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The Stirring Nature of an Unknown World

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By Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan

Writer: Akiyama Kenji

From Kido, August 1976

Longing for an Unknown World

Kajiwara [Takeo] 9 dan rarely praises anyone, but in relation to Kobayashi Koichi 7 dan things are different.

“It seems that he puts intense thought into his moves, I must say. There is still insufficient flexibility in his play, but he has a considerable feeling for power.”

In regards to playing styles in go, there are various patterns. There is the type who, starting move by move in the opening, rolls out a plan and polishes it in relation to the whole board. Then, there is the type who plays moves that look commonplace, but build up in weight and maintain a balance. And the type who demonstrates incomparable fighting strength when it comes to direct battling, and so forth. In the case of Kobayashi 7 dan, he is close to Kajiwara’s Number 1 type. It may be thought that the reason that Kajiwara is such a big booster of his is that he has great hopes that Kobayashi will carry on his own theories of go in the future. Kajiwara envisions Kobayashi as the second master teacher.

Kobayashi: Yes, I think that Kajiwara Sensei’s influence on me has been great. In the way of thinking about go, especially when it comes to unknown worlds, I admire how he always took things to the limit in his efforts.

Young Kobayashi’s playing style of go is still not perfected. However, it is remarkable how his tendency towards fighting powerfully regularly leads to his launching his own ploys to initiate action.

Kobayashi: I am swept into the unknown world because its attractions fascinate me, you know. As a result, I pour all my energy into finding moves in the opening and the middlegame. In talking of moves requiring intense energy to play in the opening…

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Model Figure 1 2nd Annual Tengen Tournament Kobayashi (Black)―Fujisawa Shuko
Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

…is full of energy, as part of a game that I played with great satisfaction.

The move-in-a-row of Black 10, instead of the usual hane at 13 attracted much attention. It was not a completely new move, but taking a cue from Kobayashi’s words, from here on we are walking into an unknown world. Black 14 and 16 attack on a grand scale from the outside, and the game is quickly brought into fighting mode.

―Didn’t you make out like a bandit in the lower right divvying up?

Kobayashi: Yes, Black comes out too well here. Even though White takes two key Black stones, Black takes profit in the corner, and also develops thickness in the center. The exchange of White 17 for Black 18, and then the move of White 25 were questionable.

For White 17, the attachment at 19 had to have been made immediately. Therefore, for Black 19…

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Diagram 1

…according to Kobayashi it would have been strong for Black to have usurped White’s possibilities in the corner by playing the diagonal move at 1. During the analysis after the game, this move of Kobayashi’s was universally praised. White has no move to play in response. For instance, if White hanes at 2, the stone gets cut by Black 3, and then after 5 and 7, should White play at , Black destroys White. But groveling to make life with the atari of White would be just too painful.

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Diagram 2 White 15 connects

―For White 25, is this the way to play?

Kobayashi: Yes, here you want to at least make a single forcing move. Ignoring the possibility of the move of Black 26 was bad. As might be expected, White had to play at 1 in Diagram 2 to take the Black stone. In reply to Black 2, descending with White 3 relieves all causes of dissatisfaction.

The projected variation after this is interesting, when considered in the light of Kobayashi’s playing style. Kobayashi insisted that he would block at Black 4, and when White cuts at 5, continue with Black 6 and 8, followed by the sequence through Black 16, a sacrifice stone strategy. Fujisawa Tengen and Rin Kaiho 9 dan remarked that White’s territorial profit was great and they would rather play the White side.

Kobayashi: Black turns to attack at 18, and I thought that unquestionably Black is better off, but…

It may be thought that this illustrates Kobayashi’s playing style of, rather than focusing on territory, betting on the possibilities of future attacks.

An Eye-Opening Game

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Model Figure 2 Tokyo Channel 12 (Rival Clash) Kobayashi (White)―Cho Chikun

Kobayashi: When talking about the scales falling from one’s eyes, and being awakened to new vistas, this is a game that, when I look back on it, helped me to leap out into a different direction.

Rather than being an accomplishment that I treasure, Model Figure 2 offers many points where self-reflection is called for. I am relieved to think that more so than at that time (this game was played at the end of the previous year), I am much stronger now. (Laughs)

―White forces with the technique [suji] of 6, then makes the hanging connection of White 8. This is fine form, no?

Kobayashi: Not at all. That’s not how it is. I played White 6 to get impetus to connect with 8, but when I think about it now, 8 was really a pretty bad move.

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Diagram 1

Afterwards it struck me that the way of playing here was best. When I discovered the moves of White 1 and 3, it felt like an unknown world suddenly opened up to me.

―It seems to me that White 3 would be a dangerous move.

Kobayashi: No matter what the opponent comes up with, my aim is to give up sacrifice stones lightly to make a thick and strong position on the outside. This is a little hard to explain, but it results in really good form. Compared to this, poor moves like White 2 and 8 in the figure are heavy, heavy.

