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49th Annual Honinbo Title Match, Game 7


Cho Chikun, Honinbo

W: Kataoka Satoshi 9 dan

B: Cho Chikun, Honinbo

Played on July 21 & 22, 1994 at Ibaraki.

240 moves. Black wins by 3 1/2 pts.

Commentary by Cho Chikun, Honinbo in KIDO, Sept. 1994.

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


Figure 1 (1-19)

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

Since this was the final game, we drew again to decide who would play black. I won the black stones. For black 1, I used 14 minutes to play.

And for black 3, I used 35 minutes. These two moves alone took almost 50 minutes to play. Others might wonder at this and think it a waste of time, but that is not true. Compared to other title match games, where one starts with 5 hrs. on the clock and the game is over in one day, one has an extra 3 hrs. on the clock, so 50 mins. is nothing at all, really. When white plays 2 in the upper left corner, one feels like playing the diagonal star point at black 3. I compared this to the 3-4 point move with black 3 at "A". With the star point stone I can draw upon my experience, and, to a certain extent, sketch out the development scheme of the opening in my head.

Making the checking extension against white’s pincer stone with black 9 is common. If black played 9 as the fencing in move at "B" would be answered by white "C" and different game would result. After black exchanges 9 for white’s jump at 10, if black tries to play the fencing in move at "B", white will push through at "D" and cut. After black 9 jumping to black 11 and the capping move of black 13 is a comparatively common pattern.

When white made the attachment at 14, again I spent close to one hour in deep thought.

Usually, black uses the move at 15 to draw back at 1 in diagram 1, so the hane of black 15 may be considered something of a novelty.


Diagram 1

If black draws back in the usual way with 1, the development in this sequence might be considered. Black’s large territorial framework [moyo] in the lower left is deep, while black’s scattered four stones above should be thought of as, not thin, but rather, light. Black has no cause for dissatisfaction here. But it didn’t seem to me that this sequence would be played. Rather, white should play at 1 in diagram 2 instead of 6 here.


Diagram 2

Instead of jumping at 6 in diagram 1, it seemed to me that white would invade at the 3-3 point here. Black 2 and white 3 make up one continuation. I also considered other possibilities.

With the moves from black 15 through white 18, black deprives white of eye space, but now black must deal with the thickness created when white makes the bamboo joint. I wonder if black’s moves at 15 & 17 should truly be called forcing moves [kikashi]. After that long bout of thinking, I only ended up in getting myself confused, and could come to no conclusion.

At black 19, I again spent close to an hour thinking. Should black 19 be played at 1 in diagram 3? Playing at 1 in diagram 4 also has its attractions.


Diagram 3

The position that results here resembles the main "A" variation shown at black 15. However, the unpleasant possibility of a white poke at "a" remains here, and black has no clear follow-up move.


Diagram 4

Here, the marked black stone is light, so a white turn at "a" has no effect on black. When white plays at 2, black can attack the upper side at 3. I thought that this development could be expected. At this point I will halt the examination of standard patterns in this position, and say that in the final analysis it isn’t a matter of right and wrong, but that I am always bewildered and spend lots of time working things out.


Figure 2 (19-40)

When black caps with 19 the moves from the cut at white 20 through black 27 make up one set pattern. Black’s shape contains weaknesses which black would like to defend with one move, but playing the vital point at "a" leaves black’s position open at the edge at "b", and so is a little lax. I was also displeased with the fact that white has captured a stone and thereby made a living shape. The only saving grace for black is that white’s group can next be sealed in.

To avoid getting sealed in, Kataoka first played white 28 [instead of, say, 1 in diagram 5] and then white 30. [Avoiding getting sealed in here allows white to continue to aim at attacking black in the center and the upper left, as well as the weaknesses black’s group in the lower left possesses.]


Diagram 5

If white plays at 1, thinking it important to occupy this big point, black will gain something of a plus by sealing white in with 2 & 4. In addition, white "a" (instead of 1) would not be answered. I still intended to play black 2 & 4.

The action in the game shifts to the upper side with black 31, and it is natural to foresee that the flow of play will move in that direction.

The moves after white 32 also flow along in a natural manner.

However, white 36 defends against a somewhat obscure possibility. It occurs when white plays 36 at 1 in diagram 6.


Diagram 6

Cutting at white 1 and pushing at white 3 is bad form [suji]. Black cannot give up a stone, and thus plays at 4 & 6. Then black can immediately play the moves at 8 & 10 [suji]. After black plays at 14, if white attaches at "a", black takes a big profit with "b". Within this sequence, white can also consider playing 7 at "c".


