A Weiqi/Go Syllabus

There seems to be more and more new and young players coming to the Japan Club recently. All of them started playing online on KGS and have been influenced by the manga and anime Hikaru no Go. This is very encouraging and there are more and more new and young blood coming up, so there is s future for Malaysian Go. I have promised one of the new players to teach and as I have done when I first started, I have devised something like a syllabus to cover some basics and fundamentals. This syllabus is for people that are not really total beginners since the would have known how to capture stones and have played some 50-100 or so full board games already.

Here is what the “syllabus” will look like, which is based on the many books that I have and based on my own experience:

A. Basic Tactics
1. Ladders and Nets
2. Cutting and Connecting
3. Basic shapes
4. Basic Life and Death

B. The Opening
1. The first move and special properties of the corner
2. Basic opening theory (value of moves, urgent vs big moves, flexibility of play, extensions, moving to the center, moyo)
3. Some popular opening (San Ren Sei, Chinese Fuseki, Mini Chinese, Kobayashi)
4. To pincer or not to pincer

C. Basic Joseki
1. How to study joseki
2. 3-4 joseki
3. 4-4 joseki
4. 3-3 joseki
5. 3-5 joseki
6. 4-5 joseki

D. The Direction of Play
1. Direction of play in the Opening
2. Direction of play in joseki
3. Direction of play in attack and defense

E. Attack and Defense
1. Territory and Power
2. How to attack
3. How to defend
4. Ko fights

F. Invasion and Reduction
1. How and when to invade
2. How and when to reduce
3. Invasion and reduction of some standard shapes and patterns

G. Some Strategic Concepts
1. Miai
2. Sabaki
3. Aji
4. Forcing moves
5. Probing moves
6. Light and heavy stones
7. Key stones (Important & Unimportant stones)
8. Furikawari (Exchange)
9. Positional judgment
10. Sente vs. Gote
11. Thickness and Influence
12. Efficiency of stones

H. Basic Tesuji
1. Placement
2. Snap back
3. Cross cut
4. Attachment
5. Wedge
6. Taking away base
7. Clamp

I. The Endgame
1. Basic Endgame counting
2. Basic Endgame tesuji (e.g. the Monkey jump, hane, one space jump, etc.)

J. Some Go Proverbs
1. Your opponent’s good move is your good move
2. Play on the point of symmetry
3. Hane at the Head of Two Stones
4. Crosscut then extend
5. Strike at the waist of the keima
6. Urgent points before big points
7. Play away from thickness
8. Don’t use thickness to make territory
9. Don’t try to enclose when you have an open skirt
10. Make a feint to the east while attacking in the west
11. Invade a moyo one move before it becomes territory
12. Reduce a large moyo lightly
13. Don’t touch weak stones
14. Family fueds waste resources
15. Don’t cling to stones that have served their purpose

These are aimed at the basics and fundamentals. Without strong fundamentals, it is hard to progress to the higher level. My aim is to devise the plan so that a diligent student following this plan should be able to reach at least 5kyu within 6 to 12 months depending on intensity.

However, never forget the following:
1. Play lots of quality games (i.e. games where you actually think and try to apply what you learn as opposed to playing blitz games).
2. Review the games with your opponent and stronger players
3. Do lots of life and death problems
4. Study per lesson plan above
5. Do more life and death problems

That should do it. It is very easy to do, and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the friendship and companion of other Go players. So don’t torment yourself too much and don’t worry too much about winning or losing or about your rank. It is the process of learning and of having fun that is important and the improvements in rank will naturally follow.


Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

5 responses to “A Weiqi/Go Syllabus

  1. Ah ha,

    Thanks for the great syallabus. Lots’ of new players joining…Hmm…looks like I might be joining at the right time then…hehe…

    Just need to brush up a bit of the basics before throwing myself into the river, so to speak…

    Or is it the ocean :)

  2. wow.. quite exhaustive list
    how did u come up with this?

    maybe i can prepare teaching material based on this.

  3. fallingstones

    Hi Avatar, hahaha ;-) give me a ring when u r ready to come. it will be loads of fun.

    Hi Zaid, being a person that self-studied his way to a professional qualification, i got the habit of devising my own study plan and when i started to learn go, i was actually quite lost and bought loads of books, basically all the basic books in kiseido including the excellent elementary go series and the get strong at go problem book series plus loads of chinese vcds. so i sat down and started to put a framework together to study. the list above is actually much better fleshed out after many years of playing go but the structure is more or less like that. jueneke wanted to study go seriously, so i thought this may help her. but really, as experience told me, the best, at least for beginners to maybe 10k, is still play, play, play and do lots life and death questions ;-) but knowing some basic joseki and understanding some opening ideas is really useful.

  4. Enzan

    That too much to learn ………each material took long for 1 to understand , digest and use in the match…….

    it could take more than years to finish the syllabus

  5. fallingstones

    hi enzan, thanks for your comments. the “syllabus” is nothing but a guide. it is not really intended to be “serious”. afterall it is important to have fun playing go. the most important thing is play more games.

    re what you said, there are many things to go and the “syllabus” is limited to the said range, i.e. up to 5k only, plus minus. one can go into extremely length and discuss a topic till the cow comes home but what i intend to do is to just cover the elementary. for example, we can study the komoku variation until forever, there are just too many variations, but we can just focus on the more widely used joseki that a 5k may encounter, and i think about 10-12 different komoku variations will be sufficient.

    when you move up, there will be more and more things to learn, and believe it, this “syllabus” or parts of it can last until u are 5dan, say, since they are all still evolving and changing, and new variations and ideas comes up all the time, for example the star point josekis or the mini chinese fuseki. i hope this clarifies.

    finally: relax ler….

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