Fuseki Problem 3

    Keywords: Opening, Problem

Dieter: Here I give the first 38 moves of a tournament game between a lousy 2D and a promising 1k. I have analysed the game with a stronger player afterwards. Here are the deshis comments, to which I later added the 5D's comments. When you read this, chronological order of comments may be completely absent. The issues are:

  • identifying which moves are bad
  • identifying the big points at several stages
  • judging who has the better position

Now, I want to emphasize that I add the "5D" label to his comments not to overrule other deshis, but to give some degree of authenticity and trustworthiness (if you don't know his rank, you might as well dismiss it, while a 5D's comment at least deserves some thought) while keeping his identity unrevealed.


mafi?: Considering 'book knowledge' about correct direction of play, B7 should be rather at a followed by White W8 and Black b. This would work well together with the high position of Black on the right side. B7 cannot really be regarded as a mistake though, it leads just to a different game.

Andrew Grant: B7 certainly can't be considered as a "mistake". A search of the GoGoD database reveals it to be nearly three times as common as B7 at a in this position.

Dieter: The 5D didn't say anything about the preferability of the avalanche.


Andrew Grant: B1 should be on the fourth line if Black intends to follow up at B5. But B5 is non-urgent: the ordinary extension to a is better. Once Black has played B5, the B7-W8 exchange is bad as it causes Black to lose sente. (Without it, Black can answer an invasion at b by taking the 3-3 point.)

Charles I'm reluctant to say that plays like Black's on the left are absolutely bad. They do look a bit too steady, but B9 is thick, too, really. Since W10 could be a wedge at the circled point, that raises a query. White might like to slow the game down at this point.

Andre Engels: I'm not saying B1 is bad, but the usual move is at c (my database[1] gives 111 out of 134 times c, 18 times b, 2 times B1, 2 times other moves in this area, one time tenuki). For W2, a move around a would be more usual. I'd say it all falls within normal variation though. Still, I do agree with Andrew that the low position of B1 and the extremely solid play with B5 to B9 are contradictory, and would consider that a real (though minor) mistake.

Dieter: Many people, including the kyu players in my club, seem to dislike the low extension of B1. According to the 5D it is absolutely playable but he says that after B1 the (lower) left has become non-urgent. So, the follow-up of B5 is not really bad, but not urgent. If B1 were high, the LL would be urgent, White would almost invariably play there and Black can take sente. If you like having the initiative - and the 5D does - B1 high is recommended.

About B7 and (the consistent move of) B9, everybody agrees that it is small, overconcentrated, slow and lacking flexibility. The 5d criticized it heavily. Myself I agree with Charles that one should not only look at the points those three extra moves make but also at their thickness. An invasion of the lower side can now be done carefree.

Instead of B5 and definitely instead of B7, the 5D recommended Black a. I had played B5 to B9 almost hypnotized by what I thought to be a nice configuration. When it was down on the board, I wasn't so happy with it anymore.

dnerra: Reading through this discussion now, I am surprised no one questioned the direction of the approach at B5. Instead playing at e looks clearly better to me. White can hardly pincer without getting overconcentrated, but any extension along the side of B5 will not have much effect due to the low position of B1. On the other hand, W2 and W4 look a bit odd to me after the following example sequence:

Approaching from the other side  

I am curious to hear other opinions on B1. And suggestions for better continuations by White.


Andrew Grant B5 would be better at W6 or B7. In the game White settles herself easily.

Charles Well, I wonder about B1, since B5 looks sensible in context. Given that white+circle is low, shouldn't Black be trying to get White to invade at 3-3? That might mean a more distant pincer in the first place. How about B1 at B3?

mafi?: There is nothing wrong with playing B5 to solidify the UR corner. Moreover, playing B5 at W6 or B7 would make Black overconcentrated at the right side while giving White the chance to attack the weak UR corner. Instead of B5 Black could also play at a or b.

Andre Engels: I don't see how a wider pincer would be better here - according to a database search, B1 is answered on the side rather than in the corner of the top somewhat less often than B3, although the difference seems insignificant (B1 25%, B3 28%).

Charles I think that B1 at B3 (4-4 point low approach two-space high pincer) probably ought to be answered by White at B5 for a double kakari.

Dieter: Everybody agrees I think on the idea that the right side is important and the upper side is not, given Black's high position in the LR and White's low position at the marked stone. I was aware of that too and that's why I played a pincer. Yesterday at the club someone suggested a low pincer one point further and I liked it very much. Charles suggested it high and I agree with it being better off further but I also like it better low. Myself, the 5D and apparently other players would have wedged instead of kakari'd. Someone suggested a kakari on the lower right, and that may be interesting too. The 5D didn't speak out for any kind of pincer.

On the other hand, he was not at all happy - and I fully agree - with my move at B5. In fact I mindlessly played joseki whereas before I had been aware of the little imprtance of the top. I should have made a hanging connection to emphasize the right side. White will then double kakari, but Black gets out and a fight will develop while White makes territory at the top and Black on the right side. This should still favour Black because of his high extension in the lower right.

Charles I think I'd now agree with the idea that Black should make the hanging connection and fight.


Charles Can B1 and B3 really be right? I think I might stop playing near a strong white group and invade at a.

W8 doesn't look like the right direction to me: the lower side is White's only potential framework. A play near b looks interesting for White.

Andre Engels: B5 looks like a mistake to me. Playing B7 immediately would be better, I think. Black could then either lock white away from the corner better than in the game or take sente.

Charles Yes, B5 at B7 is fairly obvious from a One-Two-Three point of view.

Dieter: The 5D thought B1 was obvious and he liked B3. He thought of it as by far the biggest move on the board. I thought I had to have defended at c or d (which if unanswered will allow me to capture W4). He said: White is strong and you don't want to play near it. He went on to criticize almost all moves from W4 to W8. W4 is small and should thus not be answered by B5. W6 and B7 are rather consistent with earlier bad moves. Then W8, which depressed me in the game, received bad marks too. I was surprised to hear him label it "play too close too a strong group" once more. I'd think White c, yes that's too close, but sansan is fine, no ? He said no. White should attack at e instead.

I will now specify my question about big points. How do you judge the lower side ? Is an invasion urgent, if yes where ? If yes, how should white defend. If not, when will it become urgent. And so on.

Andre Engels: I think an invasion on the lower side will have its turn not now, but likely in the near future. For now, black first has to extend on the upper edge (either or not cutting off W8 from the white group first). After that, white might prefer to avoid his upper left group being cut off from the center, but pretty soon an invasion around a will be either made or avoided. Where white is to play to defend, is not so clear to me, but b or f seem most likely - at this point stopping black from getting too much influence in the center looks more important than completely securing the territory.

Black plays steadily  

Charles Certainly this could happen now, in a real game. As Black I might omit B7 (though it is probably honte) to play first on the lower side. There is something strange when both players play as if they were leading in territory.

I'm creating /Discussion for some further general talk.

Dieter: The 5D's judgment of the lower side was most revelatory to me. He said the lower side wasn't urgent because the invasion points marked a and b are miai. After W8, Black should not hesitate and invade at a. IIRC he said that c was more urgent than W8 but that Black would probably invade at a anyway after White c. He said in this territorial game it was difficult to find big moves.


I was deliberately not using a database to begin with!

I'll look in detail later: but in this case surely the joseki context, both in the upper left and in the lower right, is rather important.

We only seem to be discussing the first of Dieter's points, by the way. Charles

Fuseki Problem 3 last edited by on June 18, 2003 - 21:03
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