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Trick Plays


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 was famous for wearing traditional Japanese clothing exclusively, too.

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.

Best Ten Series

Trick Moves Section

By Maeda Nobuaki 9 dan

From Kido, January 1972

In speaking of trick plays, it is more accurate to say that the Best Ten here are trick plays where the player who is fooled suffers a disastrous result. Recently, trick plays have taken a turn towards intellectual perversion. In the majority of cases, the opponent is induced to accept a cut trade proportion of the division of profit and influence. A small advantage is gained by means of a flimsy playing method. To qualify as one of the Best Ten, the trick move must trip up the player severely, something that ends close to destroying the player or being destroyed in deploying it.


Number 1

This is a famous trick play used against a large knight’s move corner enclosure based on a star point with a stone added on the 3-4 point. White invades at 1, a move with a fantastic aim, although this should rather be characterized as a variety of joseki. Depending on the way that Black plays in response, step by step a trap door opens up to be fallen into or avoided. In general, that is perhaps the nature of trick plays.

The first problematic move is Black 4, extending upward. With this move, blocking at 9 would be safe and sound for Black. However, in exchange for safety, White is allowed to connect underneath with a hane at 5, so this is a little slack. Therefore, it is natural to want to extend up with Black 4, but this is actually an unreasonable move. On the other hand, comparing moves, White’s invasion is more unreasonable.

The real questionable move is the jump of Black 14. In short, this is where Black is caught by the trick move. From the block of White 15 through the sequence to White 31, Black is skinned alive. The squeeze that White subjects Black to is awful. A calm and collected assessment puts the value of Black’s corner at a little over 20 points. Compared to that, White’s thickness can be estimated at approximately 50 or 60 points, so of course Black is terribly off.

Within this order of moves, cutting with White 21 to fix the shape i a good move. Consequently, instead of the jump of Black 14, filling a liberty with Black 20 would clearly be the superior way to play. However, in order to avoid White’s squeeze, for Black 14…


Reference Diagram

…pressing with Black 1 seems to be a good move. After White 2 and 4, White slides to 6, whereupon Black plays the single move at 7 in exchange for White 8, then attaches at Black 9, followed by the block at 11. This puts Black’s shape in order.

Within this sequence of moves, if White uses 8 to cut at A, it is all right for Black to extend at B and then block at 8. However, it should be understood that if Black 9 is plays as a hane at 10, White cuts at A and Black is badly off.


Number 2

Principally, this is a trick move played in handicap games of six stones and above. Therefore, if the question is raised as how it should be classified, it would come under the heading of the "Juvenal Trick Play Section." Played in a half-teasing way, shodan level players will get caught by it.

In response to White 1, players who understand a little bit of the principles of go will want to attach with Black 2. However, if Black does so, White attaches at 3 and hanes over Black’s stone with 5, initiating the trick play.

When Black answers at 6, White continues with the sequence from 7 through the connection of 13. This leaves Black in a great quandary. If Black turns at 14, White plays atari at 15, initiating the sequence through the jump of White 27. Without a doubt, Black is terribly off in this variation. When it comes down to this, the result here is due to a difference in playing strength, so in a practical sense Black’s loss of the game has already been decided.

Within this sequence of moves, should Black play 14 as the turning move at 15, White 14, Black 17 and White moves out at A, putting Black into the same kind of painful and difficult position. If Black uses the move at 4 to extend at 9, this kind of horrible result can be avoided, but extending at Black 9 also makes slack shape, so White can exploit this as one kind of ploy.


Reference Diagram

Without following White’s lead when White plays at 1, answering with Black 2 and 4 is standard. This shape gives White no weakness to exploit. When defending in a passive way, weaknesses are produced.


Number 3 Black plays 4 elsewhere

Following White’s slide at 1, White makes the checking move at 3. At that point, if Black uses 4 to block at 5, Black’s group would be secure. However, even if Black plays elsewhere, there is not much that White could do against the group. When White pushes at 5, Black blocks at 6, and then the peep of White 7 continues the gradual undermining of Black’s position. Here, players who have a bit of knowledge of this position will make the diagonal attachment of Black 8, and then descend at Black 10.

However, this is just enough knowledge to get into trouble. After the sequence of White 11 through Black 16, White wedges into Black’s stones with 17, and then connecting with White 19 is a shrewd move. Black’s group ends up having hardly any shape at all. In the end, Black moves out at 16, having seen the twin possibilities of the hane out at A and the cut at 19, but not seeing far enough ahead is the reason for Black’s failure.


