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An Apology

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During the past six months I was living at a hotel. I had planned to be there a much shorter period of time. It was just a temporary arrangement while I searched for a house or condominium to buy.

Then, unfortunately, the real estate market in California exploded. To give the reader an idea of how that affected house prices, consider the following. At that time, I saw an open house sign in front of a small house in a residential section of Long Beach, where I live, and decided to drop in to see how prices were going.

The house was truly small: 1228 square feet. It had three bedrooms, but with that total square footage those bedrooms were tiny, even the master bedroom. I have a dozen suits which are required in my work as a professional Japanese interpreter/translator. The closet in the master bedroom would not accommodate half of them. The room itself would be barely large enough for my furniture, much less for me to squeeze in.

The floors in all the rooms were bare wood, no carpeting. And not high-quality wood either, just ordinary pine. The house seemed to have been built in the late 1940s or early 1950s. If I was interested, it is easy to find that out in county offices. But nothing that I had seen in the first five minutes impressed me at all.

There was a sliver of a backyard, perhaps 20 feet by 5 feet. Next to that was the garage, again, probably built at the time the house was built. It was the same kind of miniature version of a present day garage. It might fit a compact car, but certainly not an SUV.

Nothing else of note struck my eye.

The price? $700,000. Crazy! Here in California banks offer jumbo loans for up to $724,000 so it is possible to finance a purchase like this, but I could not see how I could ever get my money out of the house. It is the top of the market. There is no place to go except down. It is sometimes acceptable to pay top dollar for purchases, but it makes no sense to throw money away.

I checked out several other houses that were for sale, but nothing else was reasonable, either. Consequently, I just kept living at the hotel.

But that meant that I did not have access to my go library. Therefore, I have had to temporize to write these essays. That was possible, if not ideal. But then, I had to move to a motel (don’t ask), and then I had no access to anything. It was terrible…

Now I have moved back into a good area of town. But moving again threw my life into chaos. I am still working steadily as an interpreter/translator, so that takes a lot of time, and writing these essays has been difficult. In order to get material for the past several posts, my partner in GoWizardry, Mark Lass, sent me game records. But I have never seen these kinds of records before. (I practically never see any material on go at all in English.) So it has taken me a lot of time to get used to the conventions used.

Therefore, I have made some mistakes in the work that I have posted here that I must apologize for. I hope that I have overcome all the problems I faced and can offer better work from here on.

Now, I continue analyzing the Meijin title match.

43rd Annual Best of Seven Meijin Title Match, Game 5

White: Cho U 9 dan

Black: Iyama Yuta, Meijin

Played on October 15 and 16, 2018.

Komi: 6 1/2 points

284 moves. White wins by 9 1/2 points.

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Figure 1: Imitation [Mane] Go (1-30)

Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

White begins the game by mimicking Black’s moves. I do not play this way because it is too easy to fall into a trap. White stops the imitation-go relatively quickly with the attachment of 10. Then, a standard attach and extend joseki is played in the corner.

Black ends in sente and is able to make the combination extension and pincer at 19. This leads to another standard joseki being played in the lower right corner. Black again ends in sente and makes another double attack on the upper left corner with 29.

White makes the attachment at 30 in order to counter Black’s thickness on the left side.

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Figure 2: Playing Solidly (31-60)

The hane of Black 31 initiates a sequence in the corner that is rarely seen. The sponsoring Asahi Newspaper will have a detailed analysis of this variation, but that will not become available for a few weeks. It also gives the time taken by the players for the game at each stage covered by the moves in the figures in the go column. It would be interesting to see what those times were here. I wonder if the players just raced through this variation, or if they were reading out the sequence at the board.

Anyway, the result through White 48 seems equal for both sides. White takes territory, while extending out with 44 negates Black’s prospects on the left side.

Black’s thickness in the center does not appear impressive, but White’s three stones (including 32 and 34) stuck against Black’s stones are practically useless. What is more, Black again ends in sente and can play another ideal combination extension and pincer with 49.

In response, White invades at the 3-3 point with 50. One more time a standard joseki is played through Black 57.

White 58 is a probing move to test Black’s response [yosu-miru]. When Black replies with the solid move of 59, the attachment of White 60 is perfectly timed. White tries to deal with the position in a light and flexible manner (sabaki).

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Figure 3: Successful Sabaki (61-90)

Descending with Black 61 is another solid move. Since there is no way for White to attack Black’s group further, White plays the forcing moves of 62 and 64 before making shape for White’s weak stones on the upper side with the hane of 66. It is hard to believe, but White is practically settled here. (That is because the forcing moves of White 86 and 88 defend the cutting point to the left of 66.)

Black goes on the attack with the placement of 67. This move, along with Black 69 and 73, is designed to give Black a foothold on the right side. The moves through Black 85 are thick and strong, particularly Black 85. Not only that, but Black also gets in the cut at 75.

However, White 78 neutralizes Black’s thickness to a great extent.

Then, White 86 through 90 give White strong shape on the upper side. The feeling is that White has taken the lead in the game. (Go proverb: If you lose four corners, resign. White has practically taken all four corners, plus built a strong position in the center.)

