Even Game Fuseki Studies - Part 1

British Go Journal No. 1. Summer 1967. Page 2.

Honinbo Shusai


These even game studies of the fuseki are primarily concerned with the full board strategy as opposed to joseki. However, since fuseki is largely based on the jockeying for position to obtain favourable corner development, the student should note particularly the joseki, as much as they are given in each study. This will make the understanding of the subsequent fuseki more intelligible to him, and each study will have a cumulative effect.

Ideally the student should have a thorough knowledge of even game joseki; and the author of these studies fully expected each student to have already perused his three volumes of even game joseki, and to refer to them from time to time to understand more fully the underlying motives of many of the plays. Unfortunately no translation of his joseki is available at this time.

In classical Go, by custom, Black always made his first play at the righthand upper right 3-4 point, the chief reason being to limit after a fashion, the innumerable possibilities of opening play. Another reason was that at the time these studies were first published, the 3-4 point was considered the best play that black could make. The reason that black usually played in that corner was more or less to produce a familiar pattern so that he would be more at home in the subsequent manoeuvering. These studies will be published in the same order as originally written.

Study 1

The game-file in SGF format.

You might wish to open a second window beside the first one to view Fig 1 whilst reading the text in the first window.

Figure 1

  • White 2: When white directly attacks black 1 the best reply is 3 or A.
  • Black 3: This play has the advantage of inviting white to play at B, after which black would advance to 5. This latter play would have the double advantage of combining a squeeze attack on white 2 with the formation of a base for expansion in the north west sector.
  • White 4: This stone could have been played in the south east corner instead.
  • Black 5: It is advisable to play here now, whether or not white has played at B. If white should now play in another part of the board, this would permit black to play at 10, and white would then naturally play 7, which would then allow black to encircle white by playing 6, see Dia 1.
    Diagram 1

    As to other white defences against a black play at 10, there is also the possibility of white 12, or C may be played; and there are still other defences not discussed here.
  • White 6: With the above dangerous possibility in view, White has chosen this play, which can be either defensive or offensive, according to subsequent developments. The slanting formation, 2 and 6, is called "taisha" or formation of a hundred variations being one from which countless varieties of opening corner play may develop.
  • Black 7: This is a common play to sever the connection between 2 and 6. It is the most common answer to this formation. There are two other common plays for black, one being D, the other E. 11 may be considered feasible, although less common, because of 5.
  • White 8: Usually White would now place a stone at F. At this stage of the fuseki, it is of no consequence to discuss the comparative advantages of F and 8.
  • Black 9 - 11: These plays are indispensible after white 8.
  • White 12: White seizes the valuable 3-3 point which would otherwise have been taken by black.
  • Black 13: By this play, black now seeks compensation in taking territory along the east side. The last plays form a joseki that is not played much these days.

Here let us review the progress of the opening up to this point.

In spite of black's initial advantage with 1 in the north east corner, white has later occupied the all important point of 12. Thus, as far as the corner is concerned, white has the advantage.

Black, on the other hand, has occupied territory along the east side by his advance to 13. In size of areas, however, white's corner is larger than black's side position.

Next, compare the position of 5 and 6. Against black's strong bamboo loint, 6 is practically helpless; whereas 5, although pitted against white's entrenchment in the corner still enjoys the advantage of possible extensions towards the north west. Thus between 5 and 6 the scale of strength leans decidedly in favour of black.

Figure 2

  • White 14: A good alternative would have been G, but still in the same corner. It is nearly always better to occupy a corner than to make an extension along the side. In this case H or I would not be good, because then black could reply with J or K respectively, gaining an advantage because of the expansion of his territory in the first case, and because of the threat of a pressing down play at L forcing white toward the strong black position and then making a big extension along the south side.
  • Black 15: Black here has many alternatives from which to choose; for example, fortification at 22 or attacking at 16 would be feasible. He has, however, here chosen 15 for the purpose of occupying the south side towards the west.
  • White 18: White here has an alternative in M. Then black 19' at at N, white 20' at P. This development occurs frequently and should be remembered.
    See also BGJ 2 page 18 move 9.
  • White 20: White plays here to reduce the black territory in this sector. Ordinarily, the attack on triangle would be made at 22. In this case, however, black has square as a valuable outpost to the initial corner play of triangle. This outpost might also have been at Q or R. With any of these three points, it is advisable for white to break into his opponent's position by playing at the 3-3 point, 20.
    White now awaits, among other possibilities a counter-attack with Black 21' at S. However this is bad, for then Dia 2 follows (Black 8' could be at A).
    Diagram 2

    In this case where the black outpost is at square, B would be white's next play in this region; but if the black stone were at C then 9 would be white's last play in this area for the time being. This sequence would cost black a great deal, as square then becomes redundant.
  • Black 21: In order to avoid the developments in Dia 2 above, black guards the north west side with sente and gains much territory.
  • White 22 extends. Often Black 23' at T, white 24' at U follows; but in this case it would leave the black position open to a white attack at V. Black therefore finds it advisable to play 23 next.
  • White 24 advances down the west side while black is building up his territory in the north.
  • Black 25 now takes the initiative and bottles up the white group in the corner. This is a severe blow to white.
  • White 30: Black, by threatening to cut at 30 twice, continues bottling up white.
  • Black 31: Black still having sente, completes his bottling up operation and increases his territory.
  • White 32: White now having sente turns to this point, which is an offensive against the black formation and also an ambitious extension along the south side from 14. White here had an alternative in W.
    (At an opportune time, black may choose to attact the entire north east position by playing X. Then Dia 3 develops into a ko, for the life of the white group.)
    Diagram 3

  • Black 33: This has a similar purpose to that of white 32.
  • White 34: A natural sequel to 33, enlarging and securing his territory.
  • Black 35: Should black omit this play, he would still be vulnerable to a white attack at W. Black's play therefore has a twofold defensive significance; it defends the black territory along the north side, and at the same time* indirectly strengthens the black group of three stones in the south west. It also serves to apply pressure on the white formation down the west side. thus it will be seen that 35 is a good example of a play with triple effectiveness.
    * BGJ omits time.

A rough estimate of the prospective territory reveals that black is ahead, but the south side is not yet clarified enough to make a proper evaluation possible as white is bound to gain a few points in attacking the three stones in the south west, and the two in the east as well.

[Start] Part 2 of this series is on BGJ 2 page 18.

This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 1
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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