For a beginner player, it is easier to play his first games on a 9*9 size goban to prepare to play on larger sizes goban (13*13 and 19*19). Indeed, on a small goban, it is easier to visualize what is happening, the stones are closer and a whole theoretical aspect of go is simplified.
In this article, I would explain two simple proverbs and some tips that can be used to play first games. It's a rather short article, because I didn't want to develop too much here some aspects of the game, these will be presented in future articles. At the end of this article, a demonstration game on a 9*9 goban will give you an image of what a go game can look like, with many explanations on the meaning of some moves played by both players.
At the beginning of the game, play globally.
By "global" we mean here the fact of controlling strategic points on the goban at the beginning of the game, in order to develop more "local" territories and positions.
To illustrate this, we can take the image of two armies sending soldiers one by one to a given territory, with the objective of sharing it. Thus, each army will send soldiers to strategic points (hills, rivers or other...) at the beginning and then will gradually try with its army to consolidate these positions. Developing and consolidating directly one and only one position at the beginning of the game is therefore not a good idea, because then we cut ourselves off from the rest of the goban!
It is clear here that the black player has taken different positions on the upper and right edge of the goban, favouring rapid and global development, while the white player has only played locally in the lower left corner. Although he has made a safe territory of 12 points, the white player will have much more difficulty during the game to develop on the rest of the goban, and therefore to win other points, while for the black player it will be easier.
In the previous example, we notice that the black player and the white player (in a way) favored shots in the corner and on the edges. This brings us to the next proverb.
The corner is golden, the edge silver and the center is a public garden.
This proverb well known to go players refers to the construction of territory. Indeed, it is much easier to build a territory in the corner, then on the edge and finally in the center. This is why at the beginning of the game, players generally prefer the corners (it is "golden"), then the edges ("silver") and finally the center ("public garden").
On this example we have three different black territories, one in the corner, one on the edge and one in the centre. Each one is worth 9 points, but the one in the centre asked for twice as many stones for its construction as the one in the corner. This example illustrates that it is much easier and faster to build territories in the area and spread them out on the edge at the beginning of the game. It is often in the middle of the game, after having played many moves, that the territories in the centre will be formed.
Tips for your first games:
Here I will develop some tips, some of which are above all common sense, to have a good start in the game of go.
The first and second lines of the goban are to be preferred to close the territories in the end game, or to support groups of stones. It is often not very interesting to play on these lines at the beginning of the game.
On a 9*9 goban however, the second line can be used earlier in the game because the territories are more quickly delimited than on a 19*19 goban.
Try not to always "follow" your opponent. When you think you don't need to answer one of his moves, play elsewhere to take the initiative! This is called "taking the path". The word sente is a Japanese word meaning to play first.
Try to play slowly at each move to take time to think. This may seem a little simple to read when talking about a puzzle game, but getting into the bad habit of playing too fast can cause many games to be lost, for example by not seeing that a group of stones is in atari (e.g. when this group has only one freedom left) or by tenuki (Japanese word meaning to play elsewhere) at any time.
Play and try new things. And if you respect the previous advice, you will learn much better from your mistakes!
If you have no one around you who wants to start the go, you will necessarily find a partner on the server Kgs (or Ogs, Tygem...). C’est un serveur français avec une assez grande communauté, idéal pour débuter lorsque l’on cherche des conseils.
After these two proverbs and those advices, you will find below a commented part to illustrate the points mentioned in this article.
Have a good game!