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Simple and Clear: Challenging the Takagawa Style Fuseki


Anyone who wants to follow the Japanese news carefully should watch the broadcasts produced by the Fujisankei Network.


When I started reading go magazines in Japanese, one thing that always puzzled me was how younger professional players were viewed there as future champions. How could they tell? What unique characteristics did they display that hinted at the greatness to come?

Visitors to GoWizardry can judge that for themselves by reading the following translation of an article that gives a glimpse of three young professionals, Kato, Kobayashi and Cho, who had yet to win a major title when they got together here. In fact, Kato had already challenged for several titles, including the Honinbo title when he was just 4 dan. (I guess competing for that top title while still such a low dan player was proof in itself of extraordinary promise.) Their perception of the game indicates the depth of their insights about go.

I wish that I could convey more about the rich cultural nuances are contained in articles like this one. Technical Japanese go words are frequently given for the benefit of those who wish to understand more about the language, but besides the fact that I have made great efforts to simplify the work to make it more accessible, some words defy translation. And it is not only literate idioms that are impossible to translate. Many words in Japanese have hidden subtleties that few are aware of.

For instance, take the word henka (= 変化). I translate this as "variation," as I suppose every other translator does. In fact, in Japanese-English dictionaries that is one of the definitions of the word.

But I suspect that few readers know that henka was originally a technical term in sumo wrestling. In sumo, henka means "dodging." Although both go and sumo have deep roots in Japanese culture, sumo was embraced by a broader proportion of the population. Therefore, it probably has the greater claim as the origination of the term.

Regardless of that, it is fascinating to listen in as some of the finest go players in history analyze a game among themselves. See for yourself.

Revealing Secret Moves,

Young Professional Players Analysis Session

From Kido, December 1975

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


The Line-up:

Kato Masao 8 dan

Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan

Cho Chikun 7 dan

Takagawa 9 dan’s fuseki [opening] is simple and clear, as well as theoretically sound, so it is popular among amateur and professional players alike. The master himself, Takagawa 9 dan, recently made a rare mistake in the fuseki. And yet, saying so is easy, but should 9 dan professionals be seen as only playing moves that they have full confidence in? That is not always the definitive factor. Takagawa’s opponent in the game under discussion here, Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan, did not let an opportunity slip, instead using it to build a winning position at a single stroke. Simple and clear play does not mean that slack moves will not appear. The critique given by the three players revolves around a move attacking a corner, and their sharp assessments were reflected in their faces.

Model Figure 1



1st Annual Gosei Tournament

Takagawa Kaku 9 dan — Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan (Black)

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

Gearing Up Towards the Middlegame

Kido Editor: I wonder what the topic will be for this Young Professional Players Analysis Session.

Cho: Something like joseki is boring. I would like to do work on the Meijin tournament, but…

Kido Editor: In this magazine last month we published the Meijin’s [Ishida Yoshio’s] analysis of Meijin title match games. [This issue of Kido also included three games from the match with Ishida’s analysis.]

Cho: That’s terrible. I have nothing about go.

Kato: That’s not true. You’re playing all the time, aren’t you?

Cho: No good. I’ve played really badly in all my games recently. That’s it. We should have a show-stopping game this time One of Kato Sensei’s would be good, I must say. His play is powerful, and he skirmishes well in the division of territory. That would be a good choice.

Kato: I haven’t been playing much these days. That’s because I’m preparing for next year. [1976 was a fantastic year for Kato: He won the Honinbo, 10 Dan and Gosei titles, among others, and was chosen as Player of the Year by the Nihon Ki-in.] But it’s tough; nothing is working out. It’s talk that makes devils laugh. [Proverbial: "Speaking of next year makes devils laugh."] No progress.

Kobayashi: But last month Chikun promised to come here with good material to work on.

Cho: If there’s nothing else, then there’s nothing else to do. Kobayashi Sensei’s game is good. That is a masterpiece.

Kido Editor: Now the barrel of the gun is aimed at Koichi 7 dan.

It’s fine to wonder about things, but it’s irrelevant. The three players gather around a go board and settle in. That scene is captured in the photograph above.

The upshot is that Kobayashi 7 dan takes up the burden of leading the analysis. At that point, they display their personal tastes, grinning all the way.

