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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shusaku Game 5 - Part 3

Are you ready for a riveting finale? This is a good game and it is about to get very complicated so lets dive in. As always you may want to start at the beginning if you're just getting here or go to Part 2 of the game review. Shusaku is black and has taken 3 stones against his opponent.

Figure 1
154 - 176

White just played the stone at B12 which is a very large point but it leaves some serious flaws in white's shape in the lower right. Black starts his attack at 54 using a hane to reduce white's eye space. Using the aji of the stone at P7 he plays a very sharp sequence that threatens to kill the corner through 68. The price of this is the capture at 69 which black blocks at 70 but then, after exchanging 71 for 72 white initiates a ko with 73. If white can escape and get a couple of extra liberties he can kill the three stones at 60, 64 and 66 so the ko is very urgent for both sides. White 71 is actually another incredibly sharp move because without it black would have the option of crawling along the first line with 70 and linking up with the stone at K2. While this is a fairly crude way of playing it does kill the corner with almost no compensation for white. Black takes the ko and then white makes his best ko threat at 75. Black ignores this threat and captures the corner group with 76. Black has seemingly scored a major success but the threat at 75 is incredibly severe, putting the life of the large black group in the lower left into doubt. 

Figure 2
177 - 200
189 at 84
191, 194, 197, 200 Take Ko

White follows up on his threat with 77 and Shusaku strikes at the corner first pushing at 78 and then striking underneath with 80. This allows him to set up a second eye (the first is at E4) via a ko through 90. White captures the ko and black starts with a local threat at 92 which would allow him to connect to the outside. White makes an internal theat of his own and plays 95, aiming at black's other eye. Black has to respond and with 97 white retakes the ko. Black turns to the wealth of ko threats he has against the large line of white stones along the top. Finally black retakes the ko with 200.

Figure 3
201 - 212
3, 6, 9 Take Ko
11 Fills Ko at D2

White continues threatening the other black eye while black keeps threatening the stones up top. The the value of 4 is greater than 10 which is why white keeps resisting for an extra move after 4. When black plays 10 white finishes off the ko, and the large black group, on the bottom. This allows black to wedge at 12 and capture the white stones along the top. While this is not as big as black's capture black also had to give up the lower right corner to set up the attack in the lower left. The value of the lower right and top is very close to the value of the large black group in the lower left. It is rare to see so many large scale captures but this is a particularly violent game.

Figure 4
213 - 233

White starts with some sente reducing moves with 13 through 23. Sente profit taken he plays the largest point available at 25. Black does the same by taking the large gote point at 26. Large at this stage of the endgame is fairly relative as 25 and 26 are worth only about 3 or 4 points. This gives white the chance to play some more forcing moves with 27 through 31. If white had played 27 etc. before stopping to play 25 black might have played around 25 himself instead of answering 27. This game is very close so both players are battling over every point. Finally white makes a gote play at 33 to secure a handful of points on the right side.

Figure 5
234 - 271

This is the rest of the endgame. Shusaku makes some sente plays of his own with 34, 36 and 38 before connecting with 40. White pushes with 41 and then captures a stone in the upper left center with 43. You know the game is almost over when players are making two point gote plays. Black makes some sente moves with 44 in the lower right and then 46 (which threatens a follow up at 47 which is why white defends) and 48 on the left side before defending his center area with 50. We have another series of small reductions with white 51, 53, and then the capture at 55 which black has to respond to or white will enclose another point by playing at 56 himself. From that position further reductions are possible at N1, O1, etc. so black wisely plays 56 right away. From here both players are pretty much grinding out one point plays all over the board.

Finally black plays at 70, reducing white's potential territory by one point and white defends at 71. The game is over and black leads by a single point. Truly a difficult game but the most amazing thing is that this is the work of an eleven year old in 1840. Today there are many young players with terrifying strength but this boy had no access to Go Academies like there are today throughout Japan, China and Korea let alone the wealth of modern analysis that has happened in the last 70 years since the shin-fuseki movement started by Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this game review, keep practicing and have fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shusaku Game 5 - Part 2

If you missed the first installment and want to catch up go right ahead, we'll still be here, ready? Awesome, lets get going. Shusaku is playing black and this game is from 1840 when Shusaku was ten or eleven. In this game he takes three stones. Throughout this post I keep track of the score so this would be a good opportunity to practice your counting as well. While my own method is by no ways perfect it allows me to keep a fairly precise idea of established territory. This can be useful as if you are behind by more than ten points it usually helps to attack while if you are ahead by ten points you can be happy with simplifying the game.

