Is this terrible move a tesuji?

It’s a blunder… it’s a tesuji… it’s supercrass! Coming soon to a Go board near you.

In this lesson, we talk about how to preserve your aji, how to discover vital points and engineer double threats, and we investigate some common patterns of play which you can use in your own games.

Video lesson

Interactive lesson

Download the terrible tesuji lesson for offline viewing



About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Very good video, maybe one small thing: the sgf is upside down compared to the camera.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks EdIV, good point. Because of the way the camera is rigged up above the board (and because of space constraints in my apartment) I had to sit at the top of the video. Next time I might try to rotate the video 180 degrees after recording it, so that they both look the same. 🙂

  2. Very interesting, and quite frightening actually ! I loved the video, nothing much to say… Maybe the target level is a bit unequal throughout the video. Overall the tesuji, the reading involved (to be able to read such sequences accurately during a game) and the timing issues in the first example appear to be at least dan level, but the first minutes of the video (not pushing through or from behind) seem double-digit kyu level. I’m a low-kyu player and faced with the problem the first thing I thought of was to do some kind of jump in the center, but that is far from satisfying because it is much too slow, so the second thing I thought of was that Black would maybe be better of doing nothing ; after a moment of thinking I could come up with the pincer idea but the tactical implications of a tight pincer were not obvious to me — that is probably the part of the video I’ll remember best, even if the rest was also very interesting and clear.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks for your feedback Tim!

      If you remember the tactics and patterns of play related to the tight pincer, that’s probably one of the most practical things to take from this video anyway, because this sort of situation and the continuations we looked at occur fairly often.

      Around your level, if you can start to form a mental catalog of scenarios that you see in lessons or games and general strategies and techniques for each one (like the tight pincer in this scenario), I think that could help you a lot and it will also speed up your reading.

      In contrast, the strange attachment tesuji defies several important principles of play and is really a case of overwhelming the opponent through brute-force reading. And, yes, it is a bit frightening when such moves work even though they seem to ‘break the rules’ :).

      I showed the attachment because it’s interesting and mainly because it let us explore how to exploit aji and find vital points in a vaguely systematic way. However, the principles behind that are much more useful than the actual moves shown (which are rare). You can apply the same thinking to much simpler positions which you can read out on your own.

      Because the pincer is often better, I can only remember playing that first attachment a handful of times in the last five years (usually as an emergency measure). The second example (at the bottom in the video) is a bit different and is more common because a pincer isn’t possible in that shape.

      You’re right about the target level being a bit all over the place. I tried to increase the difficulty gradually, but the something for everyone approach doesn’t really work well. This was partly just an experiment with recording something, but in the future I’ll try to make videos more focused on a specific topic.

      Anyway, glad to hear you enjoyed the lesson and that you learned some things 🙂

      • Thank you for your answer, David. As of now I have more or less understood basic shapes and I am trying to learn basic tactics.

        I don’t think your idea behind the target level was necessarily bad, but rather that the transition was a bit abrupt.

        Last thing, if I understood correctly, this video explains in details the solution to a problem. I’d be curious about the level of this problem (3-5d? But It’ve no idea)

        • David Ormerod says:

          Rating the level of a problem objectively is something I always struggle with, so that’s a difficult question to answer.

          The problem in the second part of the video is kind of famous (I think?) and wasn’t constructed or modified by me. When I first saw it I was only a few stones weaker than now and I clearly remember finding it quite difficult.

          From memory, it was when I first got my hands on the Go Seigen and Segoe Kensaku Tesuji Dictionary (very exciting!) back in 2007. At the time, I think I was around 4d on KGS and tesuji was my favorite topic to study, but the shape and the attachment tesuji were a surprise to me then. Not so long after that I met Younggil and learned a huge amount from him. 🙂

          Even after that, I thought Black’s diagonal move was best in that situation for years (that’s the solution in the book). It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realized that Black could play more directly. So, at least for me, the variation at the very end of the video was harder again, but maybe not for everyone.

          Since I couldn’t answer your question accurately, I hope that at least gives you some context for the difficulty of the variations shown.

  3. This is really awesome. I enjoyed watching the video.

    A technical suggestion: Perhaps you can try to remove the background noise say using the freeware Audacity (

    Firstly you might have to remove the audio track from the video track, this can be accomplished using Camtasia’s split audio/video feature. Please let me know if there are other ways!

    Then you have to sync the audio track up one the noise has been removed. The only way I know how to do this is via Camtasia.

    Also you might be the first to accomplish placing a camera directly above the go board instead of at a slanted angle! This makes the whole thing look more professional and pleasing to the eye!

    • David Ormerod says:

      Glad you liked it ZJ 🙂

      Yes, I’ll have to do something about the background noise in the future. Thanks for the tips!

