3-4 point distant low approach, shoulderhit

  Difficulty: Advanced   Keywords: Joseki
The shoulderhit  

W1 is played to avoid a black pincer (see 3-4 point distant low approach) . Black can answer with B2, which emphasizes the left side. White usually tries to make a base and territory with W3.

In a Kobayashi formation where Black has a stone at a or b, the logic of B2 is clear.

Pushing up  

W1 and W3 form an alternative. White can play this way if Black is strong in both directions; its main intention is to stop Black from getting too strong, rather than create something for oneself. After W1, black can take the corner with a move at B3, reverting to a 3-4 point distant high approach joseki, or fight back with B2. In this joseki, White takes influence towards the top, black influence towards the left and territory in the corner. Black may play tenuki after W9; if he does choose to further strengthen his position here, black a is most usual. Locally, this looks better for Black, but on the board as a whole, White has succeeded in foiling Black's plans of building a large moyo.


However, the usual answer is W3 here. Black has three different answers, from a to c. Black a builds up the left side, Black b tries to build a position on the top while attacking, Black c may be either aimed towards building thickness or towards attacking.


Robert Pauli: According to Alexandre Dinerchtein, commenting [ext] game four of the 2004 British Championship, there also is the new Korean d and the trick e. Added e below, someone else please add d.

Bill: For d see [ext] this Japanese site (Broken Link ?-kokiri). There are many variations, and it does help to read some Japanese characters.


B1 has a clear objective - black wants to make a wall facing the left side. With B3 and B5 he continues in the same manner. White can decide to exchange White a for Black b or c after B3 or B5.

Jumping after the push  

B3 is another move that is often played here. This is one possible variation, there are several more. The timing of W4 is an issue here - it is sometimes delayed until after W6, or not played at all.


B1 attempts to attack White. Black needs to have some support in the upper right to play this move.

Into the corner  

Instead of fighting like above, Black can choose to confine White to the corner as in the sequence here.


Nowadays, W2 here is more common. The turning point in this joseki comes at W6. Here White strengthens herself, creating a group on the top side , allowing Black to take the left side.

Attack (2)  

White's second choice is to jump into the center, and find the space for her group there. Black will usually make territory on the right with B4 after exchanging B2 for W3 (there is usually a black stone at or around a in this joseki). The sequence to 7 follows, where black creates a group on the top, while White develops towards the center. If Black wants to attack from the topside, playing B4 at 5 is the move.

Building thickness  

If Black wants to build thickness, he plays B1 and B3. The sequence that follows is long but has few branches.[1]

Building thickness (2) - 7 and 9 connect  
Building thickness (3) - 7 and 9 connect  

In this sequence White takes the corner and sente, while Black builds thickness.

Attack? (Black 11 at 'a', White 12 at 'b')  

Black can also play B3 here. B1 now becomes an attacking move similar to what Black 1 at 6 would have been. Here is one variation.

Trying a kikashi  

Black 5, attempting to get in a useful kikashi, is a Korean development from the early 1990s, and nowadays has all but outcompeted the old joseki of playing B7 immediately. The idea behind this move is that if the sequence continues as in the last diagram, black will be much aided by the fact that c in that diagram is now his sente. Instead, white is more likely to fight as in this diagram. A possible follow-up is W10 at b.


However, white more often plays W6 here, going for an exchange. Black builds strength towards the right, but his prospects on the left side, where he will often have his moyo, are diminished. If white prefers complications over simplicity, she can try the clamp at a instead of W8,


Trick play  

Black's hope  

Instead, White should enter the corner:

White better, A (1-10)  

White better, A (11-16)  

White better, B (1-10)  

White better, B (11-15)  

Robert Pauli: B1 at B5 would allow White to bend in sente, OK, but why not B3 at B5?

CJ: This result is slightly favorable for white because of the tiny crawl but also because of the refutation using black nose tesuji which is actually favorable for black.

White refutation  

CJ: This is the best way for white and black. The result is equal. In other words it is a trick play without favorable refutation. Black 10 at A.

Fuseki thoughts

Kobayashi fuseki  

White often plays this approach in the context of the Kobayashi fuseki, meaning that the marked black stone is present - in fact in that case this has become the standard way. In that case B1 is at least as common as the diagonal play at a, with the obvious meaning that Black gives priority to building up the left side.

[1] Actually this sequence is somewhat contentious, still, rather than joseki. When there is a further black stone on the left side, as often happens in the Kobayashi formation, Black should avoid it as overconcentrated. There are also some other possibilities in the second diagram. Charles Matthews

Question by Dieter.

3-4 point distant low approach, shoulderhit last edited by on August 9, 2016 - 10:25
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library