4-4 point low approach, cap

    Keywords: Opening, Joseki
Low approach to 4-4 point answered by capping play  

The capping play B1 is unusual; it is played only in less than 1% of professional games[1]; usually when black has a special plan, such as expanding a moyo along the left side.

White will usually respond either by entering the corner at a, or by playing an extension along the side at b (other extensions, such as a one-point or two point jump, or a large knights move, are also possible, but much more rare)

Table of contents

Amateur joseki

Amateur joseki  

The knight's move cap of B1 followed by B3 can be considered a joseki, which immediately turns the game into a framework versus framework game. In some cases, W4 is seen playing at a, the Black b, then White c. In any case, the 3-3 invasion at d will become a big point in the game.

This joseki is seen almost exclusively in amateur games, and rarely in professional games. Professionals have indicated that while this joseki can be fair for both sides, it leaves too much uncertainty for performing proper positional judgment.


Invading the corner  

When white enters the corner, black can block on either side. Which side is correct depends on how the whole board position combines with the resulting local position.

Block on the open side

Most lines here are not joseki!

Block on the open side (var 1)  

The sequence up to W5 is one way to play. After this, black will usually play tenuki, though he may play a.

By playing this way, black gets sente.

Block on the open side (var 2)  

The other choice for B4 is this one, and the sequence given here is pretty much forced. White can push once more at a, or play tenuki.

This way, black keeps white smaller, and he is stronger on the outside, but he ends in gote.

Block to split

Block that splits off white+circle (var 1)  

If black splits with black+circle, play can continue like this, which is the same as the sequence after the 3-3 Invasion. White may, in this position, change the order of the exchanges W3-B4-W5-B6 and W7-B8-W9-B10, the resulting position is the same.

This way, black keeps white smaller, and he is stronger on the outside, but he ends in gote

Block that splits off white+circle (var 2)  

The other sommon sequence here is this one, which is mostly the same as 4-4 point low approach, low pincer, interception?

In this variation, black allows white to get out with W9, in exchange for which black can take sente.



The extension to W2 is the most common extension along the side. Extending to a was popular in China in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Given that B1 has focused on the left side, the most common follow-ups for black are to either play another capping move at b, or to attach on top at c.

Professional advice

Capping play (as advised by Takeo Kajiwara)  

The capping play White 1 is correct. This move is generally considered irregular but that need not concern you. Since the white stones are exerting their power by threatening to form a framework based on the lower right corner, they determine the direction of play. Thinking that way brings moves such as white 1 to mind.

Of course this cap does not turn all of the right side of the board into white territory, but one thing is certain: White 1 plays a major part in building up White's framework on the right. (Takeo Kajiwara in The direction of play, p. 172.)

However, he said before the marked Black stone should have been played at a, reducing the prospects for White.

Example in professional play

Sonoda Yuichi (B) - Cho Chikun (W) - 24th/25th move  

This game is the semi-final of 27th Gosei (2002). The diagram shows the board after the 25th move. Cho took 3-3 next. Later, he invaded at 10-10 with the 52nd move. However, the central white group got separated and could not secure a second eye, Black won by resignation.

Sonoda Yuichi (B) - Cho Chikun (W) - 52nd move  


  • 66 variations can be found in Chapter 1 of Sizi Pu by Guo Bailing. It has been translated into English under the title Four-Stone Games.

See also

[1] Of the 51754 occurrences of the low approach in the pro games shipped with SmartGo, only 323 have this cap. SmartGo marks it with a question mark, since only 44% of these games were won by the player playing the cap.

4-4 point low approach, cap last edited by on January 21, 2014 - 18:11
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