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Some of the basic strategic and tactical concepts in Go are often hard to grasp for beginners:

- Sacrifice of unimportant stones e.g. stones played to force an unfavourable opponent move.
- Keeping a constant check of how a move affects the whole board and the actual and potential territory of each player (territory is sometimes called cash, by the way. Moves are said to give profit)
-Trading territory for influence and using the influence effectively. This is hard, because influence gives nothing tangible. A solid wall of stones does not capture territory as such, but it is dangerous to play near it, so it's a support tool for future attack.
-Aji: Japanese term , meaning flavour. Refers to potential embedded in a situation. As the game evolves, an apparently harmless group of (sometimes already captured) stones can affect the evolving surroundings. Leaving loose ends for the sake of rapid expansion (bad aji) or having flexible, light shapes, as opposed to rigid ones .
-Efficiency: not playing too close to your own strength, avoiding over concentration; using stones with multiple purposes, attack, defend, gain territory, and so on.
-Gradual, patient accumulation of small advantage. A game of Go can be won by .5 point, is still a win. Total destruction of opponent is possible against a mush weaker player, but otherwise too risky. One must realise that the opponent is entitled to territory. Envy leads to premature, dangerous invasions and attacks.
-Stay connected. Disconnect you opponent.

Go is a game of balance.

From Strategic Fundamentals in Go by Guo TiSheng:
"...many conflicting situations that are frequently encountered when playing go. Sente (free to move) allows a player to maintain the initiative, but it gives his opponent an opportunity to counterattack; gote (forced move) on the other hand, forsakes the initiative, but it builds a solid foundation for future attacks. Light moves are flexible, yet they sometimes form loose shapes; heavy moves are inflexible, but they are solid. Thickness leads to profit, but there is a danger of forming overdeveloped shapes; thinness is weak, but more flexible. Making life is safe, yet one loses sente; leaving a precarious group unattended is dangerous, but one gets sente. Thus, the key issues of initiative, profit, safety, and the life and death of groups must all be harmonized within one global, strategic framework. When separated from this global framework, these issues lose their meaning, and the game loses direction."

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yes, BA, a wonderful synopsis. I watch a lot of Go. Watching the 9 dan players is very difficult because they are so subtle. I learn the most from watching the dans lower than 5 because they are more obvious.

The game has one main feature that is difficult for the West to understand: emptiness is power. The one who dominates the empty spaces is more powerful than the one who goes bankrupt sticking stones all over the borders of Russia and China, for example. Heh.

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