BASIC STRATEGY

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While playing GO you will find there are two main principles for success. They are:

PRINCIPLE #1 - Gain Territory!

The gaining of territory is far more important than the capturing of stones! Territory is vacant intersections entirely within the control of safe stones (having 2 eyes or capable of making them against any attack) of a single color. To gain territory you surround empty intersections on the board. You do this by building walls around these areas. Then all you have to do is make two eyes inside these structures and you have complete control over the territory.

WALL

PRINCIPLE #2 - Protect Your Stones!

The more stones your opponent removes from the board, the less you have to work with. Take the time to look at ways you can protect your stones. Most of the time the simplest move is the best.


Capturing Stones

Stones are captured when all the liberties are occupied by your opponent's color. Every unit (one or more solidly connected stones) on the board must have at least one liberty. Basically this means they are captured when  they are completely surrounded by the opposite color.

Cap4 Take3

Placing Stones

Each player initially sketches out potential territories but, in the process of their mutual attack and defense, must ultimately tighten those tentative enclosures to solidly wall them off. Enclosing too loosely may allow the opponent to break in and  either neutralize the territory or form a small safe group of his own inside it. But playing too tightly or consolidating before it is necessary will allow the opponent to get ahead. Establishing the unique proper balance between these conflicting objectives in each game is one of the elements that makes Go the finest strategic board game in human history.

In the beginning of a game you should place your stones on or near the four handicap markers which are located in the corners of the board.    By doing this, you create a distinct advantage in gaining the corner positions, which are not only easy to defend, but will also assist you in gaining valuable territory. Try not to let your opponent get more influence in the corners than you.

BOARD

Only when necessary should you play stones on the edge of the board or in the corners. These stones are very easy to capture.

Cap2 The corner only needs two stones to be captured.
 
Cap3 The edge only needs three stones to be captured.
 
Cap4 Open area needs four stones to be captured.

So you can see it is much better to play in open area where you have more options to protect your stones. Here are some examples of good moves to help you along with your game:

JUMP The one point skip is very easy to defend and gains ground. Have a lot of these in a row and you can have control over a large section of the board.
KNIGHTJUMP The knight jump is also very easy to defend and gains good ground. This is a great first move after you have placed on or near the handicap markers.
DIAGONAL The simple diagonal move is good when your opponent is close to your stones. It also is easy to defend, but gains very little ground.

GOODIf you need to gain ground in open area, it is generally a good idea to build off or near a strong structure of you making. This gives your stone good protect if needed. Also it makes your structure larger for future moves of this nature

Take control of corners and then spread your influence along the sides of the board, NOT directly on the edge, but three or more intersections from it. This strategy is very strong. These areas are easy to defend because the edge of the board acts as an already built wall.

BADBe careful when placing your stones right next to your opponents. They are ALWAYS one move ahead of you to capture. You do not want to lose your stones or allow your opponent to gain large influence over area by chasing your stones.

BADNormally you never place your stones in your opponents structures. This usually gives them free stones. The only time you do this is when you KNOW you can capture his stones or it prevents them from making two eyes.

 

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