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Figure 4: Once Again, Sabaki (91-120)

Black 91 does not seem like much of an attack on White, and it is not. White 92 through 104 practically make living shape.

Then, White again tries to deal with a Black position in a light and flexible way. That is with White 110 through 120. It is hard to imagine that Black can counter this invasion effectively.

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Figure 5: White Escapes (121-150)

Black 121 is another move that does not seem like much of an attack on White. White plays the forcing move of 122, then extends straight out at 124. This makes the proper shape in a position like this and the reader is urged to remember it.

It is not clear what Black is attempting to do in this figure. The moves through Black 131 on the left and Black 133 on the right secure territory, but not all that much. Perhaps 10~15 points, but certainly not 20 points. In exchange, White takes profit with 132 and makes shape with 134 while neutralizing Black’s position on the left side.

In reply, Black attacks with the placement of 135, and deprives the group of eyes with the moves through 147 (which also builds up the left side), but Black’s shape is full of weak points. When White jumps to 148, the group escapes. (Either that, or White will be able to make an eye in sente, then capture Black 135 for the second eye.)

Black 149 secures Black’s hold on the upper left corner, at the same time as connecting to Black’s position in the upper right. White can push through on the point to the right of 149, but Black can block on the point above that, making ko.

However, White 150 is an ideal point for White to occupy. It makes good shape. It is a knight’s move from White’s group on the upper side and a large knight’s move in relation to White 148. It is tempting to call this the winning move in the game.

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Figure 6: A Meaningless Ko (151-180) Black 173 takes ko at 165; White 176, same; Black 179, same

Black 151 also might appear slow and small, but unless Black adds that move, it will not be possible for Black to attack in the center.

With 152, White declares the game won. White has almost taken four corners (and had the game been closer, White might have jumped to the point above 153 to take the fourth corner, but there is no need), and also crossed through the center. Cho’s play in this game is impressive, as befits a former Meijin.

In response, White secures the group here with 154 through 160, while taking territory.

Black peeps at 161 to try to consolidate the territory on the left side, but White fights back by pushing at 162. Black cannot push through at the point above 152 and fight effectively. Rather, Black must reply with the restrained move at 163.

The attachment of Black 165 initiates a sequence through White 172 to start a ko fight. It is hard to imagine that this ko will be advantageous for Black, but there are no other options for Black at this stage of the game.

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Figure 7: The Fourth Lost Corner (181-210) Black 185 takes ko at the marked stone

The ko fight continues in this figure. Weaker go players tend to avoid ko fights because they worry about what might happen when the position on the board gets complicated, but unless this fear is confronted, it will not go away. It is the nature of ko fights that compensation is obtained when a ko fight is lost. That means that as usual in go, balance on the board is usually maintained by calm and steady play, even during a complicated ko fight.

So weaker players are advised not to back down from a ko fight! If stronger players see that, they will smell blood and go in for the kill.

What should be done instead? Study the progress of this ko fight and see how the top players in the world handle it.

When White cuts at 186, Black has no response. Black has no further ko threats to play equivalent to the size of the ko. So Black ends the ko with 187 and White takes the final, fourth corner with 188 and 190.

Should we count the board now? I suppose so, for practice sake. But the game is already decided. That much is clear.

Most players start by counting the Black side, but here it is more instructive to start with the White side. That will give the reader an insight as to how professional players assess the board position.

White territory:

Right side: 25 points

Upper side: 5 points

Center: 4 points

Upper left: 20 points

Lower left: 11 points

Total: 60 points + 6.5 points komi = 66.5 points

Black territory:

Lower right: 23 points

Upper right side: 20 points

Upper left side: 5 points

Lower left side: 8 points

Total: 56 points

So Black is trailing on the board. It will take a herculean effort to catch up.

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Figure 8: An Empty Gesture (211-240) Black 217 takes ko at the square marked stone; White 220 takes ko at the square marked stone; Black 223, same; White 226, same; Black 229, same; White 232, same; Black 235 takes ko at the triangle marked stone; Black 235 connects at 214

The ko fight becomes complicated in this figure. Black 211 plays atari against White’s eight stones directly above that stone. These stones cannot be rescued, only used as ko material.

White sets up a ko fight for that purpose with the moves at 212 through 216. Then, the ko begins in earnest.

Black takes the ko with 217 and White makes a ko threat at 218, then retakes the ko.

The result of this ko fight is that White captures at 234, ending the ko fight, and the action switches to another ko fight on the upper side.

However, that ends quickly with Black connecting at 214 while White takes Black’s stones in the lower left with 236 and 238. The game is just about over.

Black tries to start more trouble with 239, but it is just an empty gesture. White 240 renders Black’s move meaningless.

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Figure 9: Playing it Out (241-270) White 260 captures at the point of the marked stone; Black 263 retakes at 247

The game is over, but it is just human nature to sit at a go board and play out the final moves before acknowledging defeat. Naturally, the winner is happy to indulge the whim of the opponent.

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Figure 10: Over and Out (271-284)

Here are the very last endgame moves.

284 moves. White wins by 9 1/2 points.

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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