Small avalanche

  Difficulty: Expert   Keywords: Joseki, Go term

Chinese: 小雪崩 (xiao3 xue3 beng1)
Japanese: 小ナダレ (konadare)
Korean: -

[Diagram]
Small avalanche  

W4 and W6 is the avalanche joseki. If Black plays B7 here, then we get the small avalanche.

[Diagram]
Small avalanche  

Subsequently, W1 to B4 are all forced. Notice that B4 threatens to capture the two key white stones in a ladder at x.

The typical response for W5 is at a, possibly leading to the canonical joseki. However, if the ladder is favourable for White, then W5 can also be played at b.


Table of contents

The canonical joseki and its variations

[Diagram]
Canonical joseki  

This is the canonical joseki for the small avalanche, most often seen in the literature. B2 is the most usual answer, but there are other variations. After W3, the black+circle stones cannot be saved, so Black goes for the upper side instead. This canonical joseki is also the simplest small avalanche joseki because both groups are settled.

White has some influence along the left side as well as points on the corner, but Black's thickness on the right is truly impressive, after having captured two stones. Also note that Black's influence is along the upper side, which is typically more important than the left side when White chooses to play the avalanche.

For beginners, it is worth noting that W7 cannot capture the B4 stone by playing at white+circle, because then Black will capture all the White stones in a connect-and-die with a move at W7.

[Diagram]
White tenuki  

There are cases where White omits W9 in the previous diagram, but they are rare. A likely continuation when Black pulls out with B1 is shown here. In this diagram Black has played on both sides - the difference from the normal joseki is large.

[Diagram]
White tenuki  

If white does not want black to get quite as strong, she can play W2 here immediately. It might seem that white has a chance to fight with a move around a after B5, but the fight will not be hard on black: If he captures the white+circle stone, white will not be able to make two eyes herself, so she is likely to come back to the cornergroup to connect this stone at an early stage, after which black has the time to easily deal with any attack white might have made in between.


Fighting variations

[Diagram]
Fighting variation  

B2 at the vital point is a strong move which provokes a fight. Up to W9 there is little room for variation.

[Diagram]
Fighting variation  

The joseki continues with these moves, but the fight is just beginning. The Black group in the center and the White one on the top will have to fight it out afterwards.

White may choose to give atari at a before playing W2. This will make White b sente, but the value of White c is diminished. Black for his sake, might play d or e instead of B3.

[Diagram]
Another fighting variation  

B2 is yet another possibility. Black takes a considerable corner territory, but the black+circle and B2 stones are obviously weak. Instead of B2, black can also play at B4 immediately; the most likely outcome is still this same position through another move order.

[Diagram]
Continuation  

W1 puts heavy pressure on the stones, giving them up obviously gives too much thickness to white, so black struggles out, at the price of giving white good shape while having bad shape himself.

[Diagram]
Continuation (2)  

White keeps pestering the black group. After B24, white will extend along the side, but we are getting into the zone where the influence of surrounding stones on the exact moves is too large to speak of established joseki.

[Diagram]
Another fighting variation  

If black does not want his stones to get that weak, he can forsake B9 and play B8 here. After B10, white will most likely extend somewhere around a, the exact location depending on the surroundings, and black is still facing a difficult battle for his center stones.


Ladder favourable for White

[Diagram]
Ladder favourable for White  

If the ladder towards the lower right corner favours White, then W1 can extend here. Then the sequence here is most common. With B8, Black has saved his corner, but still must face the center fight. The continuations are the same as above, but W1 makes better shape than White a. Apart from the extension along the left side, white e is also an interesting possibility.

B10 may be played at b or c. With B10, White will get better endgame benefit if White gets to play at d. With B10 at b or c, White can get some endgame benefit on the left edge instead.

[Diagram]
Ladder  

The ladder referred to in the commentary to the previous diagram is shown here. White should play this W1 only if the ladder of B8 does not work.

Charles Matthews: This absolute statement needs to be qualified by a sacrifice variation from Korea. See Jungsuk in Our Time.

[Diagram]
Too submissive  

If the ladder does work for Black, the only way for White to avoid an immediate collapse is to extend at W3. However, this is too submissive. B4 now is enough to capture the corner, and Black's advantage is immediately apparent.

[Diagram]
Expensive wall  

On the other hand, if the ladder favors White, B2 is uncommon but not unheard of. The only joseki for this situation is this one.

[Diagram]
Continuation  

Eventually, Black makes a wall towards the top but gives both the left side and much of the corner to White. It was developed in Korea in the late 1980s.


Trick play

[Diagram]
Trick play  

There is also a variation where Black plays at B4 instead of a. This is a trick play, but the refutation can be difficult to find. See small avalanche - trick play for more.


Mistakes

[Diagram]
Mistake  

It would be a mistake to cut at W1. Black simply connects with B2, and White's position is in pieces.

[Diagram]
Mistake  

unkx80: Please explain why B4 or a is a mistake that results in considerable White thickness.

[Diagram]
Mistake  

In the joseki, W1 should be played at a or b. If W1 cuts directly, then B2 captures the two key stones, and typically this means "game over".

[Diagram]
Mistake  

PJTraill: Please indicate how Black should respond to White playing B3 without defending his cutting stone B1 at a (said above to be forced): should Black immediately play at a himself or first play some other forcing move?.

Uberdude: Capture at a is good for black. White does get to block on 2nd line in sente which is kinda nice, but black's hane on left side up to 4th line is even nicer (white cut doesn't work) and white's 2 stones are short of liberties. Maybe black could think about pushing at b first to get an even better result if white blocks, but that gives white a chance to correct his mistake and extend at a and it reverts to one of the standard joseki variations.


[Diagram]
another joseki  

Compare to this variation and tewari. After black's descent to 2 (which was often thought of as submissive, but AlphaGo seems to like it if the ladder for small avalanche is not good) white should extend at 3, the vital point for liberties for his stones and development of left side. But instead it's like white played a and allowed black to get the key point of 3. Cutting at b for c could be seen as a probe because if black ataris the other way to avoid the block on top being sente then white can cut at d so that might not be a minus. but a for 3 is awful for white.


See also:


Small avalanche last edited by SiouxDenim on April 23, 2018 - 10:41
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