Diagram 7

I examined various possible lines that would arise if white moved out at 1. The variation shown here is one example. Both sides live, but white is badly off.

White extends out to 38 and then…


I expected white to try something tricky with the move at 38, and I was on my guard. For instance, white 1, a light and vague move that encourages confusion.


Diagram 9

Or else, white might dodge to white 1 & 3. The ladder is in black’s favor, but also, if white in the future tries to move out at "a", black captures with the move at "b".

…jumps out to 40. If white is going to extend out with 38, one expects this jump. This was the sealed move ending the first day’s play. My impression was that the game as a whole was going fairly well. I did not feel that black was badly off.


Figure 3 (41-62)

Things go according to plan with black 41 through 45. Black 43 is designed to make white’s stones heavy. Notice that even if white plays the hane at 46, black 43 is still not dead.

However, at this point I made a ridiculous move due to insufficient thought. Black 47 — the flow of play seems to dictate that black defend here, but it is not the stage of the game where black should defend here.


Diagram 10

It is too early to play defensively. It is better to keep an eye out for an attack on the white group in the upper right, trading off the thinness of that group with the thinness of black’s upper right corner. Black 1 is the most suitable move in this position. If white plays at 2, black develops to 3. Now, supposing at this point white captures at "a". Then black defends at "b". That shows the knack of defense in this kind of position. Isn’t the position just as difficult to play for white?


Diagram 11

If white plays the two space high pincer at 2, black plays 3 and then the shoulder hit of 5 is a severe attack. Also, if white plays 2 at "a", black attacks at "b", and fixes the shape here before going back to play in the upper right.

White 48 is a typical thick move of Kataoka’s, and it’s a good one.

Following in the same defensive frame of mind that lead black to play 47 in the upper right, black plays the big point at 49.

White 50 is a forcing move [kikashi] that compels black to answer somehow to defend this black group. But the atari at "A" was no big deal, so black should have hung tough by playing 51 at "B".

White scoops out the underbelly of black’s position in the upper right with 52, a move that white has been aiming at ever since white 48. I underestimated the force of this invasion.

In response to 52, black 53 is unavoidable. If black tries to block white’s retreat to the outside, 1 in diagram 12 leads to a number of variations.


Diagram 12 [White 16 connects at the captured black stone.]

When black hangs tough by sealing white in with 1, and then plays at 3, after the moves through white 10, black has no choice but to play the variation with 11 & 13. Black ends up with a position that is flat as a pancake, meaning that such a course cannot be followed.


Diagram 13

At the point of white 4 in the main variation, white would likely make the attachment at 1 here. If black hangs tough with 2 & 4, white plays the continuation leading to the hane outward at 11, and it does not look like this is tenable for black.


Diagram 14

When white attaches at 1, black 2 & 4 are par for this situation. However, black is found to have played in an easy-going manner. None of the variations here are any good for black.

Black has no alternative but to give way, and allow white to play the moves through 56. Score one minor victory for the white side.

I hardened my attitude and attached at black 57. Then I played black 59 to expand the territory on the lower side. In the analysis room, the opinion was expressed that black 59 should be played as the attack on the corner at "C", but after white played 48, I lost any desire that I had to attack at "C". If one misses the chance to attack at "C" at the time of black 47, there is no recovering of that chance to be had. After playing at 59 black forges ahead and plays at 61, while the moves of white 60 and white 62 are characteristic of Kataoka’s style. It is around this stage that the after effects of black’s slack move at 47 are becoming manifest, and conclusion in the analysis room was that the mood was good for white. I have to agree there. Black’s two stones in the center are floating. There is an exit available to them, so there is no fear that they will be completely swallowed up. The question, rather, is to what extent white’s large territorial framework in the lower left quadrant can be consolidated into definite territory. The situation is nothing of the sort where an absolute judgment made be made that one side is better than the other, but the atmosphere was such that I had the feeling that I had suffered a setback.


Figure 4 (63-79)

Therefore, from here on black must make the most strenuous efforts possible. I was down to my last hour on the clock, and used close to 30 mins. in playing the all-out move of the attachment at black 63. There was no avoiding the coming time trouble [byo-yomi], so it is only a matter of sooner or later. It wouldn’t do to save time at a critical point like this in the game. I read out all of the variations likely to proceed from this attachment.

When black makes the attachment with 63, in this position, if white were to hane from the inside at 68, white would have been forced [kikashi], so I expected the outside hane at white 64. The question is: how should black deal with this move?

