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Young Professional Players Besiege Otake Hideo

World famous Sapporo Ice Festival held this year from January 31 to February 11

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has worked hard to attract foreign visitors to Japan the past few years. It was reported last week that 31.19 million tourists visited Japan in 2018, so it seems like that the goal of 40 million by 2020 will be reached. The Sapporo Ice Festival is one event that attracts many attendees. For more information, go to the website:


In 1992, I went on a go junket with the American Go Association (AGA). For years I have railed against the AGA taking advantage of these junkets, which are paid for by sponsors who are seriously concerned with promoting go internationally, and giving nothing in return. During the junket, Roy Laird, one of the AGA officers on the junket, bragged to me that this was the third such excursion to Asia that he was enjoying that year. The other trips being to Japan and Taiwan. As a result of those expense-paid holidays, Laird failed to perform his job as editor of the American Go Journal [AGJ] which was ostensibly the reason that he was an officer of the AGA to begin with. The AGJ was published only one time that year.

I realize that some might be shrugging their shoulders and thinking, “This is ancient history. Why rake over old grievances that are meaningless today?”

Sorry, this is more relevant now than ever before. The point is that what the AGA views as a free ride to grab as many goodies as possible with someone else picking up the tab, the sponsors consider the best way to promote go. The fact is that the game of go is more popular than ever, but it is not because the AGA has effectively used funds provided for promotion. The Manhattan Go Club, which was financed by the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association), was forced to close several years ago as a result of mismanagement by the AGA. At the same time that the Seattle Go Center was vigorously pursuing a well-managed plan of club membership expansion, teaching programs and public promotional efforts. The club repaid the $1.5 million grant that it was given by the Nihon Ki-in in order to see those funds help others promote go.

Stung by the AGA in New York, the Nihon Ki-in is exploring other possible avenues for the promotion of go in the United States. They would like to establish a national go center, but with New York City viewed as a treacherous place in which to invest money for go promotion, they are not sure what other options are available. So, being Japanese, what do they do? They step back and study the situation carefully. Fact-finding trips have been taken by representatives of the Nihon Ki-in to Boston, to see if that would be a place where a US national go center could take root. Washington DC and Baltimore have also been considered as candidates.

As a lover of go, I wish the process would proceed at a faster pace. But the AGA has poisoned the atmosphere. The Nihon Ki-in feels like it is walking a tightrope, worried that a misstep might send more millions of dollars down a rat hole. This is a sad commentary on the ineptitude and short-sightedness of the AGA. It had all the resources and access to talent needed to succeed, and it failed at every turn. Let’s hope that in some way promotion of go in the US is not crippled for too much longer.


On that junket to Korea in 1992, we stopped at a small village where we played some elementary students. I was assigned to play against a young girl. I forget how many handicap stones I gave her, but I contrived to make the game a draw.

Janice Kim was also on the trip, and she acted as an informal supervisor of these games. When she came up to my board, I pointed out that the game was a draw.

“You shouldn’t do that,” Janice said, mildly annoyed.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because it gives this girl a mistaken idea of what happened.”

“I disagree. I think that she understands that a superior ability to count keeps you in control.” I paused for a moment. “And that winning isn’t everything.”

The girl sat quietly beside us, with her wide eyes taking in what we were saying. Maybe the years since that happened have given my memory a sanguine glow, but I like to think that the girl knew that I played with her out of a spirit of empathy and a desire to impart my own awe of the game. In my mind, I can still see her sitting there, humbly listening.

The game that follows has points in common with the one that I have described. Otake Hideo was a strong go player and his opponent a young student. But there is a dramatic difference: these players lived their lives in the professional go world. Contriving to determine the outcome of a game is anathema in that setting. For Janice Kim to criticize me for contriving to end a game on a false note just indicates how her professional training misled her to equate kindly instruction with the “true path” of go. Otake has never given an inch in any of his games. With a young girl across the board from me, I wanted to give more.


In this series, Otake 8 dan faces a lineup of young professional players ready to fight for all they are worth. The lower ranked players receive 2 1/2 points komi [given by Otake, holding White], with the komi doubling or reducing by the same amount after three games won by one side.

