3.5 The Disadvantage of Area Rules
But area rules have one conspicuous disadvantage. This disadvantage is
not a logical defect, but it detracts from the interest of go as a game.
The problem arises in positions like Dia. 3-7. Only neutral points are
left, the number of neutral points is even, the black group at the
bottom has lost its outside liberties, and the safety of this group is
uncertain. Suppose it is Black's turn. Even if Black plays 'a' to remove
the danger, he can still get one of the two neutral points. Under area
rules, that is, he can make a free reinforcing move at 'a.' He does not
need to verify whether it is actually necessary.
This may not be illogical, but you could say that it makes go less
interesting as a game. That is the drawback of area rules. We will refer
to this as the problem of reinforcing when there are an even number of
Under territory rules, an unnecessary reinforcement always costs the
player who makes it one point. In Dia. 3-7, if Black can read out that
a reinforcement at 'a' is not necessary then of course he will not
reinforce there. If he cannot read the position out but decides that
there is significant risk, he may reinforce, but he will realize that he
may be losing a point. In either case, he is called on to think.
There are no logical defects in area rules: they are concise and
everything is settled by actual play. If the problem of reinforcing when
there are an even number of neutral points could be solved, the solution
would be a valuable advance for area rules.