Positional Judgement 1 / Territory

Review by the Author

General Specification


Besides strategic planning and tactical reading, positional judgement belongs to the few fundamental and most important skills. Positional judgement is the correct and accurate assessment of a position's territory, influence, available choices etc. and answers the essential questions: who is ahead and by how much, what are the players' potentials the current position, and which sequence of moves gives the best result? This is the basis for every profound tactical and strategic decision making. Frequently, the precisely counted value of territory is the most relevant aspect determined by positional judgement.


After two short chapters, which distinguish in particular 'independently live' and 'unsettled important' groups from 'unsettled non-essential' groups and identify the 'territory', 'valuable' and 'neutral' types of regions, the by far greatest part of the book discusses every aspect of the topic of territory. There are three kinds of related chapters: core concepts, difficult but important topics, and necessary details which must not be overlooked.

For territorial positional judgement, the two core concepts are called Current Territory and Territory Count. A player's Current Territory is his surrounded territory remaining after the opponent's imagined sente reduction, which settles the territory regions' boundaries. In one sequence, White reduces to determine Black's Current Territory. In another sequence, Black reduces to determine White's Current Territory. Once both players' Current Territories are determined, the Territory Count is simply the difference of Black's Current Territory and White's Current Territory.

The difficult chapters explain the important topics of fighting positions (27 pages), moyos (40 pages) and middle game kos (38 pages). In these chapters, the theory is kept as simple as possible: just one extra procedure, definition or major principle suffices for each topic. Nevertheless, the difficulty of application of the simple theory to positions increases with the complexity of their fights, moyos or kos. Therefore, every chapter starts with easy examples and proceeds to the complicated examples. Each example is accompanied by as many diagrams as necessary to guarantee the reader's understanding; there are up to 28 diagrams per difficult example.

Instead of pretending that details would not exist, the other chapters reveal all of them: prisoners, nature of reduction sequences, aspects remaining after them, privileges, quiescence, fast counting, area counting and mutual reduction. In order to get a precise Territory Count, one must understand the nature of well constructed reduction sequences. Since a player reduces the defender's territory in sente, these aspects can remain and their evaluation is explained: remaining boundary defense moves (teire), basic gote endgames and endgame kos. Positions with fights or middle game kos require a preliminary quiescence sequence to create positions having stable groups and allowing straightforward judgement by means of peaceful reductions. While effort is needed to determine which are the territory intersections, afterwards their counting is fast and easy by updating only the changes and using techniques of convenient counting such as identifying rectangles and counting multiples of 10, 5 or 2. The chapter about area counting removes any fears about Chinese-style rules because it is shown how to use the Territory Count.

The final strategy chapter (28 pages) presents and applies four principles. The first principle presumes knowledge of the already determined Territory Count and works out the common sense for decisions when leading, when the game is close or when being behind. The second principle allows judgement for only the territory regions and suggests how many points a player must make in the still valuable regions of the board. The third principle offers an easy alternative method for evaluation of one big moyo adjacent to one valuable region. The fourth principle concludes moyo assessment by studying the value of reductions from the opponent's perspective.


The introduction gives an overview on the topics and carefully explains application of the Prisoner Difference, that is the difference of white and black prisoners, and the few other used very basic terms. While a few short chapters with necessary but easy details are illustrated by diagrams showing a small part of the board, the reality's rich variety in the other chapters is studied by also analysing and evaluating 92 positions from professional games. Hence the reader learns application of positional judgement to both the simple and difficult positions occurring in his games.

For every analysed initial position, the complete reduction sequences are shown. Further diagrams mark all the territory intersections of the resulting positions, which are accompanied by the territory calculations. The difficult moves and decisions, and strategy are explained in the accompanying texts. The reader gets what he expects: everything is revealed very clearly.

The topic of every chapter is elaborated by a general introduction, theory, easy and increasingly difficult examples of the opening, early or late middle game. The eight most demanding chapters are concluded by problems. The reader should take time for their solution to profit the most from the often detailed answers.

The generally applicable theory is stated in bold font as principles or, in a few cases, as a procedure or definition of a term, and is explained in detail.

How difficult are the calculations? They are easy! The reader must add or subtract numbers, or divide by 2. Except for the terms 'sente' and 'gote', the book presumes only a little knowledge of go theory. Nevertheless, beginners might prefer to reach EGF 8 kyu level before they feel prepared to construct meaningful reduction sequences.

The book has an index of keywords.


Everybody needs to learn and apply territorial positional judgement. Where other books end with using imagined reduction sequences at all, this book starts and explores every relevant concept. The rigorous treatise of all the essential concepts applied to both simple and difficult positions provides the necessary understanding for intermediate and advanced players. This comprehensive book Positional Judgement 1 / Territory presents simple methods for studying positional difficulties, but never forgets to offer sufficiently detailed explanation of the most demanding examples.

What the Book is Not

Although the endgame topic is touched, this is not a book specialising in the endgame. While volume 1 discusses every aspect of territory evaluation, the other topics of positional judgement are reserved for one or two planned volumes about influence, thickness, efficiency, choices, aji and so on.
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2016 Robert Jasiek