Hi there! Today is a time for more professional game analysis. There are already a good number of questions sent, but I’ll wait a few more days if even more appear, and then answer them at one time! Some people might’ve seen me play an interesting game against smartrobot on KGS last Monday – I’m planning on reviewing that one here a bit later, as well.
Today’s game is played by the enigmatic pro player whom I named to have had the biggest impact on my style. He’s playing black in the game – can you guess who he is? The game itself is very interesting, with many nice strategical ideas.
The first twelve moves for this game are fairly normal, with nothing very special to them. White took profit in the upper left corner, and is likely to get profit in the lower left as well. The black group on the left side might seem to do nothing, but don’t be fooled: it is a strong group on its own, and as such radiates strength toward the centre. We shall see later how it will be of use for black.
Since the left side group is already strong, black stakes claims on the right side with 13. White 14 is to limit black’s development on the lower side. Black replies with 15, strengthening the corner while putting pressure on 14. White 16 provides some small support to 14, but it’s main function is to secure the corner. Black 17 here is interesting: while it develops the right side and pressures 14 even more, it also has a significant impact on the centre. Furthermore, if black gets to play A, he has mapped a big chunk of territory in the lower right. For this reason white plays 18. Moves the likes of A, that create multiple good connections (two large knight’s moves in this case) at once, have been of great interest to me recently. And this black player is an expert at making them!
Since after white 18 black no longer has a good shape move to enclose the lower right, he is right to play on the outside – trying to enclose the corner would be inefficient in comparison, since white 18 also has an effect on the centre of the board. 19 builds the upper right corner, and also makes sure 18 is not safe yet. White, thus, adds stones to make his 18-group safer (more stones means stronger), while black keeps pressure on white with 21, 23 and 25. White ignores the threat black 25 poses with A – if black plays A, white can simply answer with B and give up a single stone. Then white would also get territory on the lower side. Instead, 26 is timely, as otherwise black could get a big chunk of territory in the upper right.
Since by taking the upper right corner white is profiting at black’s expense (what was black’s land is becoming white’s territory), black is right to try to find a way to fight back. The two-step hane of 31 is a ploy for black to get the turn to play elsewhere, to attack the white right-side group. White seems to have judged that letting black attack after getting the wall in the upper right would be unbearable, and strengthens his group with 38, even though risking a costly ko fight. If white connected the ko instead, the following could happen:
Black 39 makes sure that the white stones remain a thin line of stones with little eye potential (thus, 39 is a pincer). Black 41 practically requires white to answer by threatening a move like A, which would attack the two white stones on the lower side. Next, after 43-45, it seems that the white group is isolated and weak in the centre.
Thus, the ko fight starts. Black 45 threatens to cut through white stones with a move like A, while also making sure that the white stones still remain a thin line of stones. White 48 might almost look like a move that doesn’t need answering-
-but black answers nevertheless. His idea, after all, is to keep pressure on the white right side group. If white got to play at 49 himself, his group would not only be alive, but really strong (it would be difficult for the lone black stone to escape). Black 53 (made possible by black 49), here, again, is one of those moves that makes two large knight’s move connections, sealing white away from the centre. At the same time, the centre is starting to look rather black, thanks to the left-side group.
Here, white strengthens his group a bit with 54-58, and black feigns some interest in the ko on the upper side with 59 and 65. It still seems that black is not intent on winning the ko, but instead wants white to connect it, gaining a free move in return.
This one is just for showing how the fight continues a bit further. After 78, white has escaped to the upper side, while black gets the opportunity to get some additional profit thanks to the peep of 75. In the game the fight continues for a bit more, but we shall be skipping that part today. Let this game be a good sample of double connection moves, and general active middle game playing. For those interested, in the end black won this game by 7.5 points – to me, it also feels that he is already leading after move 78.
Any ideas as to this black’s identity? His style is rather remarkable!