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A Dramatic Upset


By Ishigure Ikuro 7 dan

"For whatever reason, mistakes in judgment seem to occur when the outlook in the game is good."

From Kido, July 1972


Black to Play

Black has the Advantage in the Board Position

Basic Board Position It is said that it is difficult to win a won game of go. And if that is true of those playing at the height of artistry, how much more so of the games of us amateurs, which are far removed from that elite sphere? Cases where there is smooth sailing to the win are quite rare indeed.

There are a variety of situations where lost games are reeled in, or won games are misplayed for dramatic upsets. Sometimes amateurs are aware of what is happening, though it may be thought that at times the cause is not clearly grasped. Here we will show the tables turned twice or three times, and the question is how to characterize the scenarios.

This game comes from a preliminary round of the Honinbo tournament. White was played by Haruyama Isamu 6 dan and I was playing Black. At this point the game has proceeded past the 64th move, and the present condition is that Black clearly has the advantage on the board. From the lower side into the center, and the center extending into the right side, Black’s thickness exerts pressure throughout the board. At the same time, in the upper left area Black’s three stones still have the potential [aji] of moving out at A. What is more, it is Black to move, so even though Black must give a komi of 4 1/2 points, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that this board position cannot be lost by Black?

The Progress of the Opening Fighting


Game in Progress Figure 1 (1-33)

Go is the kind of game where each move shifts the balance to the left or right like a pendulum.in an old-fashioned clock. Starting from the point of the diagonal attachment of White 1, let’s analyze the nature of the play in this game. To begin with, the three point extension of Black 4 is, in this position, questionable. With this move…


Diagram 1

…settling on the solid two point extension of Black 1 would have been safe and sound.

Exploiting Black’s advancing too far with 4 by immediately invading at White 9 was severe. In response to this move, there was no choice but to attach at Black 10 to compel White to connect underneath. However, White used 11 to turn to the upper right corner to make the attachment there, which was an unexpected shift of play. It was this shift of play that was a remote cause of Black gaining the advantage.

White 11 should have been used to follow up the idea behind White 9.


Diagram 2

The way with White 1 and the sequence through 5, connecting underneath, was best. With the left side stripped bare, Black is clearly badly off.

Black 14 is related to the next move at 16, part of Black’s large scale strategy. It may be considered that Haruyama 6 dan must have overlooked this standing up move [tachi].

When Black stood up at 16, the moves through the knight’s move of White 23 were an unavoidable progression driven by momentum. Had Black used the descending move at 24 to attack with a move at Black 28, there was the fear that White would enter the 3-3 point at A, and after Black 24, play White B… engineering a swap for the lower side.

On the other hand, the problem was the life or death of the White group on the left side. The probe [yosu-miru] of White 25 was a skillful move that played a role in ensuring the life of the allied stones. After the diagonal move of White 33, should Black want to take the eyes…


Diagram 3

…there was no other way to go but to attach at Black 1. However, following White 2 through Black 5, it is White’s pride and joy that pressing at White 6 is a move that is possible.


Ishigure Ikuro 7 dan

A Promising Board Position for White


Game in Progress Figure 2 (1-14)

Regardless of anything else, mistakes in judgment occur when the outlook in the game is good. In order to eliminate the potential [aji] of a White hane out at A, Black blocked at 1, but this move was slack. It is clear that the progress of the game in this figure gave White chances. White peeped at 2 as a forcing move, then pressed with White 4, and ensuring the life of the group on the left side with the moves through White 10 was a good order of moves. After that, the hane of Black 11 could not have been omitted. The potential [aji] of the hane out of White B works effectively for White. With the potential of that move in mind, White plunged deeply in with 12, a move that was not an easy one for Black to deal with.

All of this was due to the wrong-headed greediness of Black 1. For Black 1…


Diagram 4

…blocking White off in sente with Black 1 is a thick and strong move. White has no choice but to make life with 2, so at that point Black surrounds territory on a large scale with 3. I think that this would have given Black a solid winning edge.

On the right, even though White can hane out with 4, when play proceeds with Black 5 through 9, White’s two stones at 4 and 6 are just a burden. On the left side, Black can hane and connect in sente with the forcing move sequence of Black A, White B, Black C and White D, which leaves Black with the move connecting underneath at E.

Defending the corner with Black 13 was also questionable. By developing with White 14, the board position became promising for White. This was a 180 degree turning of the tables.

For Black 13…


Diagram 5

…Black should attack with 1. Instead of White 6, playing the hane of White 7 would be answered by Black A, which would be good. If White makes the diagonal move at 6, Black descends at 7, and then White attaches at B. Attacking this group and fighting would give Black good chances.


Haruyama Isamu 6 dan

A Big Upset in the Endgame


Game in Progress Figure 3 (1-95)
Black 15 connects; White 28 takes ko; White 68 takes ko; Black 71, same

Setting everything else aside, the placement of Black 1 launched an attack, but the chances for success were absolutely nil.

Instead of cutting with Black 9, cutting at the point of 10 would have captured two White stones including the one at 4, but in that case White’s group would have lived unconditionally.

When Black connected at 15 on the lower side, White made the atari at 16 as a probe of Black’s intentions. The delicate artistry brought to bear in this game is displayed here. Instead of extending with Black 17…


Diagram 6

…if Black connects at 1, it incurs the cut of White 2, upon which Black can do nothing but play atari at 3. White gets good impetus to make the moves at 4 and 6, and afterward if White can connect at A, roles will be reversed, and there is the fear that Black’s big group of stones will come under attack.

The pincer attachment of White 48 was a move that set up a race to capture between both sides’ big groups of stones. That one move saved me and gave me the upset win. Had White played the move at 48 as White A, Black B and White 59, concentrating on making life, the board position would have been hopeless for Black.

Black wins by resignation.

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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