What happens if black cross-cuts at 1 in diagram 15 with 65? The intention behind the hane of black 65 is to take profit territorially.


Diagram 15

The commonplace continuation would be for white to play 2 through 6. Now, I would not play in the corner in order to save the two stones, but invade at black 7. If black can destroy white’s territory here, the territorial balance will be in black’s favor. However, it does not seem likely that white would play in such an easygoing manner. Other choices may be found in diagrams 16 and 17.


Diagram 16

When white descends to 2, black cannot block at 12. Black 3 is crude but effective, and the sequence through black 17 may be anticipated. Since a move at black "a" and the attachment at "b" remain, black has the advantage here.


Diagram 17

When black makes the cross-cut at 1, the line [suji] that black must be concerned about starts with white 2 & 4. If the continuation ending with black 11 and white 12 is projected, then this variation seems to be playable.

Since protecting the right side is the most important thing for white in this position, white plays 68, 70 & 72 in order to preserve that area.

I agree that white should play the moves through 72 to preserve the territory on the right side.

White 76 follows one course that might be adopted.

[Otake Hideo, 10 Dan, in the same issue of KIDO, analyzed this position. That analysis follows.]

Kataoka played white 76 in this position. However, the exchange of 74 for 75 has just been made, and that represents a forcing move [kikashi] on white’s part, so there is no need for white to play 76. Both Kato Masao, Oza and I thought that playing at white "D" was best.

At this point I devoted the last of my time to thinking about the position. As the timekeeper began reading down my last 10 mins. [byo-yomi], I played black 77. Before playing this move (or before playing black 63) it was possible to play the hane at black "A". This is a very important point.


Diagram 18

It was important to have made the hane of black 1 at some point. It would be best if black was able to settle the shape with the sequence here, but regardless, black should at least play the hane at 1. In the actual game, black lost the chance to make this hane.


Diagram 19

At white 12 in the main variation, white might try to attach at 1 here. In this case, after white 3, the hane of black "A" is gote. But black could have played it earlier in the sequence (before white captured with the marked stone) and not having the move at black "A" is okay as well. I hesitated in playing this way in the game because once white cuts black’s marked stone, the resultant atari in the center dissipates any attack black might have against those stones. However, such an attack is remote at best.

I had planned to play fancy footwork technique [sabaki] with the two-step hane at black 77 [the marked stone] and 79 for quite a while. As the timekeeper began reading off the seconds I went ahead and played it. If black had played black 77 as the turning move at "B", white will slice off the other stone at "C". Black 77 & 79 aim at bringing all of black’s stones out of the white net around them. After this, in the next few dozen moves, the game will be decided. Afterwards, at a public appearance when I analyzed this game for the audience, I realized that black had made up all the lost ground with the moves at 63 [the attachment at the 3-4 point in the lower right corner], 77 & 79.



Figure 5 (80-100)

There is no way to capture the black stones in the center, so white plays 82 through white 86, before taking the important point of white 88.

Black 89 and black 91 make sliding at "D" or connecting underneath at "E" equivalent options [miai], ensuring the life of black’s group here.

Since black neglected to play the hane at "A" and attachment at "F", Kataoka initiated a plan that he had been thinking of for a while. But before playing white 94, it was necessary to take preparatory measures, beginning with the move at white 1 in diagram 20.


Diagram 20

White attacks black at 1, a move that must be answered at black 2. Then white 3 forces black to connect underneath at 8. At this point is too dangerous for black to try to play 8 at "a".


Diagram 21

After settling the shape in the upper left, white plays 1 & 3. After black 6, defending at white 7 is an extremely big move. After black 8 & 10, play enters a straightforward endgame with the move at black "a". All of this I found a few days later when I was trying to make a final assessment of the game. The conclusion that I came to was that it was impossible to tell which side would win, but it would come down to a 1/2 pt. decision. Actually, at the time that black played 87 [the marked stone], the game was already very close.

White might try to hang tough with 7 at 1 in diagram 22.


Diagram 22

Even if white tries to hang tough with 1 here, black 2 and the following on the upper side results in white losing points. This is the same thing that happens in the actual game. Black 10 and the rest force white to back down into a low posture with the moves up to 15. The main sub-variation with 1 at 12 is better for white.

