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Razor Sharp Sakata Still in Fine Fettle

From Kidō, February 1975

Kidō Magazine Special Game Selections

Classic Kidō Games, Part II

Games from the 30th Annual Honinbō League and 13th 10 Dan Tournament

Game 2

Razor Sharp Sakata Still in Fine Fettle

30th Annual Honinbō League

White: Ishii Kunio 8 dan

Black: Sakata Eio 9 dan

Black gives a 5 1/2 point komi

Analysis by Ishida Yoshio, Honinbō Meijin

Figure 1: A Fuseki with Painstaking Moves are Seen


Figure 1 (1-43)

This game in the Honinbō league was played on the board right next to the one where Takemiya 7 dan and Katō 8 dan were playing the previous game given here. “Razor sharp Sakata” attracted much attention because of no waning in the powerful strength that gave him that nickname, despite his advancing years.

Playing Black 5 one point higher than that of Black “a” in the Chinese style opening perhaps should be called the Japanese style opening for the time being. That one point difference may be seen to produce variations that use ploys of the players in the fuseki. In response to the attack on the corner with White 10, Black 11 is an off-beat defense that may be seen as illustrating that.


Diagram 1

Should Black make the diagonal attachment of 1 in Diagram 1, the usual method, the sequence through the extension of White would be unavoidable. Then one would feel dissatisfied that the high placement of Black’s marked stone leaves the position open at the edge.

Approaching Black’s position with the high move of White 12 is a painstaking conception.


Diagram 2

If Black can be forced to defend at 1 in Diagram 2, White jumps to 2 and can be satisfied with the exchange of White’s marked stone for the low move of Black 1.

Therefore, the counterattack of Black 13 is natural from the standpoint of fighting spirit, whereupon White jumps in at 14 according to White’s plan.

Solidifying the stones with Black 15 is an essential point in relation to both sides’ base.

Black 25 restrains the movement of White’s single stone. There has come a lull in the action on the lower side, so White attacks the corner with 26 in order to prevent Black from making a corner enclosure there. This is something that would strike anyone as being important not to miss, but following Black’s response with the knight’s move at 27, White does not hurry to follow up with the attachment at “b,” rather develops with the knight’s move of White 28 to take a close look at Black’s move in reply. That is the meaning behind this way of playing.


Diagram 3

Should White attach at 1 in Diagram 3 and draw back at 3, then make the knight’s move at 5, Black would attack White’s base with 6, and White’s shape is narrow and heavy.

When Black protects the profit in the corner with 29, White slides to 30, a move that was set up naturally with the move of White 28. It may be understood that Ishii 8 dan’s line [suji] of reading was to make it unavoidable for Black to defend at 31, whereupon White could block at 32. However, for Black 29…


Diagram 4

…blocking White’s advance with Black 1 in Diagram 4 would, this time, lead to White’s attaching with 2, and then rather than drawing back with White A, using the cross-cut technique [suji] of White 4 to deal with the situation [sabaki].

The checking extension of Black 33 is the real move [honte] to defend against White’s slicing through the knight’s move with “c.” It is also a move that must not be missed in order to weaken White’s single stone at 6, and so it also has an active, aggressive value. For White’s part, the forcing move [kikashi] of the peep of White 36 leaves potential [aji] in the area in the lower left, which White can look forward to making use of. The attachment of White 38 followed by the hane of 40 is a resolute measure, but Black answers by playing atari with 41 and pressing at 43, not giving an inch. For Black 41, playing something like “d” would lead to White “e” and Black “f” and White 43, a loss that would be unbearable.

Figure 2: Prospect for a Close Game


Figure 2 (44-76)

White puts in the cut of 44 and then turns at White 46, the correct order of moves.

Black 47 is an unavoidable concession.


Diagram 5

Should Black extend at 1 in Diagram 5, it incurs White’s pressing at 2, whereupon the cut of Black 3 cannot be omitted. White plays the sente forcing move of 4, then plays White 6, winning the race to capture.

In regards to White 52, the right to make this capture to live might be abandoned by White by…


Diagram 6

…blocking at White 1 in Diagram 6, preventing Black’s connection underneath, then after waiting for Black 2, playing White 3 to undermine the base of Black’s five stones. This is also a viable strategy.

