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The Tanabata Matsuri in São Paulo is celebrated by the 1.5 million Japanese citizens of Brazil in the first part of July. The festival takes place in the Liberdade section of the city. There are many food stands set up along the street that serve takoyaki, yakisoba, okonomiyaki, makizushi, inarizushi, yakitori and others. Colorful "tanabata" made of paper wave in the wind.

GoWizardry brings a wide variety of analysis to English-speaking players that has never been possible before. For years, I have told one and all how superior the material on go is that I see regularly. At last, I have the chance to prove that.

The problem is that translating so much work is more difficult than can be imagined. Articles are written by go writers who collaborate with professional players. Those are two separate mind sets with their individual styles and way of thinking. It often takes a lot of effort to adapt to their ways of presenting their thoughts.

I remember walking through the editorial department of the Nihon Ki-in [Japanese Go Association] one day and seeing O Meien 9 dan (and former Honinbo) sitting in front of a computer screen, mouse in hand, playing out variations of some game while a writer sitting in a chair next to him took notes. This is the kind of collaboration I am trying to explain. I have translated many articles and books by O, so I have a good idea of how his mind works, but when he works with one writer or another, those thoughts can take all kinds of formats, from literary, to concise jargon, to convoluted elaboration. It can be very confusing.

On the other hand, I have not translated much of the work of Yo Kagen 9 dan (which is his rank today). I can read the material without problem, in fact as easily as I read English, but how to translate it is another question. Therefore, the following article caused me a lot of trouble. That is, at first. After I got halfway through the translation, I had figured out his manner of expressing himself, and the rest went much more quickly. And then I was finished. The next translation will probably be just as bothersome.

An occupation hazard of a professional Japanese translator…


Young Professionals’ White Hot Battles

By Yo Kagen 8 dan in Kido, October 1998

Those interested in viewing the original article in Japanese can click here to do so.

Ryusei Tournament 2nd Preliminary Round

Nakano Hironari 9 dan ——– Miyagawa Fumihiko 5 dan

Meijin Tournament 3rd Preliminary Round

Nakamura Shinya 6 dan ——– Kitano Ryo 5 dan

Gosei Tournament Preliminary Round

So Yokoku 5 dan ——– Cho U 5 dan

Ryusei Tournament Preliminary Round

Tsukuda Akiko 3 dan ——– Izawa Akino 1 dan

Honinbo Tournament 1st Preliminary Round

Ko Iun 1 dan ——– Umezawa Yukari 2 dan


Aiming Single-mindedly at Attacking Leads Directly to Attacking

Ryusei Tournament 2nd Preliminary Round

White: Nakano Hironari 9 dan

Black: Miyagawa Fumihiko 5 dan


Flow of Play in the Opening

Three star points in a row versus two star points in a row. The game plan for Black is to use thickness effectively, while for White it is to play a "spoiler" [amashi] strategy, that is, neutralize the opponent’s thickness and win on territory. However, in the end White fails to ensure survival [shinogi] for a group of stones.

It may be that Black’s severe attack was taken lightly, but White was made to play on empty points [dame], resulting in the progress of the game completely unlike Nakano’s usual play.

On the other hand, in this game the outcome was clear practically all the way, which is something that makes go fierce and frightening.


Here, too, there is only Black’s way of attacking. Without being distracted or wasting time, Black attacks directly, going all out.

Professional players like me often speak of the real track of a game, and this game is a good example of that.

For the reader, the best thing to do is to play out the game on a board and sense that.

Essential Points

During the play, White makes forcing moves on the right side. How is this to be interpreted?

At the end, White’s group on the left side suddenly dies. Supposing that the group lives. What is the outlook in the game? Things like that are what to perceive.



Figure 1 (1-100) White 24 connects at 17

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

The progress of play from Black’s making three star points in a row to White 26 is often seen. However, the wide pincer of Black 27 is unusual. Those who make this move are players like Takemiya Masaki 9 dan, you know.

Black plays 29 through 39 in order to make effective use of the thickness in the upper right to attack White. This is a fierce and frightening way of playing that attacks directly.

How is the move of White 44 to be interpreted?



The Key Point

White 44 in the actual game seems a little overconcentrated. Then, the hanging connection of White 1 is usual. Black 2 is answered by White 3. Black 2 at "a" would be met by the diagonal attachment of White "b," making good shape. White would have no trouble in making living shape [shinogi] for this group.


White 58 and 60 are forcing moves that professional players like to play. Later, the endgame sequence of the hane of White A, Black B and the cut of White C, bringing about a ko fight, can be played. White 44 and the following moves may be considered as played to pursue this strategy.

