An introduction to corner patterns, especially but not only meant for kyu players.
My illustrious boss Mr. Tsuchida 9p, tired of writing game commentaries for the local newspaper himself, was looking for a replacement writer. "Hey Pieter, what about it, uh, I'm sure you can do it, why don't you give it a try?"
"What, me? But Tsuchida sensei, are you sure you want me to analyze professional games and explain them in a newspaper column? I mean, I'm not so sure I am quite the guy you want for that.."
"No, no, no, of course not, Pieter. I wasn't thinking about pro games but this local newspaper, the Gifu Shimbun, everyday has a short article about some amateurs' game. They usually show one game a week, about 20 moves per day. It's easy, and anyway, nobody reads it, so who gives a ... hum, well, whatever. I'm sure you'll do a fine job."
That's Tsuchida all right, his subtle choice of words and razor-sharp intuition, unfailingly help him to say the most tactful thing anytime.
"Oh, okay, well I'll do my best then."
"That's what I wanted to hear, so here's a try-out game, hand it in to me by next week and we'll see if it's good enough for the newspaper"
One week later I handed Mr. Tsuchida 6 sheets of paper. I don't know if he actually went through the commentary himself but a little while later I was told I got the job. So, here I am doing my first paid Go writing job in, of all languages, Japanese.
Now I hope the people at the Gifu Shimbun are not gonna sue me but I thought it a nice idea to translate my very first newspaper article and show it to you here. Before I forget, Mr. T also gave me this advice: "Whatever you do, make it readable and make it clear that you are a foreigner."
You can judge for yourself if I succeeded in doing so, the translation is very close to the Japanese original.
A Newspaper Column
© Gifu Shimbun 2001 (English translation by the author)
Diagram I (1-20): In case of the 3 space extension (black 5-7) usually black is reluctant to play at 9 (see dia II).
Instead of 11 black would like to hurry to play in the lower right corner first, at the triangle marked spot.
White 12 is of course a possible way of playing,
the thee-space extension, however, is often a little
weak and sooner or later needs reinforcing. Instead of
12 in dia I, I prefer the two-space jump of white 1 in
Diagram II: When black plays at 1 and white answers calmly
at 2 white has the sharp invasion move of A to aim at.
This is why after white 2 black has to reinforce, for
example at 3. Next white extends as far as 4, making
perfect shape. On the other hand, black's shape is not
optimal, black would like his marked stone to be a little
farther, for example at B.
Diagram III: Now, if black answers at 2, white does not feel
the need to spend another move strengthening his stones
but he will play elsewhere (tenuki), thus gaining a
<*apologies for any historical inaccuracies, PM*>
The main reason why I like working for Mr. Tsuchida at his Go club in Gifu is not that I can help him beating up friendly off-guard senior citizens. No, this is not the reason. Besides, it is often the senior citizens who are doing the beating up part, ganging up and jumping me three at once.
Every Tuesday I fold myself in my Subaru mini-car and brave the heavy morning traffic for about one hour. I love going over to Gifu and do not mind the distance much because in the same building where I am teaching, a group of pros have their weekly study sessions. So while my students are demolishing me at a mere two flights distance top level real-time go research is happening.
Among these pro's are some of my old insei (aspirant pro) buddies so although pro-only study groups are usually off bounds for amateurs I sneak in whenever my students let go of me and enjoy the extremely thorough analyses the pro's are non-stop busy with.
Unfortunately, with these kinds of study groups not everybody has his say or freely asks questions. When I spoke with the Romanian pro, 4th dan Catalin, about this he made it clear that he particularly resents this custom. His opinion is that anybody, regardless of rank, should be able to openly talk about the analyses and ask questions. It is also true, however, that Japanese pro's are much more open towards foreigners then they are towards their fellow country men and do not mind much when asked (silly) questions. If you ever have the chance to corner a pro at a Go event you will see for yourself that you can get the professional to tell and explain more than you perhaps wished for.
Anyway, ever since the first day I arrived in this country I kind of tried to do what the Romans expect you to do when you visit their country's capitol, i.e. not barf in the fountains and only drink more than is good for you if you have arranged for someone to carry you home afterwards.