Results so far [as of the May issue of Kido]: 1) Cho Chikun 2 dan defeated by Otake by resignation; 2) Ishida Akira 3 dan defeated by Otake by 2 1/2 points; 3) Cho Hunhyun 2 dan win against Otake by resignation [this game analysis translated and available on GoWizardry]; 4) Kuwata Yasuaki 2 dan defeated by Otake by resignation; 5) Kawamoto Masao 3 dan —

Special Kido Game

White: Otake Hideo 8 dan

Black: Kawamoto Masao 3 dan

Played in March 1969 at the Kitani Dojo on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Time: Each player starts with 2 hours on the clock

Komi: 2 1/2 points given by White

202 moves. White wins by resignation

Analysis by Otake Hideo

Kawamoto Masao 3 dan, counted on highly, was born in Korea

Kawamoto 3 dan is Thoroughly Defeated

A Disappointing Revision of the Playing Conditions

As might be expected, Otake 8 dan’s knock-out punch is as powerful as its reputation. Those strong moves ripped into the young professional players, driving them into a 1 win and three loss danger of having the playing conditions revised [kado-ban]. The fifth player in the line-up, Kawamoto Masao 3 dan [the name is an ordinary Japanese one, but he must have adopted it when he came to Japan; also, his name is not in Kido Yearbooks from that time, so he must have returned to Korea relatively quickly], had a heavy weight on his shoulders as he stepped up to the board.

Kawamoto 3 dan follows Cho Hunhyun 2 dan, who faced the same pinch of having the playing conditions revised and he managed to win and avoid that danger, and the two both came from Korea. Kawamoto this year turned twenty. As a student professional player, he boards at the Kitani Dojo, with the wife of Kitani acting as a stand in for his mother. “He is an extremely honest and sincere person,” she says. It seems that from sunrise to sunset he does nothing but study go.

He must have been excited to now clash directly with his elder colleague Otake [who was also a student at the Kitani Dojo, although at this time he had already established his reputation as a top professional player] using all of his strength. However, in entering the middlegame he quickly took a severe blow, after which he desperately adopted measures to recover. But it was all for naught as he suffered a crushing defeat. He got a renewed appreciation of the fearsomeness of high ranking professional dan players, as well as the depth of their artistry.


Figure 1: First, a Passing Grade (1-21)

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

This game started at 10:25 am. On the second floor of the Kitani Dojo Ishida [Yoshio] 5 dan and Takemiya [Masaki] 4 dan, young professionals who already are known for their strength and virtuosity (Kato [Masao] 5 dan was not present [Kato had established his reputation in the Honinbo League the previous year, and had won it this year to challenge Rin Kaiho, Honinbo for the title later in the year] were the most famous students on the property, but there were both students who boarded there as well as those who attended during the day. These players were either competing with each other at the board, or playing out games, or studying classic games, etc., all fully absorbed in their training.

Kawamoto 3 dan’s real name is Ka Shiseki. At the age of 10 he learned the rules of go naturally by watching his father, who is a farmer in Korea, play against friends. When he was 14 he became a student [insei] at the Korean Go Association [Hanguk Kiwon] in Seoul for one year. It seems that he would play against young Cho Hunhyun from time to time taking three or four stones as a handicap.

“In order to avoid having the playing conditions revised, please play steadily and tenaciously,” advised Otake 8 dan, and then the game commenced.

Black attached on the outside with 7, then haned at 11 and extended at 13. White countered by pushing with the moves through 16, then played 18, a good point that neutralized Black’s thickness.

For White 20, making the attachment in the upper right corner at A is usual. However, due to the komi [of 2 1/2 points Black was receiving], Otake 8 dan said that he went for the move at 20.

In order to prevent White from developing a large territorial framework [moyo], Black capped with 21, which seems to be proper. So Kawamoto passed the first test.


Figure 2: Black’s Heavy Two Point Extension (22-31)

Young Kawamoto came to Japan two months later than Young Cho, and as 1963 came to a close, on December 31 he celebrated his 15th birthday. He went to Tokyo and moved in with his uncle in Shinagawa as the new year opened, then in March he became a student of Kitani Minoru 9 dan.

The name that he bears now is hard to accept as his real name, but his uncle gave it to him. However, Sakata 10 Dan has written “Shuku-Shuku” [“Gently”] on placards [shikishi] and fans, so he is looking for the opportunity to change his name back.

White 22 was ignored to play the pincer of Black 23, which is a way of playing to make the Black stones in the upper left work effectively. If Black used 23 to hane at 26…


Diagram 1

…conforming to joseki with the moves here allows White to make the ideal extension to 4.

