There are countless proverbs pertaining to the game of Go (Wei Qi, Badouk). Although they do not, of course, always apply during a specific game, they are often quite useful. I'll put some here, and others can add their own.

  • Sacrifice the plum to save the peach. (let a few stones die in order to secure territory)
  • Feint in the East to attack in the West. (play a stone on one side to force the opponent to run into an attack on the other)
  • Ikken tobi (the one-space jump) is never wrong. (if in doubt, consider playing this kind of move)
  • Never ignore a shoulder hit. (don't tenuki if someone plays a shoulder hit on one of your stones)
  • Don't play contact to a weak group. (contact plays tend to strengthen both groups, so don't help your opponent out by doing this to his weak group)
  • Play away from thickness. (don't play too close to your own thickness, or your opponent's)
  • Big dragons never die. (long strings of stones have lots of liberties, so they're hard to kill)
  • A rich man should not pick fights. (if you're winning, play defensively)
  • The empty triangle is bad shape. (don't make one)
  • Beginners play atari. (sometimes atari (a move that threatens capture) is useful, but sometimes it isn't... beginners tend to mindlessly play every atari they see)
  • Play fast, lose fast. (take time to think)
  • With your nose to the board, you see nothing. (don't get so absorbed in a local battle you lose sight of the whole board)
  • Your opponent's good move is your good move. (if there's a point that would be a good play for your opponent, you should consider playing there to stop him)
  • Kill the cutting stones. (if some stones are keeping two of your groups separated, try to kill them so you can connect)
  • Even an idiot connects at a peep. (if someone plays next to your cutting point, connect)
  • Never peep at a cutting point. (because, as the last proverb says, he'll just connect)
  • The best defense is a good offense. (not specifically a Go proverb, but often pertinent)
  • Use thickness for influence, not territory. (if you have a big wall, don't use it to secure a bit of territory; instead, use it to make a big moyo, or framework)
  • Heavy shape is bad shape. (don't play too many stones too close together)
  • Never try to cut a bamboo joint. (if your opponent makes the bamboo joint shape, you can't cut it, and trying to do so just wastes a move)
  • Never peep at a bamboo joint. (even worse than actually trying to cut it, since you're "threatening" to cut something that can't be cut.)
  • Studying joseki loses two stones strength. (see joseki for an explanation of the proverb, and handicap stone for what it means to "lose two stones strength")
  • Hane at the head of two. (if you have a two-stone wall right next to an opponent's two-stone wall, hane is often the best move)
  • There is death in the hane. (it's a very aggressive move... done properly, it can kill or seriously hurt your opponent's stones. Done at the wrong time, it might be your stones that die.)
  • Jump once, then make eyes. (when making an invasion into an opponent's territory, a good strategy for survival is to make a single jump (such as ikken tobi) towards the centre of the board (or a friendly group) to secure an escape route, and then try to make some eyes to live).
  • If it has a name, learn it. (any move, fuseki, joseki, or shape that has a specific name is probably important enough that your game will be improved by learning about it... this is part of the intention of my wu on the Go node)

Understanding some of these requires a knowledge of Go terminology. I'll eventually start trying to node as many Go terms as I can, and I hope other people will do the same.

There are also some more pessimistic proverbs about Go, sometimes referred to as "Murphy's Law Applied to Go." My favorites include:

  • If you think it is kikashi, it is actually aji keshi. (what you think is a good forcing move actually destroys potential for a more severe attack)
  • If you think it is unconditionally alive, it will die in ko.
  • If you play hamete (a trick move), you will lose. If your opponent plays hamete, you will lose.
  • There is death in just about everything.
  • Play slow, lose slow. (a companion to the "real" proverb "Play fast, lose fast.")

Many of these are taken from Sensei's Library:

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