What Should You Know at Each Level of Play?

I started wondering what people at each Kyu level were generally expected to learn. I figure this will help with deciding what to learn next. I found a couple of good sources on it, and as I find more, I’ll come back and update this post.


What You Should Know

30-21 Kyu

  • Point here should be to play a lot of games. You’ll get a better sense of how it all works if you do this in the beginning than diving right into strategy
  • Territory comes first, don’t just play the atari game all the time
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Learn nets, dead shapes, eyes, ladders, ko, corner vs side vs center, and shimari or corner enclosures

20-16 Kyu

  • Try to avoid making the same mistake twice, think about what went wrong
  • Take a look at Josekis
  • Watch stronger people play, aim for ~5 stones higher
  • Start doing Go problems, if it takes more than a minute to solve it’s too hard
  • Start reading at least 4 moves ahead at the 20kyu level, 8+ at the 11kyu level
  • Learn empty triangles, sente, 3-3 invasions, common joseki, eyeshape, bamboo joints, miai, throw-ins, big points

15-11 Kyu

  • Learn direction of play, end-game tesuji, the table shape, attention to fast play, third line vs fourth line, unnecessary play on the second line, invading, joseki selections, ladder breakers

Game Review, 19k

I derped all over, fair warning. Here’s the link to the full game: http://online-go.com/game/802587

I’m white. I’ve never really seen someone open like this. He walls off the entire middle with some territory to the left, while I get influence on the top, bottom, and right side. I think that at this point I’m in the stronger position, but it’s hard to say for sure.

He tries to break up my territory in the top, but I connect the two pieces that were at 7E and 8D, and then manage to surround his two intruders at F7 and F8.

He expands his middle wall into my territory, but I defend my pieces by connecting them to what’s becoming a base in the top right. I realize around this point though that he’s totally unanswered in the left side, and I don’t have a good way to break in there. It will make getting any of that territory extremely difficult.

We play more along the bottom, and I try expanding to the top to break up his influence there. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because this move is a “thank you” move since he wanted to take the piece at E3 already.

After he captures my stone at E3, I try to expand my group at D5 and D6 but he blocks at B5. That group is dead, so I expand along the top left trying to reduce his territory some. I have no idea how I could have infiltrated his left side at this point… I needed to do it earlier.

We go back and forth some more in the bottom right, and I manage to capture a few of his invading pieces giving me a stronger hold on the right. He plays at J6, but there’s really no way he can get a capture or two eyes so I’ll ignore it.

I try a few more times to break into his territory but am unsuccessful, and we end here with him having a considerable lead over me.


  1. Take sente (initiative) early, don’t let them dictate the game and push into your territory
  2. Don’t make thank you moves!


The Five Stone Question

It’s been about two weeks since my last post, my bad. I wanted to drop in and share a tip I recently found online.

I read “The First 20 Hours” where the author talks about learning to play Go. He mentions a tip he picked up in his research called the “Five Stone Question.”

Quite simply, the tip goes that if you ask this set of questions before each move you make, you’ll instantly gain five stones in skill. You have to ask them in order, and act on them in order. If nothing can be done for question one, then you go to question two, and so on.

The Questions:

  1. Can I ensure one of my groups lives? (By forming two eyes, connecting, etc.)
  2. Can I kill one of my opponents groups?
  3. Can I secure my territory?
  4. Can I invade my opponents territory?

Have fun!