British Go Journal No. 65. July 1985. Page 24.

Matthew Macfadyen

One of the most obvious differences between professional Go and kyu level Go, to the casual observer, is that the professionals use far more forcing moves - called kikashi in Japanese - exchanging one or two pairs of plays in one area and then switching to another part of the board. The reasons for which this happens are something of a mystery to many weaker players, and the purpose of the series of articles of which this is the first is to list some of these reasons and explain them.

Which brings us to the problem on the previous page and the Go proverb "Play kikashi before living". Turn back if you have not looked at it yet. White 1 there was an impudent play, which should be punished by Black. The well timed kikashis in Dia 1 here do just that.

Diagram 1

White 1 in the problem captured at triangle here.

Black 1 is a bit hard to find, but it threatens to make an eye with the sequence in Dia 2 (3 there has to threaten to connect along the edge). Now that White has decided to try to force Black 5, he might continue with 2 in Dia 1, though he is further embarassed by the exchange of 3 for 4.

Diagram 2

It would also be possible for Black to force with B-C before living, but there are two reasons for not doing so - White will answer at C whenever B is played, so there is no hurry; and there may be other ways to use this weakness.

Before playing a forcing move you should ask yourself three questions:

  • Will he answer?
  • Is this the last chance to play it?
  • Are there other ways to use the same weakness?

All of these can be difficult to answer, and some of the ways to think about the second and third questions will be considered in our next issue, but let us consider how these relate to Dia 1.

White 1 in the problem overleaf (triangle in Dia 1) manifestly fails on the first count - White tried to force Black, and ended up with his corner collapsing, and with a nasty cutting point in his group.

Black's kikashis 1 and 3 in Dia 1 are easy to play because he doesn't have to worry about whether or not White answers - since Black was going to have to play 5 anyway, the general result in this area will always be that White gets first move elsewhere. This is one of the reasons for "kikashi before living".

My second criterion contains the other reason for "kikashi before living" - in Dia 1 Black gets his last chance to play 1 and 3 gettng these answers. It is sometimes correct to play kikashis before the last possible moment, but once that moment has been reached you must either play it or forget it. In this diagram the exchange of 3-4 at least is almost pure profit for Black (it is hard to imagine the one point White gets outweighing the value of the cut at A), while the 1-2 exchange is even better (indeed, White might decide to protect his corner after black 5), so his forcing attempt ends in gote.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 65
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

Last updated Thu Jan 03 2013. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.