“Good Shape and Bad” is another one of those chapters in Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go that touches very briefly on a very big topic.
He talks about how go has its own aesthetics, and how moves with ‘good shape’ tend to feel natural and beautiful to professional players.
The way he writes about some of the moves is wonderful; it really inspires one to try to see the board with Kageyama’s eyes.
For example, here is how Kageyama describes a diagram which makes good shape (something I think of as a ‘j’ shape, I suppose because it resembles a stumpy version of the ‘j’ shaped group in James Davies’ Life and Death):
Black’s hand should be trembling with eagerness to play 1. He should be overcome with emotion.
How could one not desire to feel this way during one’s games?
Throughout this chapter, Kageyama discusses several board position from the point of view of shape and demonstrates how making good shape leads to getting ahead, holding initiative and pretty much everything else that’s good in life.
What sorts of bits and pieces shall I extract during this reading? Here are a few general ideas that Kageyama develops throughout this chapter:
- Don’t make good shape just for the sake of it.
- Sometimes bad shape is the only move.
- Try not to put yourself in the situation where bad shape is the only move!
- Read things out. Seriously.
- Sometimes, a good move for you is a move that your opponent would like to play to make good shape.
- There are some shocking ways that groups can be killed or reduced. When thinking about such life and death problems, thinking about moves that give or take away good shape is often a good ‘way in’.
- (Hee hee! There exists a ‘bulky 7′ nakade shape!)
- It’s been said before, it will be said again: empty triangles are officially Not Great.
I suppose one of the main things I’d like to think about more explicitly in my games is to try to think up moves that accomplish whatever goal I have in a certain area (attacking, escaping, making life, etc.) but that also leave the seeds for making good shape, and/or force my opponent to make bad shape.
For example, the shape that Charles Matthews calls the ‘table’ shape (A) is one stone away from the lovely shape (B) that black would have if black got to play 1 in Diagram 44. (Does this have a name? It looks like a flower to me.)
Maybe thinking about the potential of stones to form nice shapes would be helpful.
Kageyama gives a good example (the dreaded crosscut in the corner!) near the end of the chapter of a situation in which stones are sacrificed in order to make good shape. I’m sometimes too reluctant to give up stones, and end up struggling to keep unimportant stones whilst my opponent takes over the rest of the board. Sometimes this occurs when I am not sure which stones are most important. Perhaps thinking about how to get good shape might offer clues as to which and how stones could be sacrificed.
Of course, as Kageyama warns, it won’t do just to mimic good shapes. I suppose the big question is, what is it that makes good shape good.
Things that come to mind from the examples are making potential for eye-space, connecting stones together, making a shape thick enough to withstand attack or to escape a sticky situation, creating a robust enough position that the group of stones can serve more than one function….
I suppose there are many more things that could be said about what makes good shape good, but I’ll leave it here for now and close with yet another glorious Kageyama quote….
You must become infatuated with good shape. White 1 has to spring to mind every time you see Dia. 19. If you do not feel the same tightening in your chest as when you close your eyes and picture the face of a lover, you do not love good shape enough.