Tsumego puzzles from the San Francisco Go Club

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The Nichi Bei News is pleased to partner with the San Francisco Go Club in 2024 to feature monthly tsumego puzzles. Matthew Barcus, the club’s president, will curate the puzzles. He hopes to invigorate your grey matter! To learn more about go, visit the club in the Japan Center East Mall in Japantown or check out https://www.sfgo.club.

The San Francisco Go Club is excited to introduce a monthly Go puzzle feature in the Nichi Bei News. In each issue, we will present engaging puzzles for both new and experienced players. But first, let’s delve into what Go is and the basics of the game, including Japan’s pivotal role in introducing it to the West.

What is Go?
Go, an ancient board game from China, has been played for more than 2,500 years. Known in Japanese as igo (囲碁), it gained significant popularity in Japan, which played a crucial role in spreading the game to the Western world. Through cultural exchanges and the establishment of go clubs, Japan helped to globalize this intellectually stimulating game.

How is Go Played?
In go, two players — one with black stones and the other with white — take turns placing their stones on the vacant intersections of the board. The aim is to control more territory than your opponent. A key concept in go is “liberty” (呼吸点, kokyuten), which refers to the empty points directly adjacent to a stone. Stones or groups of stones with no liberties are captured and removed from the board. This dynamic of capturing and securing liberties adds a layer of complexity to the game. The game ends when both players pass their turn, signifying no further beneficial moves.

Puzzle 2 – Black to play; save black.

Why Play Go?
Go offers a profound blend of strategy, patience and balance. Each game is a unique journey, making go a powerful tool for learning and reflection.

The Puzzles: Tsumego (詰碁)
Our puzzles, or tsumego (詰碁), focus on life-and-death scenarios of stone groups. They are an excellent way to enhance your go skills, offering challenges from basic capturing techniques to advanced strategic plays.

How to Solve Tsumego (詰碁)
Examine the whole board and consider every possibility.
Identify crucial points for both attack and defense.
Often, the simplest solution is the most effective.
Anticipate your opponent’s moves and strategize accordingly.

Engage and Learn
Go is a journey of continuous learning, and we are excited to bring this aspect of Japanese culture to our readers. Look out for our first puzzle in the upcoming issue and join us in exploring the rich, strategic world of go!

Have a favorite tsumego of your own? e-mail it to matt@sfgo.club and it may be included in future publications.

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