The amazing comeback by Rafe against Kaziwami

  Difficulty: Advanced   Keywords: Game commentary
Moves 71 to 80  

Rafe and Kaziwami are two top players on IGS. That does not keep them from playing blunders, such as W2 here instead of a, which allows Black to capture the cutting stones. At the level of Rafe and Kaziwami, the game would usually be over. However, what follows is an amazing display of Rafe in applying the right amount of pressure and using a ko fight to stage an upset and come back from a lost position.

In fact, Black already overplays in my opinion, by attacking with B5 in White's sphere of influence.

Moves 81 to 90  

White vigorously attacks, building central influence in the process.

Moves 91 to 100  

W4 allows B5 to cut off White's own group, because W6 and W8 can make some good shape in sente, then W10 attacks Black's base while expanding its own. White is in command now, despite being way behind on points.

Moves 101 to 110  

At W8, Black is offered an easy way out: he can connect at W10. I believe the upper right would at worst become a long L group which lives by 10000 year ko, especially since Black would have a thick overall position. But Black is either in a fighting spirit or careless and plays B9, allowing White to cut at W10.

Moves 111 to 120  
Moves 121 to 130  

White sacrifices three stones to build central influence in sente and suddenly with W6 a great moyo appears. White is playing a gambit on his dragon, which is far from alive but turns out to be quite flexible. At W8 a ko fight starts about White's eye shape. W10 creates another eye space for the dragon.

Moves 131 to 140 (8 at 2)  

B3 is a local ko threat. White could sacrifice the upper part and live with the large body of this group but according to me this would be gote and Black could next grab many big points a to d.

W6 looks like an innocent little forcing move for a threat, but it will play a big role in White's turnaround.

B9 is a first sign of a compromise: Black destroys one eyespace and leaves the ko for White to resolve.

Moves 141 to 150  

White can live with a: it looks as if Black can still harass with b but White can play c in sente (because there is a tesuji to connect without ko if Black does not answer there).

However, White senses that Black is in a low mood and utilizes the aforementioned ko threat at white+circle to cut off Black's upper left.

Moves 151 to 160 (7 at 1) (10 at 4)  

So Black reverts back to the ko with B1. W2 threatens to connect (as mentioned). Now B5 is a real threat to White's eyes so he must respond. W8 shows the resilience of White's group. The ko has now become a direct ko for the life of White's dragon.

Moves 161 to 170  

B1 goes at the heart of the matter: if Black can capture these stones, he's still good. W4 creates a half eye and Black understandably turns the other shape into a half eye as well.

W6 is the first non-local threat White uses in this fight and Black faces a major decision. I think connecting safely at B7 is a healthy choice: Black does not need to make the game more complex.

However W10 is a daring move that seems to unsettle Black completely. This spot was reserved for Black to connect his upper left stones. Now White uses this as a ko threat, to connect under in ko as well!

Moves 171 to 180 (8 at 2) (10 at 5)  

With B1 Black shows that he's completely dominated by White's thought processes. W6 throws in for another ko and by B9 Black's brain is cooked. W10 ignores the threat to capture mere stones and lives.

Moves 181 to 190  

Actually, things were still not hopeless for Black. If B1 is played at W2, I think Black will still win the capturing race. But he focuses on the useless central stones. White doesn't miss the chance and surrounds the upper left with good aji at W2.

We haven't seen any blunders by Black, only a lack of fighting spirit and a missed opportunity here and there. Still the game is now completely reversed. White has not only kept his moyo AND made his surrounded group alive but in the process also captured the upper right corner. Surely Rafe knows how to handle a ko fight!

B3 next invades the moyo, from which it becomes another instructive display of how to win a won game by allowing to live small and take profit elsewhere.

Moves 191 to 200  
Moves 201 to 210  

Mercifully, White allows Black to live with B5 and B7, but takes corner profit with W8 instead. W10 is a painful psychological blow: after the miserable result of the ko fight, Black sees his hard wrought profit in this area vanish even more.

Moves 211 to 220  

B3 lives in gote! W4 then further stabs the corpse and connects the stones which were to be the only compensation Black got for losing the ko. When W8 firmly confirms central thickness, the game is lost for Black. Eventually White will win by 6,5 points.

The amazing comeback by Rafe against Kaziwami last edited by Dieter on July 28, 2013 - 13:33
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