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Attack and Survival

From Kidō, January 1974


Middlegame Instruction

Attack and Survival

By Ōhira Shūzō 9 dan

The great attraction in actual games is to be found in attacking and managing to survive. How do professional players attack and how do they engineer survival for their stones? The master of fighting play, Ōhira 9 dan, reveals the painstaking trouble professionals take over this.

Attacking on a Large Scale

At this point, White has played the checking move at 1. Naturally, the object is to attack Black’s marked stone. At first glance, this seems like a vaguely positioned move, but actually the player was Rin Kaihō, Meijin, and this is a good move in keeping with his slow, careful and steady style. Black jumps in with 2, which is the only move here. Now, White makes the diagonal attachment of 3, intending to attack on a large scale.


Base Game Position 1 (24-36)

This was one of the semi-final games of the Ōza tournament sponsored by the Nihon Keizai Shinbun [the Japanese equivalent of The Wall Street Journal], played between myself and Rin Meijin (White). This was the first game that Rin san played after his miraculous upset defense of the Meijin title [after losing the first three games, he won the final four games in a row to win 4-3 in the match]. The feeling of Rin san’s play was that of being tremendously free and easy. Whether it was due to that factor or not, from the opening he attacked quickly without holding back, leaving me a little flustered.


Diagram 1

I think that White’s pressing in high with 1 in Diagram 1 would be the most usual move to play from the standpoint of shape. However, Black would undermine that with the move at 2, so it would not come off well.


Diagram 2

Continuing, should White play at 3 in Diagram 2, the attachment of Black 4 is tesuji. White 5 is met by the attachment of Black 6…


Diagram 3

And then White hanes over the stone with 7 in Diagram 3, followed by Black 8 and the cut of 10. This is a skillful move. Now White has no move to play. Even if White should answer at A, the atari of Black B settles things. Here is a sabaki [skillful manipulation] technique [suji] as pretty as a picture.


Diagram 4

In Base Game Position 1, instead of jumping in with Black 2, the attachment of Black 1 in Diagram 4 is heavy. White extends in at 2 and the moves through Black 5 are unavoidable. At that point, White pushes through with 6 and 8, and then with White 10 a single Black stone is cut off and White can be satisfied with this division. The vital point of Black 11 is ceded, but White has already taken profit on the right. Next, White can make an attack on the lower left corner, which would be standard.

For that reason, jumping in with Black 2 in Base Game Position 1 is the only move. Of course, once Black has played at 2, there is already a commitment not to discard the stones there. To that extent, the stones have become heavy, and that falls in line with White’s bidding, which is disagreeable. And yet, it cannot be said the jumping in with Black 2 is a bad move. Naturally, in the local area it is a good move, the only move from the standpoint of fighting spirit, which invites a battle.

The diagonal attachment of White 3 and Black 4, expanding outward, are also essential. For Black 6──


Diagram 5

Pressing with Black 1 in Diagram 5 in exchange for White extending at 2 followed by the hane of Black 3 is not impossible, either. This is a safety first strategy to settle the group quickly, but the exchange of Black 1 for White 2 is terrible, so White would greatly welcome this. After this, the White jump at A, harassing the Black group in the corner, becomes a good move. This may be said to be a failure variation for Black.


Diagram 6

In response to the hane of Black 6, the hane of White 1 in Diagram 6 is no good. Black is able to move out into the center in good form, while White has added strength to an already solid position, so it does not fulfill much of a role.

This is a failure variation. This variation is given for the sake of low level kyū players.

In Base Game Position 1, White peeps with 7 and then connects with 9, attacking in an uncompromising way. Black pushes out with 10, making shape to keep White’s stones separated, and regardless of the shape in the local area, this attacks White on a large scale.

I think that extending straight out with Black 10 may be called a real move [honte]. With this move…



It is also possible for Black to make the forcing moves of 1 and 3 in Diagram 7, then jump out first into the center with 5 and 7. Sakata 10 Dan proposed this variation, but I found it distasteful that Black does not make shape with this. For example, Black could incur the capping move of White 8, and it is difficult to see how the fighting will turn out. Well then, in regards to the variations at this stage, one can say that there are differences in go styles to be seen.

