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All About the Many Aspects of Go
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A Different Perspective on the Opening

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漠々水田白鷺飛    横尾深林人

Baku-bakutaru Suiden Shirasagi Tobu

A Vast Rice Paddy, White Herons Fly

Artist: Yokoo Shinrinjin

Cover of Kido, October 1972

I suppose that there are few go players in the West who are familiar with the name of Maeda Nobuaki. This is a shame, because he was an important figure in the history of the game.

Maeda Nobuaki (November 22, 1907~July 3, 1975) became a student of Honinbo Shusai Meijin at the age of 16, and was arguably the most accomplished of them. Perhaps it was because none of his students, even one as gifted as Maeda, were suitable to carry on the name of the family of Honinbo, that Shusai bequeathed the honored name to the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association, which was founded in 1924).

Maeda never reached the heights of the tournament world of go, principally due to the emergence of geniuses like Go Seigen, Kitani Minoru and Sakata Eio. So he contented himself with other creative pursuits related to the game. He was famous as a composer of problems, and dubbed the "God of Life and Death Problems," 「詰碁の神様」("Tsume-go no Kami-sama"). He was said to have composed a new problem every day of his adult life.

He also was active in poetic circles, and published many haiku related to go. He also wore traditional Japanese clothing exclusively.

Maeda’s most prominent student was Oeda Yusuke, who eventually became the sensei of Michael Redmond.

Maeda regularly contributed articles to Kido magazine, many of these were part of a series that continued over the course of the year. The following article is one example of this. It was part of a "Best Ten" series that includes the best ten go proverbs, tesuji and other related subjects.

Best10Cover

Best Ten Series

Fuseki [Opening] Section

By Maeda Nobuaki 9 dan

From Kido, October 1972

To talk about the Best Ten Fuseki is perhaps a strange characterization. More precisely, this touches upon the changes that have occurred in the opening. However, since it may be said that there is a theoretical basis to things to which there is an emotional attachment, well then, why not a best ten list for this, too? Here, we look back upon the remnants of fuseki past and present, tracing back their origins and the conditions of those times.

First: The Chinese Style

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Diagram 1 Black 34 connects; White 43 connects

According to game records that have come down to us, in regards to Chinese go, far in the past games started with two Black and White stones placed on the handicap points. It is not clear just how far into the past that extends. The reason why two stones were played by each side is also unclear. The way that I explain this to myself is that there are 361 points on a board with nothing else in that all too vast expanse that is overwhelming, and adding two stones for each side in place to a certain extent serves to place limits on the large size of the board.

If there is anyone who is well versed in these matters, I would be grateful to be given instruction about them, but regardless of that, it is my presumption that this two point system was no small hindrance to the development of Chinese go. It might be expected that making the fighting area of the go board smaller is something that in itself makes the way of thinking and perception smaller. It is surely because of the even game system with the subsequent transition to the larger board in go in Japan that naturally enabled it to overtake and outstrip go in China.

Turning the eye to the board position here, it was during the Manchu Dynasty [c. 1644-1912] (perhaps in the early period?) that the go sage Huang Longshi [1651~? one of the three great players of olden China, ranked equivalent to Honinbo Dosaku by Go Seigen] played this game, with Huang Longshi taking Black. At that time in China, White played the first move, because Black was an indication of nobility.

Huang Longshi was not only the best player of the Manchu Dynasty, but one of the strongest players of all time. Touching now a bit upon the playing methods used in game at hand…

In response to the attack on the corner with White 1, the large knight’s move with Black 2 was invariably played, and next the checking extension of White 7, followed by Black 8, White 9 and the tight checking extension of Black 10, all the way in, is typical of the play at the time, or it appears that it might be a usual playing technique of Chinese go. With the two-step hane of White 17, fighting is quickly plunged into on the side of the board launching the middle game phase. Black 20 is exchanged for White 21, then Black cuts at 22, the proper move order, and when White hanes at 27, Black presses against White’s stone with 28. This is an indication of Huang Longshi’s strength.

Next, the hane of White 29 would seem to be dictated by the momentum of play. After this, Black 42 forces White to connect with 43, and this progress in the game shows that Black has gotten the better of the opponent here.

Second: Olden Style

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Diagram 2

In the world at large, the Tokugawa Shogunate [1600-1868] instituted the Castle Games around the time of Tenna and Jokyo [these are imperially dictated time periods — 1681 and 1684 respectively — that were medieval Japanese establishments of order] the House of Honinbo declared that the opening promulgated by the House of Yasui [1600-1903; another House sponsored by the Tokugawa Shogunate] was olden style. This was the era of the Fourth Honinbo Dosaku, who has been designated a go saint [or sage].