Figure 1
106 - 126

Black puts his strength to use by invading at 6. White responds by holding down with 7 and building outside strength. Black continues to harass white on the outside and then switches to 26 which robs white's large group of its second eye. Black plays this because of the continuation that will be forced around the L8 point but this stratagem seems somewhat doubtful in that it is likely to weaken the large black group stretching out from the lower left in order to attack the floating white group up top. 

There is very little certain territory but white here has about 6 points in both the lower left and upper right as well as about 10 points in the lower right. His group on the upper left side only has about five points of territory of if black gets to play A18 which is a huge endgame move for both sides. This gives white about 27 points of sure territory. Black, on the other hand, has perhaps five points of sure territory throughout the lower side plus five points in the upper left and another six on the upper right side. This makes for only 16 points. Black has a considerable advantage in influence however and will look to make up the difference by attacking. To be trailing so much in territory entering the middlegame is troubling but this is mostly because of Shusaku's mild fuseki. Black can make maybe 20 points in the center so his game is not bad yet. White must feel good with the situation being semi-equal after taking a three stone handicap.

Figure 2
127 - 153

White threatens to make another eye with 27 and when that is denied pushes out with 29. Here black gives way with 30 allowing white to connect at 31 which puts the black stones below in a precarious position. We see black's plan with 32 and the following harassment of the floating white stones though to white 43 which firmly establishes the connection to the secure white group below. Now both sides take some large points and black is canny in taking 44 instead of 45. Both these moves are large but if black plays at 45 and white plays at 44 white would have a good follow up move around G13 whereas there is no large scale continuation for white 45. This allows black to keep sente to block at 46 which creates some serious problems with white's shape in the lower right corner. After the quick sequence where black exchanges 48 and 50 for 49 and 51 black takes another large point with 52 and white follows suite at 53. 

Now the territories are even more set so lets look at the score so far. Black has solidified his territory at the bottom right and now has about 10 points of sure territory, adding the eyes of the group on the lower left we can estimate about 13 points for the bottom. Black has expanded his territory at the top to about 14 points plus one for the eye at S13 makes 15. The big increase has come in the center where black has made about 16 points of sure territory and this might later swell to closer to 24 depending on the in game play. Total this and you have 44 total points for black. 

White's lower right corner is in trouble so we might count two points for white at T4 and T5 but this is no longer solid territory for him. He has expanded the right side to 12 points so we can count 14 for him here. The upper right and lower left corners are still at 6 apiece for 12 total points here and there. This shows the value of counting early to get estimates, many situations don't change and if you already know that these two corners are a certain value you can rapidly make accurate estimates of the scores in your games. White has also expanded the upper left and now has about 13 points here. With the couple other small patches in the lower right center and the two spaces at B7 and C7 (which count double since they were captures) we can add another 7 points to white's total. That gives white a total of 44 as well. While my counting isn't the most accurate in the world (the lower right corner is actually worth 7 points, among other minor assumptions here and there) it shows how close this game is.

Hmmmm... This has turned into a sort of counting workshop so let us go over my technique for counting in a post soon. Next time see the thrilling conclusion of this very close game, till then, keep playing and have fun.

Continue on to Part 3

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shusaku Game 5

This is a great game that was played down to the wire with both sides fighting till the very end. Finally the margin of victory comes down to a single point. This is another game from 1840 and Shusaku will be taking three stones as black against the same opponent both this game and the next.

Figure 1
Moves 1 - 26

Black plays thickly in the upper right but allows white to develop on both sides. When white siezes the whole board initiative with 15 and 17 one has the feeling that white is satisfied with his rapid development. With regards to 16 and 18 these were standard responses at the time. Since opening theory was centered around the 3-4 point the use of the handicap stones was not so well researched. The idea here is to rapidly make territory by making the large knights extension and then enclosing the corner at C4 or R4 respectively. The in game result, though, gives black an unacceptably low position on the bottom. 16 is questionable but not fundamentally wrong but 18 should absolutely be a one point jump to O4. This puts much more pressure on white 17 and balances out the low position of black 16. 

White continues by invading the corner and living swiftly through 25. White 23 could be played at 24, black responds at R14, but after white defends in one way or another it is unlikely that black will respond, deciding instead to take sente and play elsewhere. Black gets magnificent thickness and seals white in on both sides but through 26 white still has sente.

