Melding Eastern & Western approaches to Mastering Baduk(2)
chae YG / 2016-11-19
Box Theory: Melding Eastern & Western approachesto
Beomgeun(Evan) Cho 7Dan
From the moment the first stone is plunkeddown both players try to build formations, or groups of stones sketching theoutlines of territory. These formations seem to occur in endless shapes andsizes: some fairly rectangular, others roundish or quite irregular; some withthickness on one side but not the other; some quite compact and others withlengthy extensions—or even what seem to be unrelated "outposts" far down theboard. Indeed, it can sometimes be hard to point to the stones and say withcertainty, "This is part of theformation, and this is not."
But if you look carefully, you'll see thatthese formations always take the shape of a box. Almost never is a boxperfectly shaped, with straight sides and neatly-angled corners, but it is abox nonetheless. Even irregularly-shaped formations can be read as box, if youknow what to look for. And what you're looking for is the relatively smallnumber of stones that form the box. Not the mass of stones creating theparticular formation, some jutting out here and indenting there, spread thinlyhere and massed in a crowd there. Look for the key stones that define anddelineate the box.
A well-played game of Baduk is a game ofboxes, with each player trying to build then expand his boxes, while disruptinghis opponent's box-building whenever possible. Why is this? Because the box isthe simplest formation upon which to build the greatest amount of territory.Creating a new box is the most efficient way to outline the territory you hopeto makes yours, while expanding an existing box is the most efficient way toincrease your tally.
Remember, your goal is not to capture as many opposing stones as possible, nor is it tokeep all of your stones alive. Your goal is to claim more territory than youropponent, and you do so by creating stronger, more expansive boxes than doesyour opponent. This makes Baduk a game of boxes. Building and enlarging yours,destroying your enemy's. With every move, until the middle-game has concluded,it's all about boxes.
Unfortunately, most players, even those in themid-Dan range, are unaware of this. They may have a subconscious "nudge"encouraging them to build boxes, and an after-game analysis may show that theyhad, indeed, build and expanded some boxes. But those boxes sprung up almostaccidently and, because the players were not thinking about boxes, were notcreated and expanded in the most efficient manner possible. My goal is to teachyou how to play a more powerful game of Baduk by introducing you to "BoxTheory," a way of securing the most possible territory for yourself, whiledenying the same to your opponent. Let's begin our exploration of Box Theorywith a look at the four types of boxes.