I am looking to learn Go. I learned the rules a few years back, but there is a mindset that the game rewards. I want to try to capture that mindset.

I have read many Go books, but they are static. They certainly have a place in my plan for learning go, but they are not everything.

I intend to play in the online Go communities, and that is where my question is focused. What is the best way to practice Go in a competitive community? Obviously I can play on varying board sizes and try to constantly win while they try to win, but is there a better way?

I play Starcraft 2, and follow the advice of Day[9]. He recommends practice games where one focuses on a particular aspect of the game (such as being observant, never slowing down your economy, or constantly attacking). This focus allows one to practice small aspects of the game independently, then put them together when you actually wish to perform (as opposed to practice).

Are there recommended ways to practice Go in this sense? I am looking for the kind of practice approaches which may hurt my chances of winning but increase the likelihood that I learn something. I have less use for practice techniques that are dependent on a willing partner, for most of my partners I expect will be out to win.

  • For starters: Joseki; Tesugi; Openings (just as in Chess); Life and Death; May 17, 2015 at 4:50
  • 1
    Joseki and Openings are not for beginners (see my longer answer below). May 19, 2015 at 12:49

3 Answers 3


That is what I do and I think it works quite well:

  1. play games - review them afterwards If you don't review your games you wont learn as much since a bad move in go can have consequences many moves later and you probably won't pick it up during the game

  2. Have a stronger player review your game (if you can) this helps a lot (try not arguing with them too much especially if they are much stronger than you)

  3. Play go varieties like single colour go on 9x9 it helps a lot to improve your reading without looking at the board

  4. Learn joseki fuseki tesuji do life and death, this is probably a bit dull and boring but it helps :D, you might just do the joseki you saw in the last game and see if you cold done anything better, maybe you can review a group you killed? was it actually dead?

  5. watch other people play at your local go club if you have one or online, there are multiple streamers and yt channels with lectures and games with commentary I watch these: dwyrin, Nick Sibicky, Haylee

Hope that helps!

  • Two things I'd add, that may not be obvious: Play (also) against stronger players, 5kyu difference seems to be good for learning. Get your opponents to comment on your reviews. Personally, I liked the advice to play, and likely loose, your first 40 games before worrying about theory, joseki and all that. But I'm not far enough to say if its good advice.
    – mart
    Jun 1, 2015 at 11:01

There are a few things to add to kruczy's answer:

  • Start with the 9x9 board to master basic tactics fast
  • Once you are comfortable on 9x9 advance to 13x13
  • After a few dozens of games on 13x13 try the full 19x19 board
  • In the beginning, life and death problems help you a lot (and even later, the art of life and death never ends!)
  • Tesuji come next
  • Don't look to deep in opening theory before reaching a rank of at least 10 kyu. Start with basic Joseki for the 4-4 point then.
  • Specialise. With this, I mean, try out patterns that work for you. Stick with patterns that win your games, try something different for loosing patterns.
  • Learn about openings like San-Ren-Sei or the Chinese Opening

And, when a local Go club is available, join it!


The winning (expert) mindset is to be willing to "sacrifice" when necessary. Instead, you should try to get compensation.

For instance, if you have a small weak group that you can't defend, you might want to sacrifice it and start an attack on an opposing group of similar size in a different part of the board.

Or if your opponent has reasonably secure territory, you don't want to invade it and possibly get killed. Instead, you should play "restricting" moves that limit the growth of this territory. Sometimes this will give you control of the center of the board, and more than enough compensation.

One more thing: a ko is worth only half the nominal value of what is being fought for because it takes two moves to secure it. This is an important rule to keep in mind when evaluating ko threats.

Go is played on a much larger board (361 points) than Chess (64 squares), meaning that there are more "second chances" in Go. In chess, if you lose a pawn or an important square, that's the game. In Go, if you suffer a similar loss, you have more chances to recoup.

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