Friday, May 25, 2012

Intermediate Class Chapter Three

Edgeplay and Tempo

As mentioned in basic class chapter two, besides the theory of centralisation, there is also an equally important theory which is the one on edgeplay. Edgeplay is arguably one of the hardest part of the game. Deciding whether to give up and edge or keep an edge always puzzles many novice players seeking to climb to a higher level. Of course, in order to improve, one must clearly understand these related principles as much as possible.

Before we begin, we need to first define good and bad edges.

Diagram 3-0

In order to judge whether an edge is balanced or unbalanced, one would need to observe the discs on the edge based on the two center axes marked by the red double headed arrows shown in Diagram 3-0 above.

For example, the top edge would be an unbalanced edge for Black with 3 discs on the left of the vertical center axis and none on the right.

Another example, the bottom edge would be a balanced edge for Black with 3 discs on the left and right of the vertical center axis.

Furthermore, the left edge would be a prospective 4 disc balanced edge with 2 discs above and below the horizontal center axis.

Lastly, the right edge would be a 5 discs unbalanced edge for White with 3 discs on top of the horizontal center axis and 2 discs below the same axis.

In essence, to detemine whether an edge is balanced or not, one only needs to observe the discs on each side of both the horizontal or vertical axis. Like a weighing scale, if you have the same number of discs on each side, it would be balanced. If not, they are unbalanced edges.

Generally, balanced edges are better than unbalanced edges because unbalanced edges are susceptible to attacks such as the wedge and stoner techniques covered in the chapter before.


Defending an Edge

Starting from a very basic form of edgeplay would be about defending an edge.

Diagram 3-1
The first board on the left of Diagram 3-1 shows how White has just played D8 to approach to capturing the bottom edge. If Black takes E8, it would be a move that threatens to take control over the edge since it can approach to the prospective C8 next.

Thus, in order to defend the edge and retain control of the edge, White would have to follow up with F8 as shown in the center board of Diagram 3-1. The result is then shown in the third board on the right of Diagram 3-1 where White has control of the bottom edge marked by the blue double headed arrow. White is said to have defended its edge here.

Let us now take a look at what happens in the alternate scenario should White choose not to take F8 and defend its edge. This brings us to the concept of tempo.

Diagram 3-2
The first board on the left of Diagram 3-2 shows the result if White chooses not to take F8 to defend the edge, but rather selects playing C3 instead. This opens up an opportunity for Black to control the edge to C8 since White has given up the right to move by playing C3 instead of controlling the edge by F8. Also, the move to C3 by White opens up an easy centralising move for Black to F4. Thus, C3 should be clearly problematic for White.

After White decides not to play F8, but rather, to play C3, it is said to lose one tempo to the edge. Furthermore, when Black decides to take C8, White will have to make one more move to the exterior and "consume" more of its opponents' frontier or surface discs. This would result in White losing up to two moves worth of frontier discs which could prove as a costly mistake of not willing to grab edges.

Moving on to the center board of Diagram 3-2, there is a pressing need for White to change D6 into its colour because White would not want to give Black an easy move to F4 and also to prevent Black from forming a nice balanced edge to the bottom of 4 discs.

Finally, Black would follow by G8 in order to protect the edge below. Although this edge is momentarily unbalanced, Black can look to change the D6 disc into Black so that he or she can balance the edge by playing B8 in the future. This prospect is possible because C7 is a White disc.

Therefore, as general rule to safeguard tempo, when your opponent plays a move to the edge or approaches an edge you are controlling, there is a need to first consider taking the edge that he or she is feeding you. Should the edge be unfavourable to you (an attackable unbalanced edge), then you should avoid taking it and consider other options.

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