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Monday, August 16, 2010

Shusaku! Game #1 (Part 2)

Shusaku really is a fun player to watch, you might want to catch up with the game so far or just see how black (played by Shusaku) breaks into the bottom of the board here:

Dia. 1

The lesson here is leaning attacks. Note how black makes what base he can with 17 and then responds to white's cap at 20 by poking out at 21 and crawling at 23 before jumping to 25. This is a basic technique whereby you first strengthen one group by using forcing moves against a stronger enemy group on one side and then strike out where it is most urgent. Right after 25 it is white's turn for a leaning attack. By making the shoulder hit at 26 and the hane at 28 the blocking move at 30 becomes much more effective. Imaging a simple black extension to the left of 24 without the stones at 26 and 28 and you can see how ineffective 30 is without these forcing moves being made first.

Another thing to like in this sequence is how white floats away with 22 to keep the pressure on black. There is a proverb that says "Attack with the knight's move." and the logic is that by attaching you strengthen yourself but you also strengthen your opponent. Attacking moves are played away from your opponents stones to pressure them while keeping them weak, it is when you have the weak group that an attachment becomes appealing.

Dia. 2

Black starts with 31 and 32 to probe white's intentions and then seizes a white stone with 35 and 37. White plays 38 to increase the aji of his sacrificed stone. After exchanging 42 for 43 which helps the weak white group on the bottom left white switches to the corner to play 44. I think this is premature, or perhaps this is a situation of a player going for a big point instead of an urgent one. Black still has only one sure eye and white's group is very weak. This is seen when black jumps out at 45 white immediately turns to reinforce at 46 and 48 which allows black to not only stretch out at 47 but solidify his territory of the bottom left. White's moves might make an eye at some point but have no real territorial potential. Black's sole stone in the upper left is very light and even after white attacks it for a fourth time with 50 Shusaku still has options for dealing with the situation.

Update 8/20/2010: So I talked to a dan player at my go club about this game and he showed how white 44 is also urgent. If white plays around 45 to seal black in then black can play at 44, press white down in sente and then counter attack the sole white stone on the left.

Ok, I hope this piece helped you, especially the first bit on leaning attacks of which these are very good examples of how to wiggle one way and then probe the other when your stones are under attack. This is why it is usually unwise to try to capture large groups. The options your opponent has to push and strain first this way and then another will usually create a gap in your net as you try to take all their liberties. It is almost always better to play simply and make your opponent live small. Next time... How will Shusaku settle his stone in the upper right? Will white fight back or can the young Shusaku (or I should say Torajiro, his childhood name, since he is only ten at the time of this game) best his 2 dan opponent? Tune in next time to find out!

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