Professional Players' Go Styles

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This list originally began as a smaller entry by John Fairbairn in 2002. It was collated from pro comments in various resources.[1] Since then it has been expanded in both players and descriptions by many contributors.

  • Awaji Shuzo: Especially tenacious once behind, likes to fight.
  • Cao Dayuan: Solid fundamentals, thick, unhurried play, a little timid but not submissive, perhaps weak at attacking. Similar to Shao Zhenzhong.
  • Che Zewu: Sharp and thick.
  • Chen Jiarui: Master of attack, good at finding unexpected plays.
  • Chen Linxin: Pays special attention to shape; similar to Ma Xiaochun.
  • Chen Yaoye: Good at defense and counter-attacking.
  • Chen Zude: Daring, main proponent of Chinese fuseki.
  • Cheng Xiaoliu: Prefers to take territory and shinogi.
  • Chino Tadahiko: Orthodox.
  • Cho Chikun: "My game consists in bringing everything together without using set patterns of play. This absence of style is my style." Experiments in the opening. "My failing is that I tend to make extensions that are too wide." Dislikes large-scale josekis.
  • Cho Hun-hyeon: Orthodox; master of technique and quick, fighting jabs leading to a roundhouse knockout.
  • Cho U: Very territory-oriented player, and it's almost like his weak groups are charmed, they don't die: it's almost impossible to kill a group of his. His reading is extremely deep, better than most of the top players. His specialty is creating small tsume-go problems that are very difficult for even the pros to solve, and he can make them very quickly.
  • Choi Cheolhan: Ferocious attacker. Nicknamed "The Poisonous Snake," according to An Younggil.
  • Cho Han-seung: Smooth style without overplays. Said about himself in an interview, that he plays: "solidly"(regarding "solidity" similar like Lee Changho).
  • Cho Hye-yeon: Nicknamed the female Yi Ch'ang-ho.
  • Daigo Hisakichi: Admires Shuei.
  • Fujisawa Hideyuki: Idiosyncratic with penchant for large-scale, thick moves. Known for blunders (poka - careless oversights).
  • Fujisawa Hosai: Powerful fighter.
  • Fukuhara Yoshitora: Orthodox.
  • Go Seigen: Devotee of Shusaku 1-3-5 until 5-dan, then switched to fast-paced style, trying to settle corners with a single move. Co-founder of Shinfuseki. Amorphous style, often making trades based on intuitive assessment of the position.
  • Gu Li: Powerful fighting. Strong at finding weak points in his opponents' positions and exploiting them, and so naturally very strong at attacking. Great at invasions.
  • Guo Tisheng: Natural, flexible and indirect; learned Japanese style.
  • Hamajima Hisayoshi: Admires Segoe.
  • Hane Yasumasa: Original and large-scale.
  • Haruyama Isamu: Fast-paced.
  • Hashimoto Shoji: Aggressive and tenacious. Noted for spending bulk of time on opening.
  • Hashimoto Yoshimi: Orthodox.
  • Hayase Gendo: Likes sharp fighting; admires Shusai.
  • Hayase Hiroshi: Orthodox.
  • Hayashi Yutaro: Solid; nicknamed Little Shusaku.
  • Hisai Keishi: Orthodox.
  • Honinbo Genjo: Similar to Takemiya; attacks close to Yasui Senchi; center thickness, powerful attacker; thickness first, then attack.
  • Honinbo Shuei: Strong in all departments but preferred, when he had a choice, quiet moves to fighting moves. Especially early in his career, when he had Black, it was noticeable that he won many games by slender margins. Master of miai.
  • Hu Yaoyu: Sharp and thick.
  • Hua Xueming: Sharp and thick.
  • Hua Yigang: Steady, relying on ordinary moves.
  • Huang Dexun: Attacking type.
  • Huang Jinxian: Sharp and thick.
  • Huang Liangyu: Powerful fighting.
  • Huang Xiwen: Attacking type.
  • Huang Yizhong: Sharp and thick.
  • Huang Yongjie?: Fresh and aggressive; good at calculation and steady encroachment, especially concluding the second half of the game.
  • Ishida Yoshio: Good at counting game and accurate yose; nicknamed The Computer.
  • Ishige Kakuo: Sober (shibui), using thickness to attack.
  • Ishigure Ikuro: Large-scale.
  • Ishii Kunio: Sharp, famous for brute strength.
  • Ishii Mamoru: Power.
  • Ito Tomoe: Powerful, "moving mountains" style closest to her teacher, Kita Fumiko.
  • Iwamoto Kaoru: Bean-scattering go.
  • Iwata Tatsuaki: Solid and tenacious; gentle, aji-leaving style.
  • Iyama Yuta: Plays thickly, waits for the opponent to attack, then tries to take the initiative with his counterattack.
