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32nd Annual 10 Dan Title Match, Game 1


Nisei Week August 10-18, 2019

The first Nisei Week was held August 12 through 18, 1934. It was at the depth of the Great Depression, and the merchants of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles were eager to find a way to attract more business. At the same time, the upcoming second generation of Japanese (nisei) were chaffing at the bit to take over from their conservative elders (issei = first generation).

It is now 85 years later and Nisei Week is still going strong. There are all sorts of events, such as the annual parade, beauty pageant and banquets. And, of course, there are many kinds of exhibitions of Japanese arts and culture.


On a personal note, I took third place in the spring tournament of my Japanese go club, located in the New Gardena Hotel, 1641 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena, CA 90247; (310) 327-5757. I was surprised, since I only managed a +3 score over 28 games. I have been doing a lot of translation recently in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and neglecting my go studies. I guess that others did worse.

32nd Annual 10 Dan Title Match, Game 1


W: Kobayashi Koichi, Kisei

B: Otake Hideo 10 Dan

Played on March 4, 1994 at Niigata

192 moves. White wins by resignation.

Commentary by Rin Kaiho, Tengen in KIDO, May 1994.

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

At the time that this game was played, Kobayashi was trailing in the Kisei Title Match 2 wins to 3 losses, and faced the loss of his title the next game. When title matches are played concurrently, one expects a title holder to be more concerned with the more important of the two. However, Kobayashi did not let up at all here, and won an overwhelming victory. Otake himself committed two or three mistakes, but they were not directly related to the outcome of the game. In a typical game the cause of the loss is usually more obvious. Being able to take advantage of the slightest weakness and turn the lead so gained into a winning game that is firmly held onto until the end, is the highest praise that may be bestowed on Kobayashi’s play. In matches contested by these two opponents, a different opening is played every game, and that is a source of enjoyment that we may anticipate.


Figure 1 (1-32)

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

White makes the large knight’s attack on the corner at 6. When black has made a corner enclosure in the upper right, Kobayashi seems to make it a habit of playing this attack. Black plays the same way in the upper left corner with 9 & 11. I recall that these two played this same two space extension joseki in opposite corners in a Meijin Title Match game [17th Annual Meijin Title Match, Game 7; played November 11 & 12, 1992; Kobayashi, playing white, won by 1 1/2 pts.]

What happens if white plays 14 at "A"?


Diagram 1

If white defends at 1, black will immediately invade at the 3-3 point at 2. After black 8, white will extend to "a", making this a leisurely game.

There are also examples in actual games of black immediately splitting white’s position with a move at "B".

White 16 and 18 make up an unusual combination of moves. The sequence of moves from black 9 through white 14 is often seen in actual games, but this continuation is rare. White 16 is usually played as the jump to "C". However, that move leaves weaknesses in white’s position in the lower right, and perhaps Kobayashi found that aspect unattractive. White 16 & 18 lean on black to develop thickness to reinforce the white position below, and this is certainly a strong way of playing.

If black omits playing at 25, white takes black’s eyes away with a move at "D", and this would be unbearable. In addition, drawing back at "D" with black 25 would be the solid, "real" move [honte], but too slow to fight for the advantage.

The attachment at white 28 is a skillful finesse [tesuji]. Playing white 28 at "E" is a crude move [anti-suji] since black answers by making a bamboo joint at 28.

It is painful for black to play at 31 and only ensure half an eye here, but it would also be galling to play 31 at "D", making one definite eye but making bad shape at the same time.


Figure 2 (33-48)

Black 33 is a mistaken move. Surely black should have set down roots for the black group on the left side with the move at "A". That makes the cut at "B" a big move, and the diagonal move at "C" sente.

When white extends to 34, it becomes meaningless for black to cut at "A". To that extent, black’s ability to make eyes is all the more threatened. Up to this point, the adroitness of white’s play all over the board is striking. Naturally, the jump at black 33 is also a good point, so black has only fallen behind slightly.

