Game review by Yoda Norimoto 9 dan

As promised, here comes a summary of the review I received from Yoda-sensei last Saturday!

After finishing this blog post, my schedule of the day includes a trip to Akihabara, and taking the train from there to Ichikawa, a city in Chiba — about 20km off from Tokyo — where Mimura-sensei’s go school is located. It’s another busy day here, in other words!

My opponent in the game was C class number 8, who has some of the the more difficult kanji in his surname I’ve ever seen (齋藤). I had white, and ended up winning the game by resignation. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to record the whole game since the review with Yoda-sensei took my available time, and so I don’t have any moves recorded after white 76.

The game started as here. White 6 is a common way to prevent black from playing the small Chinese fuseki, to which black usually responds with the corner enclosure of black 7. White 8 is most often at white A instead, but I disliked giving black the opportunity of easily getting two corner enclosures. Thus, I played a corner approach with 8, which is another possibility.

On a funny side note, 齋藤 also attends Mimura-sensei’s go school, and on the Wednesday before this insei weekend, we’d played a game with the exact same opening. In both games, I ended up killing a large black group from the left side of the board, leading to the opponent’s resignation.

Black 9 is pretty much the most common answer to the white approach of 8. If I answered black 9 with a white stone at 11, black would play A, forcing white B, and black would probably play a pincer at 10 or one space to the right of 10. That way, the three white stones would end up somewhat heavy, and black could also look forward to jumping out at black 23 in the lower right corner next. I remembered seeing the move of white 10 somewhere, making a miai of moves at around 12 and at 11. The continuation of black 11 and white 12 is natural. There’s nothing weird about the black double approach of 13, either; by black 25, we still had gotten no remarks from Yoda-sensei about the game.

In this diagram, finally some mistakes come up. Black 27 is rather early, and should be at around 35 instead. However, white’s response with 28 is not interesting either. Even further, white 34 is still the less interesting part of the board; a white move at around A is preferable, because the upper side was wider. I really have a hard time playing this kind of a quiet, peaceful game, with no clear direction to go for! White 36 and 38 are a handy probe in the upper left corner, still making use of the original white approach move.

Instead of white 28 in the game, white definitely should play with 1, as shown here. By white 11, black has made a meaningless amount of territory in the corner, while white commands the board with the influence he just got. This way, the game will be easy for white, even though (or perhaps because?) black has all four corners.

White 40 was another move that Yoda-sensei criticized. My original plan was to create some influence towards the centre, and aim to cut the black stones from two spaces below A. However, this makes black needlessly strong on the right side. If white simply jumped to A instead, he’d still be able to aim for the cut, and the black right-side group wouldn’t get any stronger either. By white 50, black has a comfortable lead, but black 51 is an overplay (やり過ぎ, yarisugi in Japanese). Playing as below would have been enough for black.

In this fashion, white will not be able to scrape together enough points to really challenge black.

The game continued as follows. White 56 got some praise, being a handy tesuji in making it difficult for black to connect underneath. Black is still able to connect alright, but the white ponnuki at 59 is a heavy price to pay. However, white 64 is strange; white could just play at 66 instead, forcing black 65, and then white could play elsewhere. White 64 is not worthless, but it wastes maybe half a stone’s worth. Black gets the initiative back with from 67 up to 71; white would have liked to get the turn to play at around A before this.

This is the rest of the game record I’ve left. White 76 was a plan to lightly salvage something out from the upper side while building a centre moyo. I’m not sure if Yoda-sensei realized this idea while doing the review, as we were quite low on time at the time. I get the feeling that Takemiya-sensei might like white 76’s idea. What Yoda-sensei instead proposed was…

…connecting with white 1 as shown here, as otherwise white is not able to make use of the triangle-marked stone. The sequence up to white 9 makes the white play the most consistent in this particular area. Whole board-wise, however, this might not be in white’s best interests, as it might again be difficult for white to get enough territory. The centre potential is mostly ruined, too. Perhaps I should have omitted white 72 earlier altogether, and directly play 74, aiming for 76.

Later on in the game, the white centre moyo indeed materializes, and there is a bit of a mess when black attempts to kill the left-side white group in return. White is able to defend successfully, however, and sometime later, it is actually the black group that tried to kill white, which ended up captured. That is all definitely due to later mistakes, though; as the situation stands at white 76, black still has the upper hand.

This would be one of the many games nowadays where I get a slightly worse result in the opening, and have to struggle my way back to the game. The teachers in China already told me that the opening game is my biggest weakness right now, so I’d imagine this way of training, repeatedly getting crushed in the opening and then having my mistakes pointed out, is among the best ways for me to improve.

11 thoughts on “Game review by Yoda Norimoto 9 dan”

  1. First, my apologize because this comment has nothing to do with this post.

    But these days, they are playing the Nongshim cup (a very exciting tournament). However, the japanese players are not doing so well. Could you say some words about how this tournament is followed in the japanese go world?


    1. I wonder if one of the readers would be better able to answer you on this — I myself am not familiar with the Nongshim cup at all, and since I only follow the Japanese Weekly Go magazine, which probably writes the name of the tournament in difficult kanji, I haven’t been able to distinguish any notable press cover for the tournament.

  2. Hi, I am going to Tokyo next week for business, if you want to see or do something go-related in half a day or so, do you have any suggestions on what to do?

    Keep up the blogging!


    1. I’d definitely recommend visiting the Nihon Ki-in building in Ichigaya, the centre of the Japanese go world. Apart from the go salon and the equipment store, there’s also a museum in the basement which is open on all days except for Mondays. You’ll probably be done with the visit within a few hours, unless you decide to stay to play some games (which you have to pay for, unforrtunately).

      1. Yes, I figured you would suggest that. Sounds good to me, although I don’t speak any Japanese so we’ll see if I can find the place, let alone play a few games. :)


        1. Finding the place is quite easy, at least, as it’s extremely close to the largish Ichigaya subway and railway station. Getting to play might be more difficult though, and probably depends on if you can find someone present who’s able to speak both English and Japanese. Be prepared to pay about 1000 yen as the playing fee if you go for it.

  3. Wonderful and instructive blog! Thank you for posting this interesting Go journey. Although I will never reach your level of skill, I have sometimes wondered what it would be like to be an insei, so it is fascinating to follow your progress even if “at a distance”!

    Regarding the Ichigaya Nikon-Kiin centre, perhaps it was because I speak so little Japanese but I found it a little hard to find, and even my taxi (which I decided to take after half an hour of searching around on google map with my Blackberry) could not find it. When I did, it was a slight disappointment insofar as the museum really could do with some non-Japanese text and better displays. For the main centre of Go, I think they could do a little more to describe the history of the game, have some longer biographies of players etc. Still, the models of Castle Games were fun and well presented and it was interesting to see the paper go board the first astronauts who played Go in space used.

    However, I think there are better places to find a game in Tokyo. Sensei’s Library has some good suggestions for clubs where English is spoken. Also the Nihin Kiin branch close to Tokyo Central station has better and more varied Go equipment for sale in their shop than the Ichigaya branch.

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