      Do you think that’s something that can be improved with better hardware? For example, a decent clip on mic? Or is it better dealt with in post-production (of which I did very little this time)?

      I’m running Linux so, after spending hours researching the options, I thought I might try to learn Blender. However, it’s very complicated and after preparing and filming the video yesterday I was pretty tired (took more energy than I expected, especially the recording part) so I just uploaded it as it was.

      The camera placement is tricky. The camera itself is actually far above the Go board (about 3m in the air) using a kind of precarious home-rigged structure to hold it up. It seems like it has to be that high (with the camera zoomed slightly) because when I first recorded this lesson it was too close and there was a lot of barrel distortion of the Go board with the wide angle lens (which looked really bad).

      At that height, it’s surprisingly hard to get the camera exactly centered and also parallel with the board and the table etc. The smallest change messes everything up, so I’ll have to figure out a better way.

      • I have a Blue Snowball mic and it tends to pick up some background noise. I think unless you are in a recording studio some background noise is inevitable. I have yet to invest in a Blue Yeti but that would be another step up. I haven’t tried a clip-mic so I can’t give any feedback.

        I would try Audacity also to remove noise as it runs Linux and did a pretty good job for me in terms of removing noise.

        A great start!!

  4. Great stuff David! Glad to see you guys trying new ways to present Go content 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  5. David Ormerod says:

    Ok, so to summarize the feedback here and on Youtube so far, we need:

    – Better post-production of sound to remove background noise.
    – Better alignment of the camera with the Go board (so everything is square and centered).
    – The Glift lesson and the video should use the same rotation.
    – Lessons should be more targeted towards a specific level, and
    – Maybe better lighting too (this one is my opinion).

    Anything else?

    Once we have everything setup well, we can start to experiment with different sorts of content 🙂

  6. The killer feature missing from Glift at the moment is the allow the view to make a sequence of moves in the Glift and post a question about it right away. It will come one day I am sure.

    • David Ormerod says:

      It’s coming eventually. At the moment we can already do this:



      But it’s not very user friendly yet.

      • Vladimir says:

        Also, the previous viewer was convenient about viewing variations. Previously, when there were variation 1 and 2 (or more) available, it was possible to press 1 or two on the keyboard. Now it is only possible to use the mouse for this. It’d be nice to have the old feature back.

  7. Hello David, thanks a lot for this work. It ‘s very instructive to me! And a good idea the video too, congratulations!

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks jangalf! I’ve missed you since taking a break from the weekly problems! 🙂

      • Gil Dogon says:

        Not as much as we all missed you, since you took a break from the weekly problems !
        Great to have you back, and a great tesuji lesson, though indeed a bit frightening ….

        • David Ormerod says:

          Younggil thinks he’s going to restart the Go problems soon, now that he’s getting the hang of things with posting the commentaries etc.

  8. This is probably one of the better Go videos I’ve seen that uses a real board, in terms of the video quality, but I’m wondering: did you consider playing the moves out in software and using a screen capture utility to capture the video? (Like most of the YouTube content creators do.) I don’t know what software’s available for any part of that on Linux, but it would result in even better video, and if you were fluent with the Go playing software, it would be much easier to play out variations and indicate points or areas of the board for discussion, etc., etc.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Hi Freeman, thanks for your suggestion.

      If that’s what people really want, we can do that, of course (it’s actually much easier). I’m trying to do things this way because I think it will result in even better videos when done well. It’s harder to do well though, especially at the beginning. At the moment, I still have a lot to learn about making videos.

      In terms of communication, I feel that it’s possible communicate much better with this sort of format, because I can quickly point directly at stones, pick them up, and move them if I want to. I can make gestures with my hands that are almost universally understood and I can easily indicate areas of interest. It seems much easier to convey more subtle ideas about how moves work and the direction of play this way, without having to resort to drawing ugly arrows on the board with a mouse.

      Overall, I feel that a video of a real board offers a much nicer experience for the viewer, which is much closer to the experience of sitting across the board from someone in real life. There are still some issues we need to iron out, but I hope that this will be the better path in the long run.

      • I am most often playing on the web, but for videos I really like real boards better (may they be normal or magnetic teaching boards). They give a more human, concrete experience.

  9. Scott Shaffer says:

    Very interesting and well done video. Brings home the concept “don’t push from behind” and that attachment tetsuki is new to me. Thanks, well done.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Good to hear Scott. Don’t push from behind is an important thing to take away from this video. 🙂

  10. Hi David,
    I enjoyed the lesson too. It was helpful to see a video about using the attachment as a way of setting up miai situations. also showed a similar method in one of their pro lessons.