Not talking and just sitting beside the Go board and watching the leading pro express his thoughts, using stones and only a few words, however are quite nice. It took me a while but now that I'm used to it I often find that questions which popped up in my head somewhere down the line get answered before your eyes or turn out to be meaningless. The leading pro was the insei trainer Ogata 9 dan but two weeks ago Yamashiro 9 dan unexpectedly showed up for the first time. Some eight years ago Yamashiro was the golden child of Nagoya. He had all the pro's in Tokyo and Osaka shivering in fear, sort of. Well, this is, of course, exaggerating things a little. Fact is, though, that he has held the Central Japan Okan title for a record eleven times and that he did extremely well in a number of title leagues. Sheer unstoppable he became challenger for the Tengen, Honinbo and Kisei titles.
It was probably during this last title, the most prestigious one, that something snapped. In a best of seven match against Kobayashi Koichi he went all the way and everything came down on the final game, game 7. It is not often during a pro's career that he's able to make over $300,000 winning a single game, but that's the way it was for the Kisei Kobayashi Koichi and the challenger Yamashiro Hiroshi during the decisive game of the 1992 Kisei title match. In spite of excellent play and favorable predictions Yamashiro lost this game by half a point. Until the day of today it seems as if he never regained his full strength. Although, to be sure, he certainly is not just another 9 dan. It would be great if his showing up at the study group in Gifu indicates a comeback of the once formidable player.
For the moment, however, Yamashiro is content to watch the other pro(s) analyze, he lets Ogata do the talking, and he rarely speaks.
Seriously thinking about doing one or more go books (probably until the day I die) I half earnestly ask Ogata: "Ogata sensei, I'd like to do a go book someday, but I need a pro to check everything on accuracy and I also think that the name on the cover of a 9 dan professional will help to boost the sales."
Ogata: "Umpf, a go book you say, uh. Nowadays everybody
is writing books, even this Yamashita person has
published a book"
Me: "But would you be interested in co-operating, I can't do it alone, I'm just not strong enough." (this works 99% of the time, no kidding)
Ogata: "Well, who knows, it might be time for me to set something on paper."
That is about as far Ogata would go and as I have as yet no concrete idea of what kind of book to do I left it at that.
Enough about me, pro study groups or writing books, it's time for this episode's josekies. Before I continue remember: Memorizing a joseki is the easy part. Given enough time anybody can do that. To get "the feel" of what direction you should be playing in, to sometimes correctly judge that you should abort a joseki right in the middle because playing elsewhere first (tenuki) is more important than a locally equal result, to acquire such judgment skill, that is the really, really hard part.
When writing this last sentence I honestly still had no idea what to show you this time. But it now is crystal clear, I'll take you on a joseki / direction of play crash-course!
In the above game example black is Yamashiro "Golden Child" Hiroshi who beat Qian Yuping from china for the 3rd China-Japan match, 1987.
For more detailed explanation of Hoshi openings and joseki please (re) read Gentle Joseki I-V.
By the way, please keep in mind that when I'm talking about primary, secondary etcetera lines of development I do not mean to tell you that these lines of playing are a must or that you're doing something wrong when your stones end up facing the opposite side.. I'm only showing you what is considered a natural way of playing. This is often at the same time a rather peace full way of playing, too. Once a fighting variation of a joseki is initiated, however, you can conveniently forget about those "lines of development" (you are not developing anything, you're supposedly much to busy getting your opponent of your back).
The variation shown in dia 11 was popular among a couple of us when I was still playing tournaments. After black 9 white has to be very careful.
Nowadays, however, often people do purposefully not play at A, even if they have the time for it. The idea is, especially when black has stones in the neighborhood of the triangle marked spots, to go for influence with black 2 in dia 12a. Playing like this obviously shifts the focus to point B, big time.
|Ayako Nakazawa (white)||Terumi Nishida (black)|
Hayashi, who plays the black stones uses his Hoshi stones in the powerful framework strategy. He forces his opponent Nakagawa to resign this game in 155 moves. Note that black's lower left corner still is more or less open, in spite of two additional moves 20 and 22.
This does, however, not mean that he has any kind of advantage he can exploit to win the game. White's territory at the right might very well turn out to be worth more than black's left. From here on much will depend on exactly how strong the formations white 1-5 and black 2-4 turn out to be in respect to each other. The weaker your nearby enemy stones are, the more territory you can look forward to.
