A Handicap Game

British Go Journal No. 19. January 1973. Page 14.

Comments by
John Diamond, 4d

This is a 9 stone handicap game played by Geoffrey Gray from London, who is 5 kyu, and Nagahara Yoshiaka, 3 dan professional, in Tokyo during September 1970. Those comments by Geoffrey Gray, who discussed the game after it was played with Nagahara are preceded by G:.

Black: Geoffrey Gray, 5k
White: Nagahara Yoshiaka, 3p
Handicap: 9 stones

The game-file in SGF format.


Figure 1 (1-50)



















24 at 9.
  • White 7: A slightly unusual move. It is played to intimidate black into thinking that his handicap stone has become isolated and therefore needs to make two eyes. The usual attack is one point lower.
  • Black 8: G: This is questionable; Nagahara says it is bad but Basic Techniques of Go says it is good!
    : In any event it isnt so bad as it has the correct idea of separating whites stones into small weak groups whilst solidifying blacks.
  • White 9: Played to stabilise whites stone 3 and make trouble for black in the corner.
  • Black 10: Correct.
  • Black 12: Also correct. White is threatening to play at 13, but black must not be afraid of this as he has the counter-cut at 22.
  • Black 16: Bad, as it leaves black full of weaknesses at cutting points and lets white play at 17 to force black into bad shape. It would have been better at 18, A or 26.
  • Black 20: Black cant play at 23 because white captures 3 stones with a move one point to its right.
  • White 25: See how white has sacrificed 9 and 11 to gain good shape for his stones and play at 25 to point at all blacks weaknesses.
  • Black 26: G: Better at H, this move only makes Blacks stones into one big, heavy, and thereby attackable group.
  • Black 28: Again it would have been better to have played at H separating Whites stones 5 and 7.
    G: Having played at 28 to protect these stones I have to continue with my plan.
  • Black 30: Nice light play, attacking 7 and threatening to play at F.
    G: Analysis of moves 28 and 30 shows that 28 is wasted.
  • Black 32: G: Bad. This move is very heavy; it should be replaced by E.
    E also protects 28 from capture.
  • Black 36: Quite a good move, attacking White very vigorously. However, B, C or D are also very strong attacks in reply directly to 35.
  • Black 44: This should have been calmly played at G.
    G: I played this so that I could play at 46 or 45 next.
    : After G a play at 46 would be very small and a play at I can be answered with D.
  • Black 46: Better to play at J and protect the left hand side.
  • White 47: Isolating the middle handicap stone from the right corner and starting to form a base for 35.
Figure 2 (51-100)


















  • Black 52: Should have been at 59 to aim at playing B or 53 to capture triangle.
  • Black 54: Should be at H as the move played still leaves the corner open because of whites stone at square.
    G: Nagahara as white usually leaves possibilities open for Black, e.g. C at the moment, and usually waits for black to force him to cover up these threats!
  • Black 56: A weak answer as it allows White play at 57.
    G: I was worried about my group in case white could live in the corner should I stop his connection.
  • Black 58: Played to get a live group in the corner although it allows white to get a settled group on the outside.
  • Black 60: Black must of course give up his stone now at 52.
  • White 63: White does not save his two stones, which is only worth one point since if Black captures white can retake immediately, but instead proceeds to attack Black by separating the stones on the upper side from the central stone.
  • Black 66: This sequence is not too bad for Black.
  • White 67: A curious move for a professional - he seems to be worried about some disconnection possibilities, but it is still tricky for Black.
  • Black 68: An odd move. He cannot cut at K because after 69, 70 White can connect by J, K, L.
  • White 73: Prevents Black playing at C.
  • Black 74: Attacks Whites group: however, it seems to be able to get two eyes quite easily because White can play C.
  • Black 78: G: I was worried about connecting my weak groups.
    : This is in fact not necessary, for he can counter-attack by playing at 93, separating Whites groups instead.
  • White 79: G: From here on M is a good move and Nagahara only stops me playing there when he is forced to by me!
  • Black 80: Very curious.
    G: It does not do anything.
  • Black 82: G: Stopping connection, but M is still very good.
  • White 83: Making space for himself on the upper side.
  • Black 86: G: Bad, purely territorial.
    : M should be played; tactical and therefore urgent moves have priority over big territorial ones.
    G: If M and White 98 then what?
    : 95 resists the cuts with strength. Also N is quite good. If P, Q, 80, R, 97 leaves Black with a cut at S for safety.
  • Black 88: G: Idiotic. I cannot follow up at 91 after the next move at 89. A better move would have been 89.
  • White 97: After this M is no good any longer! The black group on the lower side is now in jeopardy.
Figure 3 (101-129)



















110 at white triangle, 116 at 111.
  • Black 104: Black has now saved his one central stone in gote and should have counter-attacked using black triangle to strengthen his group and weaken whites stone at square.
  • White 107: Blacks lower group is now finally cut off from the upper one and must find its own life.
  • Black 108: A ghastly mistake - it should have been at T. White can cut Blacks upper group in half by U, 108, V but Black can gain an easy life by playing at W.
  • Black 110: No! Black must give up these four stones which will connect all Whites central stones into a live group and play T. After this Black has no alternatives to losing eight stones, thereby connecting the lower left group to Whites triumphant central one and thus leaving white with no problem at all.

Black resigns after 129.

Editor: I think that this is quite interesting in that it shows how fear of a professional can drive an amateur into a defensive shell leading to weak moves and bad mistakes. It does have a good example of joseki top right and a couple of good examples of when not to save stones which are threatened and one or two other small items. It is also interesting from the fact that it is a Briton playing against a Japanese professional.

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This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 19
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