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Fighting Dynamics

From Kidō, July 1996

By Awaji Shūzō 9 dan


Theme 1 White to Play Attack? Defend?

A game played between high dan amateur players has been used as the subject matter to examine. Black 9 is an off-beat move that caused this kind of shape to be produced, but here what is the best way for White to think about the position? To begin with, please select a move from the following choices: A? B? C?

It seems to me that all amateur players at bottom love to fight. That is a fact. Go is a game in which one’s strength is the telling factor. For me, the unchanging basic principle of go is the dynamic between “attack and defense.” Taking it from there, the timing and technique of attack and defense will be examined together with the reader by way of actual amateur games.

The Theme 1 diagram shows a board position that is overlooked regularly, and what is more, is an important one. I planned to just present this without a hint, but… the point is “the strength and weakness of stones.”


Diagram 1 (Correct Solution)

Pushing at White 1 (A) is a technique to first of all stabilize the marked White stones. By doing so, now it is the Black stones that are floating, while the marked White stones that thrusting outward are alive. The four marked White stones at first sight appeared to be strong compared to Black’s stones, but in reality that is not the case. The point of White 1 is the vital point for both sides in regards to a base. Should Black be permitted to play there, the positions are reversed.


Diagram 2 (A Flaw Remains)

For instance, if White uses 1 to block Black on top (C) Black is allowed to immediately block at 2 in sente.

After this, since Black “a” forces White “b,” Black can aim at pushing through and cutting with Black “c,” White “d” and Black “e.” Should that take place, White’s expressly adopted plan is reduced to nothing, you see.That is because the block of Black 2 is so severe.


Diagram 3 (The Actual Game)

White 1 (B) is the move played in the actual game, but here as well Black is likewise permitted to usurp White’s base by blocking at 2, so White has to run away at 13.

When evaluating the two sides, Black’s stones must be seen to have greater eye shape.

The players of this game were high dan amateurs. Despite that, they can hallucinate that weak stones are strong, and without knowing it, invite the development of a disadvantageous position.


Theme 2 White to Play

After Diagram 3, this is the way the game progressed. Think carefully about the strength and weakness of the stones and then please choose the next move from among the choices of A~D.


Diagram 1 (Diverted from the Action)

Attacking the corner with White 1 (A) is the move that was played in the actual game, but now one’s eye must be trained on the thinness of White’s upper left corner. The group of marked White stones is weaker than it appears to the eye, and when Black plays the straightforward attack on the corner with 2, they are put in an awkward position. Even if White envelops the stone with 3, the attachment of Black 4 is sharp and puts White into a predicament. That is because Black’s group is rich in eye shape and therefore strong.


Diagram 2 (Captured Without Compensation)

After that, for instance with White drawing back at 5, that point and the cut of 6 are equivalent options. Momentum leads White to want to cut at 7 to see what happens, but Black makes the tight connection at 8, and now White’s two stones to the right come under attack since the two space jump to the stone above is thin and this is weak shape that Black can exploit. White 9 and Black 10 are likewise equivalent options. The tables are turned and White’s stones are captured without compensation.


Diagram 3 (Separated)

Besides that, after White 1 and Black 2 are played, the defensive move of White 3 can be considered, but this time Black moves out with 4 and 6 and unexpectedly cannot be captured. When Black attaches at 10, the placement of Black’s marked stone is optimally placed. The tables are turned and White is in the position of coming under attack.


Diagram 4 (No Follow-Up)

Stopping the Black stones in their tracks with White 1 (C) at first sight seems to be good, but Black blithely jumps out to 2. There is no way to next make defensive shape, and unchanged from before, the point at “a” is aimed at.


Diagram 5 (Reckless)

I think that the idea is clear by now. These Black stones are not ones that can be attacked, you see.

White 1 (D) is a move with the perception of attacking only. Following Black 2 and 4, there is a move left in the corner in the form of the attachment of Black “a.” And the White stone at 1 which was played with the intention of attacking can be separated with Black “b,” White “c” and Black “d.” It is incomprehensible what White is doing.


Diagram 6 (Consolidate the Defense with a Single Move)

The diagonal move of White 1 (B) is the Correct Solution. It is the only move that completely eliminates all of the sundry worries.

Fighting go is not confined to just attacking. At times when one is weak, it is essential to defend.

Translator’s note: In 2007 I translated a book by Awaji Shūzō 9 dan entitled “Changing One’s Conceptions: Awaji’s Aphorisms” in The Heart of Go Discovery Series. The book details Awaji’s interactions with amateur go players at his school in Tōkyō (www.awaji-shuzo.com). He is one of the most popular professional go players in Japan and in this book he has distilled the essence of his teaching program into a set of numerous aphorisms that he has invented. By reading this book, one can get a feeling of what it is like to take part in a study session with Awaji. By special arrangement with the distributor, that book is available here.

The Heart of Go Discovery Series Volume 4: Changing One's Conceptions - Awaji's Aphorisms

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