Endgame’s third dimension

Published 17 May 2020 by antti (last edited 31 May 2020)
tags: endgame

Endgame theory books generally focus either on move value calculations or endgame tesuji. While these both are of course important – calculations for figuring which move to play first and tesuji for cultivating a sensitivity to key moves and weak points – they miss out on a third aspect that I feel is just as important.

During an actual game, you will usually be in second reading by the time the endgame starts, so you usually will not have time to calculate values for all available endgame moves. Endgame tesuji, too, while they make for an enjoyable study in the shape of problem books, do not show up in games nearly as often as you would like and rarely turn a game around (though admittedly, when they do, it feels incredibly good).

The third way one can study endgame is by realising that:

  1. most endgame moves have more utility than just the points they create or remove, and
  2. a game of go is a continuum of alternating moves by the two players; and therefore one should not just think about the move they are playing now, but also of the moves that follow.

The diagram below discusses an endgame shape that I got recently consulted about by Jeff. Although it features only one of the myriad endgame shapes in existence, I did my best to explain a pro’s thinking process in general terms.

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