Slug Of The Month

British Go Journal No. 60. September 1983. Page 18.

Black: John Rickard, 2d
White: Francis Roads, 3d

The game-file in SGF format.

This game from the first round of the Candidate's Tournament is about as brutal a slugfest as one could wish to see. John Rickard's strategy of marching steadily round the board converting his own weak groups into his opponent's dead ones proves devastatingly effective. The simple minded pragmatism with which Francis Roads trusts to the traditional virtues of eyes and liberties somehow becomes irrelevant. Francis has the White pieces, comments are by Matthew Macfadyen.

Figure 1 (1-62)

31 ko at 25, 33 connects at 24.
  • Black 11: A bit slow - usually he either counterattacks with 12 or takes the corner with 15.
  • Black 17: Looks like an overplay, and when White starts the ko with 30, Black is in trouble, since 32 is a good ko threat.
  • Black 43 could have been at the 3-3 point in the corner, which would probably make two eyes. John had more ambitious schemes for saving his group ...
  • Black 63 is a sort of tesuji, and 69 invites White to cut at 88 and start a very complicated fight. Francis counts the liberties and plays 70, which leaves him one liberty ahead in the capturing race on the side and takes some of the pressure off his other two groups running into the centre.
Figure 2 (63-100)
BGJ had Fig 2 as 63-93.

99 at triangle.
  • Black 81, 83: The awfulness of these incredibly vulgar plays is discussed in the 'Shapes' article on page 26.
  • White 86: White is obviously overlooking something - John sees his chance.
  • White 88: The long awaited blunder. There is no answer to the empty triangle at 89. Suddenly Black's game is looking playable.
Figure 3 (101-163)
BGJ had Fig 3 as 94-163.

129 ko at 117, 131 connects at 122.
  • Black 101: A gross overplay - he seems lost without a weak group to look after. The sane alternative would be 146 on the lower side.
  • White 112 is good - Black's stones look doomed.
  • White 116: The intention was presumably to simplify the position while taking all Black's eyes away, but there is no harm in allowing a group one eye as long as it can't escape - he should have played at 121.
  • Black 117, 119: Brilliant - Black finds a tiny chink in the armour.
  • White 126: Imprecise - he should play at 133 first, now Black gets an eye in sente with 133.
  • White 134: The game losing move. It is no longer reasonable to try to kill this group, and when he plays 134 it is clear that Francis has been successfully led into the trap. In principle the game is still close - Black's capture in the centre is only worth 16 points and White has plenty of compensation - but the game has acquired a psychological momentum such that White is going to play a series of moves, each more unreasonable than the last, until his position collapses. The ability to recognise such a downhill slide, and to get oneself out of it, is shared by very few amateur players.
  • Black 141: His first mistake for 20 moves - it would be correct to play 142 first - but the effect is to lure White deeper into the trap.
  • White 144, 146: May look plausible but the wall is too thin. Black finds the winning tesuji at 159 which threatens both sides at once.

White resigns after 163.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 60
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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