Overall this opening is a good success for white. The 15-16 and 17-18 exchange favor white and black's play has been a little slow so far. This is typical of Shusaku's early childhood in general. In the middlegame we can see a deep reading ability that rivals any of his elder's. His opening play, in contrast, is incredibly mild. This is probably the result of not having played enough games to get a good feel for the openings. These games in particular were probably the first time young Torajiro was playing strong, established players. The difference in having played an extra several hundred games is invaluable. Despite the general success of white's quick opening play the three stone handicap is telling and Shusaku will soon show his teeth.

Figure 2
27 - 53

White makes a solid extension to 27 and finally black gets a chance to breath. Black invades at 28 and we can see how the modern one space jump would work better with 28 than the large knights extension at G3. Again the one point jump was rarely played in the 1840s so we can forgive black for following tradition. White invades a second corner with 29 and establishes a living shape through 37 before setting his outside stone in motion with 39. This may be a little premature for this sequence but in a three stone game white probably welcomed the opportunity to start a fight. White moves out smartly to 49, black seals white into the corner with 50 and then white responds to the jump to 52 with the shoulder hit at 53. I get the feeling that white is seeking complications even though black's position is fairly thick throughout the board. Black will have to watch to make sure his large group in the lower left doesn't come under attack during the large fight brewing in the center.

Personally I would like to ignore 53 and maybe make a splitting move around K5. This attacks both the solitary stone at 53 and the large white group above. Secondly it gives good eye making space with a follow up at K3. The main reason for ignoring the shoulder hit at 53 is that black has nothing to worry about another white move here. Against N4 black can fall back to O3 and against M3 white can push up to N4.

Figure 3
54 - 76

Black responds by pushing at 54 and when white jumps to 55 we see his intent to harass the large black group in the lower left. Black responds positively by breaking out with 56-64 and then linking under with 66 and 70. White tries to link up all his stones with 69 but after 71-75 black shows fighting spirit by cutting with 76. There are a lot of things to manage right now but the main point is connection. White has three groups of stones that are in danger. The first is the large dragon starting at A7 and stretching across half the board, the second is the floating group from 55-69 and the third is the weak group on the right side. If white can connect these stones together they will be safe but if black can isolate even one of them his game seems promising.

Figure 4
77 - 105
Note 1-5 = 101-105

White doesn't respond directly but instead plays 77. This resolves the situation for the weak group on the side as it is now unquestionably alive. It is large in territory as well given the follow up move at the 3-3 point. Shusaku plays at 78 to separate the other two white groups. After jumping to 79 white comes back with 81 to capture the cutting stone. Now white has settled two of his three weak groups so black will look to attack the remaining one.

This is indeed what happens through the next series of moves. Black has already played 80 so sealing in white with 82 is only natural. White expands his eyespace with 83 but black reduces it with 84. Black strikes at 90 to protect the cutting point at C10 and after black 92 white feels secure enough to play at the large point in the lower right. Granted, black could rob white of his second eye with a hane at A9 but with cutting points at both H9 and L9 black would not have a lot of confidence in the ensuing fight. Note that White can play at A9 to make certain life for his group but this would be gote and against three stones he has to leave weaknesses behind him and strike at black directly.

After white 95 black attacks the stones in the upper left. This is very astute since weakening these stones helps if white tries to cut through black's position at either of the aforementioned points. After white connects at 101 (1 in Figure 4) black makes a sente reduction on white's upper right corner. That concludes our review for now but I'd like you to look at the timing of black's last two moves. These are his sente, but if played too early white might sacrifice the corner and come out ahead in another area. Too late and white might hane at Q18. This is excellent timing and shows Shusaku's unearthly reading abilities at a young age (I believe he is eleven at the time of this game). Till next time, play hard, read well and, above all, have fun!

Basic Life and Death - Part 2

So last time we were looking at the lower right in this situation, remember that it is black to move in either corner and kill, and there were two tesujis that killed white. Go back and look at it if you want but in the upper left there is only one correct move for black to kill. I said before that only one of the tesujis would work but I lied a little, you need both eye stealing tesujis in the upper right but the order is important. Lets look at the problem again:

Reference Diagram
 Black to Move and Kill

So we covered the lower right but what about the situation on the upper side? Black doesn't have quite as firm a grip on these stones so white might have some hope... 

Figure 1 - Failure

Starting From the Outside
Black 7 at 3, if Black 7 at 8
White 3 makes a second eye.

Black tries the eye stealing tesuji of 1 but hasn't bothered to read out the situation. Since the stone at M18 is one line further away than the stone at N2 this move is no longer correct.

