Toroid Go 101

Published 20 Dec 2020 by antti (last edited 27 Dec 2020)
tags: toroid-go

With the Christmas Toroid Tournament upcoming, it is time to cover some basic toroid go strategy and tactics. Unlike pixel go, I am not extremely familiar with toroid go, but I have found it to be close enough to regular go except for the obvious difference of there being no edges.

Above is an example of a toroid go opening. ‘There are no edges’ means that, for instance, the intersection marked ‘A’ is immediately to the right of the intersection marked ‘B’, and the intersection marked ‘C’ is immediately above ‘D’. If you wanted a physical board on which to play this go variant, it would end up looking like a toroid, i.e., a doughnut.

Because there are no edges in toroid go, forming territory (and even eyes) is a lot more complicated than in regular go. My own instinct, then, is for either player to start forming box-like shapes such as Black with 1–7 and White with 2–8 here, but I would not be surprised if ‘optimal’ toroid go openings turned out to look very different. Nevertheless, for the purposes of surrounding territory, there are hardly any better moves available.

Incidentally, because of the difficulty of surrounding territory in toroid go, we have set White’s komi to 3.5 points in the Toroid Tournament. This is to compensate for the fact that the territorial value of Black’s having the first move should be less than on a regular 13×13 board.

A lot of the challenge in playing toroid go comes from the fact that the board is just simply difficult to visualise. Consider the two diagrams above, which are from a 11×11 toroid game I played – they are in fact the same game, just from a different point of view! Although in the left-hand view it looks like Black has a lot of territory, the right-hand view shows that actually White has a lot more.

Instead of just going ‘deal with it’, Variant Go Server actually has a great feature for just this problem: you can scroll the view by clicking at the edges of the board, or, if you want to avoid misclicks, with the wasd keys. The value of this cannot be overemphasised, so, to repeat:

scroll the view with the wasd keys!

One more of the interesting parts of toroid go is that ladders are just . . . different.

Consider the diagram above. Does black 7 catch White in a ladder or not? Once you think you have solved the problem, press below to see the solution!

The ladder continues all the way to white 50, at which point it becomes clear that Black cannot catch the white stones. White will now easily win this game.

The best way to learn is by doing yourself, so head over to the Variant Go Server to play some training games before the tournament! In the ‘Create game’ view, there is a button for ‘ngd Toroid Go Tournament settings’ which will speed up the setup of the game: after choosing it, you can just press ‘Create’. For the time being, vgs has no chat functionality, but you can find opponents on the vgs Discord server.

Christmas Toroid Tournament details and registration

Comments (6)

Zdzieli wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

Hm... honestly I kinda dislike this WASD scrolling... In my opinion half of the fun in playing thoroidal go comes from the fact that mind bends when reading edges and corners. The other half (obviously) is only having center territory, but both are important. Allowing scrolling feels a bit like turning on analysis on OGS.

antti wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

Yours is a truly proper old school opinion from a time when we had no fancy newfangled servers to popularise this particular variant. 😃

I personally appreciate the features because I’m most interested in how the game should optimally be played under the toroidal setting – visualisation challenges deter me from this, but I do give that they could create plenty of fun optical illusions.

sig wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

Continuous WASD scrolling makes it a bit like playing Starcraft or maybe even more like first-person shooters. Seequ should add APM metrics to the server!

Oscar wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

I sympathize with zdzieli's point that the scrolling does remove some of the experience by making the unique visualization challenge presented by toroidal go easier, so I think there's a lot to say for playing the game as it would usually be played OTB. On the other hand, the scrolling tool is a lot of fun to use for gaining different perspectives on a game, and the game-play does feel something akin to an RTS game in some ways, which I like. Moreover, the tool is fantastically useful for commentary.

Zdzieli wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

Not denying scrolling feature is useful for analysis, helpful in achieving perfect (or at least better quality) game and even fun in its way, but same applies to e.g. mid-game analysis on OGS and we usually don't use it in serious games, do we? Instead we say reading is important skill!

Also, it's not like I'm arguing or claiming my point of view is better. Having WASD available is fair as long as both players agree to use it. My opinion is just an "old school" one, as Antti said and I like the game most when it resembles real-life version :)

antti wrote 2 years, 1 month ago:

Incidentally, when I played toroid go on a real board with my friends, we used the duplication feature. We’d play a 9×9 on a 19×19 board so that, if you played a stone on tengen, it would get duplicated at a1, a10, a19, k1, k19, t1, t10, and t19. This way the play experience is very similar to the toroid go on VGS, only with manual implementation.