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:
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 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.
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