The attachment at white 36 is the kind of idea that Kobayashi typically comes up with during the heat of battle. It probably arose after considering that the jump of white "D" would be answered by the defensive move of black "E", and that such a continuation was not appealing.

The move at black 39 is played with the intention of making a single erasure play here, but the attachment of white 42 is a good move. Since this move stops the black stone still, black has some regrets about the particular erasure play that was made. Perhaps there was some deeper erasure move that black could have contrived to play. But in so saying, I must admit that I don’t know what might be tried. The only thing that can be said is that this is a difficult position.

But what about black’s moves at 43 and 45? For my part, I would prefer to make the immediate checking extension at black "F". Next, white plays at 46 and black 47. Isn’t that the standard attacking stance?

When white stabilizes the group here with 48, black must be dissatisfied. As for attacking the white group on the right side, there is no single move or line of play to do so severely and effectively.

For instance, black can play at "A" or "B" here, but neither move works out well. Around the point of black 49 and…


Diagram 2

If black pushes through at 1 and cuts at 3, white captures at 4 and with the moves through 8, white’s group is practically unassailable, leaving black in a quandary.


Diagram 3

Or else, if black plays at 1 through 9, white makes territory with the moves through 10, so even though black builds up a bit of thickness above, this must still be dissatisfactory.


Figure 3 (49-70)

…black 51, Otake must have become impatient over being frustrated in his attempt to play a move that would suit him temperamentally and work effectively as well.

When white pushes up at 52, black pushes through at 53, and cuts at black 55.

The moves from white 60 through white 66 display a solid way of playing. One can sense here Kobayashi’s confidence that he was not doing badly up to this point.

White 70 threatens black’s base while at the same time taking around 10 pts. of endgame profit. It’s hard to find a move that one would relish playing as much as one like this.


Figure 4 (71-100) 98@79

Black cuts at 71, but after defending at white 72 white uses the impetus to play 74 and 76 in fine form. In the same way, white takes profit with 78 while, to a certain extent, aiming at attacking this black group. In addition, it is quick-witted of white to fix the shape, rapid fire style, with 82 and the following moves.

Playing atari with white 94 before getting squeezed [by black 97] is another move white can feel proud of. Right now, black has to answer at black 95. But if white plays atari with white 94 after black has squeezed at 97, black will simply sacrifice that stone by playing atari at "A".

White cannot omit playing at 100. Imagine if white plays elsewhere…


Diagram 4

If white plays elsewhere, black has the wedging-in move [suji] at 1 available. When white plays 2 through 6, black cuts at 7, it’s obvious that white has many potential problems [bad aji] in this area. By playing at "a", black can rapidly fill in the liberties of this white group. If white uses the move at 2 to connect at "a", then connecting at black 2 becomes sente, and making the attachment across the knight’s move at black 4 an effective line of play [suji].


Figure 5 (101-192) 186@143

The outcome of this game will be decided in the endgame, but one clearly feels that the komi will be a burden for black. White plays the attachment of 104 in order to gain impetus to solidify the territory white has sketched out on the right side.

Black 123 is the biggest point on the board. Black must also be concerned about a white invasion at 126, but since white has already played the diagonal move of 116, black has no way of satisfactorily defending here.

When white invades with 126 and 128, black 131 and 133 is a wonderfully skillful finesse [tesuji]. However, white replies in a calm and collected manner, and black winds up with little to show for the trouble taken.

White would like to play 134 as the atari at 135, [black 134], and connect to the stones above with white 138, but then black bursts into white’s territory at 162, turning the tables to win the game.

With white 132 through 138, white expands the territory on the right side here, while with 142, white slides into the upper side, so that even though black captures white’s two marked stones, it doesn’t really pay to do so. White 148 is practically sente as well.

What if black plays 151 elsewhere?


Diagram 5

If black plays elsewhere, neglecting the upper right corner, white can play the profitable endgame moves at 1 through 5.

Black resigned when white played at 192. At this point black is ahead by 2 or 3 pts. on the board. In this game, Kobayashi displayed the precision of his positional judgment and the brilliance of his play in nursing a slight advantage in a steady manner to protect a win.

192 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.

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