Fighting Is Good For You

British Go Journal No. 63. November 1984. Page 27.

Black: C. Kirkham, 1-2k
White: N Tobin, 1-2k

The game-file in SGF format.

This game was played at the 1984 British Go Congress in Manchester. The participants have both been playing Go for some years, and are around 1 or 2 kyu in strength. The game is, however, a little unusual for players of this standard, in that it lacks any real running fights. As we shall see, this is due to a tendency to play somewhat passively. Although many weaker players spoil their game sthrough excessive aggression, a healthy sense of fighting spirit is in fact essential to good Go. The commentary, by Toby Manning (2-Dan), is intended to highlight this need.

  • White: Norman Tobin (NW London)
  • Black Chris Kirkham (Manchester)
Figure 1 (1-57)

  • Black 13: A bad move that leaves Black with a small, cramped group. He is in danger of getting only about five points - not nearly enough for the number of stones invested.
    Also 13 does not effectively restrain white 6; if White later develops this stone, he will have effectively played on both sides of Black's scrunched up group.
    The best move is to play on a larger scale by pressing down at 'A' (see joseki books for possible continuations).
  • Black 17: Better is a pincer on the right hand side in order to break up White's incipient position. After white 20 the black group bottom right is ineffectual, with little useful scope for expansion.
    It is important to try and make your stones work together; this takes priority to following joseki.
  • Black 21: As both of White's positions top left and bottom right are strong (white 14 and 8 / 12), perhaps the biggest move is an extension from black 15 towards White's corner enclosure; then whichever side White approaches black 1 from, Black can extend down the other side.
  • White 36: Not good. First White strengthens Black (the 34-35 exchange), then invades; also he chooses rather a poor point, since Black can, if he wishes, connect his two stones, 15 and 35, by attaching underneath white 36. This is a fundamental point about invasions; the best invasions cut off enemy stones for a prospective future attack. Invasions which only aim at stealing territory are much less attractive, and often not worth the premium that has to be paid - ie a weak group to defend. In fact such invasions are not proper invasions at all; in a sense they are just very deep erasing moves. However, Black fails to respond with adequate vigour.
  • Black 37: This only helps White. the most severe reply is 'B', to try and shut White in. With 35 already in place, this move sets White problems. Black 39 is also passive, better is 45 or even 41. Worst of all is 43, which is purely defensive, and takes all pressure off White.
  • Black 51: Note how black 45 is now superfluous and Black has made an empty triangle. In the sequence up to 54 White succeeds in running away, and even has time to play 52, reinforcing the top. Black is now behind.
Figure 2 (58-118)

Black 69 at 62
  • White 58 & 60: Emboldened by his success at the top, White sets about rubbishing Black's only other major territory - once again after Black has strengthened it. A policy not recommended.
  • White 70: Over-egging the cake. White must forget the tail of his group and get out into the centre by connecting at 68. (Ed: this should say 78.)
  • Black 71: Black loses the thread slightly. What he should be thinking of is engineering a splitting attack on White's two weak groups, not picking up a couple of unimportant stones. It is important that Black get out ahead of White into the centre. Even if White manages to scrape two eyes or fashion a connection to the group to the right Black will then be able to fall upon the other weak White group at the top. He would then have a chance of winning.
  • Black 79: Better one point below white 94.
  • Black 81: Not the best way to attack this group. In such situations it is usually advisable to think on a larger scale. Black 'D' is suggested.
  • Black 95: Having failed to find effective sequences against White's weak groups, Black makes his last fling; he has to devastate White's corner to have any chance.
  • White 98: An odd move, which seems designed solely to fashion a connection. If White wants to fight here, the best move is 115; if he wants to connect (which he can afford, being far ahead), then 96 could have been played above 95.
  • Black 107: An overplay. In the sequence to 117 Black succeeds in making a fair-sized dent in White's top left territory; White has given ground, but avoided major damage.
    A count at this stage shows that Black is about 15 points behind. However White, after 116, has few weaknesses. Black's last chance therefore was to extend at 116 himself. This fight looks risky, but at least creates complications and could provoke White into an error. Black 117 is also on the cautious side, since Black's centre group can connect to the top right. After white 118 he has no chance. White conducts the yose in workmanlike fashion; note how he keeps sente with 146 and 152.
Figure 3 (119-208)

[Start] Recording ends at 208. White wins by 18 points.

This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 63
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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