient way, the result will be korigatachi. So, knowing something about korigitachi should tell you how to avoid it.

Sabaki

Light and flexible shape development.

Thickness

Also called influence. Thickness refers to a kind of influence, where an area is developed beyond the level of the area around it. A large wall, for example, is a common example of thickness, and if that wall has no compromising weaknesses in it, will provide a help to its other stones in the area. Considering the proverb-- "do not try to make territory from thickness", stronger players will avoid making strong areas any stronger (as this will waste moves). Instead they will play in underdeveloped areas and allow their thickness elsewhere to have a subtle influence over play on the rest of the board.

Kikashi

Kikashi is a forcing move in the context of an attack. Unlike sente, though, a move is kikashi, when it yields a high efficiency in play by causing the opponent to regard that move in making a change in its course of action. A kikashi stone is can generally be sacrificed but meanwhile it still might have an advantage, e.g. a ladder breaker, while the answering move has no value at all.
Moves can be kikashi, or not, depending on whether they are answered with appropriate sophistication or not. If the answering move strengthens the position, then the play is not kikashi but aji keshi (ruining one's own potential).

Yosu-miru

A probe. A yosu-miru move is, in some sense, a sacrifice of a stone, but is designed to yield a very sophisticated kind of information about a developing group and how best to attack it, based on its response. Yosu-miru draws on other concepts of kikashi and aji, and korigatachi in order to understand it fully.

As such, 様子(yosu) means situation or the state of things, and 見る(miru) is "to see", thus "yosu o miru", to "see how things stand". In Japanese this expression is usually used to say that it's better to wait and see before taking an action (e.g. "shibaraku yosu o miru beki da", it's better to wait and see for a little while). It is not a single word or a set phrase except in Western Go literature, and "probe" is the preferred word, being self-explanatory and actually used by the speakers of its originating language.

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