Magic Go

Corner, Side, Centre

There are a lot of proverbs in Go that help us as players understand concepts and the flow of the game.

A common proverb we will go over  here is “Corner, Side, Centre”.

This proverb guides us when playing the opening.

Simply put, we should generally play in the corners first. Once those are all finished, we should then play along the sides and once the sides are finished we should then begin to look at the center.

To play this out of order (e.g. center before the corners) is, usually, to be inefficient and fall behind.

I say “usually” because, while proverbs make helpful guides, they shouldn’t be followed all the time.

To illustrate this proverb, let’s see how many points black can make with just 2 stones.

Playing 2 stones in the corner makes approximately 11 points.

On the side, black has only surrounded 4 points.

And in the center, black has made 0 points.

1. Corners

As always, it’s recommended you study this with a board and stones, or a Go program.

Step 1 is the corners. Both players will claim their corners (moves 1-4) and then both players will either seek to secure their own corners (e.g. 1 & 17) or they will contest their opponents corners (e.g. 5, 18 & 25).

5 steals the corner from white but white gets outside influence so it’s considered even.

After 16, black is able to take sente (i.e. keep the initiative) and enclose their corner at 17, preventing white from doing the same thing.

White then pushes black down with 18. Black focuses on not being sealed in along the sides and white makes a strong shape, pointing their influence to the center.

By now you’ve heard me talking about influence a couple times. These white groups in the top-left and bottom-left aren’t making territory yet but they are exerting influence and you will soon see the value that influence provides in the later stages of the game.

Black contests white’s corner with 25, white blocks it and black finishes with an extension along the side.

The corners are now settled and both players will begin looking towards the sides.

2. Sides

Let’s see what the players might be looking at to use their stones and build towards the side.

A black stone here uses the bottom-right corner well. Black is beginning to make a moyo (“framework”) there, threatening to make many points.

White is looking at playing the triangled stone, which aims at making a nice moyo on the top side, connecting the top-left and the top-right.

Here, white is using their top-left group’s influence to make a large area and therefore make points in an accelerated manner.

The triangled stone makes a move at around A very effective.

White is also eyeing the possibility of playing the 2 triangled stones, utilizing the influence of both of their groups on the left and making a large moyo (outlined in blue).

Moyos are a great way to rapidly make points but it’s not solid territory yet. Black will almost certainly attempt to invade while white will attack the invading group to gain profit.

The game continued up to 5. Now that the sides have been claimed, the flow of the game naturally turns towards the center.

4 has already started early, building black’s moyo on the right.

Black has sente and is probably looking at A-D.

A is a light invasion of white’s space, looking to prevent white from taking everything there.

B continues to build their moyo on the right, while pushing into white’s moyo.

C looks to completely secure the corner from any invasion into that area.

D is a very deep invasion, looking to completely cancel white’s points in that area. It’s also a very risky move that might end in tragedy.

I’ll end this lesson by pointing out why B is a nice move.

B is a “Framework Move”. It is doubly efficient because whichever player plays there first builds there own moyo while reducing their opponent’s.

For that reason, it’s quite a big move.

To illustrate this, consider what happens if black or white plays there first.

Note that the “corner, sides, centre” proverb should be used as a loose guide for playing efficiently but in a position like this, it’s perfectly acceptable to start fights in corners (e.g. white at R3) or the sides (e.g. white at S13 or O3).

Hopefully you have left this lesson with an idea of efficiency and an idea for how to use influence and build moyos.