In conversations about go, the subject of fundamentals is one that crops up often. Essentially, there are two questions:
a) What are the fundamentals?
b) How and when should they be applied?
The first question is not easy to answer, and before even starting one needs to differentiate between basics, such as the rules and how stones are captured etc., and the fundamentals, which are essential concepts for playing good go. Here are some things that I would consider to be fundamentals:
1. Be aware of the degree of connection between your stones
2. Defend your weak groups (and pressure your opponents weak groups)
3. Stay ahead of your opponent
4. Avoid getting enclosed
5. Surround before trying to kill
6. Play urgent moves before big moves
7. Look for moves that serve more than one purpose
8. Count to determine strategy
9. Read as deeply as possible
10. Keep calm and be patient
As for the second question, that and the ability to read is essentially what constitutes skill at go.
Fundamentals play a role in all disciplines
In music they involve the relationships between melody and rhythm, the harmony of notes in scales, the techniques involved in producing various sounds with one’s instrument and also ability the to do so with precision and expression.
In Language, they are relatively obvious: Grammar and vocabulary are the fundamentals which enable you to communicate.
In art, they appear particularly elusive because aesthetic criteria can be extremely subjective. Nonetheless, I would claim that in all visual arts, knowing the effect of compositional decisions is fundamental, as is understanding color relationships, spatial illusion and visual harmony. (I just made that last one up).
Hm. It’s apparent that I’ve thought more about the fundamentals of go than about anything else. Perhaps in the next post, I will start with the basics.