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The Lure of Japanese Go Analysis


This is the cover of the May 1969 issue of Kido magazine. In the bottom left corner a poem may be seen. These are the kanji (Chinese characters) written there:

活 幾 緑 五

計 年      月

得      加 水

魚      髪 亭

当 人 雨 好

酒 間 加 昼

銭 事 煙 眠


Above, on the top, are kanji that I have placed there. Below that is the original material from Kido magazine. Notice that there are three gaps in my listing of the kanji. That is because I cannot find them in the modern Japanese dictionaries in my library. I have classical dictionaries, but they are packed away in storage. And in the material on the right may be seen a number of symbols to the right of the kanji. These are grammatical symbols that show how the kanji are to be read.

Not that this means anything to me. I can read the poem to a certain extent, about as well as the average Japanese citizen. That is because my specialty in Japanese is business, finance and economics. Olden Japanese literature is not my forte. On the other hand, what Japanese appreciate more than anything is the “feeling” that poems like this express. So what I get from the poem is the following: May rain in a cottage a good afternoon’s nap / Verdant <BLANK> mixed with hair rain mixed with smoke / A number of years <BLANK> <BLANK> human being matter / Activity adds earned fish leading to sake and a little money.

The reason that this copy of Kido is so important to me is that it is the first one that I ever encountered. It was lying on a table in the Rafu Ki-in (Los Angeles Go Club) in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles. I look back on that time with nostalgia. As I do in regards to the game below, which comes from that copy of Kido.

A Stunning Sudden Death of Stones

8th Annual Meijin League

White: Kada Katsuji 9 dan

Black: Rin Kaiho, Honinbo

Played on December 25 & 26, 1968 at the Nihon Ki-in.

Komi: 5 points

161 moves. Black wins by resignation.

Analysis by Rin Kaiho, Honinbo


Figure 1: A New Ploy (1-24)
Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

Up to White 18 a very natural opening (fuseki) is played.

Instead of the attack on the corner of Black 19, there was the choice of an attack on the corner with a small knight’s move or a large knight’s move.


Diagram 1

If Black makes a large knight’s move attack on the corner with 1, White would probably reply with the pincer of 2. This is a move that Kada san likes to play.

When Black attaches at 3, White blocks at 4, and then following the crosscut of Black 5, the sequence through White 12 and Black 13 results. This would lead to a feasible game.

When Black makes the attack on the corner with 19, attaching with White 20 and drawing back with 22 comprise an ordinary joseki, but ignoring the connection of Black 23 to play elsewhere with the jump of White 24 is a new ploy, which is interesting.

The jump of White a is joseki, but on the right Black has fixed the shape with the low move of 11, so White’s attitude is that a Black attachment (at the point to the right of 4) is nothing to worry about.

Consequently, it is best for Black to take White’s aims into consideration before moving.


Figure 2: Mistaking the Direction of Play (25-50)

Black attaches with 25 out of fighting spirit, but I did not expect White to answer with 26 and the following moves, then take sente to turn to play at the good point of White 32 on the right side.

Thinking about this in a calm and collected manner, here Black should have made the checking extension at A. Through 32, White is playing a rapidly paced fuseki [opening]. Therefore, Black has no choice but to move out with 33 and 35 to attack White’s stone on the left side. In one way or another, beginning at this point in the game it seems like Black has fallen in line with White’s strategy.

Attacking White from below with Black 41 and 43 is a mistake in the direction of play. Due to this mistake in the direction of play, Black is forced into a difficult and painful fight from here on.


Diagram 2

Black attacks in a loose way with 1, and if White answers with 2, then Black 3 would be a standard move to develop in a vague manner.

On the left side, something like the placement of Black “A” is possible, so that White does not clearly have eye shape. In conjunction with this, Black can invade at “B” on the right side, followed by the attachment of Black “C” to set up a ko fight. Black would have severe ko threats against White on the left side to use. This kind of vague way of proceeding is effective, but Black 1 feels all too much like a move that tries to do too much of everything and ends up not doing anything very well. So it is a bit hard to bring oneself to play it.

Regardless, it is awful for Black to play 41 and 43 because the stones adopt a low posture, occupying empty points [dame]. White attaches with 44 and then makes a pole-like shape with 46, so that there is no good attack for Black to mount. Black hanes with 49, but…


Figure 3: Black Gets Over-Concentrated Shape (51-92) White 88 connects

Black seals White in with 51, 53 and 55, but while spending capital, Black drives White towards Black’s wall [negating its value]. What is more, White 58 and 60 settle the group while taking several points of territory. It is hard to say what Black is trying to accomplish.

