This chapter in Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go is mainly taken up by a series of problems designed to give the reader a sense of what a ‘proper’ move is.
Based on these problems, if someone asked me to define a ‘proper’ move as a move that is thick, strong, nice moves that don’t leave any bad aji lying around. They are the kinds of moves that you naturally want to make; connecting solidly, capturing solidly, summing everything up tidily without leaving behind cutting points.
Kageyama notes that it becomes harder and harder for middle- and high-level amateurs to make proper moves. Therefore, I was rather alarmed when I got all of them right without much thought. The correct answers just…looked right, and I couldn’t justify any of the alternatives to myself, given that Kageyama told me to look for the proper move. I am distressed that, in some cases, I can’t imagine why some of the alternatives were given. Even if they are less proper, why would stronger players be tempted to choose some of these moves over the correct ones? The mind boggles.
In any case, the idea is that one plays nice, solid, proper moves whenever one can. Quietly building nice, solid foundations prepares the battlefield for later ferocity. If the situation is dire, however, then one might have to scramble a bit…there might not be time for proper moves.
I was recently quite impressed when watching a US Go Congress game of Yilun Yang’s on KGS…. To me, it seemed like Yilun Yang played nice, quiet, calm moves in situations in which I would imagine that many players would be thrashing around in a panic. He won the game, somehow making it look so effortless to breeze to victory playing normal moves.