A Pro At Wanstead

British Go Journal No. 92. Autumn 1993. Page 8.

Francis Roads

The first of July saw Wanstead Go Club's first opportunity to benefit from a professional commentary when the Chinese professional player Mrs Feng paid us the second of three visits, accompanied by her minder Harold Lee. Two well matched members of the club, Charles Leedham-Green (Black) and Alison Jones (White) played a game in a side room, with 30 minute sudden death time limits. The commentary is based on notes of Mrs Feng's remarks made at the time, and has been written with kyu players in mind.

Both Charles and Alison (nearly three decades his junior), are relatively recently promoted shodans, and still learning to bear the burdens of danhood. Charles is a professional mathematician and fair chess player, and is struggling to overcome a tendency to try to solve all problems through rigorous logic. This trait sometimes gets him into time trouble, and prevents him from spotting the brilliancies only available to those willing to trust their intuition.

A commendable reluctance to allow herself to be pushed around, either on or off the go ban, is one of Alison's strongest traits. I know of no British player who more frequently plays tenuki moves in the opening: this independent spirit does lead her into trouble, as will transpire.

Black: Charles Leedham-Green, 1d
White: Alison Jones, 1d
Time: 30 minutes, sudden death

The game-file in SGF format.

You might wish to open a second window beside the first one to view Fig 1a whilst reading the text in the first window.

Figure 1a (1-100)
BGJ had Fig 1a and 1b as one diagram, Fig 1.

  • White 8: The result in the top left corner is as if black had made the extension from 3 to 7 previously and then white had invaded at 6. This bad for two reasons: firstly, such moves belong to the middle game, after white has built some influence to back up such an invasion, and secondly, because 6 is the wrong point to invade anyway. (See the Ishi Press book Attack and Defense (sic) page 179 for further details.)
    Mrs Feng spent some time showing the various joseki that White could have chosen, starting at 12, 17, or a point right of 16. Alison had the grace to admit that she played elsewhere because she was unsure of these lines. The implication was that any of them would have been better than this tenuki.
  • White 12: This move and the subsequent ones show why 6 is on the wrong point; there is no way to separate the black stones. The sequence to 24 is bad for White: her influence is worth less than the black territory, which is on the fourth line, and in any case is reduced by the presence of 11. All these moves are best left unplayed.
  • White 26-32: Once again, White is exchanging the influence of a wall of stones on the fifth line for black territory on the fourth, which generally speaking is a poor bargain. Having done so, 32 should be a point below 31; then there is at least the prospect of a moyo in the centre of the board, though it will still take skilful play to turn it into as much territory as Black has already made secure.
  • White 36: The idea of 36 was to threaten the corner, but 37 captures three stones; Mrs Feng asserted that after this move Black had a won game. To lose three stones like this when they are confined to the edge or corner is not so drastic, but here in the center, where their influence spreads throughout the board, the loss is immeasurably greater than just the six points for stones and territory.
  • White 38: After 36, there remained interesting aji in the corner. If White plays atari left of 7, and Black connects below 7, White can play one point above 15, threatening both the three Black stones 9, 15, and 17, and a move one point left of 39, which would threaten 3 and 13. Unfortunately White promptly plays aji-keshi with the 38-39 exchange, and erases this aji. When you know you've just made a bad move, it's very easy to follow it up with another. The professional thought that even if White had found an opportunity to make use of her aji, the loss with 37 still left her well behind.
    In a game with long time limits this position is resignable, but with only 30 minutes...
  • Black 41: This move is not urgent. It's a very large endgame move, but with his great influence Black should be thinking about invading the right side with a kakari at 75 or possibly 43.
  • White 44: Mrs Feng recommended the knight's move at 46. Although 44 move does appear in the joseki books, the idea being to make black heavy and easy to attack with the stone at 10, nonetheless we were assured that this joseki is now regarded as old-fashioned in China.
  • Black 47: This move is not a deep enough invasion, especially bearing in mind all that influence, and leaves white space to separate the two black positions in good shape with 48. If Black wants to play hereabouts 70 is the move. He need not fear a splitting attack, with those strong stones in the rear. When you have strong influence you squander it if you don't attack hard and invade deep; that's what influence is for.
  • Black 49: Narrow and over-concentrated. He should escape to the centre with a knight's move at 51, or start to make eyes against the edge with the ikken tobi at C.
  • White 52: White should play honte at A. Honte is very hard to define, but this is a good example: a seemingly slow move which actually achieves a great deal. The lower white territory is secured; the black group above is weakened; and therefore the white group 10, 48, and 50 is indirectly strengthened.
  • Black 57: An overplay. The three white captured stones still have enough aji to force Black to play 59, so after 60 (described by Mrs Feng as "quite good") the three black stones 47, 53 and 55 are in trouble, and White is creeping back into the game. Black should play the contact move at 64 and try to make some eyes.
  • Black 65: Aji-keshi. This move does not actually increase black's eye space at all. What it does do is render ineffective the move which he should have played at 70, again to make eye space. One of the proverbs in Segoe's Go Proverbs Illustrated reads: "If you plan to live inside the opponents territory, play directly against his stones", i.e. play 64 instead of 57, and 70 instead of 65.
  • White 68' should be the kosumi at 69. The idea is to kill these Black stones off, not just to protect the corner.
  • White 70: She can attack more effectively with the placement at B.
  • White 80' should be at 81, to prevent black from making his second eye in the corner. If White had played there black is well and truly dead; can you convince yourself that this is so?
  • White 84: The honte at A is still the best move. In the following sequence Alison missed many chances to play on this vital point. By this stage in the game both players were in serious time trouble; Alison had also been keeping the game record.
  • White 96: This move makes it difficult for black to make eyes in the corner, and forces the stones to run away twards the white strength in the top left corner. This is a good way to use this strength.
Figure 1b (101-131)
BGJ had Fig 1a and 1b as one diagram, Fig 1.

  • Black 103: Loose. Charles is correctly trying to link his group with the strong stones above, but leaps a point too far.
  • Black 107 loses a tempo by playing the atari here instead of the simple extension to 109. If I were feeling mean I would remind Charles of the British go proverb "Beginners play atari", but he's a good friend of mine so I won't.
  • Black 117: This is a slip. The black stones could still have lived by playing 117' at 118 - see if you can work out how he can then quite easily make two eyes.
    [This comment phrased differently in BGJ.]

Up to 131 Alison has succeeded in killing the large Black group, and is ahead on the board despite the bad start. But her flag dropped and she lost on time.

Well all you kyu players, I hope you feel encouraged to learn that after you get your promotion to shodan you will still be allowed to make the odd mistake now and then. If you found this commentary helpful why not write to the editor and tell him so? In fact, why not write anyway and tell him what you think of the British Go Journal. We contributors slave away over hot word processors, but rarely get much feed back.

This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 92
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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