Even Game Joseki

British Go Journal No. 2. Autumn 1967. Page 21.

Part 1


As with handicap joseki, an acquaintance with even game joseki is necessary to progress in Go. However in contrast to handicap joseki, the decision as to which joseki to choose is more involvd. This is partly because there are fewer handicap joseki and partly because the fuseki of non-handicap games is more involved. thus the study of those joseki is necessarily coupled with an active study of fuseki.

It must also be born in mind that this series will necessarily be selective and hence you must be prepared to meet a move you haven't seen before and to take full advantage of it. Thus rote learning of these joseki is not enough, the general principles and shapes are more important.

In this article, Black will always make the first play in the south-west corner.

I. Komoku.

Diagram 1

The komoku is essentially a defensive play, placing its emphasis on the acquistion of territory in the corner as another play at A, B or C will secure the corner from attack until it is closely approached by opposing stones. However, as with most of the initial corner plays, an immediate attack is not essential, and in some cases may be left completely, but this depends on the overall strategy of the game.

If an attack on the corner is to be made, the normal choice is one of A, B, C and D. (As you might have noticed these are the opponent's best points, and hence very often your own.) Again a reply is not always immediately necessary and may be delayed a long time, or altogether and then transpose into another joseki. This happens very often and this warning will be omitted in the rest of this series.

I.A. Knight's approach.

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

The most popular, and severest, attack on the corner. It ensures that black cannot take the corner completely, but must give white at least an equivalent amount of compensation. It also promises an extension along the south side to A in Dia 2 or a pincer attack with B, C, D, E, F or G.

Black's best replies are the pincers H or I, ensuring tthat white makes no expansion in this direction and attempting to build up a territory in the corner; J or K, promising future expansion on the west side and threatening a strong attack on white with L or M next.

I.B. One space high approach.

Diagram 4

This is seen more often now that previously as it is an example of the "balanced" strategy, combining the third and fourth lines, of most modern players. It aims more for central influence and a reduction of the possibilities of Black building up a large territory on the west side than I.A.. However, it leaves black with the corner if he wants it as he can play 3 at A, though this leaves white with the choice of taking influence on the west side or territory on the south side.

Also good are 3 at B, taking the influence to the west side and possibly giving up the corner, and C or D, again preventing white from taking up a position along the south side, and being more aggressive.

I.C. Large knight's approach.

Diagram 5

White 2 in Dia 5 is aiming to take up a position on the south side, as the pincer moves would not be so severe as this stone is further away from the corner stone. However, it leaves black with sente, and the corner if he plays 3 at A. Also possible is the pincer of 3 at B.

I.D. Two space high approach.

Diagram 6

This white 2 is very rarely seen now as it gives black the corner with 3 at A, or he can just expand along the west side with 3 at B. But it is still occasionally used, as may be seen on page 18 in this issue.

II. Takamoku.

Diagram 7

The takamoku is a fairly popular play designed to give up the corner but gain* influence towards the centre, and to one of the sides whilst ensuring that white doesn't get too large a corner. It threatens further plays at A, taking the corner in a standard formation; at B or C, taking territorial prospects along either side.
* [Photocopy of BGJ 2 missing this word at edge of sheet. sgb]

Diagram 8

Diagram 9

White will usually reply at 2, taking the corner and threatening the same plays (B and C) as for black in Dia 7. 2' at D is sometimes better than 2 here, usually only when there is a stone* at E, B or F already. For an exapmle of this, see BGJ 1 page 4 move 3.
* [ Does this mean a black or a white stone? sgb]

After 2, black can play 3, promising an extension to the region of E next; or 3' at G, playable only if there are no white stones in the north-east corner and promising either the outside influence or a larger corner; or 3' at H, more complicated and taking greater influence and potential along the west side but giving up more territory.

III. Mokuhazushi.

Diagram 10

Mokuhazushi is in between komoku and takamoku, it does not aim so greatly as takmoku for central influence or so greatly as komuku for corner territory, and is usually played to gain a territorial potenial along the west side or let white occupy the cornerand complicate matters. This is because there are a great number of complciated joseki, and hence a large number of possible errors, associated with this inital play. The usual responses are 2 at A, B or more rarely C.

III.A. Low knight's approach.

Diagram 11

This destroys the corner and aims for territory long the south side, but more often than not this is frustrated by black 3, the taisha or joseki of a thousand variations, for some variations see BGJ 1 page 2. This leads to vast complications ad joseki that may involve 40 or 50 plays and cover a quarter of the board. The other pincers can be played, but next most popular is A, giving white some secure territory and building a potential along the west side. A direct extension to B or C is also used gaining territory directly.

III.B. High knight's approach.

Diagram 12

Black 2 aims to gain territory simply along the south side, but gives up a fair sized corner after bkac 3, the only commonly play used against this. See BGJ 1 page 2 and page 18 in this issue.

III.C. Taking the corner.

Diagram 13

White 2 is rarely used but is played to gain the corner and some territory along the south side, but it reduces the number of possible alternatives. However it givesup a large potential to black along the west side after black 3.

IV. San-San.

Diagram 14

Diagram 15

San-san is a purely modern play, taking the corner directly and leaving no chance for White to snatch it away. However it cannot be developed easily towards the centre and this is sometimes a handicap. the usual replies, and in this case they usually are postponed till later as black has already completed the corner, are 2 in Dia 14, taking central influence only as black plays 3 or A; or in Dia 15, 2, A or B taking some territorial potential in this direction, but leaving black able to consolidate the corner and extend on the south side with 3, C, D or E, according to the strategic circumstances


Diagram 16

A number of other plays have come into favour with some of the younger professionals, and some of the stronger amateurs, mostly devoted to central or side influence and placing little or no emphasis on the corner. they are much more difficult to handle tahn other corner moves because the whole strategic emphasis of the game changes, and hence they should not be used unless well understood. Among these are black 1 at A thru D in Dia 16.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 2
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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