Black 63 stares right at White’s group.

White 64 is seriously problematical. It is close to being the losing move.

If White uses this move to butt against Black with White 78, the game would be yet to be decided.

Since White strays from the front of the battle, Black attacks severely with 65 through 71. White’s shape gets twisted.

Black puts the attack on track with 85 through 97. At a single stroke Black has a winning advantage.



Figure 2 (101-177)

Black 7 and 9 separate White’s stones, in response to which White 14 is not a move that has any chance of succeeding. However, Black 15 is a mistake in the proper order of moves.

Instead of 15, Black should play 17, White 18, Black 20 and White who leave White petrified.

Due to Black’s loss of the stone at 19, had White played 40 at 43, there would be a feeling that an upset is coming. However, White incurs a big loss with 48 and 50. Then, even if White played 56 at 71 to secure life, White does not have a sufficient amount of territory.

177 moves. Black wins by resignation.


The Plan for the Moves Falls Apart…

Meijin Tournament 3rd Preliminary Round

White: Nakamura Shinya 6 dan

Black: Kitano Ryo 5 dan


Flow of Play in the Opening

The game starts out with imitation play [mane-go], but of course that cannot be continued for very long. White breaks it off with the move at 16. Immediately after that, Black makes careless moves which seems to have startled White, bringing about a poor response while White tries to establish an advantage. Trying too hard for complications, White gives Black profit, making the game easy for Black to play.

Recovering fighting spirit, White starts the second round off with an offensive and defensive battle on the upper side. Black, too, plays in a risky and perhaps desperate frame of mind.

However, in an instant the game is over.


Leaving aside the give and take in the opening, it is interesting to see how Black works out survival [shinogi] in various places.

What is really striking is how White’s efforts to maintain a balance in attacking and taking profit ends up falling apart, you know.

Please play this game out on a board and try to feel the ups and downs of the emotions occurring during those points of turmoil.

Essential Points

The focus in this game is on White’s way of playing on the lower and upper sides. What is the best way to settle those positions… Analyze how the attack should be conducted.



Figure 1 (1-73)

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

The game begins with imitation go in the fuseki, until White varies with 16. Black 21 is a careless move. White 22 through 26 are severe, Black probably failed to consider this order of moves to cut.

For White 30, simply playing at 32 is more distasteful for Black, but the sequence through 32 is not bad for White.

When Black plays the line [suji] with 33, White wants to cut the stone off, but White 36 is questionable.



The Key Point

Instead of White 36 in the actual game, it is best to simply make the pincer of White 1. If White becomes thick and strong in the center, it will be possible to move out with White "a," Black "b" and White "c," so it may be expected that Black will not have an easy time handling the position on the right side.


The result after Black 43 is that Black has taken great profit.

Consequently, Black concentrates on settling the group on the right side quickly.

Black 57 is a ploy to defend the group while aiming at other possibilities, but with this shape the probe of White A would leave Black in a distasteful condition. For Black 57, Black could have turned at B, then answered a hane by White by pushing twice on the second line, followed by making an extension on the upper side.

White 58 and 60 starts building a territorial framework [moyo] on the upper side, but this way of playing is dangerous for White. That is because it is overly committal ["putting all the eggs in one basket"], you know.

Playing White 58 as the pincer at C is usual. Did White invite Black to invade at 61 in order to have a target to attack, thereby breaking the board position wide open?

And then, well, White 64 is strange, I must say. White has to make the pincer at D, one way or another mounting an attack. White 64 is the losing move.



Figure 2 (74-127) White 126 takes ko at 118

Unless White captures the Black group, the game is lost… is an unreasonable way of thinking. That is because Black 99 and 101 threatens White across the board.

127 moves. Black wins by resignation.


The Aim is Aimed at Making for a Fine Game by Both Rising Players

Gosei Tournament Preliminary Round

White: So Yokoku 5 dan

Black: Cho U 5 dan


Flow of Play in the Opening

Both So san and Cho san have tremendous winning percentages. I wonder how many consecutive wins they have. [The player with the highest number of wins over the year is awarded a prize. Usually that is 15 or so wins in a row. Rin Kaiho holds the record with 24.] That shows what great playing condition these players are in.

Cho san’s style of play stubbornly focuses on taking territory as far as possible. This game shows that aspect well, but isn’t the three star points in a row setup unsuitable for tenaciously taking territory? In truth, the way the position develops does not reflect well on Black.

Two good chances come White’s way, but…


The players become entwined in fighting from the upper side into the center, whereupon Black’s pressure on White’s big group of stones is the thing to pay attention to.

