Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Go Noob

Melanie and I tried playing Go again on Monday night. It's fun learning a new game - especially since both of us are noobs. It's fun trying to guess what might work and what won't.
Sure, there are lots of Go resources on the web, and one day I'll probably read them, but for now I think it's more satisfying trying to discover ideas on my own. Last game we only just began to come up with some ways of thinking about Go.
Melanie is good at multitasking. For example, picking moves that furthered multiple aims at once - killing two birds with one stone. She would place a stone that would both strengthen a structure under threat and block my expansion. She was also good at abandoning her structures when appropriate and moving her efforts elsewhere, whereas I would stubbornly pursue one objective at a time.
Melanie often surprised me by reacting agressively to threats to her stones, when I had just assumed that she would react defensively (which is what I would have done). Rather than strengthening one of her structures, she would leave it endangered and threaten my stones instead, forcing me to respond to her counter attack. Of course, what she was doing was just as certain to save her structure as trying to escape, because if I continued to pursue her structure, she would simply capture the very stones I was using to capture hers!
For myself, I realised that often you don't need to complete a structure for it to be useful. All you need is the capability to complete it regardless of what your opponent does. You gain some moves by not having to explicitly fill in the empty spaces. The caveat is that your opponent has a way of forcing you to make those moves at a time of her choosing, which she can then plan.
In the end, we discovered some "invincible structures" that can never be captured. These are single structures that enclose two or more empty spaces. The empty spaces provide liberties that can never be taken away from the invincible structure, ensuring its survival even in the face of complete encirclement. The smallest invincible structures we found were two 11-stone structures (and multiple isomorphs of those two).

It's fun being a noob. I think we forget that too often :)


melanie said...

wednesday, 23 november, 2005 18:20 MAT

thanks nick! i'm glad you think i'm good at multitasking... just don't ask me to walk and drink without a straw at the same time. :P

Anonymous said...

I love GO. Watch the specials at the end of each episode of Hikaru No Go. It'll give you a bunch of useful tips on how to be better.