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Professional Perception: The Only Move


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The late Abe Yoshiteru 9 dan (September 28, 1941~July 3, 2000) was renowned as a studious player who tried to be present in as many venues as serious games of go were played, either by professionals or amateurs. His love of the game was obvious to everyone.

As the first impression, does a crude move come to mind, or is it the flash of a tesuji? There is a tremendous difference between the two. Professional go players seek to use stones to their maximum effectiveness. Let’s probe their inner thoughts and savor the perception of professionals.


By Kudo Norio 8 dan

From Kido, May 1973

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


Kaji [Kazutame] 6 dan let loose with Black 1, displaying calm and collected professional perception. In concrete terms, wedging between White’s stones with Black A to turn the upper side into established territory, and Black 5 and the following moves gouging out White’s territory, are equivalent options. After Black 11, the game is simple and easy for Black to play.


Problem A Black to Play

12th Annual 10 Dan Tournament, Preliminary Round

White: Kageyama Toshiro 6 dan

Black: Chino Tadahiko 7 dan

Komi: 5 1/2 points

Black wins by 5 1/2 points.

Casting the Eye Over the Whole Board

There are various good points that the eye encounters when roving over the board, but is this not the time to invade at one of the 3-3 points with Black A or B?



The jump of Black 1 occupies a good point regarding profit for both sides, but with White’s two marked stones radiating power as a backup, Black could incur a White invasion at A, or else White’s creating outside influence with 2 through 6. That would suddenly produce a wide-open board position. From a whole board perspective, it cannot be denied that Black has fallen behind.


Essential Fighting Point Regarding Influence


Correct Solution Diagram (Two Birds with One Stone)

The knight’s move fencing-in move of Black 1 is the essential point regarding influence. It is the only move here to guide the board position into clear and simple channels.

The reason that Black 1 is seen to be the appropriate direction for developing in this board position is:

1) It builds Black’s territorial framework in the upper right area, while naturally eliminating the possibility of White invading at A;

2) It hinders the expansion of White’s territorial framework, and stifles the effectiveness of White’s two marked stones.

With these points in mind, a comparison with the result in the Hint Diagram undoubtedly proves how killing two birds with one stone works in practice.


Diagram 1 (Progress of Play in the Actual Game)

Both pressing with White 1 and extending at Black 2 are unavoidable. White makes the forcing move of the diagonal attachment of 3 (preventing Black from turning at A), then defending with the knight’s move of White 5 is the proper order of moves. At just that moment, Black jumps to 6, which is ideal timing. With this effective order of moves, at a single stroke the board position is made simple and easy to play for Black.


Diagram 2 (Unsatisfying and Reckless)

Playing with the same goal, the jump of Black 1 could also be considered, but incurring White’s defense with 2 and 4 (compared to the previous diagram) leaves the feeling that Black’s attempt to make an incursion against White’s territory has been insufficient.

In addition, playing Black 1 as something like the invasion at A is reckless in this board position. White will then make the diagonal move at B, preventing Black’s connection underneath with C. That means that Black is left without a follow-up move to play.


Problem B Black to Play

12th Annual 10 Dan Tournament, Preliminary Round

White: Suzuki Takeo 6 dan

Black: Kitani Reiko 6 dan

Komi: 5 1/2 points

Black wins by resignation.

Painstaking Play in a Close Game

The game is heading into the endgame phase with the territorial count close. In this board position, the flames of the battle have spread to the upper left area, where the outcome of the game will be settled. What is the final "clinching move" that Kitani 6 dan fired off here?


Hint 1

If Black can capture White’s stones to the left by connecting at 1, things would be simple, but that would incur White’s defiantly resisting with 2, so that it would be impossible for Black to kill all of White’s stones. Even if Black makes the placement of 3 at the vital point for eye shape, using the proper move order with White 4 through 12, the move-in-a-row of A and extending at B are equivalent options for White to ensure the life of the group.