In the case of Black pressing in with 23, using White 26 to make the hanging connection at A is a common method of play, but descending with White 26 is a special strategy. That is, when White descends at 26, it is a little difficult for Black to find a good way to play. The two point extension of Black 27 has the feeling of being somewhat heavy. On this occasion, Black should consider the two stones, the one at 25 and the one above that, as being light, so it appears better to develop with something like the move of Black B.

Black 31 was intended to force White to defend at A, then to invade White’s corner in the lower right corner with Black C, but that was a little indulgent in thinking.


Figure 3: A Sharply Effective Move (32-44)

Young Kawamoto entered became a student of Kitani 9 dan, then became an apprentice [insei] at the Nihon Ki-in. He was first ranked as 5 kyu, and then in 1967 he was promoted to shodan [1 dan] along with young Cho. They had spent three years as insei, which is actually a short period of time before becoming a professional player. In October of the same year, again side by side with young Cho, he was promoted to 2 dan. The next year, 1968, he outstripped young Cho to rise to 3 dan.

Dodging away from Black’s peep (31), White makes the fencing-in move of 32, a sharp and effective move typical of Otake 8 dan. This unexpected move threw Black off, disrupting the tempo of Black’s moves.

In response to White 32, the defensive move of Black 33 looks natural, but actually it is terrible. When White pushed through with 38 and cut at 40, Kawamoto 3 dan fell into deep thought. Finally, he came to a decision, and played Black 41 and 43. However, White separated Black’s groups with 42 and 44, and although it is an overstatement, it appears that the game is over.

If that is so, what would have been the better way to play? According to Otake 8 dan, Black should have used 33 to attach at A as a probe to see what Black would do. In short…


Diagram 2

…if White answers Black 1 by playing hane over that stone with 2, Black cuts at 3 and draws back at 5. Next, should White play at “a,” Black continues with “b,” and then White “c” would allow Black to go back to block at “d,” dealing effectively with the situation [sabaki].

Even at the point of Black 37…


Diagram 3 Black 23 connects (20)

…it seems that there is no other choice but to attach at 1, and then the sequence through White 24 results in a difficult fight.


Figure 4: A Difficult and Painful Fight for Black (45-63)

After reaching this point, there is nothing else for Black to do but to cut at 45 and fight. Young Kawamoto says that he likes to fight in his games, so he has confidence in playing a power game. But Otake 8 dan’s expertise is a level or two higher, so trying to contest him on even ground is not a good idea.

Up to this point, Otake 8 dan had used no time to play his moves, or spent a minute or two in brief thought considering the position, but when Black played 45, for the first time he spent 6 minutes thinking before extending at White 46. It seems that it was also possible to use White 46 to strongly hane at 47.

The attachment of White 48 is tesuji. This makes things difficult and painful for Black. Kawamoto 3 dan concentrated deeply in order to read the position out, during which he inadvertently mumbled, “[Is Black] destroyed?”

Black pushes through with 51, then hanes out with 53, the proper order of moves. Should Black use 51 to simply hane out at 53…


Diagram 4

…White plays the moves through 4 first, then when Black pushes through at 5, White captures at 6, leaving Black in a terrible position.

Had Black played 59 at 61, moving out first, this time…


Diagram 5

…according to Otake 8 dan, he intended to play atari at White 2, then answer Black 3 by capturing at 4, engineering a swap. In the variation here, the number of moves is one less than in the figure, so White ends in sente. Therefore, he thought that likewise White would get a sufficient result.


Figure 5: White has a Decisive Advantage (64-74)

Otake 8 dan made the hanging connection of White 64, tenaciously keeping the pressure on Black. Playing White 64 as the connection at A would have been solid, but in terms of neutralizing Black’s large territorial framework there is a considerable difference.

Instead of that, if Black played 65 as the atari at B…


Diagram 6

…the moves through White 6 result in a ko. However, it is White’s turn to take the ko, and after the ko ends, the hane of White “a” is sharp. Therefore, it appears that Black has little chance of success. Reading this out precisely, White patiently hunkered down.

Consequently, it was unavoidable for White to indulgently allow Black to wrap up the White stones with the moves starting with Black 65.

After White 70, there is a lull in the action. Black is left with the two stone capture at C, and so has considerable thickness here, but it does not equal the territorial profit White has taken. That has given White a decisive advantage.

