Pincer Nomenclature

    Keywords: Joseki, Go term

The idea of a pincer (hasami) is to obstruct a clear two-space extension.

There are six possible pincer points against an approach.

#01 #02 #03 #01 #02 #03
The six pincers  

Black makes a pincer against the marked white stone by playing next at one out of a to f.

Here a, c and e are called low pincers, because they employ the third line. And b, d and f are called high pincers.

Many considerations are involved in choosing between a high vs low pincer. Sometimes there are several equally correct choices of pincer.

In this position, all six pincers are seen in professional games (though the one at c is out of fashion). The same is true when Black has the 4-4 point and White approaches (at 6-3): with all pincers correspondingly moved one to the right, of course.

When White approaches 3-4 at 5-4, some of the low pincers are rare (see missing pincer). Discussion there suggests a new concept of quasi-pincer.



The one-space low pincer and the one-space high pincer

The two pincers shown above are called one-space low (or high) pincers. And so on with the two-space and three-space pincers (see [02] and [03] below), the number (1, 2, or 3) referring to the number of clear lines between the pincer itself (B1) and the stone to be pincered (white+circle).

One-space pincers, because of their short distance to the pincered stones, are also known as close pincers. These are the most forceful because they can lead to severe follow-ups if the opponent decides to ignore the pincer and to play elsewhere. (For example, black can choose to play B3 at the red squares.)

That doesn't mean that they are the best, or most common. It depends how the fighting will proceed - a closer pincer may be counter-attacked more easily by a counter-pincer [99].

Some examples of one-space pincers in joseki:



The two-space low pincer and the two-space high pincer

These are the two-space pincers. For many years, the two-space high pincer (in Japanese, niken-takabasami) was the favoured pincer of professionals in the position shown; but that judgement no longer has the same standing.

Some examples of two-space pincers in joseki:



The three-space low pincer and the three-space high pincer

These are the three-space pincers. Three-space pincers, both high and low, are relatively relaxed moves, because unobstructed short extensions to the marked squares are still possible. They are sometimes played as dual-purpose plays (for example, combining pincer with extension).

Some examples of three-space pincers in joseki:

The four-space pincer  

Finally, there's the special case of a four-space pincer, also known as a pseudo-pincer (because it does not obstruct the two-space extension to the marked square).


There are two distinct usages for 'counter-pincer'.

Counter-pincer sense (1)  

Here B5 is called a counter-pincer, looking at its effect on W2.

Counter-pincer sense (2)  

Here B3 is called a counter-pincer, for its effect on white+circle.

Charles Matthews

Pincer Nomenclature last edited by TheBigH on August 27, 2012 - 07:58
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