  • Izutani Minoru: Orthodox; admires Shuei.
  • Jiang Mingjiu: Good at managing the centre.
  • Jiang Zhujiu: Sharp, stubborn fighter. Forte is the middle game.
  • Jin Qianqian: Brave fighter, willing to take risks.
  • Kada Katsuji: Famous for taking a long time in the opening.
  • Kageyama Toshiro: Solid and good at counting.
  • Kaji Kazutame: Fast-paced.
  • Kajiwara Takeo: Best player for sharpness of local perception. Famous for Drill Strategy and direction of play. Proponent of kyudo - "seeking the way" school of go.
  • Kamimura Kunio: Orthodox.
  • Kang Dongyun: territory oriented style
  • Kano Yoshinori: Steady, and good in large-scale positions.
  • Kataoka Satoshi: steady yoritsuki (using thickness to harass enemy groups and so make profit). Maybe too laid back.
  • Kato Masao: Nicknamed "The Assassin"; powerful attacker, especially early in his career. About 1990 changed to a style that earned the nickname "Endgame Kato".
  • Kim In: Slow thick moves like his teacher Kitani.
  • Kim Jiseok: Plays aggressively and roughly; a genuine infighter, especially good at local battles.
  • Kinoshita Takao: Admires Shusai.
  • Kitani Minoru: Most startling changes in style of any player. Originally powerful fighter. Then as co-founder of Shinfuseki emphasised centre. Shortly after switched to favouring territory and like most things, experimented it to the extremes. Did not like knight's moves. Ultra-stubborn.
  • Kobayashi Izumi: Initially closer in style to her father Kobayashi Koichi, now shifting towards her husband Cho U's style.
  • Kobayashi Koichi: Ferocious in attack (1976), precise "knows what he wants" style. A territory oriented player.
  • Kobayashi Satoru: Changed in 1997 to a more territorial game but still underpinned by his original placid/broadminded (ooraka na) style.
  • Kodama Kunio: Orthodox.
  • Kong Jie: Balanced and solid
  • Kono Yukio: Admires Jowa.
  • Kuroda Yukio: Admires Segoe and Iwamoto.
  • Kusaka Kaneo: Thick.
  • Kuwahara Munehisa: Theoretical.
  • Liu Xiaoguang: Fierce "straight-line" fighter, tight-rope walker, admires Kato Masao, deep and accurate calculator.
  • Ma Xiaochun: Light and floating style and so hard to attack, but will slug it out if opponent picks a fight. Richly imaginative.
  • Matsumoto Tokuji: Orthodox.
  • Matsuoka Teruo: Severe.
  • Matsuura Yoshihiro: Rich in originality.
  • Mimura Tomoyasu: Attacking from thickness.
  • Miwa Yoshiro: Good at powerful fighting.
  • Miyamoto Yoshihisa: Thick style, preferring to catch up from behind after the middle game.
  • Miyashita Shuyo: Fond of direct attacks.
  • Miyazawa Goro: Violent style leading to wild fighting makes him popular with go fans.
  • Mori Toyokazu: Admires Shuei.
  • Nakagawa Shinji: Nimble.
  • Nakamura Yutaro: Solid; nicknamed New Stars Killer.
  • Nakaoka Jiro: Territorial.
  • Nie Weiping: All-round player but especially good at fighting, likes sharp, double-edged contests and attacks strongly.
  • O Meien: Famous for original opening moves, called "meienisms"
  • O Rissei: Plays overly tight with Black.
  • Oeda Yusuke: Orthodox.
  • Ohira Kenji: Admires Jowa.
  • Ohira Shuzo: Known as especially strong on the side.
  • Okubo Ichigen: Flexible.
  • Otake Hideo: Quick to see things, best player for sharpness of perception; stability increasing with experience (1976). Fond of good shape and abhors vulgar style. His style has been called the "Otake Aesthetic". Superb at fast play. Most games prefers komoku, but occasionally tries sanrensei.
  • Ozaki Harumi: Admires Shuho.
  • Ozawa Mitsugoro: Very similar to Honinbo Shuho.
  • Park Junghwan: well balanced; something of an all rounder.
  • Park Yeonghun: Peaceful, with a very strong endgame and positional judgment.
  • Qian Yuping: Good at luring opponent into traps. Does not let up even when ahead. More peaceful later in career.
  • Rin Kaiho: Originally a territory-oriented player, but later became more aggressive and influence oriented. Said to have become less accurate/confident in counting game late in his career.
  • Rui Naiwei: Aggressive fighter. Prefers the Mini-Chinese opening.
  • Sakai Michiharu: Solid.
  • Sakai Yasuo: Admires Suzuki Tamejiro.
  • Sakakibara Shoji: Powerful.
  • Sakamaki Kosuke: Admires Shuho.
