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I would like to learn more about semeai and be able to quickly learn about how to handle the most common situations (determine quickly whether a group is alive, dead, or undetermined).

Now, there is the simple idea that counting liberties works in simple cases.

Then there is the idea that eyes generally require more attack moves that their number of liberties (along with pre-calculated values that are easy to remember), which is a special case of having to count approach moves.

That said, I am still at a stage where I have to mostly read the sequence in my mind and keep track of outside liberties, shared liberties, eye liberties, etc., which is slow and error-prone.

I have not yet looked further in details yet: what would be the fastest way of learning useful information applicable to most semeais encountered in real games?

There are some specific pages on Sensei's Library (no eye vs no eye, eye vs no eye, eye vs eye).

There are also two books (Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races and Capturing Races 1) and a more recent mathematical paper (I don't mind math).

What would you suggest is the most efficient way of getting practical semeai tools that cover most common situations?

PS: The pages at Sensei's Library give a quick overview that lacks details or even sometimes basic definitions, so they are not a good starting point.

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There's also an extremely thorough coverage of semeai in "The Second Book of Go". It's out of print, but it looks like there are used copies available.

  • Do you know how approachable it is, in particular compared to the resources I cited? – Eric O Lebigot Nov 27 '14 at 12:10
  • I just checked, and Chapter 7 gives many concrete examples of various fight types (6 of them), along with a general "recipe" for each fight type, while chapter 8 describes how to fight them. This looks nice and detailed, but way longer than the paper by Thomas Wolf that I linked too… I guess I'll take the plunge and check Wolf's paper first, and move to the detailed explanations of Bozulich if needed. – Eric O Lebigot Nov 27 '14 at 12:31
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From the OP

That said, I am still at a stage where I have to mostly read the sequence in my mind and keep track of outside liberties, shared liberties, eye liberties, etc., which is slow and error-prone.

This is good for you as long as you know how to kill/live in certain shapes. Reading is very important in all aspects of Go and this is a good time to practice it. The links you mentioned on Sensei's library will be useful. Try to remember the facts so that it will become instinctive.

  • I agree, reading is important, but I prefer to practice it with problems. I like the idea of reading semeais, but I prefer to do it under the guidance of some theory, so that I can read faster. This is why the question asks for the most efficient way of learning some important semeai theory… – Eric O Lebigot Nov 28 '14 at 3:34
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I decided to read the 2012 paper by Thomas Wolf, and this was a very fast way of learning important basic counting techniques. Now, the paper is arguably not always perfectly clear, but it can be followed with a reasonable amount of effort. It also contains a simple result that had been missed before (in some circumstances, it can be beneficial to start an attack by filling the liberties shared by the competing group).

I had a quick look at Chapters 7 and8 of The Second Book of Go: while they give many concrete details, they still take much longer to read, and give more complex and less complete recipes than the succinct paper by Wolf.

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