Hint 2

The peep at the vital point of Black 1 is foiled by the jumping attachment of White 2, which guarantees survival [shinogi].


The Decisive Move is a Cut


Diagram 1 (Outlook Uncertain)

The pincer-attachment of Black 1 is one possible technique [suji], but although Black can capture a single White stone with the moves through 5, after White connects to the right with 6, it is a close game on the board, with the outlook uncertain.


Diagram 2 (Insufficient for Black)

Black’s cut at 1 and capture at 3 is small. After White blocks at 4, in view of the hane of White A, survival is comfortably attained.


Correct Solution Diagram (A Severe Cut)

The straightforward cut of Black 1 demands, above all, clear and accurate reading of the lines of play [suji]. This single move is the decisive move of the game.


Diagram 3 (This Falls Short)

Taking hold of Black’s stone with White 1 is safe and secure, but it allows Black to connect underneath with 2 and 4. White is left 2 or 3 points behind on the board.


Diagram 4 (The Progress of the Actual Game)

White played 1 and the following moves with the knowledge that the previous diagram offered no chances of winning. It was the way to go down honorably while fighting.


Problem C White to Play

3rd Annual All Japan First Place Tournament, Final Preliminary Round

White: Hayashi Yutaro 9 dan

Black: Kudo Norio 8 dan

Komi: 4 1/2 points

White wins by 6 1/2 points.

Dealing Skillfully [Sabaki] is the Focus

This is one of my own tournament games. Black’s profit and White’s large territorial framework [moyo]; if, as White, I failed to deal skillfully [sabaki] with the upper right area, I had no confidence in the outlook in the game. Therefore, I painstakingly considered the next move.


Hint 1

Should White pursue the ladder with 1 and 3, the sequence ends with Black extending at 6, which is not promising for White.


Hint 2

The attachment of White 1 is another possible technique [suji] to use, but answering with Black 2 and 4 produces a result insufficient for White.


The Proper Move Order for Thrusting Through


Correct Solution Diagram (Probing for the Response)

Thrusting through with White 1, should Black reply by blocking at A, would be an exchange that fills liberties. So that would make the cut of Black B severe, which, in general, is not desirable, but I believed that on this occasion this White 1 follows the proper order of moves.


Diagram 1 (The Line [Suji] White Read Out)

In response to White’s thrusting through at 1, supposing that Black obligingly blocks at 2, then White works out an escape in good form with 3 and 5. Should White then move out with the proper move order of cutting with White 9, followed by the moves through White 13, by turning the tables, White is favored by being in the position to attack Black’s five stones to the left. This is promising for White.

After this, should Black cut at A, proceeding with White B, Black C and White D is good. This is a board position where White has much to look forward to.


Diagram 2 (The Progress of the Actual Game)

When Black turns at 1, White thrusts through at 2, then the sequence through Black 5 is, above all, an unavoidable order of moves. White 6 is a line of play [or technique; both words can be used to translate suji here] in sente that gives White a good feeling. Making the bad shape of Black 7 is unavoidable. Then White applies pressure in sente with the moves through 10. This order of moves ends with White surrounding territory on a large scale with 12, and although the game is close, the outlook is promising for White.


Diagram 3 (The Fencing-In Move is Heavy)

As a technique [suji] for dealing skillfully [sabaki] with the upper side, the fencing-in move of White 1 also comes to mind, but after White connects at 5, Black turns at 6, while casting a sideways glance at the cutting point of A. White has heavy shape. This does not compare to the sacrifice stone fighting method in Diagram 2.


Problem D Black to Play

3rd Annual All Japan First Place Tournament, Final Preliminary Round

White: Kamimura Kunio 6 dan

Black: Ishii Mamoru 7 dan

Komi: 4 1/2 points

Black wins by resignation.