Kataoka continues with his plan with white 96, and then strains his resources to the limit by playing white 100. With the move at 100, white tries to put more pressure on black’s stone wall here. Kataoka read out that if black hanes at "A", white can answer at "B". Ever since white 88, he had been convinced that the position was solid, but there was a serious hole in his analysis. For some time, the timekeeper had been reading off the second on the clock as I made my move [byo-yomi], and I had only 5 mins. left here. When Kataoka put all his strength into the moves at white 94 through 100, it occurred to me that he must have thought that white’s position was better than it really was. When I discovered the serious flaw in white’s position, I realized that must be the case. Naturally, without capitalizing on this, black cannot win. Black will fail to punish white for the overplays.


Figure 6 (101-122)

Following black 101, the sequence of moves presents an unforked road. Kataoka’s oversight was in failing to see the throw-in at black 109. The case where white backs down from the challenge of black 109 is shown in the variations given at move white 94, diagrams 20, 21, and 22, where white manages to prevent black from breaking through on the upper side, but is left with a low posture there while black captures at "a". That would give black the win.

Consequently, momentum propels the game into an exchange [furi-kawari] whereby white captures in the center at 112 and black captures the upper side. Naturally, taking this whole area cleanly is big.

White 118 forces black to connect underneath at black 121. It seems as if black may be able to use the move at 121 to connect at "A". Then…


Diagram 23

If black can connect at 1 and survive [shinogi], the game is over. After the game, Ishida Yoshio 9 dan, who was acting as official arbiter of the match, as well as other, pointed this out. But I rejected this possibility out of hand. After black plays at 5, the threat is to follow up with black "a", white "b", black "c", white "d", and black "e", making equivalent options [miai] of black "f" and "g".


Diagram 24

If white is cowed into playing [kikashi] at 1, giving way with black 2 & 4 shows great skill. With the moves through 8, black manages to just make a living group. That’s how it seems, but what will happen if white plays 1 as the diagonal move at "a"? All at once I sensed danger, and discarded the idea of playing this variation. Speaking from results, this was a good decision. Following the move of white 1 at "a", there is no saving move [shinogi] for black in sight. If this had been played, we might now be toasting the new, 21st possessor of the Honinbo Title in the modern period.

…white moves to capture the center on the largest scale with 122. Cutting at "A" with white 122 is insufficient. But even if white is able to hang tough with 122, I felt that things looked bright for black. The destination of the Honinbo crown had been decided at a single stroke. However, after this I made some sluggish moves in the endgame the thought of which still embarrasses me.


Figure 7 (123-144)

Black presses too hard with 125. It is clearly better to extend at black "A" to force [kikashi] white 127 and then turn to play the diagonal move at "B" in the upper right. At this stage of the game, the diagonal move at "B" is the biggest point on the board. [That move is sente for both sides.]

Black 129 is also strange. It is better to force white [kikashi] by drawing back to "C".

Black has various possibilities to aim at in the center, so black 133 saving two stones is a big move.

White also makes slack moves, here 136 being an example. Instead, white should play at 143, forcing [kikashi] black "D", and then return to play at 136. Then, black "E", white "A", capturing two stones, is about what one can expect in this position. Strictly speaking, the outcome of the game is still in doubt. That is because even at this stage of the endgame, neither Kataoka nor I realized how big the move at "B" is.


Figure 8 (145-173)

White finally manages to turn to play the diagonal move at 152. Black 153 and the cut at black 153 is a skillful finesse [tesuji].

Kataoka spent a short while thinking about white 156, during which I realized something which left me aghast. If white had played white 156 at 1 in diagram 25, it would have undoubtedly left my nerves in tatters. On the other hand, it would be unreasonable for white to play 156 at 1 in diagram 26.


Diagram 25

The moves through black 8 comprise a 9 point endgame play. Black has no way to put up resistance. White turns to 9, and play will continue through the move at black 12, and now there is no saying how the game will end. To the extent that I would have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown at this point, I surely would have lost it all. A frightening moment.


Diagram 26

If white plays 5 at 6, black throws in the cuts at 7 & 23, and then makes the diagonal attachment at 14. Black can gain a solid advantage with the cut at 16. Even if white resists with 5, the sequence here ends with white’s destruction in the center.

When I finally got to play at black 159, I breathed a sigh of relief.

White 168 and 173 in the upper left corner are roughly the same size, but white 168 is slightly bigger. It is a mistake to think that the move at 173 is bigger.

When I played at black 173, I was sure that the win was mine. It was lucky that I was the first one to discover the danger in the upper right corner.


Figure 9 (174-200)



Figure 10 (201-240)

240 moves. Black wins by 3 1/2 pts.

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