Before Dosaku, in speaking of the game of go, according to individual players there were differences of nuance, but in general the play never left the realm of power go. [In chess, at this stage of the development of the game the play is known as "swashbuckling."] Therefore, power go has come to be known as Olden Style, and in particular the go of the Yasui School is pointed to as being Olden Style. Previously, the House of Yasui had been considered the strongest opposition to the House of Honinbo, surely for no other reason.

In this diagram there is a model example of Olden Style. As may be seen, when it came to pincers, they were limited to one space pincers or two space pincers. That kind of thing was because rather than a full board perspective, emphasis was placed on local focus, or else single corners. This image is very strong here. A glimpse of the power go prevalent at this time can be seen here.

Third: Dosaku Style

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Diagram 3

It was Dosaku whose extraordinary full board perspective and move order analysis caused a major revolution in the theory of the game. The appearance of full board perspective no doubt preceded the theory of move order analysis, but Dosaku also worked out the principles of sacrificing stones for profit, and displayed fighting methods that exploited opportunities to the hilt. It is not an exaggeration to say that Dosaku theory of go not only preceded the Edo Period [1600-1868], but it would be as advanced as anything played today.

To touch slightly upon the move order in the diagram, the three space pincer of Black 5 started appearing during the Dosaku era. There is no doubt that the relationship of this move to full board perspective rather than to a single corner is in keeping with Dosaku’s thoughts.

The attachment of White 20 is played because Black has a two space extension with 19, so the intention is to make the stone over-concentrated. White 24 seeks impetus from Black 25 to surround territory with White 26. It is most likely that this way of thinking did not exist before this game.

Fourth: Orthodox Method in the Fuseki

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Diagram 4

The way of thinking about go and fuseki models did become finally established until the middle of the Edo Period [1600-1868]. Around this time, the most common way of playing was what was called the Orthodox Fuseki, which is shown in this diagram. I suppose that it was considered that the Orthodox Method was the most proper way of playing the fuseki. However, it is not clear if developing with the move across the board in the diagonal corner with Black 3 is the Orthodox Method. Along with that, the moves of Black 5 and 7 are ambiguous. But attacking the corner with Black 7, and when White answers at 8, making the checking extension of Black 9, followed by White 10 and the three space pincer of Black 11 were the most commonly development schemes played at that time.

This diagram shows what was called a rival match game from the Tempo era [c. 1830] between Honinbo Jowa and Akaboshi Intetsu, where this fighting shape appeared. The cut of Black 33 came about on Intetsu’s side due to research of the School of Inoue as it has been recorded. In addition, according to Shuwa’s analysis White 44 had to be played as the descending move at . In other words, this is the famous third descending move of Honinbo Shuwa.

Fifth: Shusaku Style

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Diagram 5

"The still not obsolete 1, 3 and 5," these are moves that comprise a closely related construct. The fuseki of Black 1, 3 and 5 have been passed down as an invention of the go saint [sage] Honinbo Shusaku in the Kaei era [c. 1848]. Since this is not an unusual model, it probably was played in someone’s game previously, but that would have just been a coincidental occurrence. It was Shusaku who brought the inner essence of the moves to life.

The diagonal move of Black 7 forms another core element of this fuseki. While it looks like a solid move, the feeling is that it casts an eye over the whole board. It has come down to us that Shusaku praised his own move, this diagonal move of Black 7 that changed the way of thinking about the game of go, saying that no matter how the thinking about go changes, this will never be a bad move. But how should this diagonal move of Black 7 be evaluated in this position? In contemporary go, with the burden of the komi of 4½ points and 5½ points, the diagonal move of Black 7 is considered slack, so Black usually makes a pincer in the vicinity of .

Sixth: Starpoint Fuseki

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Diagram 6

The player who used the Starpoint Fuseki to a remarkable extent was Honinbo Shuei Meijin in the Meiji Period [1868-1912]. Shuei is ranked as a Meijin among all Meijin. It has been transmitted to us that Shusai Meijin said that of all Meijin throughout history, Shuei was the strongest, was he not? Consequently, whether the starpoint move was changed to a 3-4 point move or a 5-4 point move, he would no doubt have wielded them to a remarkable extent. However, it may be thought that among the choices it was properties of the starpoint move that most perfectly matched the go style of Shuei Meijin.