Kobayashi: This is a game with Takagawa Sensei in the Gosei tournament. In response to the pincer of Black 9, White plays 10 and 12. In this kind of position, this is the only way to play, jumping out move after move.

Kido Editor: "Takagawa’s one space jump," is that it? [Referring to another nickname of Takagawa’s that originated in his frequent simple and straightforward plays using the one space jump.]

Kato: In this case, there is no special connection. [That is because White 10 and 12 are common joseki moves in this kind of position.]

Kobayashi: However, next White attacks the corner with 14. Black answers with the checking extension of 15, initiating a swap with White invading at the 3-3 point with 16. I was grateful for White making that move, you know.

Kido Editor: Why would you be grateful for that?

Kobayashi: For me…


Diagram 1

…I thought that White would make the pincer at 1. The diagonal move of Black 2 would be the standard response.

Kato: That’s true, you know.

Kobayashi: At that point, White attacks the corner with 3, leading to a wide open game. [Meaning that there are any number of ways that play could develop, giving White many options.] That’s what I thought. I suppose that before that White would exchange A for Black B.

Kido Editor: What is the reason for playing those moves?

Kobayashi: For example…


Diagram 2

…White puts the exchange of 1 for Black 2 in place. Then, if White makes the pincer of the marked stone, White plays 3 and 5. Should Black reply with 6, White connects underneath with 7. Those are the mechanics of the position. Of course, we’re only talking about moves to play in an emergency.

Kido Editor: I see. In that case, what move will Black play in reply to White 3 in Diagram 1?

Kobayashi: How to play? That’s difficult, I must say.


Diagram 3

Cho: How about the fencing-in move of Black 1 here? Black seals White in with 3 and 5.

Kato: Letting White slide to 6 seems slack, you know.

Cho: That’s right. Very slack, isn’t it? In that case…


Diagram 4

…how would White play if Black makes the straightforward defense of 1?

Kobayashi: I suppose that the knight’s move of White 2 would be the kind of thing to play here.

Kato: Black makes the forcing move of 3 in exchange for White 4, then jumps to 5. Should White develop with 6 and 8, blocking White’s progress with Black 9 would be standard, you know. At that point, White makes the extension at 10. This seems playable for White.

Kobayashi: The connection underneath possibility that we talked about in reference to Diagram 2 is still available, you know. How would it be to prevent that connection underneath with Black A White B, Black C and White D?

Kato: Going so far as to play that way would mean that Black has been making bad moves, I must say. They don’t seem to be necessary.


Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan


Diagram 5

Kido Editor: Is it possible for Black to suddenly plop down between White’s stones with 1?

Kobayashi: That can also be considered. White exchanges 2 for Black 3, and then White 4 would be standard, no?

Kato: The connection underneath is available, so it is natural to complete the capture of White’s stone with Black 5. White puts the forcing move of 6 in place, then White 8 is big.

Cho: The feeling is that this way of playing is desirable, you know.

Kobayashi: Except that Black peeps at 9 as a forcing move, then attacks with Black 11.

Cho: In regards to that, White plays 12 and 14 to run away.

Kato: I see. That is calm and collected, isn’t it? In this position, the upper right corner is too big.

Kobayashi: This is painful, so…


Diagram 6

…when White plays 1, Black makes life with 2. White 3 would probably be standard here. Then Black makes the capture complete with 4.

Kato: White 5 and 7 are to be expected, but after that how does the play proceed?

Cho: The first impression is to make the shoulder hit of 8, you know. In response to White 9, one wants to jump to Black 10.

Kobayashi: White wedges between Black’s stones with 11, then first fixes the shape in the upper right corner with 15 and 17 before jumping out at 21.

Cho: Would pushing along, bang, bang, be okay?

Kido Editor: Please show us.

Cho: Black pushes through with 22, then one wants to vigorously play to fix the shape, you know. Black puts the forcing move through 26 in place, then presses in as far as possible with Black 28.

Kato: Can White hang tough with 29 to try to win territorially?

Cho: Huh? Is the lower left corner okay?

Kato: I think that somehow White will manage. I don’t believe that White will be attacked so severely.

