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The Taisho Group Takes the First Win, Part I

From Kidō, January 1975

Classic Kidō Game, Part I

Kidō Magazine Sponsorship

Prize Money of 1 Million Yen Offered by Aoyama Go Board Shop

Great Veterans Versus Sharp Up-and-Coming Youngsters, 12 Game Match

The Taisho Group Takes the First Win

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For the top batter, it was assumed that there was no player as suitable as Takagi Shōichi 7 dan to appear. However, when the game was played, one got the feeling that he was a bit overwhelmed by Hōsai’s forcefulness. A good game unfolded, but he fell short by just a little.

The origin of the great wave of the generational shift from the Taishō Era [1912-1926] to the Shōwa Era [1926-1989] may be traced back to Rin Kaihō’s capture of the Meijin title from Sakata Eio in 1965. It has been ten years since then. The resistance of the leading players of the Taishō generation has not been enough to overcome the flow of time, and the trends have settled for the most part on the side of the new generation. [Fujisawa Shūkō, a leading member of the Taishō generation, would rise to the pinnacle of the go world by winning the Kisei title two years later and hold it for six years in a row.] Speaking just of titles, the only one remaining on the other side is Sakata’s Nihon Ki-in championship.

However, the professional players of the Taishō generation are confident that their artistry is by no means inferior, and have declared so publicly. Just how may that artistry be measured? One wonders if the power of that artistry can be displayed in this series of one on one games between the generations here in Kidō.

At this time, the plan that has been worked out will surely answer the question definitively. Over the course of a year, by way of twelve games, we will explore various themes along with the reader, and the intention is to place that question of artistry at the forefront.

Game 1

White: Fujisawa Hōsai 9 dan

Black: Takagi Shōichi 7 dan

Analysis by Fujisawa Hōsai 9 dan

Reported by Aiba Ikko

Time limit: Three hours for each

Black gives a 5 1/2 point komi

Figure 1: The Hot-blooded Hōsai

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Figure 1 (1-25)

Fujisawa Hōsai 9 dan [1919-1992] is always on edge. He was born in Yokohama, and is 55 years old. If he was a salaried worker, the matter of retirement would be something to ponder at this age, but on the other hand a time-consuming career in the turbulent world of go must not let him lose his edge. As he was playing this game, too, he was filled with fighting spirit. Before the game he expressed regret that the time limit was not five hours apiece.

Just a little before the scheduled time, Takagi Shōichi 7 dan appeared. He is 31 years old. Since he challenged for the 10 Dan title two years ago he has become widely known. For some time before that his reputation has been that of a player who is endowed with great competitive strength. Since they both hail from Yokohama, at one time Hōsai 9 dan even acted as a mentor to him. They briefly exchanged greetings, then reached for the go bowls when Hōsai paused and said, “Shall we have a cup of tea and then begin?”

In the game, Takagi played three star points in a row [sanrensei] and Hōsai started with imitation go [mane-go]. However, it does not seem that he felt like continuing the imitation go for long, because he quickly altered course with White 8. Black 9 through 17 is a jōseki model that as been popular recently.

In the past, Black 17 at “a” was the common jōseki move. The block of 17 began to be played by Katō Masao and Takemiya Masaki during approximately the same period, and in the present day territory-conscious game leaving territory open at the edge is distasteful. Black 17 also conforms to Black’s strategy in komi games where the tendency is to fight sharply beginning in the opening. At the very least, the indications are that the majority of professional players born in the Shōwa Era [1926-1989] have discarded the move of Black “a.” However, most Taishō Era [1912-1926] professional players say that “a” is a fine move, and supposing that the positions were reversed, Fujisawa probably would have chosen to play at “a.”

White immediately initiated fighting with 18. Other than this, “b” and “c” were possible, but Fujisawa’s playing temperament is such that those moves would be intolerable. He had already taken off his jacket and set it aside, and from the start of the game he had taken off his shoes. Hōsai is indeed hot-blooded.

No matter how one looks at it, Black 25 was an overplay.

Figure 2: Fighting Takagi

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Figure 2 (26-41)

As he played the peep of Black 25 in the previous figure, Takagi left his seat to leave the room, and when he returned he mumbled that he had made a funny move. Generally speaking, Takagi is a man of few words and sober judgment, so he might be taken as a smart aleck, but that is definitely not the case. He is said to be prefectural representative class in terms of playing strength in shōgi, and in the past he compiled a record of 17 straight wins in go tournaments. That may be perceived as due to his stubborn tenacity, so no doubt he might be best characterized as being the same fighting type of professional player as Fujisawa. However, Takagi was raised as a child of the komi in go, while Fujisawa was not, and is more endowed with the cold judgment fostered by having access to few machines.

For White to connect at “a” with 26 would mean submitting to a forcing move. Had White played this before Black made the defensive move of the marked stone (Black 23 in the previous figure), White would clearly have to answer this peep, but in that case neither would White have played to fix the shape with the marked White stone (White 24 in the previous figure). Therefore, Black’s making the peep the instant that White played the marked stone, if answered, would be ideal timing for Black. Naturally, one would expect White to counterattack against it.

Fujisawa: “For White 26…

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Diagram 1

…it would be desirable to jump in at 1 in Diagram 1, but Black plays 2 and 4, then connects underneath with 6. White would have to return to play in the center, so in a contrary way the group there would become heavy. On the other hand, during this sequence up to Black 6, Black’s destroying White’s shape with A would be welcome. White would answer at B, and then counterattack with C. With the alphabetical move order up to I, White would be able to capture Black’s two stones. When White plays 26 in the figure…

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Diagram 2

…Black is invited to play the continuation starting with Black 1 in Diagram 2. After White reinforces at 4, the aim is to jump in at 6. When Black plays 7, this time White gives way with 8. Should Black play 1 at 7, White makes the forcing move at 3 and then goes back to play at A.”

In the end, Black has no choice but to defend at 27, so the peep ends up being ignored. Hōsai said that he thought about playing White 28 at 34 to turn the peep in a clearly bad move, but forcefully pressuring Black with White 28 and 30 is typical of his playing style.

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Diagram 3

If Black presses up at 1 in Diagram 3, White replies at 2 and 4, then at 6, playing both above and below in good form.

Fujisawa: For White 32…

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Diagram 4

…after the game Takagi said that having White make the descending move of 1 in Diagram 4 would have been distasteful to him. It is certainly true that way was superior. Play would continue with Black 2 and White 3, and the game would already be promising for White.”

At the point of White 36, Fujisawa sank into deep thought. He chewed on the inside of his lip and the expression on his face resembled a daruma roly-poly doll. He stared with bated breath at the board. From time to time he came to himself and told himself, “There is no time, remember.” It was a bit sad to see at the same time as being a bit amusing. After thirty minutes, he played the jump to 36. Anyway, at this point the peep was surrounded and the outlook in the board position was probably easy for White to play.

For White 38, Fujisawa said that he also considered attacking the corner at “b.” However, if the upper side was left as it was, the knight’s move of Black 41 would be too good a point, and to attack the corner with “b” would mean flitting around the board. One does not expect that this would be in keeping with Hōsai 9 dan’s temperament. White 40 is a powerful block that aims at attacking Black. For Takagi, it would have been a simple matter to play at “c” as a forcing move to make life for the group. But finding that offered few attractions, he counterattacked with Black 41.

[Game Record]

To be continued next week.

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