Sacrifice Strategy, Malaysia-Singapore Friendship Match

In Go as in life in general, we need to have the courage to sacrifice something in return for some things that we deem more valuable. There are some considerable risks involved. What if you have sacrificed something but in return, you did not also get the things that you have sacrificed for?

However, in life and in Go, you need to have the courage to sacrifice in order to advance further. If you become too timid, you will get stuck at the present level or status quo and advancement will be slow, if it ever comes. You must know what you can want, and what you cannot want. You must know what you want so that you know what you can let go.

The skill in recognising and effectively implementing a sacrifice strategy comes a lot with experience. Once you have accumulated the needed experience, you will have a greater certainty on the success rate of the strategy and thus helps you to evaluate your current position and then plan your moves. It is still sort of a “gamble” sometimes, but with experience, you will somehow be able to reduce the risk tremendously.

As Takemiya Masaki 9p said, “There are two types of sacrifice stones: those that you play specifically as sacrifices and those which were not originally planned as such but which have become weak or burdensome. It is important to learn to sacrifice the latter. This will lead to spectacular improvement.”

Yesterday was a very much awaited day for us Go players in Kuala Lumpur as the scheduled annual Malaysia-Singapore friendship match was to take place. There were in total 16 matches and we were lucky to have won 9 of the matches. It was a very great experience, with many friendships renewed and new friends found. The group that came are all quite strong, mostly Dan level players and we had a small trouble coming out with the same number of players to match them. Luckily our members did not disappoint and came to play.

I played my tournament game against a 2dan and with some luck, I won that game, thanks to a sacrifice strategy that I have used that have secured the lead which I have maintained until the end. In the middle game, I have somewhat created a string of stones that was weak. These stones arose from a reducing move that I have played to reduce the opponent’s moyo potential but have somehow been turned into a rather heavy group. I did not feel like running the group as running it does not create any points, merely running on Dame points and will put my other positions at risk. I have therefore devised a sacrifice strategy and used the string of stones to squeeze out a favourable position on the right side of the board. It worked well and I was happy to contribute a win to my team :)

We had a few friendship games as well and I played another 2 dan. It was not an easy game as this 2 dan vowed to take “revenge” for his friend’s earlier defeat (of course in a friendly way meant to be a joke). Towards the middle game again, I managed to create a group of weak stones at the top side. However, I also saw that he has a weak group at the bottom. My weak group, however, was weaker that his. I figured that if I can sacrifice and squeeze the top group, I can seal off his lower weak group and launch an attack. If I can capture the group, I can win the game. I am not very confident if I can do it but I figured I have to. Afterall, simply running my weak group will again lead to nowhere.

The strategy was executed and many moves after that, I managed to capture the whole of the lower side. It was again success due to the sacrifice strategy.

In life, I figure, it will be the same. You must know if you can sacrifice something and take a bit of risks to take on something bigger and potentially more rewarding. For example, many people I know risks the comfort of a fixed income and took on the risk to venture into something bigger, own business, overseas working opportunity, etc. and come back and be better off than just sitting here in the comfort zone.


Gu Li 9p (China) vs. Lee Sedol 9p (Korea). Lee Sedol’s hand is so stylish.

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Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

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