The good, the bad, and the switcheroo
By Janice Kim
Originally published Sunday June 10, 2018
Bill Cobb’s Philosophical Reflections on Go #6 reminded me of the time I asked my teacher Jeong Soo-hyun 9 dan, “Is this move good?”
“If you thought about it, it’s good,” was the reply.
Despite his chuckle, this isn’t just a funny mystical non-answer by a sage. It was much later, looking at Lee Chang-ho’s endgame books, that it occurred to me that you can’t say if a move is good or bad without knowing the territory count. In fact, it can switch from good to bad in a way that’s easy to see.
Have a look at the example. We’ve heard that the clamp at ‘A’ is bad, because it loses sente. But what if there isn’t another place to use your sente? Say, there’s an even number of one-point gote moves left. Then the clamp is one point more than the hane at B, and it can be the one-point difference between winning and losing. Try to confirm this for yourself. Maybe I’m wrong.
I hope you have more of a life than I do, to find it earth-shattering on a personal level that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can’t be judged independently, but could depend on whether there is an even or odd number of endgame moves. No formula, guideline, proverb required though, you can just see it. While you’re playing. Reading about as complicated as two dance moves, which foot do you end on? A little taste of what it’s like to be on the cosmic stage and be a cat in a box, or an electron in an unknown location. Almost like when I took a few young Korean go professionals to see a Foucault’s pendulum, stomped my foot on the ground, and said, “The Earth is moving.” You should have seen their faces.