Tesuji by James Davies

Tesuji by James Davies is a great book on Go tactics, something that I’ve been weak in. However while there are a lot of directly applicable patterns, there are many that aren’t: they require particular preconditions and careful execution and here Davies doesn’t do an unequivocally good job. He goes through examples of these subtle tesuji but doesn’t emphasise their key concepts, leaving it up to the reader to figure out. Nevertheless, there is a lot of material in here and a lot of Go problems to solve.

A summarised list of content follows…

Capture of cutting stones:

  • Knight’s move net
  • Loose ladder
  • Slapping tesuji (thwarted bamboo joint with loose ladder)
  • Clamp tesuji (clamp against escape link that detaches threatened stones)
  • Nose tesuji (attachment on head of group emerging from your colour)
  • Cross-cut tesuji (attack diagonal link by removing liberties of diagonal stone)

Amputation of cutting stones:

  • Snap-back, throw-in, squeeze
  • Ladder building (ladder fork)
  • Placement tesuji (diagonal attachment to catch nearer stone on 2nd line)


  • Approach ko (need to play approaches after winning and re-fight the ko)
  • Multi-stage ko (need to win another ko after winning the first, aka dan ko, winner becomes underdog)


  • Forcing opponent to make multiple approach moves
  • Descending to the edge (forcing opponent to play empty triangles)
  • Throwing in to reduce opponent liberties
  • Two-stone edge squeeze (sacrifice of two stones descending to the edge to reduce opponent liberties)
  • Fast squeeze (forcing a second-line capture with a squeeze, enclosing and stealing an eye)
  • Belly Tesuji (playing under a 2-group to induce a turn against it)
  • Using placement tesuji (stone some distance away) to threaten connection out and gain liberties when connected to
  • Eyes force opponents to fill in inner liberties
  • Diagonal tesuji (forces opponents to make additional move in order to approach without being captured)
  • Large eyes take more moves to fill
  • Safety plays on the edge (going down to the edge forces opponent to make empty triangle or requires extra approach move)
  • Two hanes on the first line are worth an extra liberty (excluding two stones)
  • Play the ko last to force the opponent to find the first ko threat


  • A stone a knight’s move away from each of two stones can link them
  • Monkey jump on edge (large knight’s move from stone on second line)
  • Use clamp to bridge under
  • Exploit shortage of liberties by reducing liberties and threatening to link
  • Sacrificing a stone near potential cuts to link up
  • Can also use  diagonal tesuji

Cuttable Shapes:

  • One point jump
  • Two point jump
  • Dog’s neck (knight’s move from two stones)
  • Horse’s neck (large knight’s from two)
  • Knight’s move


  • Eye-stealing tesuji
  • Placement tesuji (diagonal hit from second line, can go deep)
  • Attacking from a distance rather than pressing
  • Double hane tesuji (opponent is sealed or loses in an exchange)
  • Eye-stealing clamp


  • Solid connection
  • Diagonal connection
  • Knight’s move connection
  • Eye-protecting tesuji
  • Shortage of liberties connection

Making Shape:

  • Squeezes
  • Counter hane (attach and when opponent plays hane, counter-hane, then connect, then kill attached-to stone)
  • Cross-cut tesuji
  • Driving tesuji (atari to drive upwards then play to block off and steer)
  • Attachment tesuji (threaten a driving tesuji)
  • Using dead stones to atari and squeeze
  • Attach under or above and sacrifice to gain tempo and build a wall

Other tips:

  • Use belly tesuji or other connection threats to facilitate play at cutting points.
  • Wedge and cut through diagonal links, and place into incomplete positions.
  • Use the one-point jump to escape
  • Sacrifice to gain tempo (attach on outside, cutting into knight’s move; cut and sacrifice to place cutting stone in sente)
  • Can often do better than atari, eg threaten a driving tesuji or a ladder.
  • Double-threat tesuji – threaten follow-ups in two different directions.

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