Figure 2 - Solution
Starting From the Inside

Black 1 strikes at the vital point. After this there is no way for white to get two eyes. White can respond in a couple of ways but the strongest and most natural is to try to expand his eye space like this:

Figure 3 - White Expands
Black 8 at 6

White expands with 1 and threatens to make two eyes when he blocks with 3. Black simply adds another stone on the inside and white is left with a dead shape. White might alter the move order or try to escape up through 9 but there is no second eye here. White could also play at 4 immediately but then black 1 is enough. White could play 3 at 4 as well but that would just yield this variation:

Figure 4 - White Plays on the Inside

We already know that the 3-4 exchange produces only a false eye so again white has failed. The question then is what should white do with these stones? The answer is, for now, nothing. Perhaps in some future fighting white will get a chance to play at K18 and then execute the sequence in Figure 3, connecting his stones to the outside. White can also use this corner for several mid sized ko threats so these stones still have some aji left. Hope you liked the problems, I'm getting to work on the next Shusaku game review as well. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Basic Life and Death

This is kyu material but I thought I'd go over some basic life and death. Look at this diagram and see if you can read out the solutions. Here is a hint: In the lower right there are two tesujis that work but in the upper left only one of these two will work. After the jump I'll have the two solutions to the lower right and next time we'll go over the situation in the upper left.

Problem Diagram
Black to Move and Kill in Either Corner
Note: There are two ways to kill the lower right
but only one to kill the upper right.

Please, lay this out on a board if you can't see the solution and practice your reading. There are only a few possible moves so this will be a good test. Alright, got it? Really? For sure, you know every variation? Ok... here we go!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shusaku Game 4 - Part 2

Onto the second half of the the game. If you missed it here is part one. Shusaku is eleven at the time of this game and is playing black with a three stone handicap. The bulk of the second half of the game is a large ko fight that I'm going to break down into pretty small pieces so we can try to understand whats happening on the board. Here we go:

Figure 1

Black tries to escape at 4 and here we see the severity of white 99 (the stone at N10). The central white group gets a lot of strength pushing black around and when he pokes at 15 black has no time to connect at 19 but must use 16 and 18 to ensure safety for his large group. Losing these stones is a big setback but black still has the lead. Looking at how the game turned out it is easy to see that black should have played in the center rather than pressuring the white group in the upper left. Had black played at 4 directly with 96 (which was played at D11 to pressure the eye space of the stones on the left side) then the lead would still be solidly in Shusaku's hands. Once the three cutting stones are captured with 19 the pressure black built on the left is meaningless.

Figure 2

Black ataris with 20 and then white builds up the bottom in the sequence through 35. White looks to get a pretty decent amount of territory along the bottom which, if you look back to before this sequence, is impressive as white was fairly thin around here. With 36 black starts a ko fight that rages through the next 50 moves.

Figure 3
39, 42, 45 Take Ko

One thing to note is that white has a plethora of threats around 37 but black will be happy to take compensation in another part of the board so he has quite a few himself. This is the style of playing 40. Even if he loses the ko he just has to break up white territory somewhere to win.

Figure 4
48, 51, 54 Take Ko

Here we continue with black threatening to jump into white's territory while white threatens black's center left position. Even with all the ko threats around 49 this fight is very hard on white. He has to come out of this fight ahead or it will be almost impossible to stage an upset in the endgame. The 52, 53 exchange looks a little strange but black is aiming at the hane at Q14 while white is trying to keep the aji of reducing the corner alive while protecting against the hane. Black retakes with 54 and white will continue to threaten the center left.

Figure 5
57, 60, 69 Take Ko

When black retakes with 60 white threatens at 61 but when black connects at 62 white must block at 63 or black will play there and his center stones are suffering from a shortage of liberties. If black 63, white J11, black L13 and black has rescued his three stones. Shusaku seizes the opportunity and wedges at 64 in sente to reduce the center and then plays the extremely big point at 68. This lets white recapture the ko with 69 but more or less assures black of a small lead.

Figure 6
72, 75, 78 Take Ko
84 Fills Ko at O3

White keeps making threats but his position is so dire that even black 76, connecting in the upper right, serves as a ko threat, forcing white to play 77 to keep his territory intact. When white finally runs out of threats and plays 79 to enlarge his territory on the lower side black senses victory. After first playing the endgame sente moves at 80 and 82 he comes back to fill the ko with 84. Black has a small but insurmountable lead at this point and by connecting the ko he shows that he is confident that he can win with the current balance of territory. 80, for example, could have been saved as a ko threat and black might have tried to force white to settle for a less valuable move than 79 but 84 is good enough for the win. 

