Subject:	THE BIG GAME 1Q
From:		John Fairbairn <>
Date:		Thu, 17 Apr 1997 22:31:32 +0100

Apart from any discussion on the moves so far (Do Japanese pros spend too much time on the opening? Could White have played a low shimari? etc.), the main point will be Black's next move. Kudo said there were three big points. Goal one is to find them. Goal two is to find which one he chose. Goal three is to predict why. I think the reason he gave for his choice will startle you and show the gap in pro thinking and amateur thinking. It has to do with White 6.

Background notes

O Meien: Born 1961-11-22 in Taipei, Taiwan. His Chinese name is Wang Mingyuan. Moved to Japan in 1975-11. Pupil of Kano Yoshinori. 1-dan in 1977, 9-dan in 1992. Brother of younger fellow pros Tei Meiko (Ch. Zheng Minghuang) 9-dan and Tei Meiki (Zheng Mingqi) 7-dan.

Kudo Norio: Born 1940-08-02 in Hirosaki City, Aomori Pref., Japan. Pupil of the famous go writer Katsumoto Tesshu (editor of Igo) then Maeda Nobuaki. 1-dan in 1955, 9-dan in 1976.

In the Nihon Ki-in database of games from 1960-1995, Black 1 on the star point was the second most popular opening (46.1% to 48.1% for komoku, 3.2% for san-san, 1.8% for mokuhazushi, 0.6% for takamoku, 0.13% for o- takamoku and 0.07% for tengen). In games with komi Black won 53.9% of games starting this way (against 54.1% for komoku).

A star-point move for White was also the second most popular choice (43.1% against komoku's 45.1%).

Only 21% of games began with both Black and White playing star-points. In 67% of those games White played in the diagonally opposite corner. The data seem to show this is a bad choice. Black won only 51% of games where White played the star point in an adjacent corner but won 55% where White played diagonally opposite (as here). The overall winning rate for Black was 54.0%.

The fuseki of Black's first three moves appeared 1 in every 50 games - many featuring Kudo, of course. Black's winning ratio was higher than average at 56.0%. Up to about 1970 White tended to counter it with two facing komokus, but then switched to star-point and komoku, as here. But the data show that, statistically, White did much better with the stones the other way round.

On the two shimaris seen here, the knight's move one (kogeima-jimari) appeared in 38.8% of games and the high one (ikken-jimari) in 13.5%.


(Definitions from various Japanese books. My comments in [ ]. Long vowels are spelt out here - not above)
The arrangement of stones from the first move, through the opening, and up to the start of the fighting of the middle game.
The early stage of a game, that is the fuseki stage. This word really comes from shogi and is not used as much in go.
[Stars] The nine largish points drawn as lacquer circles on the go board. However, when speaking simply of star-points, tengen is usually regarded as different. [Japanese/Chinese stars are drawn as circles, not with pointy bits.]
The central star-point [hoshi] on the go board. The Great Ultimate [As in tai chi].
[a verbal-noun] Generally refers to moves securing a corner. A descending move that secures a large territory including the side is occasionally also called a shimari [eg Black c16 after d16 and g17]. [The verb form shimaru, to make a shimari, is common].
[Not separately listed but diagrammed as in the lower right above. Kogeima refers to the knight's move shape.]
Making a shimari with White 6 [above] to takamoku from komoku. [Ikken means one-space]
The points where the 4th and 3rd lines intersect. There are eight on the board. From olden times regarded as the most reliable first move for occupying a corner.
The points where the 5th and 4th lines intersect. The word takamoku in old terminology meant ikken takagakari [the high one-space approach move against komoku] and the modern takamoku was referred to as oomoku [Big point as opposed to komoku = little point].
The points where the 5th and 3rd lines intersect. They are superior in terms of influence to komoku but somewhat inferior for taking profit.
The position where one plays one line further out than takamoku. The points where the 4th and 6th lines interesect. In the "New Fuseki Age" it was popular with both pros and amateurs. It was supposedly first played by Kubomatsu Katsukiyo. It is studied in detail in Sekiyama Riichi's book "Gote no Sente". Also called chou-takamoku.
A move played in the gap along a side where the opponent is exerting influence, and which looks forward to an extension along the side, to left and right or above and below.
Big/important place [big point]. Most often used in the fuseki stage. Segoe Kensaku, in his book Fuseki Gairon: 1942, said the following about big points:
  1. The big points at the beginning of the fuseki are often the central vantage points on the four sides.
  2. Big points are often extensions to the maximum limit, that is advancing up to five spaces along the side.
  3. In cases where both sides face each other from two corners, a central point between them on the side often corresponds to a big point.
  4. In cases also where both sides have spheres of influence in opposing corners, a central point between them often corresponds to a big point.
  5. A narrow extension that can prevent the opponent from developing and create floating stones may be better than a big point.
  6. In cases where you are invading the opponent's sphere of influence, choose points where you can extend two spaces above and below or to left and right.

This suggestive and rather haphazard style of definition is typically Oriental, by the way. It can irritate analytical westerners but works for them (point for discussion?). And I should warn you that the above definition of big point should not be taken too literally if you want to find Kudo's big points: try a definition from another book - Moves on vantage points for both sides on the third and fourth lines, especially in the early stages of the fuseki.

I won't normally be this prolix. It's just to get us started. And for those who didn't know, CFV was "call for votes".

-- John Fairbairn