Black’s thickness becomes completely useless, while Black gets over-concentrated shape, so already Black has a difficult and painful fight to deal with.

On top of that, with this result, White aims at making the shoulder hit at A, which gives Black an uneasy feeling.

Black plays 61 as a forcing move (since if White omits responding at 62, the upper side is thin), then immediately goes back to play at 63, again, to defend against White A. Furthermore, although playing Black 63 at the point above A makes good shape, in that case, when White jumps in at B, Black has no move to play in response.

White 64 is followed by the defensive move of White 64, which might seem to be overly solid, but White’s judgment is that this is sufficient [to win the game], and in fact having White play solidly like this leaves Black without hope.

With Black 67, the endgame is already reached, but Black has no other place to play. Of course, should Black neglect to play this, the attachment of White C is severe because of the relationship with the cut of White D. [Black connects and then White plays at the point above D, isolating Black’s group, White would then have to scramble to make two eyes for it.]

The diagonal attachment of White 68 is a forcing move that does no harm and might prove to be useful later on.

White puts the moves of 70 and 72 in on the upper side, which is natural since White has a solid position in the surrounding area, and these moves are standard, but heading to play White E to neutralize the lower side would take control of the game. This would be a solid strategy to hasten the end of the game.

In response to White’s extending at 76, Black attaches at 77, and I wracked my brain to determine the correct order of moves, but truth be told, in the end that is no big deal.

Within the sequence in this figure, the jump of Black 89 is played as a single probe, but here, too, advancing a step further with Black F, is best.

I was thinking that with Black 89 in place, next a jump of Black 90 would be good form, but on the contrary, incurring White 90 meant that the attachment of White G is left.

Regardless, the game is painful and difficult for Black here.


Figure 4: The Only Chance (93-133)

Black 93 and the following sequence is a natural course of play.

The block of Black 99 is a good point to play, but not being able to counterattack against the attachment of White 100 is painful. And making the connection of Black 103 in gote is unavoidable.

White 104 is a thick and strong endgame play. Should Black’s stones in the upper area get cut off, White is left with the aim of making the placement of White A to take away Black’s eyes.

Black 105 and the following moves comprise standard endgame play, but the outlook in the game is hopeless for Black. Since White is answering with solid moves, whatever else happens, the game will be close, but the board position is such that there is absolutely no way that the komi can be overcome.

When White hanes at 132, suddenly there is a slight, one time chance to do something. That is…


Diagram 3

Directly cutting with Black 1 is impossible. After playing White 2 and 4, White hanes at 6, and if Black pulls back with 7, White cuts with 8 through 12.

Black 13 is dealt with by the atari of White 14 and the fencing-in move of 16.

In other words, if direct action does not work, it would be standard for Black to make the diagonal attachment at B in the figure, preventing an incursion, but then there would be no way for Black to overcome the losing position Black is faced with.

For that reason, with the fencing-in move in Diagram 3 uppermost in Black’s mind, Black attaches at 133 as an all-out, do-or-die move. In short, using Diagram 3 as reference, if Black can get a stone at a point like “A,” the cut immediately becomes possible. In order to take advantage of that defect in White’s position, Black ventures to play the attachment of 133.

At this point in the game, as usual Kada san had no time left on the clock, which became a huge factor for the outcome in the game.


Figure 5 (134-161)

White 34 puts up the strongest resistance and is correct. In response to Black 35, White 36 is also natural, but when Black draws back at 37, it is obvious that the fencing-in move in Diagram 3 is not possible.

Therefore, White makes the hanging connection with 38. This becomes nothing less than the losing move.

Black plays atari with 39 and connects at 41. By filling a liberty with Black 43, White’s group ends up instantly dead.

Following Black 43, no matter how White answers it is no good, making Black 43 the key move here.

Even though White defends the cutting point with 46, when Black fills in another liberty with 47, it sets up the throw-in of Black 61.

White 47 and the following moves are nothing but desperate struggling. Black attacks bluntly 49, and then, after the sequence through White 60, forces resignation with the throw-in of Black 61.

Should White capture this stone, Black plays atari, and after White connects, Black takes White’s eye on the left side with a move at A, and White has only one oversized eye in the center.

In that case, what is the right way for White to play the move of 38?


Diagram 4

This is a strange move, but by extending straight out with White 1, the liberties of White’s group are extended, so instant death is avoided. At the same time, the cutting point at “A” is protected. The sad truth is that lack of time on the clock [for White to work everything out] ended up being fatal for White.

Anyway, this was a painful game for me, from first to last, and I was fortunate to catch a lucky break. That is what saved me.

161 moves. 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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