As before, the vicissitudes of the board position will touched upon a little here. Following the large knight’s move corner enclosure of White 8, when Black plays at 9, the two space extension of White 10 seems to be a move that Shuei Meijin was favorably disposed to. Continuing, the shoulder hit of White 14 played to neutralize Black’s territorial framework [moyo] is a playing method that is also regularly seen. In general, Shuei Meijin’s play flowed naturally, without unreasonable moves, and White 22 is an example of this. One special characteristic of his game was not to leave any flaws that could be exploited.

Seventh: The Early Twentieth Century Model

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Diagram 7 Black 31 takes ko; Black 33 connects

There are no special characteristics in the Early Twentieth Century Model, but during the time of radical change from the old conditions of the Meiji Period [1868-1912] to the Showa Period [1926-1989] commonsense in the fuseki was generally set in this time period. This was the generation of the 21st Honinbo Shusai Meijin. Prominent players of this era were the Devil Shogun Nozawa Chikucho, Valient General Suzuki [Tamejiro], Segoe [Kensaku], Prodigy Kogishi Soji, Onoda Chiyotaro aka Onida Tsuyotaro [Devil Field Strong First Son], etc. They were all considerably talented, but among them Kogishi achieved notable success in a competition in the Jiji Shinpo Newspaper, where he defeated a record 32 opponents. This still stands as a tremendous record that shines brightly through the ages.

In the game diagram, in response to the play at the 5-3 point of Black 5, White plays the high attack on the corner at 6, and play continues with Black 7 through the diagonal move of 11. This was the model played most often in the Taisho Period [1912-1926]. Beside this, in reply to the Taisha Joseki of White 20, the model with the cut of Black 27 is considered somewhat of a loss for Black, but in those days of go played without a komi, it was universally thought that from Black’s standpoint it was expected to simplify the game.

Eighth: The New Fuseki

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Diagram 8

In the autumn of 1933, Kitani [Minoru] and Go [Seigen], the two young lions of the go world, came out playing the New Fuseki, and this whipped up great excitement in the world of the game of go. That was far separated from the conceptions about go that were prevalent up to then. The reason was because it was an innovative fighting method in the fuseki. Summarizing the way of playing the New Fuseki, rather than the corners, it was a fighting method that put the focus on the center, and although this is simplistic, it is not too far off the mark. For instance, in the upper right corner, playing something like Black and was judged to be too partial towards the corner. It was essential in the New Fuseki to finish playing in the corner with one move, so playing at the starpoint was the move most often made.

The New Fuseki caused a sensation in the world, and that was also in large part due to the successful tournament records both Kitani and Go achieved. On the other hand, the case was strongly made that it was not because the New Fuseki was so good, but because Kitani and Go were so strong that they had the successful records.

Whether that is true or not, inevitably the models of the New Fuseki did not continue in vogue for very long. However, because of this matter, we learned not an insignificant amount. What we were taught most of all was that there were many ways of playing that were possible. We came to understand the breadth and depth of the game of go.

Ninth: Go Seigen Style

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Diagram 9 White 18 connects

When Go 9 dan was playing at the height of his powers, and even now when faced with Black 1 and 3, he plays the same way in response. That is the facing 3-4 points of White 2 and 4 here. Should White use 2 to attack Black’s corner at , developing with Black sets up the board position for the Black 1, 3 and 5 Shusaku Style. However, when Go 9 dan was playing at his best, it may be thought that the facing 3-4 point of White 4 was a strategy to counter the always winning fuseki of Black 1, 3 and 5.

The large knight’s move attack on the corner with White 6, and after Black 7, the two space extension of White 8 is Go Seigen Style as well. Continuing, the two space high pincer of White 10, through the hane in return of White 14, was something Go 9 dan favored at times. This type of fuseki was dubbed Go Seigen Style, and the wins that Go 9 dan chalked up using the Go Seigen Style in numerous Judansen [best of ten game matches] are memories that are still fresh in the minds of many.

Tenth: The Contemporary Fuseki

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Diagram 10

The existence of the komi system in contemporary go has added that much more to the severity of the game. At the same time, from the standpoint of White’s part, it is possible to play at a leisurely pace in order to bring the game to the point when the komi will play a decisive role. Those two elements exist side by side. The perception of the fuseki is becoming more and more multi-faceted.

This diagram, if a judgment must be made about it, represents a fuseki for White. From the high attack on the corner with White 6, through the extension of 12, shows a playing methods used to avoid sharp fighting. From White 14 and the pincer in return of Black 15, through White 26 is a contemporary joseki.

White’s not using the move at 32 to hane at is also a nuance to avoid a sharp fighting pattern. However, as might be expected, with the invasion of Black 47 the middle game fighting starts.

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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