    I have two points of critique:

    1) Could you speak more clearly or position your mic closer? I had trouble following you at times.
    2) Could you try to make your lessons a bit more specific? It seemed a little bit vague. (Maybe you could try making a dry run before recording so as to be clear what points you are going to make.)

    These are minor points, though. I think it’s fantastic to have another strong player providing video lessons, and I join the other in thanking you for your time and efforts!

    • David Ormerod says:

      I’ll definitely do something to improve the sound quality in the next video Tammy. I’ve received a lot of helpful suggestions about that.

      And once I get the video stuff right, the lessons will be more structured and focused on a particular topic. I chose this material to practice with mainly because it was interesting and would give me a lot to talk about. If you look at the Glift lesson below the video, you’ll I actually ‘censored’ a lot already to stop the video getting too long. I was surprised by how hard it was to be honest.

      Thanks for your suggestions 🙂

  11. I didn’t think the multiple skill levels covered by the lesson was a problem: it’s common in instruction to start with a foundation that may be well understood and then explain how it moves to conclusions that may be new. Also, you’re creating content for players of many different levels of strength, so it’s nice to have a video that offers something for a range of players.

    I thought you were extraordinarily lucid and articulate for what sounded like a single take. You had almost no verbal tics (“umm…”) and your pace was consistent. Recording ten plus minutes of uninterrupted video is a huge deal: clearly you’re pretty good at this already. As you so this again, you’ll be able to add a little confidence and energy to your tone to make it even better.

    IMO, you don’t always need to explain things like “this is not a real game, it’s just set up to look like one…” Your video is your world: most people will just accept it as given. You can usually get straight to the point and it’ll help keep the energy up and your video concise.

    Regarding using a real board, I would also add that it will give your videos a timelessness that would otherwise be impossible. People watching your videos a hundred years from now will still love the sight of a real board and stones.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks Nate 🙂

      Your comments are helpful and I hadn’t thought about the ‘timeless’ aspect of using a real board, but that’s another good reason to stick with this approach.

      It’s great to see coming along too!

  12. What I particularly liked about your video is how you avoided getting between the audience and the subject matter. Your quiet, lucid style kept me engaged. The board and the !ighting were near perfect. I’m not a strong player but all of the above helped me stay engaged and learn something.

    If I were pitching for a topic, it would be how to address weird moves and help identify trick plays.

    Thank you

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks Gerry, yes I’d prefer to stay out of the way and just let the moves speak for themselves wherever possible, so I’m glad someone appreciates that approach 😉

      Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll add weird moves and trick plays to the list of topics to cover in the future.

  13. Zero Wave says:

    Excellent job. I used the interactive lesson and learned some neat tricks. Thanks for your time David 🙂

    • David Ormerod says:

      There was a lot more in there than in the video 😉

      Glad to hear that you learned some things.

  14. Mr. Green says:

    Thanks for the video!

    I’m a double-digit kyu and didn’t find the advanced content distracting, just something to look forward to. I can’t read that far ahead, but I could still grasp the concept of playing from two sides. I appreciate this, because, being a low-level player, I often find myself in tight spots I need to find creative ways out of. 🙂

    I agree with others that the real board is the way to go. I can see that it causes more technical problems, which is why so many others use the screen capture method, but I could watch your video without any commentary just to see the board and stones! I think you are definitely on the right track.

    The main distracting thing was the sound, which you have already hit upon. I am not a sound guy at all, but I think the ideal setup would be two directional mics on the other side of the board from you. One pointed at you and the other at the board. Obviously post-production work would be cheaper, but more time consuming, and it only goes so far. I just bought my first go equipment from you, so hopefully that helps with finances a little. 🙂

    The other issue I noticed is a minor one: When you hovered your hand over the board, the board appeared to distort. I have no idea what would cause this. Maybe the zoomed camera or the lighting. It wasn’t too distracting or anything, just thought I would mention it.

    Thanks again for all your resources! You have the right business model and obviously care about the go community, which is why I chose to purchase with confidence from you. Thanks again for all your hard work!


    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks Philip, every order helps a lot and I hope you enjoy your new equipment!

      Someone who seems to know a lot about sound stuff emailed me some very helpful information about lavalier mics, which I’m going to look into. I agree that it would be better not to have to process the audio after every video if possible, that will take time away from making more videos.

      Regarding the distortion, that’s probably because of video compression. It might be the compression I used before uploading it (our internet is pretty slow here, so uploading takes a while) or it could be Youtube downgrading the quality of the stream so that it can keep playing without interruption. When I move my hand, there’s more action than other times, so it requires more data.

  15. lostbeef says:

    Wher’s the terrible move?

    • As I understand it the attachment at H3 and H17 is typically a terrible move as it strengthes your opponent. But in this case there is a nice follow up to make it into a tetsuji.