The Tenacity of Professionals

No matter how steely a will one has, it is impossible to watch Black’s three stones on the left side die without lifting a finger to help them. Of course, not discarding the stones is the premise, because even for a professional player, it is expected that turning to play elsewhere requires considerable daring and decisiveness.



If reinforcing the left side, the first impression for the move to play is Black 1, striking at the vital point of White’s shape. However, White would probably ignore the matter to head elsewhere. Continuing, Black hanes between White’s stones with 3, and should this lead to the cut of Black 7, White’s three stones can be captured. On the other hand, White not only thrusts through Black’s position with 8, but makes the one stone capture [ponnuki] of White 10, and after all this does not pay off for Black.


Resolutely Playing Elsewhere


Correct Solution Diagram (Extending is the Decisive Move)

Black judges that despite leaving the three stones on the left side alone to play elsewhere, those stones do not have shape that will lead to them dying, and so plays Black 1, the most critical point on the board [天王山 = Tennouzan]. This whole board play illustrates the tenacity of professional players, and in the end, this is the move that decides victory in this game.

The only remaining question is naturally how an attack can be mounted on the left side and how survival [shinogi] can be engineered.


Diagram 1 (Advantageous for Black)

White’s putting the shape in order with something like 1 is a slack move. Black presses at 2, then lightly plays at 4 to escape. There is absolutely no way that Black’s stones will be captured. From Black’s perspective, Black 1 in the Correct Solution Diagram "takes what is there for the taking," and once White’s territorial framework on the left side is neutralized, the win is assured. The board position is such that if something like the tail end of Black’s group of stones must be discarded, that is all right.


Diagram 2 (The Progress of the Actual Game)

From White’s standpoint, initiating an all-out attack with White 1 is due to the natural momentum of play. The proper order of moves here proceeds with Black jumping out to 20, which aims at an attachment at A. Again, this means that no attack on Black’s stones will succeed.

Instead of White 11…


Diagram 3 (Unreasonable Shape for White)

…trying to seal Black in with White 1 makes unreasonable shape. The race to capture after Black 2 through 12 is disadvantageous for White. Pushing through with Black A, White B and Black C is there for Black, so this fight is a failure for White.


Problem E White to Play

13th Annual Meijin Tournament, Preliminary Round

White: Magari Reiki 8 dan

Black: Awaji Shuzo 4 dan

Komi: 5 points

White wins by 5 points.

A Momentary Chance for the Win

At this point in the game, Black has made the diagonal move of 1 in order to prevent White from jumping out at A, while aiming to make the jumping attachment at Black B. There is a momentary chance for White to win the game, so that being the case, what did Magari 8 dan play here?



Should White defend with the move-in-a-row of 1, the right side is safe and secure, but Black will then press in upon White’s stones with Black 2 at the vital point. While attacking, Black will solidify the position on the lower side. The fear is that in this board position White will lose the opportunity to win.


Attacking First


Correct Solution Diagram (An Alert Invasion)

Leaving the right side just as it is, White strikes at Black’s unprepared lower side. The invasion with White 1 is severe. This move gives the Black fighting setup a jolt.


Diagram 1 (The Line [Suji] Read Out on the Right Side)

Even if Black attaches on the right side with 1, the sequence with the White diagonal attachment of 2 through the wedging-in move of White 10 fights back with no feeling of unease. It goes without saying that White’s playing elsewhere is justified by this result, which is exactly what White had read out.


Diagram 2 (The Progress of the Actual Game)

Awaji 4 dan played Black 1 and 3 to move out into the center, but the move-in-a-row of Black 9 induced White to reinforce with 10. Then the move order of strengthening the center with White 12 and surrounding Black’s single stone with White 14 leaves no doubt that White’s attacking first has succeeded.

Note: The move-in-a-row of Black 9 defends against White’s wedging-in playing method of A.


Diagram 3 (Variation) White 9 connects

In reply to the invasion of White 1, Black might also put up resistance with 2, but the fight after White 3 and the following moves will be difficult for Black.

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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