Handicap Joseki - Part 1a

British Go Journal No. 1. Summer 1967. Page 9.

Some acquaintance with the most frequently encountered lines of play in handicap corners is essential to the beginner's progress toward a full enjoyment of the game of Go. The Japanese studies of these joseki are voluminous, but we shall only deal with the main variations met here.

In this issue we shall first indicate briefly the main lines and then proceed to detailed consideration of some of the continuations. For convenience, the play is restricted to the southwest corner of the board. The beginner will find it profitable to repeat the plays in other corners and orientations.

The Main Attacks

Diagram 1





The handicap stone is usually attacked in one of three ways: A, B or C in Dia 1. More rarely, white may instead play triangle or square, or may fail to attack before black has an opportunity to reinforce the handicap stone.


I. The knight's approach.

Diagram 2






White 1 is the most popular play and the strongest attack on the stone on the 4-4 point. White threatens to to follow up with a second stone at A or B, and thus exert great pressure on the corner. White 1 is also a preparation towards establishing a white territory on the south side.

Black may answer in one of four basic ways. He may:

  1. Secure the corner;
  2. Extend on the west side;
  3. Counter attack the white stone;
  4. Play elsewhere.

I.a. Black secures the corner.

Black can accomplish this in several ways.

Diagram 3









Diagram 4 [Ref to Dia 4]









Black 2 in Dia 3 achieves this, the easiest and least complicated in the middle game. Black limits white to the side and simultaneously threatens the formation of a large territory on the west side and in the corner. White almost invariably plays 3 after which black generally plays 4, or less frequently A.

Black 2 in Dia 4 is not quite so effective as Dia 3 as it leaves white with ample room for manoeuvering, while still not having completely secured the corner. It is usually made when there are white stones near A, or black stones around B. It prevents further white intrusion into the corner immediately, and threatens the continuation of black 4' at 3. Therefore white must play 3, whereupon black can make a small safe corner with 4 or play more aggresively with 4' at C or D.

I.b. Black extends on the west side.

Here black has three main possibilities.

Diagram 5









Black 2 in Dia 5 is a fairly defensive play, usually made when there are white stones near A. It secures a small position, with the promise of a future attack on 1, and is safe unless very closely approached on both sides. The usual white follow up is 3 after which black 4 or B.

Diagram 6









Diagram 7









Diagram 8









Diagram 9









Black 2 in Dia 6 is most often played when there is no stone at A, and no white stones in that region, it aims for outside influence rather than a safe corner. the distance between 2 and triangle leads to many variations and therefore should not be played unless known fairly well. White has more than ten possible continuations. Most often played are Dias 7-9.

Diagram 10 [Ref to Dia 10]









Diagram 11









Diagram 12









Diagram 13









Black 2 in Dia 10 is a modern play, and is often seen in non-handicap games as it promises a future attack on white 1 or an extension to A. In playing this, black renounces the corner for the time being, since white can play at B. However white usually leaves this possibility for later and plays now one of Dia 11 - 13.

I.c. Black counter-attacks the white stone.

Black has six similar moves, but most often seen are:

Diagram 14






Black 2 in Dia 14 is usually played when combined with an extension from the southeast. However the corner is still open to attack with 3, A or B.

Diagram 15






Black 2 in Dia 15 is now more popular than Dia 14, and aims for territory along the west side. The white replies are just the same as for Dia 14.

These plays are called pincers and are aggressive, hence they should not be played often by Black in a handicap game as Black should concentrate on defence in the opening stage.

I.d. Black plays elsewhere.

Diagram 16








Black 2 tenuki.

This doesn't happen very often, since in a handicap game it is generally advantageous for black to answer white's attacks. Should black nevertheless consider it better to play elsewhere, then white may press his attack with 3, A or B, all of which black can answer with 4 or C.

[Start] Part 1b is on page 10.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 1
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.





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