Kageyama’s chapter on How to Study Joseki in Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go is an illustrated warning to all would-be joseki memorisers. Sure, Kageyama says, you can go about blindly memorising all the joseki you want, but there are a few things to remember:
* There are tens of thousands of joseki.
* Joseki sequences must be played with sensitivity to the entire board.
* Just because a move is in a certain joseki doesn’t mean it isn’t the worst possible move in the universe, given the whole-board situation.
* If you don’t know the reason for each and every move in a joseki, you might fall to bits when your opponent plays a move that’s not in the joseki sequence you’re following.
Kageyama states that studying joseki is indeed key to becoming stronger, but the focus of such study should be on understanding each and every move, so that when one looks at the board, one can find the right move for the circumstance, rather than just blindly recreating a pattern.
There are, of course, some good diagrams showing how standard joseki moves can be suboptimal with respect to whole-board situations and how punishing joseki mistakes can go wrong when one doesn’t understand the purpose of each move in a joseki.
As previously stated, the proper study of joseki isn’t the very next thing on my go to-do list. I don’t feel I have subtle enough understanding of go to understand why a certain move is the very best possible move in a given circumstance. I can make some guesses, but that’s about it at the moment. For now, I’ll continue to experiment with different openings in my own games, trying out various variations so that when I get to the study of joseki, I’ll have a repertoire of personal experiences upon which to draw.
As most of the rest of what I got out of the chapter is heavily reliant on the diagrams, I think I’m going to leave it at that for now.