  • Sakata Eio: Sees so many variations that it gives him the confidence to play lines out even in complex situations. Often effects trades based on calculation. Good at getting out of tight situations and so likes to grab territory and then play shinogi.
  • Sanno Hirotaka: Admires Shusaku.
  • Segawa Yoshio: Thick.
  • Sekiyama Riichi: Shibui.
  • Seo Pong-su: A gambler, enjoys even the most nerve-wracking fights, does not worry about pure shape. Is regarded for playing kind of "pure korean fighting style" because he never trained in Japan.
  • Seo Hisashi: Thick.
  • Shao Zhenzhong: Pragmatic and patient, willing to ignore standard go theory, cool and detached, friendly style. Good at guiding the game and grasping opportunities. Flexible. Quiet style emphasising full-board vision and positional judgement to counter attacks.
  • Shi Ding'an: Seizes the initiative by retaliation then keeps up pressure.
  • Shimamura Toshihiro: moderate, style called ibushi-gin (oxidised silver = shibui).
  • Shirai Matsumi: Admires Sakai Michiharu.
  • Shiraishi Yutaka: Will never make an overplay even when behind.
  • Sometani Kazuo: No showing off.
  • Song Xuelin: Good at turning games around; reserved.
  • Sugiuchi Masao: Theoretical.
  • Sumino Tsunehiro: Territorial; admires Shuho.
  • Suzuki Tamejiro: Slow player in the opening; shibui.
  • Suzuki Goro: Territorial.
  • Takagawa Kaku: Changed from powerful "rustic go" (Shusai's term) in early career to beautifully balanced style, with fondness for simple moves such as caps. Liked thick play even though this led to thick games.
  • Takeda Hiroyoshi: Straightforward, no tricks.
  • Takemiya Masaki: Famous for Cosmic (he prefers Natural) style, accentuating moyos (not necessarily deliberately). Has best understanding of play in the four or five lines round the centre point.
  • Tanimiya Teiji: Highly flexible.
  • Tozawa Akinobu: Hard fighter.
  • Tsujii Ryosuke: Orthodox.
  • Ukita Masayuki: Admires Shuwa.
  • Ushinohama Satsuo: Natural and poised.
  • Wimmer, Manfred: Grinding power go.
  • Wu Songsheng: Original thinker, gentle Taiji style, creates many original lines in standard openings.
  • Wu Yulin: Honest, good at shape but nervous in tournaments.
  • Xie Yimin:Aggressive style
  • Yamabe Toshiro: Free-running, naturally gifted.
  • Yamada Kimio: Solid, no showiness, plays a long game. Perhaps not greedy enough. Similar to Yamashiro Hiroshi.
  • Yamashiro Hiroshi: Rin Kaiho said in 1992 that Yamashiro's old style "was a steady, territorial player, but recently he sets up large moyos, and he's also flexible enough to switch from moyos to territory." (Tournament Go 1992)
  • Yamazaki Masuo: Powerful.
  • Yang Hui: Likes high positions that favour fighting.
  • Yang Jinhua: Solid fundamentals, thick play.
  • Yasui Chitoku: Shibui/ibushigin (refined, quiet, sober) but in a novel way, self confident, slow thickness, esp. good at the endgame; accurate reading made opponents avoid fighting games; good at shinogi; makes territory first then plays shinogi.
  • Ye Gui - Sharp and thick.
  • Yi Ch'ang-ho: Sober, emphasises sabaki while taking territory; accurate at counting game. Natural (that is, no unnatural moves).
  • Yoda Norimoto: Had to overcome a certain brittleness to reach the top.
  • Yoshida Yoichi: Focuses on influence.
  • Yu Ch'ang-hyeok: Artistic, attacks using thickness.
  • Yu Meiling: Variable.
  • Yuan Xi?: Natural.
  • Zhang Wendong: Sharp and thick.
  • Zhang Xin: Sharp and thick.
  • Zhang Xuan: Light and elegant.
  • Zhang Yingting?: Powerful fighting.
  • Zheng Hong: Sharp and thick.
  • Zhou Heyang: Plays the percentages, good at counting; once he gets ahead, not even Yi Ch'ang-ho can overtake him; stubborn and cool; orthodox. Solid "goalkeeper."
  • Zhou Junxun: Difficult to define but forte is the middle game, forceful moves backed up by accurate and deep reading.
  • Zhu Baoxun?: Stresses the overall view but lacks finesse in local positions.
  • Zhu Songli: Sharp and thick.
  • Zou Junjie: Sharp and thick.


[1]John Fairbairn, RGG, January 12, 2002: Here is a list I've published before. It looks like a candidate for Sensei's Library if someone wants to copy it there (making room for additions, of course). The views are not mine, but are collated from pro commentaries or the players' own assessments.


Professional Players' Go Styles last edited by on January 28, 2015 - 18:17
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