Stanley Standard Fuseki

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Stanley's Standard Fuseki as Black. Note the four moves to make an optimal corner enclosure. Research has shown that this is the only effective fuseki for Stanley Style Go. Other minor variations may prove effective.

19x19 diagram  

As White, B7 is usually omitted until after an approach. Stanley will give up sente to comeback and complete his formation.

Blake: It seems (to me) that the only way this would be effective is if it frightens or confuses the other player. If you look at his games, most of his wins result from people playing oddly against his, ah, unique methods, or blundering and letting him kill something. It seems to me that if white remains calm and plays lightly, there should be no way for stanley to combat white's superior board coverage. Thoughts?

Ellbur: I agree with Blake: Stanley wins when the opponent errs. The most common mistake that the opponent makes is to try too hard to kill Stanley, and then fail with greater loss. Another common blunder is not sacraficing when necessary; it seems the opponent believes they do not have to play honte against Stanley, and so make bold overplay. It is important to realize that against any opponent, even Stanley, Go is still Go.

I would like to try a Countering Stanley Style? page, but haven't a clue where to begin. His games are so complicated.

unkx80: I don't think it is very useful to learn "Countering Stanley Style" per se, it is too specific and applies only to one individual. There are just too many weird styles out there! I guess the thing about countering weird plays is that one should not always expect extremely good results, something slightly better than the more common move is sufficient to prove that the weird play is indeed not as good. Sometimes, the game of Go is not just the go board and the stones themselves, there is also a psychological factor in it. The weird plays can be seen as a kind of dare, but there is no rule that says that one must accept that dare. So if one plays according to the principles, the result should not be too bad.

Blake: It's probably more useful to view his style as simple overplay, since that's what it seems to be. If you can punish greediness and reckless invasion, I guess you can punish Stanley Style :-)

Eric Boesch?: Maybe white should forestall move 7 by playing 6 underneath the bottom middle star point. You normally expect the corners to be biggest, but when all three of black's stones, plus one of white's, point towards the bottom side, this might be an exception.

Bill: White should welcome B7. It's overconcentrated.

Fhayashi: After white at 'a', white is looking good, isn't it?

SikeElegy: I find it interesting that Stanley's style is universally and harshly condemned. I would certainly agree that it is suboptimal, but you all talk as though he's lost the game at move 7.

adammarquis: Sike, here's my take. I think you are overexaggerating the claims people are making here. Stanley's opening is indeed suboptimal: it is both overconcentrated and slow. Nobody is saying that the game is lost or that his moves are as bad as passes (I hope); rather, the statement is that in the above diagram Stanley is behind. I do concede that people often have a poor idea of how big the difference between a good and suboptimal move are: I think opponent's overconfidence in white's position above has lead Stanley to many a victory.

If you are honest and fair about such opinions, you should also conclude the game is "lost" when black's first approach move is in the wrong direction (and this happens at the 9k level quite frequently).

Calvin: My first reaction is: so what? This just proves that there's room for inefficiency in kyu level fuseki. Let's say Stanley is really of 5k strength in most aspects of the game. Then by definition he could easily play the first four moves anywhere he wants and still have an even chance of winning against a 9k. An interesting question is: at what level would this really be a losing fuseki? This opening is not as bad as passing four times. I'm not strong enough to tell, but it's probably better than giving a two-stone handicap. Two-stone handicaps are possible even at the pro level. Perhaps Stanley could continue playing this way even into the middle dan level. Realistically, it's unlikely he would because there would be a point in his development where optimizing his fuseki would be the easiest way for him to improve, and any teacher from whom he'd solicit advice would probably try hard to convince him to abandon or at least modify this fuseki. Let's see if he's still playing like this when he's shodan.

Paul Clarke: Calvin, my (2-dan) guess is that after Black's first four moves he is behind by the komi (or a little more). This is based on B1 being a perfectly good move, B3 being a big point only marginally inferior to taking an empty corner, B5 being a decent move - albeit slow - and B7 losing a few points - say 6-10 points altogether.

Bill: My guess is that Black has lost around 1/2 stone (which is about what komi is worth) or a little more.

Sal Gionfriddo: I recently saw something that shocked and amazed me. I was at an AGA tournament in Maryland and I finished my game. I walked around the room looking at some of the higher dan games. I passed a board where two 2dans were playing and I swear I saw what could have only formed from a stanley fuseki. I sat down and watched the game. After the game they reviewed and sure enough one of the players opened just like stanley. He lost by 1 point after making a 3 point blunder in endgame. I was very impressed. This shows either playing flaws that allow stanley to succeed continue into the dans, or its not that bad an idea after all...

PatrickB: The 6-10 point evaluation is probably not far off. Stanley now has about 30 points of essentially bulletproof territory while his opponent has none but better long-term prospects. Stanley now also has a strong position to fight from.

Blake: The Stanley Fuseki seems to be failing even Stanley; in 2006, his winning percentage as white is 46.15%, as black 42.37%. This is compared to 53.33% and 47.32% during 2005. He is currently ranked 14k on KGS.

Samson: Personally after reviewing a few of his games I just find his "style" to be obnoxious. After looking at five games that he won, I don't feel like he deserved to win any of them (In my mind winning and deserving to win are two different things. Kind of like being "Victorious over an opponent" over "Beating an opponent." Stanley seems to "beat" a lot of opponents).

ThomasBuchholz: Probably this opening is slow and the moves are not perfectly balanced. But that is what a professional would say. I think until the strength of around 4 or 5 dan when "serious" go begins, this opening is not such a bad idea. Many players might have problems to deal with it, because they have no idea what to do against such a thick position.

From the Friday, June 2nd, 2006 AGA E-Journal:

Fighting Spirit Prize [at the Maryland Open]: Sal Gionfriddo 3d, for going 2-3 using the "Stanley Style" Fuseki.

Stanley Standard Fuseki last edited by on January 27, 2015 - 05:44
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