Subject:	THE BIG GAME 7 Question
From:		John Fairbairn <JF@harrowgo.demon.co.uk>
Date:		1997/05/05

The next few moves, 43-50 (marked 3-9 then X in the diagram) were:

Black 43: c14

White 44: c15
If White d11 instead, Black b17 is too big.

Black 45: d11
A rough assessment was made of who is ahead.

Part 1 of the question:

Who and why? (No catch)

White 46: d9
No choice, said O. But the fact he had to play here anyway is one reason why White 42 at d10 would clearly have been more sensible, he said.

Black 47: j12

White 48: h12

Black 49: h13

White 50: k13

This cut by Black achieves nothing at the moment, the commentary said, but Black felt it would prove useful later - of course he had to secure his connection anyway at 49, so it was a good chance to play it, they said.

           a b c d e f g h j k l m n o p q r s t
        19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
        18 . . . . . O O . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
        17 . . . O . @ O . . O @ @ @ O . . @ . .  17
        16 . . . . . . @ O O . @ O . O . @ . . .  16
        15 . . 4 O O . @ @ @ @ @ O . . O O @ . .  15
        14 . . 3 @ @ . . . . . O . . . . . . . .  14
        13 . . . . . . @ 9 O X . O . . . @ . . .  13
        12 . . . . . . . 8 7 . . . . . . . . . .  12
        11 . . . 5 . O . O . . . . . . . . . . .  11
        10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . @ . . .  10
         9 . . . 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
         8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
         7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
         6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
         5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
         4 . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . @ . .  4
         3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . @ . . . .  3
         2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
         1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
           a b c d e f g h j k l m n o p q r s t

The second and main part of this question now is:

Where is the next move for Black (of course it's on the lower side) and the next move for White?

No catch, but if stronger players think it too easy, here's an extra dimension. You may recall I mentioned a story about Feng Yun citing a ladder when a bunch of us amateurs couldn't even see there was a ladder. Well there's a ladder lurking here too, and it has a bearing on the lower side. Where is it?

Part 3 (the game's getting complex):

I'm sure everyone has had half a mind on the Black moyo. The pros pointed out one particular point as suitable for an invasion (though there were other possibles, they said), and while White didn't actually get it, it determined how Black played in the next couple of moves.

Background noise

In a formal game in Japan, one of the seats is regarded as the seat of honour. In a title game it is occupied by the holder, otherwise the higher ranked player sits there. In games between equally graded Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in players they even check on dates of promotions for seniority, just like the Army.

If it is necessary to decide who takes Black, whoever sits in the seat of honour (in amateur games this is simply the seat occupied by the older player) is meant to take the white stones and do "nigiri" - take a handful (which is what nigiri means) of stones and place them on the board with his hand on top.

Black is then supposed to take either one stone to signify odd or two stones to signify even and place them on the board. He can also say "hansen" for "odd Black" and "chousen" for "even Black". The player with the white stones then separates them into twos, to see if there is one or none left over. The allocation of Black and White is then decided by whatever guess was made by the player with the black stones.

Of course, even in a country as wedded to formality as Japan there are plenty of exceptions. Kitani was fond of taking _two_ handfuls of stones (Japanese nouns have no singular or plural so it is still nigiri!). There are also plenty of stories of fighting over avoiding the seat of honour. In Game 1 of the 1st Kisei, Hashimoto Utaro made sure he got in to the room first and occupied the humble seat. When Fujisawa Hideyuki came in he put his arms around Hashimoto and tried to manhandle him over to the seat of honour. Hashimoto refused to budge, so in the end Fujisawa sat there. He then did nigiri but the result was that Hashimoto got White, so they had to swap seats anyway.

Associating White with the stronger player is a Japanese thing. In China Black used to be regarded as a better colour symbolically - the character xuan, covering all the colours of the heavens and so ranging from blue to black, was linked with a superior mind. White was the colour of the clothes of someone who had no rank or salary.

In Japan white is generally seen as a more auspicious colour, though there are some significant exceptions (in sports and games the best known is judo black belts being higher than white).

As to the position of the first move, I find quite a few westerners get quite worked up about this if it's not in the top right corner. It is of course the etiquette in Japan, but it's their culture not ours, and it's not something they seem too bothered about anyway. There are several examples of players playing elsewhere in the past, though nowadays with so many games being separately recorded and then published, there is strong pressure to normalise the board position for that reason alone.

There are several left-handed pros, but I think all still use their right hand to make moves. One special case is Sonoda Yuichi who cannot use his right hand because of infantile paralysis.

Can someone please add details for similar aspects in China, Taiwan and Korea? And has anyone observed the rituals in international games?

-- John Fairbairn