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Professional Secrets of Reading Revealed

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Magari Reiki 8 dan (November 13, 1924~July 3, 2000) was one of Iwamoto Kaoru 9 dan’s most accomplished students. He became a professional player at the age of 18, rising to the rank of 2 dan the same year. This was common for talented amateurs.

In 1948, when Magari was 4 dan, he won the Nihon Ki-in’s Commemorative Tournament for Young Players. Participated in the Top Position League in 1956. Won the 3rd Annual Go Championship in 1958. Advanced to the final of the 1st Annual Lightning Go Tournament. Awarded the Takamatsu no Miya Prize in 1966. Participated in the 27th Annual Honinbo League in 1972.

Although Magari never rose to the front rank of professional go players, he was always well-respected and had a credible career. The following article gives an idea of his talent.

This Board Position Caused Painful Agonizing

Analysis by Magari Reiki 8 dan in Kido, January 1972
Those interested in viewing the original article in Japanese can click here to do so.

Introduction

To what extent can professional go players read ahead? I hear this question voiced a lot. At one time Ishida Honinbo replied, "With one glance I can read 50 moves, 1,000 moves." The average professional [which should be understood as those 5 dan and stronger; until a professional reaches that rank, that professional is only considered a high level amateur], no matter who, can read ahead 100 moves, two hundred moves. But there are also cases where one move ahead is utter darkness. That is because go is played by fallible human beings.

The game used here for analysis comes from the current Honinbo tournament. I was lucky to win this game to gain entrance to the Honinbo league. My opponent was Fujisawa Shuko 9 dan, who played White. In this game, both sides had to deal with board positions where one move ahead was cloaked in darkness.

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Figure 1 (1-16)
Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

Extending [nobi] with Black 15 was a playing method used by Fujisawa Shuko Meijin in the previous Meijin title match. At that time, Rin Kaiho 9 dan understood that…

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Diagram 1

…if White now slides to A, White will incur Black’s making the Taisha fencing-in move at B. However, in response to Black’s extending at 1, making a pincer somewhere around the point of White 2 is the usual conception. Black then plays the jump of 3 as a forcing move, followed by the checking extension of Black 5.

Using this blueprint to sketch out things in the mind, it is shown that Black’s move extending at 1 works effectively. Playing Black 1 at C to take hold of White’s stone is answered by White D, which is in accordance with the standard joseki, but it cannot be denied that this is a duplication of Black’s move to create influence.

Thinking about this and that, I ended up simply extending with Black 15. Secretly, I was curious to see how Shuko 9 dan would play, and I watched with sharp attention. White immediately jumped to 16, the standard technique [suji].

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Figure 2 (17-21)

White 18 and Black 19 are both natural moves. Instead of Black 19…

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Diagram 2

…thrusting through with Black 1 leaves Black’s two stones in the center withering on the vine. Comparing this variation to the following diagram will show the great difference which would give Black the disadvantage in the game.

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Diagram 3

The variation capturing two Black stones with White 16, or else White A is one branch of this two point high pincer joseki, but next Black’s ballooning out shape with Black B makes the position viable for Black. In the previous diagram Black’s stones are left cut and isolated, with no promising move to play.

Instead of extending [nobi] with White 20…

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Diagram 4

…if White obligingly blocks at 1, Black cuts at 2 and I intended to fight with the sequence through Black 12. Within this sequence of moves, instead of the atari of Black 8…

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Diagram 5

…pressing with Black 1 would be met by the two-step hane of White 2. This leads to White thrusting through with 8, and this is nothing for Black to be proud of.

Black extends straight out at 21, taking a commanding position in the center and getting thick and strong. Besides this move…

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Diagram 6

…the hane of Black 1 could also be considered, but when White gets to extend straight out at 8, the prospects for Black are poor.

After the shape in the previous diagram is reached…

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Diagram 7

…there is the unpleasant maneuver of White 1 and the following moves left. Even if Black hanes at 14, White can hane at 15, winning the race to capture by one move. If this is distasteful for Black…

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Diagram 8

…the jump of Black 1 is available, but that would be countered by the White forcing move of 2. Besides that…

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Diagram 9

…should Black play at 1 to prevent that, Black incurs White’s block at 2.

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Diagram 10

Following White 2 in Diagram 6, it would be nice if Black could capture White’s stones with the fencing-in move of 1, but White then attaches with 2, and with the sequence through the diagonal move of 14 wins the race to capture.

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Figure 3 (22-109)

Instead of White 22 in Figure 3…

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Diagram 11

…should White pull back at 1, the sequence through Black 10 would follow. However, this is better for Black than the variation in Diagram 4.

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Diagram 12

Also, if White jumps at 1, Black lives with 2 through 6 with a sufficiently playable position.

The hane of Black 23 is a ploy made possible by the strength of Black’s back-up stones in the surrounding area.

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Diagram 13

Should Black play something like 1 and 3 now, that would be a feasible way to take profit, there is no denying that.

After Black hanes at 23, the sequence through Black 31 is natural and unavoidable.

If White plays 32 as the extending move [nobi] of White 47, Black can be satisfied by capturing at A.

The White block of 38 forces Black to defend at 39, making it a maneuver for protection that White is proud of. After this…

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Diagram 14

…White 1 and 3 would be answered by Black blocking at 4, but White 5 wins the race to capture by one move. However…

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Diagram 15

…by pressing in with Black 1, White’s stratagems are unconditionally stopped.

After Black defends at 39, a lull in the action is reached.

Regarding the skirmishing that follows White’s pushing through at 40 and cutting at 42, in short, trying to exterminate White’s group root and vine with Black 47 is an overplay. Black 49, White 47, Black 52, White B, Black C, White 50 and Black 59 would be simple and easy.

For White 58, cutting with White D would be answered by Black jumping to E defensively, which would be good.

The connection of Black 65 is greedy. Instead of this move, it would be better to manfully sacrifice the stones with Black 66, White 65 and Black F.

White cannot omit cutting at G to prevent Black from sliding at H, but Black then heads for the upper side and is playing in fine form.

White pushes out with 66 and the following moves, throwing the game into chaos, but in dealing with this I made the move of Black 71, which is the equivalent of the losing move. That is how bad a move it is.

White presses in with 76, putting Black into a losing position across the board.

Instead of Black 71, it was best to simply defend at Black 87.

After Black 73 in the figure, I expected White 85, Black I and White 74, but that was capricious reading. I overlooked that White could play atari from the other side at 74.

Finally, it was White’s turn to overlook a move. That was the empty triangle of Black 109. That forced White’s immediate resignation.

For White 104, if White J, Black K, White L, Black M, White N, Black O, White 109, Black 104, White P, Black Q and White R is played, White has a winning advantage.

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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