Subject:	THE BIG GAME 5 Answer
From:		John Fairbairn <>
Date:		Sat, 3 May 1997 00:28:44 +0100

I am giving the answer early for three reasons. One is to expunge as quickly as possible my gross mistake in setting the last question (5) - I thought I'd caught it within a couple of hours but had even more ignominy heaped upon me when our news server decided the unseasonable heat in London was too much to bear and went sunbathing with a brown- out. It's back but still hasn't caught up with the backlog yet - reason 2. The third reason is the most welcome to report though: Jan van der Steen appears to have given the definitive answer already, even spotting the necessary proverb.

Black had just forced at 33. f17 and White answered at 34. g18. The next move played by the pro was Black 35. g15 (marked 5 below). White answered with 36. f18, Black played 37. g13 and White kept up the pressure with 38. h11.

The pro commentary was that Black 35 was the "proper move" (honte) and they said amateurs would play instead f16 (true in my case). This was explained by the proverb that Jan spotted: "Sacrifice stones used for forcing moves" (Kikashita ishi wa sute yo) - perhaps rather more accurately put as "sacrifice stones that have served their purpose". This refers to the black stone at f17. They then went on to say that "sacrifice" here really means "treat lightly", which is "the same thing in go theory".

The other proverb I'd been dropping broad hints about, for use later in this game, was also spotted by at least a couple of people so I'll mention it now: "The comb formation is alive" which refers to the three black stones at L17, m17 and n17 being able to live (though in gote) with the shape o18+o19 and k18+k19.

The commentary added that g13 was an urgent point (=vital point) for both sides ("urgent points before big points") and that White 38 was attacking.

A final comment on "shape" (katachi) since it seems to cause a lot of bafflement to lower kyu players in r.g.g.

A definition from a Japanese book first (it distinguishes two uses):

  1. The vital point for defence. When you are reinforcing stones, if you play on the most appropriate point you say, "This point is [good] shape."
  2. The pattern of stones. We say it is either "a good shape" or "a bad shape."

But there is a lot more that can be said about it. One of the most perceptive comments I saw was by the Mihori Tadashi who was recently spotlighted in David Carlton's pages. Alluding presumably to the famous Dao De Jing where Lao Zi points out that what makes a house valuable is the space created by the doors and windows, what makes a bowl valuable is the space inside it, etc., Mihori said that good shape in go could be defined by how much can be left out - doing a job with the fewest stones and leaving the maximum safe gaps between them.

-- John Fairbairn