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Analyzing Joseki


菖蒲 [Ayame = Japanese Iris]
[Ichiren sokan chintan suzushi]
Matting isolated hedge coolness

Cover of Kido, May 1977


At my Japanese go club, the South Bay Ki-in, located in the New Gardena Hotel, 1641 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena, CA 90247, (310) 327-5757, it is always interesting to see the kinds of positions that develop on the boards. There are usually fifteen or so players who attend the Saturday afternoon sessions, so there are always many chances to watch the types of fights that arise.

However, the games are not recorded, so it is difficult to show examples of this. On the other hand, readers of Kido magazine would often write in to ask about positions from their own games. What follows is one such letter and the response from the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association).

Perhaps the reader would like to try analyzing the position independently, before reading the professional response.


Original Diagram Black 28 and 40 connect


Please instruct me in regard to the above diagram.

One Are the moves from Black on questionable?

Two How should White’s outside influence be judged?

Three Are White 47 and 49 played at the proper time?

Four How is the profit and loss in the result to be judged?

<Iwami Takeshi, 144 Kitawaki, Kitahama Township, Takasuna City>

Analysis by Haruyama Isamu 7 dan from Kido, May 1977


This is a difficult joseki variation, you know. In this situation, Black has played first on the right side, so for White to make the move at 13 is a chaotic fighting method. However, the result in the Original Diagram is a good one for White, is it not? In going over the move order to explain things, it should be pointed out that the standard joseki is given in go books.


Diagram 1

As presented there, the continuation to Black 23 is played. However, in this diagram if a Black stone at A is added, it must be judged that White has incurred a great loss. Even though Black ends in gote on the right side, the Black position is an impressively imposing one. White sought complications by playing at 13 in the Original Diagram in order to find a good variation.

The most questionable things were in the exchanges following Black 18. Both sides committed a few mistakes. First, there is the fencing in move of White 19, which is an unreasonable line of play [suji]. Next, Black 24 is a bad move. It is slack technique [suji]. Playing Black 24 as the solid connection at 25, aiming to push through at 27, is the only move. Because of that, White was able to make the forcing move of 27 in sente, set the shape with 29 and 31, then slice through the knight’s move with 33, leaving Black with a miserable result. And yet, White should have used 41 to hane at 43. But Black overlooked the possibility of using 42 to descend at 43, capturing White’s stones.

In the local context through White 49, it can be seen that Black has suffered White’s playing on both sides [in the center and on the right side].

Considering all of this, in speaking of Black’s countermeasure, White’s unreasonable move at 19 had to be punished.


Diagram 2

It is best for Black to play severely with 5 and 7. After Black 11, should White play for more liberties with a move at A, Black B forces White C, then moving out with the empty triangle at 12 gives Black a successful result. If Black thoughtlessly plays the move at 12 as the jump to D, White descends at E as a forcing move, then wedges in at 12 to encroach into the right side. Therefore, care must be taken.

For reference sake, Black 18 in the Original Diagram is the only move. 25 incurs the attachment of 20 and capture in a loose ladder.

Weaker players may find this last comment difficult to understand. Therefore, an additional problem is given here:

Tesuji for One Million People


White to Play

Problem presented by Takemiya Masaki 8 dan in Kido, October 1977

White’s four stones on the left and right are separated by Black’s three stones. If possible, it would be desirable to save both sides simultaneously. That is the kind of scene that this is.



By pushing through and cutting with White 1 and 3, then taking control of Black’s stone with 5, the stones on the right side can be saved, but when the turning move of Black 4 is added, the insecurity of the stone on the lower side cannot be alleviated.

Double Play


Diagram 1 (Attachment Technique [Suji])

Without a move-in-a-row of Black 1 here, the flaws in the shape can be exploited by the attachment of White 1, the first blow of this tesuji.


Diagram 2 (Descending Technique [Suji])

If Black connects at 2, White hanes at 3 as a forcing move that compels Black to turn at 4, then descends at White 5, the second blow of the tesuji. Since White can make the throw-in at A, it is impossible for Black to ignore this to play elsewhere.


Diagram 3 (Enclosing with a Fencing-In Move)

Black has no choice but to play atari at 1, so White presses at 2, then encloses Black’s stones with the fencing-in move at 4. White’s positions on the left and right now have clear weather and smooth sailing from now on.


Diagram 4 (Take Care with the Order of Moves)

Should White start by descending at 1, that would be exchanged for the Black atari at 2, and after the White attachment of 3 it might look like it is the same thing, but once Black has the stone at 2 in place, White no longer can play at A to squeeze Black’s stones with a forcing-sequence, so the variation in Diagram 2 is the correct one. [Note: The point is that in Diagram 2 White forces concessions in the center from Black without compromising the position on the lower side.

My Japanese go club, the South Bay Ki-in, has been playing the current tournament with an oversized komi system. I do not like this, because I often have to give opponents more than 150 points as the komi! That means that I frequently have to kill a lot of the opponent’s stones in order to win. I do not care for that. I think that it is demoralizing for the opponent and encourages overplays on my part. Then, when I play strong players, I can use the same sloppy methods. I prefer to win through good technique. In fact, I like to win very close games, by just a couple of points.

Next tournament, the club is going back to a stone handicap system. I am looking forward to that. Not only does that allow me to fight all-out with no fear of bad technique, but I have a great deal of experience in playing against handicap stones. Weaker players lack that experience most of the time.

I also know a lot of trick moves to use against weaker players. I suppose that is bad technique as well, but it is a lot of fun to play that way!

Those who wish to comment on the opinions expressed here may send their thoughts to info@GoWizardry.com. The most interesting responses will be addressed in future postings.

Robert J. Terry

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