Go Paradoxes

British Go Journal No. 61. March 1984. Page 20.

Andrew Grant

Mane-Go (pronounced mah-neh) is the practice of playing your stones diametrically opposite your opponent's previous play. It is not commonly seen in British Go, but it does have a few good points and so perhaps could be played more often.

Of course, I don't mean that you should copy your opponent from start to finish. Even if you could win like that, it would be like cheating. Mind you, it has been tried; there is a story about a Japanese ambassador sent to China during the middle ages who did just that against a team of Chinese players and so drew all his games. The strange thing about this story is that the ambassador, as the 'Honoured Guest', played white throughout; the Chinese players, playing black, could have thwarted the mane-go strategy by playing tengen (the centre point) to break the cycle and force White to play some original move. Perhaps these old tales should be taken with a pinch of salt.

A harder problem is that of preventing black from starting on tengen and playing mane-go throughout. In mediaeval times this problem was solved by starting every game with a mandatory cross hoshi fuseki (each player taking a pairof diagonally opposite 4-4 points). However, in many ways the cure was worse than the disease as it prevented the development of any other kind of fuseki. (It also produced extremely aggressive games, whether you liked it or not).

Diagram 1 (The refutation)

Eventually a way out of this problem was found. Dia 1 shows how; the marked stone is on tengen and if black copies white as shown he loses his group. The Japanese were thus able to abandon the cross hoshi fuseki and go on to better things. (The Chinese were somewhat slower to change). The introduction of komi made mane-go even less attractive as a strategy for Black; but it made a limited form of mane-go viable for White.

Today mane-go, restricted to the fuseki, is occasionally played even by strong professionals. The best known exponent of this is Fujisawa Hosai, the first man to reach 9 dan in the Oteai. He has been involved in some odd occurences - an example in Kageyam's "Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go" contains two ladders approaaching each other from opposite sides of the board!

One of the best recent examples of mane-go from professional play is this game from the 1975 Meijin league. Fujisawa has white and starts the mane-go, but then his opponent, Sakata Eio, turns the tables and beats him at his own game.

Black: Sakata Eio
White: Fujisawa Hosai

The game-file in SGF format.

Figure 1 (1-83)

Figure 2a (84-120)
BGJ had Fig 2a and 2b as one diagram, Fig 2.

102 connects at 95.
Figure 2b (121-187)
BGJ had Fig 2a and 2b as one diagram, Fig 2.

White resigns after 187.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 61
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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