When White lives with 54, in terms of profit it is no big deal, but the potential [aji] that is left within Black’s territory on the left side must not be overlooked. The peep of Black 55 is questionable. It gives White the opportunity to attach at 56.

Through White 72, the survival [shinogi] of White’s stones are engineered smartly and in sente, and then with this move order White defends the upper side with 76. The prospects are for a close game. Consequently, instead of Black 55…


Diagram 7

…I think that Black would have been wise to play 1 in Diagram 7, nipping any maneuvers by White in the bud, and aiming at an attack against White’s large group of stones in the future.

Figure 3: Sliding is the Losing Move


Figure 3 (77-91)

Attacking the corner on the edge with Black 77 is a common playing method. The result through Black 81 is the same as if Black had the stone at 81 in place and made the diagonal move at 77.

The slide of White 82 is a big move in terms of profit, but it has little effect on Black’s group of stones on the lower side. (Please compare this position with the difference in Diagram 6.) The end result is that this move is the cause of White’s losing. Instead of White 82…


Diagram 8

…White should have patiently played at 1 in Diagram 8. Black 2 and 4, or else Black A, defending the lower side, are not small moves, but once the upper right corner is secure, the invasion of Black B loses its menace at the same time. White can also look forward to taking profit with the diagonal move at C, so I think that White could still fight on sufficiently.

Black takes the opportunity to attack with 83 and the following, and even after White 90, Black is still left with the potential [aji] of attacking with a move at “a.” For White 90…


Diagram 9

…butting against Black’s stone with White 1 in Diagram 9, allowing Black to capture at 2, lets White play atari with 3, and in the present board position, the group is safe and sound. However, I think that it is hard for White to bear having Black capture a stone in sente with 2.

Black 91 is a severe invasion. With the worry of Black “a,” the uneasiness regarding Black “b” (White’s large group of stones still only has one eye), and the gouging out of the corner with Black “c,” White must deal with flaws in three places that may be exploited simultaneously, so White’s prospects in the game are tending on a downward arc.

Figure 4: Getting Out into the Open, But…


Figure 4 (92-118)

White 92, preventing Black from connecting to the left, is a do-or-die move probably based upon White’s seeing the game as being inferior.


Diagram 10

If White attaches at 1 in Diagram 10, ceding profit to Black with the moves through 6, Black has the jump into the corner with A, so White has no scope for fighting.

In regards to the jump of White 94, if the outlook in the game were good…


Diagram 11

…although the attachment of White 1 in Diagram 11 is a low move, it is a method for securing the safety of the positions to the left and right, and is feasible. However, Black would leave things as they are and play elsewhere, and since with this shape Black can extend at A as a forcing move, it is impossible for White to move out with B. Therefore, the vulnerability of White’s large groups of stones on the left and lower sides becomes all the more obvious.

Black 97, stopping White from connecting underneath, is the final verdict rendered against White. Then when Black usurps White’s base in 99, the situation rapidly goes downhill.

The cut of White 112 is the sole technique [suji] available to White to engineer survival [shinogi] for the group. For Black 113…


Diagram 12

…trying to hurry to win with Black 1 in Diagram 12 lets White use the move order from 2 through 12 to get through the crisis.

Black 113 is a calm and collected defensive move which lets White barely manage to move out with 118, but White’s big group of stones still cannot said to be safe.

Figure 5: White Finally Dies a Valiant Death


Figure 5 (119-173)

Black plays 19 through 25, putting off the attack on the large group of stones for later while making preparations for the fight in the surrounding area. “Before attacking the opponent, look back upon your own position.” [This is an old proverb-like saying that Honinbō Shūsaku used as part of the cover of his book in a modified form.] If White uses the move at 54 to connect up groups with 55, the group would have been safe, but incurring the hane of Black 54 would have been worse than dying. Black 73 leaves no weakness to be exploited, so a valiant death for White cannot be avoided.

173 moves. Black wins by resignation.

[Game Record]

A new game will be presented here next week.

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