Missing the Obvious
“Oops, I didn’t even see that move.”
“I misread that.”
“Wait a minute, that stone moved!”
I often find myself saying something like this when I lose a game. As I have mentioned previously, I believe that a lot of games at my level are lost because of simple reading mistakes. Reading Go moves in situations you’re unfamiliar with can feel like trying to read a challenging book in a different language or dialect, but like reading a book, it is something that becomes better with practice.
As an example of this, I would like to share a game I played last month with Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p. I joined his Korean-Style Insei League on KGS which was very helpful to me. I will write more on it later.
I played Black in this game:
Dia. 1: White 1 is an overplay! Black responds with 2 and the right side looks promising.
Dia. 2: After being sealed in, White played atari here. How should Black respond?
At this point in the game I was feeling confident that I could kill the White stones, but White 1 threw me off a little. I thought for a while about my next move, considering options A, B, and C in diagram 2. However, I missed something…
Dia. 3: The “obvious” move is to simple connect at Black 2.
In the review after the game I was shocked that I did not even see Black 2. Simply connecting is the best option, and now it is very difficult or even impossible for White to escape, assuming Black plays correctly. However, in the actual game, I missed the obvious move and played A, capturing a White stone. White played at 2 and started a ko, and was eventually able to escape.
Why didn’t I see Black 2? Why didn’t I even consider playing it? I believe it is a combination of bad habit and not enough practice with good shape (I’m sure that playing this game very late when I was tired did not help, but that’s simply another excuse). Simple practice playing strong moves like Black 2 – slowly building good habits – will result in less blunders like this. By the end of the month I noticed myself making less mistakes like this, although I still have much to learn.
I am reminded of this popular ad by Transport for London. It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for!