Staying Alive

British Go Journal No. 67. April 1986. Page 14.

Matthew Macfadyen

This is another game played during Francis Roads' birthday part (see last issue). It is distinguished by having more exciting incidents than many games on a full 19*19 board.

Black: Harold Lee, 2d
White: Matthew Macfadyen, 6d

The game-file in SGF format.

Figure 1 (1-19)








  • White 4: There is no komi in this game, which is quite a large handicap. Black's strategy is to surround more than half the board fairly loosely, forcing White to build two separate groups. Experience shows that two groups can be very hard to keep alive simultaneously on this sized board.
  • White 6: A tesuji, making miai of 7 and 8.
  • Black 7 insists on taking away eye space, but leaves some cutting points.
  • White 12 must cut. White cannot afford to play simply.
  • Black 19: It is probably better to play atari at 28 first, though white might not answer.
Figure 2 (20-24)








  • White 24: With 23 on the board, black could connect by playing either one or two points below 24. White's plan is to leave his upper group half alive in some sort of ko or seki, and take all the territory at the bottom.
Figure 3 (25-33)








  • Black 33: After this move the status of the two groupsin the top right is now as follows: If Black plays first he should start by filling in the mutual liberties (the two points between the two groups), and the result is a ko which black can win, although white gets two moves in a row elsewhere. If White plays first he can try starting the ko in the corner. This does not kill Black unconditionally, even if white wins it, whereas if black captures and connect the ko white is absolutely dead.
    Therefore white is better advised to fill an outside liberty and try to get a seki. But ...
Figure 4 (34-61)








  • White 34: ... If Black is allowed to play here, he would win anyway. So the upper group has to be left for the moment.
  • Black 35,37: Necessary to keep the territorial balance and ensure eyespace.
  • White 38' should play 40 first, since black 39 (necessary to reduce white's territory) threatens to connect. However white 40 makes the ko at 45 dangerous - White can fight the ko without anxiety, since the result is still seki even if black fills the ko.
  • Black 45: White's plan is to play 45 and kill Black's lower group by using his ko theat. Black wisely defends therefore, since his lower group is difficult to kill anyway. It begins to look as if 38 cost the game.
  • Black 55' should be at 58. Black does not get eyes, but he easily wins the capturing race against White's centre group.
  • Black 61: White's position is now looking pretty hopeless. The upper groups are in something akin to seki, but in the fight between the lower groups black is ahead one eye to none. Probably all of white's stones will die, So ...
Figure 5 (62-67)








  • White 62: ... A desparation measure; it is necessary to conjure some sort of ko out of the position.
  • White 64-70 reduces Black's lower group to two liberties so as to get a ko threat.
Figure 6 (68-84)









72 at 70, 77 at triangle, 79 ko at square, 84 at circle
  • Black 71 spots the trap - if black had not played here, white 71, atari, would be a good ko threat.
  • Black 75: It might seem that white could have gained a point or two by playing here, forcing black to fill in at 80. But that would squander white's last chance of a good ko threat.
  • Black 77' should connect at 80.
  • White 78: Atari! The game reaches its climax.
  • White 80: The ko threat - black can't afford to answer.
Figure X6 (Final position)








[Start] Black wins by 3 points.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 67
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.





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