Kobayashi: In the upper right corner, after White A, Black B, White C and Black D, the possibility of a placement of White E remains, so Black is left with an uneasy feeling, you know. [The shape there is called the "Carpenter’s Square," and a go proverb states that, "The Carpenter’s Square becomes ko."]

Model Figure 2



Kido Editor: Takagawa Sensei has his own thoughts, but launching into the middlegame is difficult. After invading at the 3-3 point with White 1, the nature of the game took on a completely different character, you know.

Kobayashi: The moves through White 9 are a set model. Then, Black makes the forcing move at 10, and jumps to Black 12 in order to create an object of attack.

Cho: Wait a little. Instead of the connection of White 11…


Diagram 7

…what if White pushes at 2?

Kobayashi: Black 3, you know.

Kato: In that case, White connects at 4, and this is better for White. Black is a little reluctant to make the diagonal move at A. [Because Black has no follow-up move after that.] In regards to that, even if White is sealed in on the outside…


Diagram 8

…White attaches at 1 followed by drawing back at 3. Then, White attaches at 5, and descends at 7, practically making life for the group.

Kobayashi: If that is true, then rather than the figure, the play in the diagram works more effectively for White, you know. However, for Black 14, I was quite uncertain how to play.


Diagram 9

I also considered making the capping move of Black 1, but White answers with 2 and 4, followed by White 6 and 8, leaving Black without an attack. [Meaning that Black 1 has little value.]

Cho: Doesn’t White worry about Black using the move at 9 to play between White’s stones at A?

Kobayashi: White can make the wedging-in move at B as a forcing move, you know. Even in the figure, White could later make the wedging-in move. In short, White can play at C as a forcing move, so Black A does not work.


Kato Masao 8 dan

Cho: Regardless of that, slipping into the left side [with Black 14] puts the progress of the game on a leisurely pace. In general, this is in keeping with Kobayashi Sensei’s style of play.

Kobayashi: Uh huh.

Cho: Is that all you have to say? That drives me crazy. You are so sure of yourself! (Laughs while Kobayashi 7 dan grins broadly.)

Kato: Since it was Young Kobayashi playing…


Diagram 10

…I expected the severe move of Black 1 to be played.

Cho: That’s right, you know. Should White reply at 2, Black plays at 3, then fences White in with 5, I must say.

Kobayashi: The situation has come to a dangerous point, I tell you. How does this work out, I wonder?

Kato: White’s directly moving out is no good, so should White first jump out to 6?

Kobayashi: Black makes the forcing moves of 7 and 9, then Black 11 would be standard.

Kato: White defends at 12, and in response to the invasion of Black 13, jumps out at White 14, which is vexing for Black, you know. In the lower right corner, as has been made clear before, attaching with White A and sliding to B will secure White’s group, so it is all right.

Kido Editor: Naturally, this variation would not settle things at once. The analysis continued with the players examining this way to play and that, but let’s just summarize it at that. The session proceeded in the same way as before.

Kobayashi: Well, what is the first impression?


Diagram 11

Kato: The feeling is that it is desirable to make the fencing-in move of Black 1, you know.

Cho: That’s what I thought, too. If White 2 and Black 3 are played next, since the ladder is favorable, White pushes through at 4 and cuts at 6.

Kato: Black raps White on the head with 9, and in answer to White 10, plays the turning block of Black 11. Even if White cuts at 12, there is no immediate play here, so Black will extend at 13. Both sides put their shape in order with White 14 and Black 15, but Black 15 is good, so the feeling is that Black has the easier game, you know.

Kobayashi: There is some kind of bad potential [aji] in this shape, but there is no line [suji] to wrap Black up and squeeze, so if White is going to play here…


Diagram 12

…I guess that White’s extending at 1 would be standard.

Kato: Black defends precisely with 2 and 4, then replies to White 5 by connecting underneath with 6. White has no other plays than this to make.

Kobayashi: If White 7, does Black play at 8?

Kato: White 9 is foiled by the bad-shaped turning move of Black 10, and things will not go well for White.

Kobayashi: However, White will not play directly like this, instead, with the potential [aji] of these moves in mind, White will initiate action with something like the attachment at A. Black would feel uneasy with this, you know.

Cho: Well then…


Diagram 13

…at the point of Black 9 [in Diagram 11], the turning block of Black 9 here is good. There is no necessity for Black to rap White on the head [by playing at 10].