That's it for this time. I hope you managed to make your way through all the above this time, too. People have told me before "You certainly seem to be writing for a wide audience, Pieter". Meaning that Gentle Joseki is sometimes targeting 20 kyu people and sometimes (like this episodes Taisha stuff) dan-ranking players. I, however, sincerely believe that *anyone* can pick-up something worthwhile here, as long as you're clear about the rules.
One other thing, since Jan Steen has redesigned my automatic mail-click-link at the bottom of this page the amount of reactions I got has drastically decreased. Please do write if you feel like it, it is a great help, believe it or not. (Sorry to the 50+ people who were on my Gentle Joseki mailing list, I forgot to save my address book when re-installing my system, oops...)
The number of people visiting Gentle Joseki has been quite stable since episode II at over 600 per new episode. Well over 1500 if you take the total of all the episodes over a 1-month period, thank you people! (now where is that filthy rich sponsor again?)
Be sure to come back for more next month. In Gentle Joseki 7 I finally will start about my hobbyhorse, the opening move at the 5-5 point. On IGS I've tried this move with both black and white in over 30 games, each game playing two 5-5 points and I surprised myself by holding onto my 3d* grade. Well, that's to show that you can play any move in the opening, as long as you've convinced yourself that it's playable, you'll get away with it for sure.
Index of joseki's mentioned in this episode:
Japanese words and their English equivalents used in this article:
|Nakazawa||Family name, Nakazawa Ayako (1971-)Tokyo 4 dan.|
|Nishida||Family name, Nishida Terumi (1970-) Tokyo 5 dan.|
|Ogata||Family name, Ogata Masaki (1964-) Central Japan 9 dan, insei coach|
|Qian||Family name, Qian Yuping (1966-) Chinese top 9 dan.|
|Yamashiro||Family name, Yamashiro Hiroshi (1958-) Central Japan, 9 dan.|
|aji||taste; remaining possibilities, however distant they may be|
|atari||"check" on at least 1 stone|
|dan||ranking system for stronger players|
|gote||not being able to leave the current situation first, allowing your opponent to be able the play elsewhere first|
|hamete||trick move; move which, if answered properly, gives an inferior result|
|hoshi||star; any of the 9 dots one the go board, the middle one is called "Tengen" (=center/origin of heaven). Hoshi is often used when talking about an opening move on the 4-4 point.|
|joseki||a sequence of moves (in the corner) giving both players a locally equal results|
|kakari||approach move to the corner|
|kikashi||a move which is almost impossible to ignore, also "forcing move"|
|ko||situation which occurs when it is possible to immediately re-capture the stone your opponent played in the previous move to capture 1 of your stones. Since there is no end to this there is the ko-rule, which prohibits a player to exactly recreate a previous board position.|
|komi||compensation for white (usually 5-7 points) since black gets to play the first move. (often there is a half point komi, as in 5.5 stones komi, to prevent a game from ending in a draw)|
|ko-moku||the 4-3 point|
|kori-gatachi||inefficient shape, uneconomical, using to many stones to make only few points (hollow wall)|
|kyu||rating system used for intermediate players|
|miai||of equal value|
|moku-hazushi||the 5-3 point|
|moyo||large framework often forcing the opponent to (try to) reduce it drastically in order to stay in the game|
|ni-ren-sei||two 4-4 moves one the same side of the board|
|ponnuki||the name of the shape when 4 stones capture one enemy stone|
|san-san||the 3-3 point, the only opening move which gives you 100% sure territory|
|san-ren-sei||3 hoshi of the same color at the same side of the board|
|sente||having the opportunity to play elsewhere first leaving the current situation. (example: He had sente so he decided to play tenuki)|
|shimari||"closing" (the corner) formation, any 2 moves which effectively seal the corner, also "enclosure".|
|shin-fuseki||"New Opening" a way of playing starting in the 1930's which does not accept the go-theory of the 19 century as being without its weak points.|
|tatami||thick mats of woven rush stuffed with straw, traditional flooring|
|taka-moku||the 5-4 point|
|tenuki||playing else first when judging the current situation does not require an immediate follow up|