I think that how the ko fight that continues on and on, and the ko threats that are played as well as the way the players wrap up the ko is great study material.

Essential Points

Actually, Black incurs something of a disadvantage in the opening, but which move is questionable? What are the two chances that come White’s way?

Black attempts to put pressure on White in the lower area, but is there any other way of playing? Consider things like these while playing the moves out on a board, and please enjoy seeking out Black’s losing move.



Figure 1 (1-100)

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

The fuseki starts with three star points in a row, then Black plays 7and 15, while White adopts the 16 and 18 model of play. Black 19 and 21 are Cho san’s typically tenacious style.

Using White 22 to butt against Black stone at A would be strong in this position, you know.

Black 27 is a stubborn move. White 28 is White’s first chance. Playing White 28 to separate Black’s positions and fight would leave Black badly off in my opinion.

However, play in the actual game could be considered sufficient since White 34 through 40 are thick and strong moves.

Instead of White 46, blocking at B, followed by Black 46 and White 96 would be clear and simple.

Black 53 through 57 are tremendous win-or-lose moves. A hane and connection by either side is an endgame play worth 2 points here. It may be said that Black does not want to cede those points to White.

White 58 is White’s second chance. White should simply invade at 60. Should Black cut at C, White answers at 58 for a ko fight. That is because White has ko threats start with the move at 74, you know.

In addition, according to circumstances the White group in the upper right might die, but if the single stone of Black 43 ends up abandoned, the game would be playable for White.

Defending with White 58 and then playing White 50 makes Black’s single stone of 7 light [easily discarded].

However, Black’s two stones of 83 and 89 are stubbornly played…



The Key Point

Instead of Black 83 or 89 in the actual game, it is desirable for Black to quickly gouge out White’s territory with 1. There is no way of knowing how White will defend here, but if Black just successfully spoils the territory for White here, Black has the lead in regards to the territorial balance. In the opposite way, should White secure the territory in the lower left, the komi will be a great burden for Black.



Figure 2 (101-290) Black 107 takes ko right of 104; White 112 same (104); Black 115, White 118, Black 159, White 162, Black 165, White 168, Black 177, White 180, Black 183, White 186, Black 189, White 192, Black 195, White 198, same; White 202 connects right of 104; White 228 same (left of 226); White 232 takes ko at 166; Black 247 takes three stones above 116; White 256 retakes at 116; White 278 at 122; White 288 connects right of 222; White 290 takes ko at 276

Although Black wins the first ko fight, the outlook in the game is favorable for White after 128. Regarding the aim of the big ko fight, if White plays 190 at 287, it is close to being a double ko.

Black 207 is the losing move. Should Black play this as the jump of Black 211, the outlook in the game is unclear.

White wins and connects the final ko on the board.

290 moves. White wins by 1 1/2 points.


A Game Where Rather than Balance Perception, Aggressive Play is Superior

Ryusei Tournament 1st Preliminary Round

White: Tsukuda Akiko 3 dan

Black: Izawa Akino 1 dan


Flow of Play in the Opening

In terms of big points, first an empty corner is best.

That is not so important that it cannot be disregarded, but Black’s occupying three corners first makes the fuseki easy for Black to play.

In this game that is what happens, and along with White’s questionable choice of joseki in the lower left corner, it becomes necessary for White to hang tough in the resulting board position.

While countering White’s aggressive strategy, Black’s way of playing becomes slack just a little at a time. From the perspective of balance, there is no excuse for this, you know. At least twice the decisive play is missed, so that the game becomes close. The study material that can be examined in the skirmishing that proceeds is excellent, so please be tenacious in playing the game out on a board.


The give and take that occurs on the left side after White invades is first, above all. Next, the attack and defense on the right side.

From a full board perspective, White plays unreasonable moves a little bit at a time, but Black fails to punish White for that.

Essential Points

What is unreasonable about White’s moves? Cultivating the power of perception to determine that will make one immediately stronger, I must say.

Which were the moves where Black failed to take advantage of opportunities? Thinking about such things is the shortcut to getting strong.



Figure 1 (1-100)

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

By playing the currently popular attach and block joseki with White 14 through 24, the spacing of Black’s territorial framework [moyo] on the left side is good, so in this board position it is questionable for White.

Due to that circumstance, an invasion at the 3-3 point in the lower left corner and the one with Black 27 on the lower side are equivalent options. Therefore, it becomes one factor why White cannot expect to take much territory.

For White 28, the first impression is that the knight’s move of A is best. It would be standard for Black to then play at B to ensure survival [shinogi] here, but even so, White A cuts the best figure on the board. That is because…

Instead of Black 29, the invasion of Black C would be powerful. Black 29 and 31 solidify White’s position, in the face of which Black’s running away leaves a bad feeling.

