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Top Professional and Women’s Champion: How Many Points for the Komi? – Part I

From Kidō, October 1990

Kidō Magazine Special Project

Classic Kidō Games, Part I

Top Professional and Women’s Champion: How Many Points for the Komi?

Summer Go Seminar


Kidō sponsored many seminars where amateurs were invited to enjoy a vacation at attractive hot springs resorts with first class go events held on the spot. Here is a photograph of one such occasion. On the far left is the young lady who was the amateur go player selected to play against a professional. That game is the subject of this article. The woman’s name is Satō Akiko and she won the Amateur Women’s Championship that year. Next to her, immediately to the right is her professional opponent, Komatsu Hideki 7 dan. The moderator is to his right, holding a microphone. A young assistant is to the right of him, helping to place stones on the demonstration board. Ishida Yoshio 9 dan, holding a microphone, is giving commentary on the far right of the photograph. The Japanese words on the photograph say “Special Project” and “Summer Go Seminar.”

Top Women Players are Really Getting Strong

It was perhaps three or four years ago when Yamashita Chifumi san advanced to the final of the Student’s Championship, amazing go fans all over the country. It was not like all of the powerful opponents that Yamashita san mowed down were adherents to a feminist philosophy. The fact is that in recent years the level of play in the amateur go world has been rising remarkably. This was just a harbinger of what was to come. And then, this year Satō Akiko san won a place in the fourth round of the Amateur Best Ten Tournament. That put her just one step behind the top amateur player, Harada Minoru. In the end, a big oversight cost her a regrettable loss, preventing her inclusion in the Best Ten, but the top amateur player, Kakuchi Yasurō endorsed her play, saying, “Her winning a prize is just a matter of time.”

When hearing that, one might imagine her to be a top woman player intense upon dominating the men, but that is nonsense. She is a young and independent 24 year old with a free and easy manner, a girl of the new generation. She mounted the stage during the Nihon Ki-in’s summer seminar in a salmon pink outfit to the resounding applause of the 250 players in the audience. Her opponent, Hideki Komatsu 7 dan, is now playing at his peak and is greatly popular. I tried to keep in the background while acting as his companion. (Satō Noboru)

White: Komatsu Hideki 7 dan (giving a 25½ point komi)

Black Satō Akiko, Amateur Women’s Champion

Figure 1: Impossible to Win on the Board


Figure 1: (1-25)

For a professional player, giving a komi of 25½ points seems to be quite a difficult thing to do. Last year, giving the same komi against Kanatsuya san appears to have caused him intense trouble in the fighting. He said to Satō san, “Please do not try to win on the board,” an extraordinary instruction to give. (Translator’s note: Komatsu means this: “You can win by playing conservatively and just taking territory everywhere. But you will not create anything of interest, and you will not learn anything or grow in strength. Try to match me on the board and win by meeting me play by play. I am still starting out far behind and will have to play riskily for any chance to win. That is where you have the most opportunities.”)

Well then, Black 1 and 3, tightly securing the corner with an enclosure seems to try to simplify the board position. If the scope for fighting is narrowed, to that extent the power of the komi will have its say. In response to White attacking the corner with 6, attacking with Black 7 and drawing back with 9 perhaps is also a strategy worked out before the game.

Komatsu 7 dan goes for a variation with White 10. This is what is called the Takemiya style. The idea is to create a game with the center as the focus. Black is seemingly drawn into playing 11, which is the first questionable move of the game. That is because that in response to White 12, Black cannot make the usual shape with A, White B and Black C.

Figure 2: Envy and Support…


Figure 2 (26-60) White 54 takes kō (above 51); White 58 connects (49); White 60 same (51)

Satō san is now a popular instructor at the go salon, “Tengen,” but in the past studied as an insei [student at the Nihon Ki-in, or Japanese Go Association] with some secret ambition to reach professional player status. And then, Komatsu 7 dan is said to have been doing the same at practically the same time. Therefore, at that time they played any number of “truly even” games [i.e., with a standard komi]. “But I do not remember ever winning,” she said with a slightly regretful tone. Komatsu 7 dan has now managed to become a participant in the Honinbō league, rushing to join the first rank of players, so her consciousness is complicated, mixed with envy and support…

One feels that it is a little regrettable for Black to play at 29 [in exchange for White 30, which stabilizes White’s position], but there is probably a fear that White would expand on a large scale with a move at A. Solid play, solid play is the feeling that emerges here.

Since Black has played solidly below, above the play is fierce with Black 31 and 33. That feeling is understandable, but according to Ishida Yoshio 9 dan using Black 33 to extend at 34 is standard. When Black plays 37, White 38 brings about a wild melee, one in line with Komatsu’s wishes. For Black 39──


Diagram 1

Playing atari with Black 1 and connecting with 3 in Diagram 1 would produce a mild progression of events. Although Black fences White in with 39, it is not a technique [suji] that precisely wraps White up and squeezes, causing problems for Black. For Black 41──


Diagram 2

Black 1 in Diagram 2 is a loose wrap-up that would be followed by White 2 and 4. The potential [aji] of a Black move at “a” has evaporated like the morning dew. This would be painful as well.

When events come to this pass, momentum leads to Black 43 and White 44. When Black applies pressure to the lower side with 45, Shirae 7 dan, who was acting as a moderator, asked whether countering with the White cut at B is possible, Ishida 9 dan stepped up to answer.

Ishida: “That is not a move that a future professional should play.” When he said that emphatically, the audience exploded in laughter.

For Black 45──


Diagram 3

Directly playing Black 1 in Diagram 3 in order to wrap White up and squeeze does not work. White easily breaks through the net with 2 and the following moves.

Consequently, once Black plays 47, it is necessary for White to avoid the wrap-up with 48. Black 49 and the rest appear to inflict damage on White below, but it does not go as well as Black had hoped. However, for Black 55──


Diagram 4

Playing Black 1 in Diagram 4 incurs a terrible loss as a kō threat, but it seems best to fight the kō all-out here. Through 5, Black takes a large corner territory, and this is a big difference from the game.

[Game Record]

To be continued next week.

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