Reference Diagram 1

By connecting with Black 2, destruction can be avoided, but the diagonal attachment of White 3 and the hane of 5 hollows out Black’s shape, so this is one other way of being tricked.


Reference Diagram 2

When White pushes in with 1, it may be expected that Black can play elsewhere without facing any severe consequences, but if that is worrisome, Black can butt against White’s stone with 2 and block at 4. This is fine. It is just at this time that the placement of White A is ineffective since the Black group is unconditionally alive.


Number 4 White 29 throw-in (7); Black 30 captures; Black 32 connects

Black occupies the star point here, against which White makes the double attack on the corner with the two point high stone of White 1. Black 2 and 4 is the attach and extend joseki. Following White 7, when White pushes through with 9, Black gives way with 10, but Black has already been tricked. When Black plays 14, the two-step hane of White 15 is severe. If momentum leads Black to capture White’s stone with 16 and 18, White cuts and 19 and then at 21. After this, Black plays from 22 to the end of the sequence, whereupon White captures at 41, and Black loses the ko. Of course, instead of Black 26, if Black makes the diagonal move at 33, all of the stones will not be captured, but getting captured with White 34 is a considerable loss. And using 26 to block at 27 is met by White capturing at 34, so that Black ends in gote. This is even worse for Black.

With this being the case, giving way with Black 10 to let White push through at 11 is to be tricked, so for Black 10…


Reference Diagram

…Black blocks at 1, and when White cuts at 2, Black forces with the atari of 3, then cuts at 5. This is good for Black. After the moves through Black 9 are played, Black A is sente [since it threatens to kill White’s group on the upper side], so pressing at White B is unreasonable. Black would just move out at C. Therefore, it seems that there is nothing for White to do but to make the fencing-in move at D and squeeze.


Number 5 Black 16 connects

This is a representative model of an elementary trick play. However, it takes advantage of beginners wanting to play certain moves and thereby has an unexpectedly high success rate at tricking players.

When White makes the fencing-in moves of 5 and 7, Black throws caution to the winds and pushes through with Black 8 and 10. Then, Black wants to cut at 12, but if Black is going to cut, it should be determined the best way to do so. By incurring the cuts of White 13 and 15, Black ends up being destroyed instantly. Besides Black being forced to connect in stupid dumpling shape with 16, suffering the capture of White 17 is a horrible result that makes one want to shield one’s eyes. It makes the loss all the greater.

Despite this terrible outcome, stories are told of White losing the game. It often happens that although one side is a hundred points ahead, in the end that side loses, so perhaps this is not all that strange.


Reference Diagram

Smashing the trick play is not particularly difficult. Black simply cuts at 1. White 2 is met by Black’s extending at 3 and this is OK. However, even with this White gets quite thick and strong. Should this be repugnant to Black, the understanding of the game has to be reevaluated. In order to defend against the cut of Black A, White has to play something, and Black’s shape with the stone at 3 extending straight out is wonderful. It is like having blown through the opponent’s center in chess. It must be understood that this is a big loss for White.


Number 6 Black 26 connects

In response to White’s one point pincer of 1, Black plays 2, and at that point White dodges to 3. This is really not a viable move, but it seems to be a trick move that has come down to us from olden times.

This suspicious looking move of White 3, when answered with the straightforward action-directed moves of Black 4 and 6, in a word succeeds as a trick play. After pushing through with White 19, when Black connects at 2, White plays the fencing-in move of 27, and it should be understood that being squeezed is terrible for Black. The profit that Black makes is far and away bettered by White’s thickness. In an even game, it can be safely said that this would establish the win.

Getting squeezed like this is too terrible, so for Black 16…


Reference Diagram 1

…the hane of Black 1 could be considered, but if Black plays 1, White slices through the knight’s move with 2. Following Black 11, White draws back at 12, and next White peeps at 14 and makes the fencing-in move at 16. Since this works effectively, this also gives Black a losing game.


Reference Diagram 2

In order to avoid the trick play entirely, when White plays 2, attaching with Black 3 and extending with Black 5 is good. Next, since White cannot omit defending at 6, the cut of Black 6 defeats White’s strategy.


Number 7 White 23 throw-in; Black 24 captures; Black 26 connects

White 1 is the Taisha fencing-in move.It is a difficult joseki, so there it contains a number that may be taken up, but due to space limitations only one of those, one that produces the most terrible result will be examined.

