WGW 28: How to Play as White in 2 Stone Handicap Games

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #28

Welcome to a continuation of my series on how to play as White for beginner/intermediate players. Just like before, I would appreciate any additional insight from stronger players below to supplement my thoughts here. With that said, onwards we go: 2 stone handicap games.

Concern #1: “Black has two corners!! Ahh!!! Must overplay like crazy to catchup!”

First and foremost, two star points does not equal two corners. Black just has two positions setup on the diagonal corners. So stop panicking and breathe. What you have to remember is that it is only a 2 stone handicap. Yes. Only two stones. If you forgot what it means to give your opponent handicap stones, let me remind you: you are stronger than them. So play normally and establish your positions as you typically would.

Concern #2: “But it’s TWO STONES!!!!!”

Yes. I heard you the first time; but let me remind you that the two stones you are so worried about is a double edged sword. As you know, people’s strength can fluctuate a stone or two depending on the time and day along with the style being used; so what that means to you is that you need to realize that your overplays have a pretty good chance of being punished properly. As a result, you need to remember to just play calmly. Your opponent’s mistake will show itself eventually.

Similar to playing as White in even games, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Be patient. Two stones might seem like a lot, but there it is not a huge barrier to overcome. Play solidly and wait for your opponent to make an overplay and then things will start to turn in your favor.
  2. Two stones can be a double-edged sword. This is particularly true of two stone handicap games because there is no saying whether or not you will be playing one stone weaker or your stone will be playing one stone stronger. So avoid huge overplays because there is a good chance that your opponent will be able to punish it properly.
  3. Feel honored to play as White. I have a feeling this piece of advice will be staying throughout this series, but you really should feel honored to have the opportunity to prove your strength as White.
    I hope that this helps! Please be sure to leave a comment below if you have any additional comments or questions!