Subject:	THE BIG GAME 6 Question
From:		John Fairbairn <>
Date:		Sat, 3 May 1997 00:16:58 +0100

Fingers tightly crossed.

The moves given in the answer to instalment 5 took us up to White 38. Black then played 39. d14 - a severe move forcing White to respond - he chose 40. e15 (see commentary below). Then followed Black 41. e14. White now played 42. f11. But this was described as a mistake.

The questions to answer are:

  1. Why? (The commentary uses a single word - no tactics needed)
  2. Where should he have played?

White 40 at e15 was commented on in some tactical detail, simply to explain that it is a mistake for White to try to attack too strongly here, for example with 40. c14.

The sequence shown was (after White c14):

But now Black, having, made big gains on the left side, is happy to live in gote with Black o18, White p18, Black o19, White p17 on one side, and then Black k18, White j18, Black k19 on the other.

White 40 at e14 (hane on top) was also condemned. What follows is:

Background noise

As you would expect, there are pros who have little superstitions during games, and there are those who betray whether they are ahead or behind with little mannerisms. But there is another class that I came across that surprised me.

Cho Chikun is supposed to take matches out of a match box and repeatedly snap them. Rin Kaiho beats his fan rather noisily (shades of Blackadder and Baldrick), to the annoyance of many opponents (Fujisawa Hideyuki once complained and Rin was obliged to use a small, noisless fan). Hashimoto Shoji had the same habit, and Kitani used to beat so many fans to death he had to bring several to a game. Hane Yasumasa was famous for twisting tissue papers into little strings and by the end of a game would have a pile of as many as 100 beside him. Kato is reputed to take his watch off and repeatedly twirl it through his fingers.

What I found remarkable though was the phrase used in the explanation given for these particular habits: they were designed to create "a rhythm for thinking." How does one think rhythmically? Is it better that way?


From: John Fairbairn 
Subject: Re: THE BIG GAME 6 Question
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 12:22:21 +0100

I am posting this by way of the now usual second hint and also in response to some questions on terminology.

The hint part is simply to say that no-one has got quite the right word for why 42. f11 was bad but the answers are on the right lines except for the word "heavy" that someone used.

Some people are missing the area for the suggested improvement, but even those who got the right area have not quite hit the right spot so far as I have seen. I think the previously mentioned pro advice: "Be aggressive strategically, be modest tactically" may help.

Now the terms:

I can't see how "heavy" can apply to White's shape here unless you think (as many westerners certainly do) that it means something like "leaden-footed, cumbersome". However the Japanese does not mean that at all. The meaning is heavy in the sense of "burdensome" - referring to a group that is a liability, that cannot be sacrificed. With so much room for manoeuvre White's group here can hardly be called a burden. "Light", incidentally, means precisely the opposite, referring to stones that can be sacrificed in whole _or in part_. A light shape is not (at least in terms of definition) a pretty, nice, calorie-free or otherwise aesthetically pleasing one.

Since "vague" moves often occur in Go the Japanese have a special term for this: "nurui". The opposite is "karai" (sharp); not necessarily sharp in the sense of challenging, but mentally sharp, with a well defined purpose. For example, a connection made in "gote" might still be "karai".

(excerpt from a article)

I have never come across "karai" as a go term. In the ordinary language it has a wide range of meanings.

A related term is "kiai", which in my opinion can best be translated as "determined" but I'm very interested how John would translate this word. Kiai is often used in professional game commentaries to express a state of mind of the players rather than giving a judgement about the right or wrong of the played move.

(excerpt from a article)

Kiai normally refers to the sort of yell that martial artists utter as they attack (getting your ch'i/qi/ki together). But in go it has a specific and slightly different meaning, and does not refer to a _state_ of mind so much as a dynamic decision to "go for it". It refers to playing in an all-or-nothing, sink-or-swim way, without being able or willing to read ahead in detail.
Sakata was famous for it: after getting himself into the most enormous scrapes he was wont to say "Kiai de utte shimatta" - "I ended up having to go all out." The idea is perhaps like the boxer who is unsure whether he is ahead on points so goes hell for leather in the last round, even risking being knocked out himself. That "determination" however can unnerve the opponent.

-- John Fairbairn