Kato: I see. Extending with White 10 is standard, and then Black will defend at 11. White 12 is answered by Black making the extension at 13, and the play is simple and easy for Black. This is clear, you know.

Kobayashi: Well, this would be another game. But I thought that the left side was big, so I chose to slip into the side [with Black 14 in Model Figure 2].

Kato: This is a difficult point in the game, you know.

Cho: In that case, what happened?

Model Figure 3



Kobayashi: When Black slips into the side with the marked stone, White plays the move-in-a-row of 1, a calm and collected move typical of Takagawa Sensei. Black 2 is met by the one space jump of White 3. Black makes the forcing moves of 4 and 6, then defends with 8. This secures 25 points on the lower side, so I thought that I was not badly off, you know.

Cho: You placed that stone on the board with a flourish, I must say. Cameraman [for Kido], make sure you get a shot of this. Kobayashi Sensei posing with his fingers placing the stone there so elegantly! (Laughs)

Kato: Even though White 9 and then 11 are good moves, Black 12 is severe, you know.

Kobayashi: White 13 is a makeshift measure that allows White to take the big point of 15. Black starts a two-pronged attack with 16, but the exchange of Black 22 for White 23 is terrible. Instead of playing at 22, Black had the chance to peep with Black A.


Cho Chikun 7 dan


Diagram 14

Kobayashi: All of the peeps of Black’s marked stones are forcing moves, but maybe they’re a little too blunt, you know.

Kato: Nah, not at all. They were played with just the right timing.

Good and Bad Sides of the Peeps

Kobayashi: This is for reference sake, but in this case the peeps are not bad.

Kato: In short, on the lower side Black has a solid position made up of one space jumps, so there is almost no value in peeping from below, you know.

Kobayashi: For example…


Diagram 15

…if Black has a two space setup on the lower side, when the holes in White’s shape are filled with the marked stones, Black is badly off. Attaching with White 1 and cutting with 3 immediately makes trouble. If the holes are open, it is a little difficult for White to go through with this.


Diagram 16

The way of thinking is a little different with the peep of Black 1.

Kido Editor: How so?

Kobayashi: Once Black has the marked stone in place, there is the worry that the peep of Black 1 will be answered by White 2, or else the variation of White A, Black B and White C. Either way, in regards to a peep, it is hard to judge whether it is a forcing move or loses the potential [aji] of other plays. How to grasp the timing is difficult.

Kido Editor: This is a good point of reference for the middle kyu readers of the magazine.

Kato: However, in the Model Figure Black launches an attack, while…


Diagram 17

…it is also possible for Black to establish a position on the upper side with 1 and 3. In response to White 4, Black patiently replies at 5.

Cho: This is a question of the player’s individual character, you know. As expected, Kobayashi’s playing style is geared towards attacking, you know.

Kobayashi: Concerning that attack, in Model Figure 3 Black 22 is bad.


Diagram 18

Timing calls for Black to peep at 1. Speaking of the good and bad points in regards to a peep, they can be great, and I made a mistake, so there was nothing to be done about it. Since Black ended up exchanging the marked stone for the White marked stone, should Black play 1 here, White dodges with 2. Black cuts White’s position with 3 and 5, but Black’s playing the marked stone to force White to move out with the marked stone is terrible according to go theory.

Kato: That’s true, you know.


Diagram 19

When Black peeps at 1 first, if White connects at 2, Black attacks at 3, right? Although White can push through with 4 and cut with 6, Black 7 and 9 make things dangerous for White. Even if White plays 10 and 12, after Black jumps to 13, White’s eyes are uncertain, you know.

Cho: In that case, what is the outlook for the game?

Kobayashi: After this, I moved to attack, but broke it off in the midst of it. The situation was such that even without attacking, I thought that the game was going well, you know.

Kato: That’s fantastic, you know. The rest of us never have things go so well.

Kido Editor: There is still more in this game that might be analyzed, but let’s leave it here, as the fuseki transitions to the middlegame. "Fuseki Master Takagawa" is one of Takagawa’s nickname, but what happened here?

Cho: Kobayashi san did him one better in the fuseki, ha, ha, ha…

Kido Editor: Thank you all for your efforts.

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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