Etymology: Unknown, Year 2003(?), Coined by Charles Matthews in Shape Up
There is a key shape (normally good shape) that doesn't have a Japanese name, and hasn't been christened in English - up to this point (...which was several years ago, and the name seems to be pretty widely accepted in english now, as of October 2009 .) Sometimes called a "loose mouth" due to similarity to the Mouth shape or loose bamboo joint, due to similarity to bamboo joint.
This may be more efficient than the bamboo joint, while doing a similar job - typically staying connected in an important, contested part of the board.
Depending on just what white stones are around, there is also probably a greater chance of an eye being formed in the table shape due to shared properties with the Mouth shape.
Here's an example from a game in which I (Charles) was taking a handicap from a pro. Black wants to cut White. There are several ways to do this. and make good shape, because now White a, Black b would be the table shape.
Ear point contains another example of using the table shape.
Good shape though it is, the table shape does have some vulnerabilities if there are stones of the opposite color nearby. In this diagram Black might feel that the two white groups have been separated. Note that the marked stones form a table shape:
Trione: What if black plays 2 at 3? I see no way for white to connect.
Uberdude White simply extends from the atari and black can't connect: a/b are miai and c/d are miai.
Trione: If black plays c and white responds d, then black plays 3, something like below, doesn't this cut white's groups in question we were trying to connect, and ? Apologies for any oversight on my part.
xela: Yes, I think you're right. I nearly posted the same diagram as Uberdude, then realised that in the diagram below is short of liberties so black can escape. But white can still squeeze, so the black stones to the right are eyeless. I can't decide whether or not this is better for black than letting the two stones be captured. I think it depends on what the lower right corner looks like.
I think the next diagram is best play for both sides. at , black 11 at a and there is still some ko potential in the corner (see tripod group, "extra leg" section). And now white has sente to play an attacking move on the outside.
See also table building. See also tippy table.