4-4 point low approach high extension

    Keywords: Joseki

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One-space extension  

For quite some time B1 here was the normal answer when White approach the 4-4 point. A change of fashion occurred amongst pros, at the start of the 1990s, and the low answer took over. Still, this is a major idea in joseki; and if Black already has a stone at one of the circled points it is natural for Black to claim territory on the fourth line in this way.

DJ: If I may add a comment, I do not think that, even given a stone at the marked points, B1 claims any territory at all: San-san is open, a and b are feasible invading points, there's a nozoki at c.
As far as I know, B1 aims at attacking the white kakari stone. If you want to just start to claim territory, play the low answer: this is one of the reasons why it became fashionable...

4-4 point low approach, high extension, san-san 4-4 point low approach, high extension, invasion
White's replies  

White's common replies, in decreasing order of popularity, are a to f

  • a - share the corner
  • b - a light move, corner is open (read more...)
  • d - conventional to play a first, then d
  • g - live small in the corner, treating white+circle lightly

White can also tenuki, risking a diagonal attachment.

Main variation  

This is the classic continuation. To switch direction, Black can play B2 at a (4-4 point low approach high extension, slide, pincer, or even b (4-4 point low approach high extension, slide, attachment). B2 as tenuki is seen; and Black can certainly omit B4, which is however a big point to make the most of Black's fourth line position.

Bob McGuigan: B4 might also be at the circled point if Black wants to play more territorially on the left side.


Charles Bob's play is seen in modern pro games in this type of position. If B1 were played one space to the right, it would leave weaknesses on both sides.

1.1 White at f (W1)

White plays at f to undermine the base of the black stones and hinder black's progression down the side.

White undermines  

Andy Pierce: I play the high extension black+circle when I am looking to develop primarily towards the center and secondarily along the left side. I'd like opinions on how (and whether) to answer W1? Is B2 here adequate for center emphasis, or are there better options, for example in the context of facing an opposing san ren sei on the bottom side?

Charles This would be sometimes enough. Depending on the top side, playing kosumitsuke there before B2 might be good, to get a double attack?. The books teach Black at a here. The pros tend to play b.

a and c are joseki (Kogo).

White continues with a  
White continues with b  

If White cuts at a, Black can play b to attempt capturing the two stones at top.

Black changes his mind  

I have seen amateurs play this several times but the corner is not secure and this doesn't seem to fit with the purpose of black+circle in the first place.

Charles Classic bad play - see clumsy double contact.

Black chickens out  

I have played this way to secure a base but there must be better options here as this is just too slow.

Charles Not at all good. B4 at a is better, but this all shows 'handicap game mentality'. Why play the high extension at all, if you are content with this?

Andy Pierce: I agree. I think these type of plays arise as a result of both greed and fear. When an amateur plays the high extension, the mindset is often not of developing central power, but of trying to secure more territory than would be secured with a low extension (greed). When white plays the second kakari black's mindset switches from greed to fear (now I don't get a base!) and he makes some panicky overconcentrated athematic gote moves in the corner.

Other pages:

Charles Matthews


Imagist: This seems better to me.

twenty points ?  

atulab: a friend of mine started playing B5 in our games because he read somewhere its worth 20 points. the fact is it gives me a really hard time when he plays it because I can't find flaws in his position anymore when I try to take some territory from him at 6, he can attack it by leaning on W2 and W4 (or cut W2 after making thickness attacking W6). I also can't find a good move in the corner: (I tried a and b with moderate succes: had to sacrifice W2 to live).

What would you do against black's corner ?

LukeNine45: A 3-dan I know would play W c, B d, W e, which he says leaves aji in the corner, a clamp I think. Some higher dan can tell me what I forgot or misunderstood. :) (Of course, you can always play W4 at B5. Then you won't have to think about this, though you lose your corner aji.)

4-4 point low approach high extension last edited by yuzukitea on August 7, 2021 - 17:59
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