Following White 1 through Black 12, playing at the suspicious-looking point of White 13 is essentially a trick play. Should Black obligingly block at 14 and 16, White naturally cuts at 17, and continuing with the cut of Black 18 and the block of 20 incurs the squeeze of White 21 through 31. White wins the race to capture by one point, and that is the way this kind of thing ends up.

Even if Black plays 28 as the jumping attachment at 29, White descends at 28, and it is no good. It is desirable to verify this, but no matter what is played, Black cannot win the race to capture. Black ends with a negative result. In that case, how should Black play to avoid being caught in this trick play?


Reference Diagram

The problematic move is the block of Black 20 in the previous diagram. That is, it is best for Black to pull out with 1, and when White plays atari at 2, Black presses at 3 and jumps to 5. This is standard. In this shape, White’s three stones are thin and weak, which does not bode well for White. During this order of moves, using White 2 to capture at 4 would incur a terrible loss when Black hanes at A, so capturing with White 2 is unavoidable.


Number 8

This is another terrible trick play that has come down to us from olden times. After suffering this kind of thing, no matter what freak sequence occurs, it cannot be expected that Black can win, so as stated, the game is decided.

When answering the fencing-in move of White 1, Black attaches at 2 and balloons out with 4, then cuts at 6. This kind of thing is a crude way of playing, and whatever happens, it is not to be expected that Black will end up well off. If White 11 is met by the hane of Black 12, it incurs the placement of White 13. The loose ladder technique [suji] causes all of Black’s stones to be captured.

Instead of Black 12…


Reference Diagram 1

There is nothing else to be done except for Black to block at 1, but incurring the hane of White 2 is extremely disadvantageous. It may be seen that Black has been tricked to the extent that the outcome of the game has been decided.


Reference Diagram 2

Simply cutting at Black 3, and when White plays at 4, playing the atari of 5, followed by the sequence through Black’s extending at 9, is the proper joseki here. However, in meeting the moves of White 10 and 12, if next Black’s stones can be captured in a ladder starting with White A, playing this joseki is not possible for Black. In addition, when the ladder starting with White A is no good for White, using White 10 to push at B results in a difficult fight.


Number 9

The star of contemporary joseki is the two point high pincer of White 1. Continuing, both the diagonal move of Black 2, the knight’s move of White 3 and the diagonal attachment of Black 4 are moves that are part of a model that the reader is surely familiar with. Next, using White 9 to draw back at 10 is usual, but blocking at 9 is a possible move that the reader probably also is aware of.

The problematic move is the diagonal move of White 17. This move is a variety of trick play, and by cutting at Black 18, again Black ends up falling into the trap. By being fenced in by White 29, Black is placed in an exceptionally painful position. After this, using Black 30 to slide at A would ensure life, but the attachment of White B seals Black in from the outside, leaving Black completely tricked.

Regardless of that, the success rate of this trick play is high. The reason is that the thinking is that there is no alternative but to cut at Black 18.


Reference Diagram

The jump of Black 1 is from time to time a good move. Should White connect at 2, Black 3 and 5 work perfectly to capture White’s two stones. Therefore, instead of playing White 2, the move has to be used to extend at 4, but after White 4 and Black 2, White is clearly badly off. Backtracking, the diagonal move of the White marked stone had to have been played as the knight’s move at A.


Number 10 Black 24 connects

The final trick play comes from the two point high pincer of White 1, the Magic Sword of Muramasa. The Magic Sword is a complex and perilous joseki. When some kind of strange move appears in it, chances are that a trick play is immanent.

As a representative example, following the large knight’s move of Black 2, the two-step hane of White 9 puts in motion the trick play. Black 10 and then drawing back at 12 expose the unreasonable nature of White’s play, but when White plays 13, Black 14 and 16, followed by the fencing-in move of Black 18 falls into the trap once again. That is because the throw-in of White 21 and then the cut of White 23 work effectively. After incurring the hane of White 25, no matter what Black plays, the race to capture is lost by one move.

For White 13, playing atari from the other side at 15 would make the continuation of Black 16, White 17 and Black 18 feasible. Therefore, it is of course essential for White to cut at 13.


Reference Diagram

When White plays atari with the marked stone, Black extends at 1, and then White 2 is answered by the attachment of Black 3, which seems to be a good move. Next, should White push through at 4 and turn at 8, Black is able to capture three stones with the fencing-in move of Black 9. Playing White 8 at A could also be met by Black capturing the three stones with the fencing-in move of 9, but it seems that White A, Black 8, White B and connecting at Black C is playable as well. Besides that, within this order of moves, if White uses 6 to play atari at 8, this time Black does not play at 9, but can capture White with the fencing-in move at D.

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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