―White 10 and 12 are good technique [suji] again, aren’t they?

Kobayashi: Not at all. 12 and 14 are instead a terrible way of playing.

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Diagram 2

Since there are forcing moves at , and , White should just attach at 3, which would be the real technique [suji]. This would have been impossible to deal with by Black.

Continuing…

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Diagram 3

…If Black tenaciously plays at 1, the cut of White works precisely well. Black 3 is met by White 4, and after the sequence through 10, Black does not have a viable move to play.

Looking back now, I understand the variations in Diagrams 1 and 2, but at the time the moves leapt out and I didn’t know what would happen.

Consummate Satisfaction for the Kobayashi Style

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Model Figure 3 1st Annual Kisei Tournament Kobayashi (White)―Cho Chikun
Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

In this board position, the reader is asked to come up with the next move for White. How did Kobayashi 7 dan play?

In canvassing a number of professional players, none of them hit upon the move that Kobayashi 7 dan played, but they all applauded the move that he came up with.

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Diagram 1

―What about White 1, which at first sight looks like the vital point?

Kobayashi: That’s true, you know. You have a good perception of the board. But Black pushes once with 2, then presses upward with 4 and 6, building a big territorial framework [moyo] on the lower side. This cannot be said to be the correct solution.

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Diagram 2

The move that Kobayashi made was to press at White 1 here. This encompasses an idea that wants to take full advantage of the power sense. Black is pushed on the fourth line, which most of the time is an undesirable way to play, but Black’s territory on the lower side is limited. White takes sente and is able to play at the vital point of 5.

Kobayashi: When I was analyzing this position, I wondered which side was bigger, the lower side or the right side, and which was barren of points. It occurred to me that Black had made the low slide of the marked stone, so I understood that the lower side was barren of points, you know. Therefore, I pushed with White 1 and 3 without regret.

―This seems to go against go theory, but on the contrary it fits in precisely with the logic of go, you know?

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Diagram 3

But one thing that is unclear is what would happen had Black played 2 in Diagram 2 at 1 here? Isn’t the hane of Black 1 possible?

Kobayashi: After White 2 and 4, White has the fencing-in move of 6 prepared. Following Black 7 and 9, the connection of White 10 makes thickness in the center, which leaves the hane [suji] of as a potential move. White can be satisfied by this result.

―The sequence through White 9 in Diagram 2 is good form, right?

Kobayashi: Right. But Kajiwara Sensei said that Black 6 in Diagram 2 was bad.

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Diagram 4

Kajiwara Sensei said that it was best to play at Black 1 here, and when I heard that I thought to myself that he was really right. I had to admire that move. It forces White to go back to reinforce at 2, and this leaves a hane at White in the corner, but when Black gets the move at 3 in, on the contrary White comes under attack. At that point, the pushing moves of the marked White stones become questionable. This is all very difficult, you know. Even in thinking that comfortably playing 1 and 3 in Diagram 2, and further playing at 5, setting the shape, is great, that is not the case, Even now I believe that 1, 3 and 5 in Diagram 2 are best, but perhaps that is not true.

―In regards to your own weak points?

Kobayashi: I play in the way that is in most keeping with my style and I enjoy that, but the results are not many times so good, you know. Maybe I’m just too optimistic.

A Go Style Giving Up Four Corners

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Model Figure 4 1st Annual Gosei Tournament Kobayashi (White)―Kato Masao (Black)
Those interested in replaying the game move by move can click here to do so.

Kobayashi: That is slack in regards to territory. In the opening [fuseki] the thinking may be to build up influence in the center, but that often means that the territory in the corner is taken. My playing style can lead to four corners being taken.

In regards to this, the game here offers much material for reflection. Black develops with 49, then when White plays at 50, I capped with Black 51 and was pleased with the position I found myself in, you know. Actually, this was slack and completely bad.

―Cutting with Black 29 was unusual, wasn’t it?

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Diagram 1

Kobayashi: Usually Black takes hold of the stone with 1 and 3 here. White plays at 4 and then through 8 the thickness and power that Black has developed in the upper right is neutralized. This is undesirable. However…

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Diagram 2

…It seems that drawing back with Black 1 would have been best. After White 4, developing with 49 in the figure would be standard, with the key being that White would be dodged by Black .

Black 33 was slack and unconscionable.

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Diagram 3

Blocking with 1 was the only move. In answer to White 2, Black makes the light connection with 3, and there is no comparison with the game.

All of my defects were well exposed here. The vulnerable stones of the opponent just lightly eluded grasp. However, I do not think that the way I have been progressing has been bad. If I can just become more careful in taking territory…

Besides that, I am a bit careless in the endgame. My game needs a lot of work.

Those who wish to comment on the opinions expressed here may send their thoughts to info@GoWizardry.com. The most interesting responses will be addressed in future postings.

Robert J. Terry

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