Figure 5

189, 192, 195, 198, 201 Take Ko

Another ko fight develops in the upper left but when black simply gives way with 202 the game is pretty much over. The game record ends here but there are only a small handful of points to still be played. If you want to do a quick exercise try to find the biggest endgame move for white (bonus if you find the two biggest and identify which is larger and what order they should be played in). I'll have the answer after the jump. I hope you enjoyed this game even though the bulk of it was a ko fight. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shusaku Game 4

This is a classic game from Shusaku's youth. This game is also in Invincible: The Games of Shusaku so I was able to find out the name of his opponent. The year is 1940 and Shusaku takes 3 stones against Ito Shuwa 6 dan, the head Honinbo disciple. Shusaku is still very young (and, actually, if I keep going through this book in order he will continue to be very young for many more blog posts, maybe I'll switch it up and do a game from later in his life next time) and his style is not fully refined but his play is still very strong.

Figure 1

The large knight move was a standard response in handicap games at the time. In contemporary Go the one point jump is considered a more active way to play since it works with the star point stone to build influence. Black plays solidly up through 19 but his attachment at 20 is suspect. As a rule of thumb one shouldn’t attach to weak stones since it makes them stronger. The other problem with this sequence is how well white’s approach move at 5 coordinates with the finished shape. If there were a black stone at 5 instead then this would be a good sequence since a black stone here would be aimed squarely at the weak underbelly of the white formation. Finally black has to go back to connect with 28 which means white has settled his stones on the right side in sente without any effort on his own part.

Figure 2

White makes two approach moves in the upper left which is a standard handicap strategy to complicate the game. Black might have wanted to make a one point jump to 34 instead of pincering with 32. It is hard to argue with 32 as making an extension and a pincer is almost always a good idea. Black attaches at 34 to separate white’s stones. Why does Shusaku attach at 34 instead of attaching to the other white stone at 29? The answer is simple, as a rule of thumb, you should always attach to the stronger stone. The white stone on the upper side is already caught in a pincer while the stone on the left side has plenty of room to make an extension. Since the stone on the upper side is weaker black naturally attaches to the stronger stone on the left, making it and his own position stronger. This is also a basic example of a leaning attack. Black attaches to the stone on one side to build up strength for the forthcoming attack on the other.

When white makes his own attachment at 39 he still needs to extend down the left side to stabilize his stones, but by starting a fight on top with 39 and the crosscut of 41 he is aiming at pushing through at D15. If he can cut through successfully he won't need to extend down the side. Because of this cut black has to handle this situation very carefully. Since we’ve been talking about attachments a lot lets look at 39 some more. The black stone at K17 is very strong since it entrenched on the third line and is a two space extension from another stone. Strengthening such a stone hardly matters since black’s position is already so secure. Through 51 white first leans against blacks corner in the upper right and then wraps around black’s two stones in the center. We can see a fierce fight taking shape along the upper side.

Figure 3

The fight is very complicated but white slips slightly at 63. This move seems a bit slow and allows black to take sente and cut at 68 which is very severe. White has to scramble with three different weak groups floating on the upper side. With 77 he manages to link one group to the left, simultaneously sealing black into the corner. Black lives in the corner with 78 and now white turns back to the other two weak groups. Though the situation is very complicated black has done well during the fight, securing his stones in the corner and keeping the pressure on white.

Figure 4
Note: 1 = 101

This fight is tricky and up through 95 both sides play very strong moves. Shusaku slips with 96 which should be played to prevent a move like white 99 (probably at M10) which is very severe. With 96 black is looking to kill the large white group wrapped around the upper left corner. In Go it is usually inadvisable to attempt such large captures and instead opt for forcing your opponent to live small. In this particular case it will be hard to kill this group because the black corner is still somewhat precarious and white will be able to use that aji very effectively to get his own eyes. Since it is unlikely that this group can be killed 96 seems to be an overplay. White exchanges 97 for 98 and then strikes at 99 which is very severe. Now it seems that black will have to do some scrambling of his own. Black follows up 96 with 100 but it is hard to see much coming from this attack after white 101 (1 in Figure 4)

Next post we'll wrap this game up and maybe I can get some more problems up later today. Hope you enjoyed this so far.

Continue to Part 2