4-4 point low approach low extension, tenuki

  Difficulty: Expert   Keywords: Joseki, Strategy
Common for White to leave this position  

For reasons discussed at 4-4 point low approach low extension, although White has a good local continuation here, it is also frequently seen in high-level games that White plays tenuki. How severe an attack does Black have?

The analogous position  

If Black had played the marked stone, on the fourth line, this way is normal and good for Black. Black 3 isn't by any means the only pincer that can be played here, but it is at an intermediate distance from the white stones. That makes it harder for White's weak group to make a base, and also harder for White to launch a counter-attack. Those general points always apply to two-space pincers. Since it is on the fourth line rather than the third, it is also somewhat lighter.

The keima case  

Since White's way out into the centre here is a jump to a point such as a, b, c or d, it does make quite a difference that the marked stone here is on the third line, in the keima (small knight) case.

The invasion aji at e is quite complex tactically (see 4-4 point low approach low extension tenuki, diagonal attachment, 3-3 invasion); but the general idea applies that White will probably run the weak group out to safety, and then consider invading. In that case Black does want to keep up the attack on the outside. (The other way for White to think is in trade-off terms: invade at e early and treat the outside stones lightly. Since Black's corner isn't really big, that isn't obviously right.)

Pro examples  

In fact in pro games there isn't one set way for Black to attack here: all the pincers a to f have been tried, as well as the pseudo-pincer at g in some recent games. The most common idea is f.

High three-space pincer  

Of course it matters greatly what is happening in the right corner. If Black were very strong there, White's tenuki is a less obvious plan.

In pro games this type of sequence is seen. White plays 2 or a as a checking move on the side, to keep Black 1 weak. Black plays 3, a 'mutual base' play. White jumps out rapidly at 4, and a running fight will develop. Now b looks like a vital point of shape.

It is therefore not so easy to understand how much White will be punished for playing tenuki. It looks quite like a global question.

So attention has been paid to other plans for Black: play a pincer without the diagonal attachment; or even to close the corner immediately, which is a very territorial attitude.

Charles Matthews

Here are some more variations, thanks goes to Royksopp [4d].

Three space low pincer followed by shoulder hit.  
Three space low pincer followed by shoulder hit continued.  

After B2 played as a pincer the exchange White a - Black b doesn't give White a proper base, so White is somewhat heavy here (position discussed at 4-4 point low approach low extension, slide, pincer, tenuki). Therefore White normally plays at one of the circled points.


In other circumstances the footsweep B2 is designed to attack White's base on the outside while taking the corner.

Closing the corner  

Black may simply opt to take the corner with B2 here. Later, and Endgame Tesuji 4 may be relevant followups.

Other options  

If the direction of play is to favour the upper side, Black may also play at a or b.

4-4 point low approach low extension, tenuki last edited by yuzukitea on March 23, 2023 - 04:50
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