Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics

Review by the Author

General Specification


While Volume 1 describes accurate assessment of territory in peaceful positions, this book explains correct judgement of every dynamic aspect in dynamic positions: options, major reductions, invasions, aji, potential, influence, thickness and fights. The fundamentals of development directions, numbers of neutral stones, and statuses of groups and regions are not neglected. This includes life and death statuses of envisaged invading groups.

Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics is built on these three columns: 1) good play in the middle game, 2) its evaluation and 3) 100 life and death problems. Although each foundation could have filled its own book, the combination raises the level of insight further. Since correct status assessment is a requirement for every positional judgement, the problems improve the reader's tactical reading skill. Good play and its evaluation rely on imagined move sequences whose quality depends on one's understanding of the dynamic strategic concepts and the judgement of the dynamic changes during a sequence and its resulting follow-up position. The comparison of different sequences and positions is the key to deciding on the best next move.

Besides an introduction of the presumed terms and a very detailed index, there are four short chapters about development directions, neutral stones, options and local potential, and six long chapters about statuses, invasions, aji, reductions, influence and thickness, and fights. 184 of the many examples discuss positions and sequences from professional games. The text and diagrams of examples and the answer diagrams are as detailed as necessary, up to dozens of variations.


The theory is presented as 86 principles, 3 methods, a few essential definitions and explanatory text. Although each of the principles is important, they vary from simple fundamental statements ("Invasions require verifying the life status of the invading group by reading.") via special purpose commands (such as those specifying which stones are the influence stones) to detailed, advanced advice (for example, listing the major cases of reductions in terms of sente and gote, and relating them to the judged positions).

Markup in the carefully selected, very instructive diagrams and explanations in the text relate the examples to the principles and methods so that the reader learns by seeing the theory applied. While there is only one example for the simplest theory (sente invasion), the more difficult and detailed theory is illustrated with more examples (up to 27 for the topic 'use of thickness').

This degree of paying attention to details and the general power of the carefully designed principles make the book an excellent tool for studying the middle game. This is so even if the reader ignores the extra level of theory about positional judgement which is, of course, the major theme. For every dynamic strategic concept, its use for assessing positions is explained well. How must sequences be constructed? Which positions are evaluated? What do the evaluations tell us if territory, influence, aji and other aspects must be related to each other? The book answers all such questions.

Has the English literature ever explained 'local potential' instead of hiding it in ambiguous translations? - Why is it important to study neutral stones? Aren't dame uninteresting? Every superfluous neutral stone played during the opening or middle game is like a pass. Instead, we must play valuable stones. The book reveals that even this minor topic is essential because every wasted move loses one rank. Fundamentals, Watson, fundamentals!

Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics studies the statuses of connection, life and death, stability and regions, whose territory or moyo nature is characterised by the possibility of a successful invasion. Besides ordinary invasions, other discussed types include those being tests or exploiting aji. A special evaluation applies to invading groups changing their life status. The book explains the types of reductions of ordinary regions, big moyos, spheres of dominating influence, influence and local potential, and assigns the appropriate techniques.

Influence and thickness are another major topic. The 'influence stone difference', which compares the players' numbers of influence stones, is applied to josekis and the middle game. When this tool is insufficient, we can use the elegant definitions of the three types of strong groups, concepts for transforming thickness and principles for its best use. Finally, the book teaches the dynamic positional judgement of one-sided fights, exchanges as well as unpredictable, complex fights.


Almost all of the problems are new, although they have been derived by modifying actual game positions. 89 of the problems study the life and death of 10 of the professional example positions in depth. Although this results in groups of problems with similar shapes, every problem is demanding. The aforementioned compilation of problems achieves two additional purposes: 1) the reader learns the necessary volume of tactical reading in intermediate to advanced real game positions; 2) the book dissolves the mystery by revealing how deeply professional players should read before starting a successful deep invasion.

There are 1 to 44 answer diagrams per problem - just as much as necessary to clarify the answer for everybody. The problems are for players from 5 kyu (easiest problems) to 6 dan (the most difficult problems). The answer variations contain many spectacular tesujis. The book leaves no doubt: a reader wishing to become a strong player must also practise reading seriously.

What the Book Is Not

The book hardly teaches counting territory because this is explained in Volume 1. The book is not for players weaker than 5 kyu because the easiest failure variations are often omitted. Circa 1/4 of those diagrams showing game continuations have more moves than pleasant so that, whenever details matter, additional other diagrams ease understanding of the theory.

Usually the book ignores the earlier order of moves and concentrates on predicting the future game development. The task is to judge the current position and follow-up positions - not the earlier positions. Traditional go theory suggests an alternative approach to positional judgement by also studying the earlier positions and considering the current position as fair if there are no flaws in the efficiency of a player's groups. Except for the related topics of development directions, neutral stones and options, the book does not fully represent the aspect of traditional theory concerned with earlier moves. There is, however, a chance that a Volume 3 might do so.


Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics fills a gap in the (English) literature. This ground-breaking treatise teaches much that cannot be found elsewhere, including a few new inventions. Since the author has learnt much while exploring and writing the contents, in his opinion, this is the first English theory book also specifically written for dan players. Nevertheless, eager kyu players benefit much because the greater part of the theory allows its easy understanding.
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2016 Robert Jasiek