From now on, Kawamoto 3 dan plays desperately in order to engineer a recovery. Black 71 is the first step in that process. He saw that using this move to block at D was insufficient.

Black 73 is a good move. If White connects at E…


Diagram 7

…Black replies with 2 through 8.

Therefore, White hanes over Black’s stone with 74, defending against Black F.


Figure 6: A Regrettable Missed Opportunity (75-85)

The hane in return of Black 75 is the move to play in this situation. Black would like to use this move to cut at 80, but…


Diagram 8

…White would connect at 2. Then, if Black hanes at 3, White springs a trap with 4 and 6.

When White plays atari with 76 and extends at 78, Black is given an excellent opportunity. However, by connecting with Black 79, that disappeared right before Black’s eyes.

According to Otake, Black should naturally have used 79 to cut at 80. In that case…


Diagram 9

…White connecting at 5 would be met by Black connecting at 4. That would be no good, so momentum leads White to move out with 2 and 4. It can be foreseen that Black then captures at 5 and a swap takes place. Had this taken place, Black would have been able to fight on.

Young Kawamoto wanted to leave the aim of peeping at A, and so was reluctant to play Black 80. But the peep of Black A would be played way off in the future, so there was nothing to regret here. For Black, this was a regrettable missed opportunity.

Black 81 is a defensive measure to guard against White pushing through at B and cutting. It also surrounds territory on a large scale, but this seems to be the place to for Black to use 81 to block at 85. Nothing could be more painful than to have White make the forcing move at 82 and then jump in at 84.


Figure 7: Brilliant Play Around the Board by White (86-104)

From here on, White plays brilliantly all over the board.

White attaches at 86 and then draws back at 88, peeps at White 90, leaving all sorts of weaknesses [aji] to aim at, then leisurely crosses underneath at 92.

In response to the invasion of Black 93, White plays the sequence with 94 and the following, taking time to descend at 98, a good move that secures the right side. Black 101 and 103 are answered by White extending at 102 and 104, naturally neutralizing Black’s thickness to the left.


Figure 8: Entering the Endgame (105-130)

From the move of Black 5, Kawamoto 3 dan was down to his last five minutes and the second countdown [byo-yomi] started. Black 5, capturing the single White stone, is big, but White’s drawing back at 6 and cutting at 8 is a skillful maneuver considering the endgame moves made with the sequence following White 20.

Black 19 is a good guess that uses the following moves to reduce White’s territory. For White’s part, 26 and the crosscut of 28 preserve the territory to the greatest extent possible.


Figure 9: A Final Effort (131-154)

At this point the difference in the balance of territory is bad for Black and cannot be denied, but young Kawamoto used his time as effectively as possible. [When a player is in byo-yomi, if a move is made before the countdown reaches zero, no time is deducted from the remaining time. If the countdown runs out, a minute is deducted. When all the remaining time is run out, the player forfeits the game.] This was his final effort to win the game.

In response to the hane of Black 33, the atari of White 34 is the move to play here. Should White use 34 to hang tough by blocking at 54, Black has a frightening playing method available. That is…


Diagram 10

…hanging tough with White 1 lets Black extend at 2, then play atari at 4, and with the sequence through 14 a ko is produced. This kind of thing would be unbearable for White.

Starting with 43, Black was left with just one minute left on the clock. This was the final countdown, and Black played several moves to gain another minute. But the general state of the game could not be changed.


Figure 10: Expecting Great Activity by the Rising Players (155-202)

Entering into Figure 10, there is not much left to analyze. However, on the lower side the cut of White 82 is a skillful endgame play that Otake 8 dan is proud of. Later, White A, Black B and White C can be played here.

At 2:55 in the afternoon, Kawamoto 3 dan stated, “I resign.” [“Arimasen.”] He bowed his head, ending the game. This was surely a game that young Kawamoto looked back on with chagrin.

Otake 8 dan commiserated with him, saying, “This was a game that young Kawamoto did not play well, you know.” As he said this, he turned around to address Kitani 9 dan, who had been watching the game.

“With this result, there is a revision of the komi, you know, Sensei.”

The next game will be played with a reverse komi of 4 1/2 points. The next revision will boost that to 6 1/2 points. But we are expecting great activity by the rising players.

202 moves. White 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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