For White 32, D is the real move [honte]. This way of defending would not be regretted later.

Black 35 should be played at E, swinging around over White’s stones, in order to determine the best way for Black to run away.

White 36 is an easy move to play, but what about White 38? White 42 is also questionable. Should Black play 43 at F, aiming to next play Black G, White would be stymied for a move in reply, you know.

Instead of White 48, the attachment of 50, followed by Black 51 and White 49 is the proper order of moves. Using Black 53 to press at 80 would make it impossible for White to get good defensive shape.

For White 94, it is best to hurry to play H, Black I and White J.



The Key Point

Black 1 is a desirable invasion to play (rather than Black 13 in Figure 2 in the actual game.) White 2 is met by Black pushing through at 3 and cutting at 5, and either White’s stones to the left and right on the lower side, or White’s group on the right side will be annihilated. In the actual game, oversights were made concerning the life or death status of White’s group on the right side, with both players making mistakes.



Figure 2 (101-285) Black 205 takes ko (153); Black 207 connects (116); Black 247 takes ko (225); White 250, same (244), Black 253, same; White 262 captures (256); Black 263 recaptures (255); White 270 connects (below 180); White 284 same (129); Black 285 takes ko (left of 200)

The atari of Black 101 raps White down, destroying White’s shape.

Failing to play Black 162 and failing to make the cut of Black 182 lost the game. On the other hand, White 194 decides the outcome.

Black wins and connects the final ko on the board.

285 moves. White wins by 4 1/2 points.


Mistaken Direction of Play Committed in the Fuseki Cannot be Overcome

Honinbo Tournament 1st Preliminary Round

White: Ko Iun 1 dan

Black: Umezawa Yukari 2 dan


Flow of Play in the Opening

Regarding this game, saying that the flow of moves decides the outcome is no overstatement.

Black only makes a single questionable move, so the fact is that White’s play around the board is quite skillful.

In order to escape the dilemma, Black tries various playing methods, which White is a little slow to address, but…

I am not Kajiwara [Takeo] Sensei, but I must declare that the "direction of the stones in the opening is a life and death matter!"

The fuseki of professional players is truly fierce and frightening.

Please savor the fierce and frightening aspect of single moves in this game.


The give and take in the fuseki here is interesting. Umezawa san becomes aware right away that Black is not well off, you know. She lets fly do-or-die moves, but regrettably it is too late to save the game.

Essential Points

Black makes dawdling and slack moves. Which plays are they? Please analyze the game carefully to determine that.

This is a game in which White’s strategy is outstanding.



Figure 1 (1-100)

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

Both Black and White attack the opponents’ stone on the 3-4 point with a play on the 5-4 point, followed by Black making an inner attachment [on the 3-3 point], and White a knight’s move, so as to divide the corners.

In response to Black 9 through 11, White 12 is an offbeat move, one point wider than usual. This is a fork in the strategy, you know.

Black 13 is too complacent a move. But rather than saying that this is the beginning of a painful and difficult position for Black, it should already be called the losing move, due to a mistake in the direction of play.



The Key Point

Instead of Black 13 in the actual game, Black 1 here is the only move. After the exchange of White 2 for Black 3, the value of White "a" is small. White’s position on the lower side is also thin and weak, requiring another move to be added there. In the actual game, Black’s stones were placed in the opposite direction of play.


White 14 is a big move. White 16 and 18 expand the territorial framework [moyo] on the right side, while the defensive move of White 22 forcefully nails down the position.

White plays in an exemplary fashion, demonstrating remarkably good form.

In the upper right, Black 23 through White 26 is a standard sequence of moves in this sort of position. In the upper left as well, Black 27 through White 34 is par for the situation.

And yet, White 36 and 38 are dawdling moves. Using White 36 to surround territory with 54 would make things simpler and easier for White.

Instead of Black 39, a neutralizing move at A would be a mild way of playing. For Black 43, playing at B would be light; this one point shift would make a great difference, would it not?

Besides White 56, C is possible and would end the game more quickly.

However, in the actual game Black just runs away to return to safety by playing on empty points.

Black’s second do-or-die move of 71 is frustrated by White 72 and 74, forcing Black to painfully connect with 75.


Figure 2 (101-258) White 202 recaptures below 195; Black 209 connects at 196; White 226, same, (left of 192)

White 102 through 114 destroy Black’s territory, resulting in a big difference in the balance of territory. Disrupting the center is a valueless way of encroaching on that area.

258 moves. White wins by 6 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.

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