Well, here Rin Meijin made the insertion of White 11 to see how Black would respond. This is a probe and a good move. The point is that White wants to attack with a move at “a,” but attacking that way immediately would lead to the variation in the next diagram──


Diagram 8

The attack of White 1 in Diagram 8 is played with insufficient preparation. When Black plays 4, White plays the insertion move with 5, but Black will now connect below at 6. The standard series through the connection underneath with White 15 would result in what is called over-developed shape [amari-gatachi].


Diagram 9

In Base Game Position 1, when White makes the insertion move with 11, Black responds by connecting above at 12, but supposing that Black connects below…

White cuts at 3 in Diagram 9 and then makes the forcing moves through 9 before playing the knight’s move of 11. Compared to Diagram 8, the exchange of Black’s knight’s move of 2 for White’s hane at 3 has not been made, so there is practically a one move difference. It would be standard for Black to move out into the center with 12 and 14, but White plays 13 and 15, achieving the aim of “attacking on a large scale.” In other words, Black connected above at 11 in Base Game Position 1 out of distaste for this variation.


Diagram 10

The attachment of White 3 in Diagram 10 is a method related to the insertion move of White 1. Supposing that Black backs down with 3, White plays the knight’s move of 5 and play proceeds in the same way as in the previous diagram.


Diagram 11 Black 18 takes kō (The Course of Play in the Actual Game)

Following Base Game Position 1, here is shown the progression of moves as Base Game Position 2. Black 2 is a natural counterattack but pressing with White 3 and 5 is a considerably determined way of playing. Since Black has no method to use to move out into the open, the only move is to play kō in order to survive.

Black 20 is a move that incurs a loss in reference to the kō, but if Black immediately cuts at 22, incurring White 20 would put Black in trouble.

In addition, before Black plays 14 to set up the kō, the exchange of Black 12 for White 13 seems to be another loss in regards to the kō, but there is a reason behind it.

A Mistake Regarding Kō Threats


Base Game Position 2 (24-36) Black 7 takes kō; White 10 captures 3 stones; Black 11 recaptures (at the point of 9); White 12 takes kō; White 14 connects (below 3); Black 15 takes kō

A large kō fight begins. For Black, this is a kō fight upon which life and death depends, while as the attacking party, White has some leeway. However, after first incurring a loss on the right, some kind of compensation is required. So for White as well, this is a desperate kind of kō fight.


Diagram 12

In regards to the course of play in Diagram 11, within that sequence the exchange of the turn of Black 12 for the jump of White 13 was played. Now the reason for that will be given.

If Black immediately plays at 1 in Diagram 12 to start the kō fight, and then plays the turning move of Black 3 as a kō threat, White will end up capturing with White 4 to finish the kō. Even if Black continues with 5 to seal White in, White is allowed to connect underneath with 6, and Black has not profited in the least.

Returning to Base Game Position 2, when Black descends at 3 to create more kō threats, the hane of White 4 is a good tesuji. After this, White can cut at 8 to increase the number of kō threats. At the point of 9, the captures and recaptures must make the minds of kyū players spin, but these are tesuji that are often played.

Well then, when it comes to professional players, before starting a kō fight the number of kō threats is read out, and the position read out to the finish. In this game as well, at the very least I had read out that this kō could not be lost. However, Black 13 is a huge mistake. After White descends to 16, I thought that Black “a” was a kō threat, but that was a hallucination.


Diagram 13 White 6 takes kō

If Black plays 7 in Diagram 13 as a kō threat, White finishes the kō with the capture of 8 and it is no good for Black. The race to capture which follows Black’s cut at 9 is lost by Black by one move.


Diagram 14

For Black 13 in Base Game Position 2, playing Black 1 in Diagram 14 as a kō threat is the correct move. In this diagram, A is a valid kō threat, so on the contrary, White is short of kō threats. In the end, White must cut at 4 as a kō threat, and then the sequence that follows with the division through 11 can be foreseen.


Diagram 15 White 4 connects

Since Black cannot fight the kō, in the actual game Black compromised with 1 and 3 in Diagram 15. White is left with the ability to jump in at A, which is one more factor that proves the unreasonableness of Black 13 in Base Game Position 2.

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