Tamsin: This is really a question. I was casually digging around on r.g.g. the other day when I came across a comment, apparently originating from Matthew Macfadyen, that often the best place to attack is not from one space away, but from two spaces away.
So, can you please offer explanations and examples why this should be? Why should it be that the severest, i.e., closest attack, should often be resisted in favour of a slightly softer attack?
Tamsin's first attempt at an answer: playing severely, close up to the attacked stones provides easier targets for making contact moves and other standard defensive procedures. Surrounding from a greater distance, however, makes it less easy to find a defensive cut that works or similar tactical resources. I will try to find an example soon.
If a contact move is generally a poor attacking move, then perhaps up to a point moves become more potent offensively the further they are from the target.
kb: One of the interesting things about this is that on BQM 334 someone brought up that Go Seigen says that a one-space pincer in a certain situation is too close, because of the ability to lean on a stone only one space away.
This idea applies to joseki too. When is the proper time to have a tight pincer vs. a loose pincer? I mean, really, *when*? I feel that we've been taught that the severe pincer is almost always the best way to play, to give the opponent the least room to work with.
I would be very interested in listening to higher-level players discussing when their intuition tells them to have a low pincer, a high pincer, and the number of spaces away. This is a very hard question, I think. At the 1d level I still don't feel like I have a sense of this "spacing" intuition.
crux: Consider that an attacked stone may become stronger by being defended. You don't want your pincer stone to end up too close to strong stones.
Bill: Generally speaking, if you push through an opening (break a sector line) your play is stronger the smaller the opening. In the early modern era (since about 1600) one space pincers were quite common. But before too long two space and three space pincers had become more common.
zinger: How about an example:
In some cases when black plays , is an effective answer. However, if is at a, it may be more difficult for white to find an answer. Also, at a would be less affected by a white jump to b.
Alex: I can't remember if I heard this somewhere or observed it myself, but I notice that in most situations - corner or side, joseki or not - pros seem to play two-space high pincers more than one-space high pincers, but the opposite for low pincers. Three-space pincers are pretty rare, high or low, unless they happen to land on a convenient point for a group on the other side. It makes a lot of sense to me, albeit for reasons of shape that are intuitive but complicated and hard to articulate, so I tend to stick to those options myself in 90% of cases.
As for choosing between one-space low and two-space high, for me it's more about examining the probable continuations and feeling of balance with nearby stones. When in doubt, though, as a matter of style, I choose two-space high; my favourite josekis in existence (when I'm the one doing the pincering) are the 4-4 point low approach two-space high pincer ones and I play it so often that I've heard people at the club call it "my" pincer.
All the points made above about the advantages of distant pincers are true, but there is one obvious counterpoint to be made; closer pincers are more severe. The distant ones are nice for their flexibility and relative lack of attachment potential for the opponent, but they do make it easier for him to tenuki. If sente is very important and you're strong enough locally, the close pincers are better for forcing your opponent to respond. (If you're not strong enough to take sente after the pincer, maybe you should be playing something other than a pincer).
Calvin: In Fundamental Principles of Go, Yilun Yang 7p has about three pages on the topic. In addition to some of the ideas above, there is the notion that severe pincers can have severe counterattacks, and are less suitable for controlling the side, whereas loose pincers have less severe counterattacks, and are better at controlling the side. It really is a whole-board judgement thing.
Velobici: To the best of my memory, Mr Yang says that a tight pincer (one space) is good for attacking the pincered stone. A loose pincer (three space) is good for defending the pincering stone. A two space pincer is the middle ground to be used when neither the tight nor the loose pincer is proper for the position.
jfc: in response to the original question; This seems to me to simply be an extension of the proverb don't attach to weak stones. A tight pincer acts more like an attachment than a loose pincer (i.e. provokes a fighting response from the opponent that results in strengthening his stone).
FredK: The review of Sonoda 9P's Go Strategy includes an example in which he recommends a three space pincer over a commonly played one space pincer. This is in keeping with his proverb "Don't attack; don't defend" which means, in part, don't make severe attacking moves which turn your attacking stones into easily attacked targets. (Also, don't make purely defensive moves which put no (or insufficient) pressure on your opponent.)