BGJ 7, Winter 68. Page 4.

British Go Journal No. 7. Winter 1968. Page 4.

Principles of Opening Strategy

How To Play Along The Sides – Part 1

Kaku Takagawa, 9p

WE PRESENT HERE THE first of several extracts from a translation originally published in the American Go Journal, by their kind permission.


Go can be thought of as consisting of three stages: opening (fuseki), middle-game and end-game (yose). of these the opening strategy is the one on which the best players spend the most time and this stage that the amateur finds most difficult. This is quite understandable as the middle and end-game can be studied and definite conclusions reached, while in fuseki everyone has his own ideas. One often finds the word "may" inserted into sentences - "it may be good", or "this may be possible". In this complexity lies the difficulties of fuseki, but also its added interested.

To define fuseki a little more closely we must remember that Go is a fighting game and the middle-game battle is important. Quite often it is said that fuseki is laying out of territory. This is not quite true, it is more a building of camps - a getting ready for the battle of territory, in short.


  1. A player gets the greatest value by playing in the corner, then along the sides and lastly in the centre.
  2. The third and fourth lines are the lines of strength. Fuseki is not the play on the second or fifth lines but a combination of third and fourth. It is the method of keeping a balance between actual gain and potential power.

I. Large Plays near the Side Handicap Points

Diagram 1

Looking at Diagram 1 we see a situation where black and white have each closed two corners, and are considering plays along the sides. The points below the stars (K3, R10, etc) or any adjacent points are considered large plays. In Diagram 1 it should be noted that a large extension for white would also be a large extension for black. It therefore becomes important to decide which to occupy first. If the theory of fuseki made it impossible to vary the order of playing these then Go would be very dull. The fact is that the possibilities are so complicated that one can find endless interest experimenting.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2 illustrates the continuation from the corner closing to large placements. If white’s corners were identical there would be no priority between K3 and K17, but the large corner is weaker so black plays 9. 11 extends the sphere of influence from the lower corner in the most profitable direction. 9 and 11 together form a very desirable position. They both span five points from the base so that another stone placed midway at a later time would create two local two-point spaces. White places 12 at a short distance from his base instead of playing R11, as he being menaced by 9.

If white did play R11, black would follow with O3 gaining area and severely attacking the corner. White’s counter-attack at N17 is no threat to black’s corner, as black can secure his position with R13. The important thing to remember here is move 12 before 13.

Diagram 3

In Diagram 3 we see a different situation where 8 has preceded the closing of both lower corners. If 7 did not respond directly to 6 White would then occupy C17, and black would lose all the advantage of 1. 8 protects 6, for if it were neglected black would counter with H17.

Black could have played 9 in the other corner – this could make a great difference, but the merits and demerits cannot be decided at once. 10 precedes 12 as a means of defence of 2, and 11 and 13 form a model joseki. 13 is very important for black, since otherwise white would play R4. The meaning of this move is so great that it equals in importance a primary placement in the corner. 14 plays at F3.

Diagram 4

Diagram 4 shows the large extensions along the left and right sides. 15 extends five points from 1-7, and threatens to occupy C6. 16 strengthens this base, and threatens in turn to invade at C12 or C13 later. If 16 were played on the lower side, the position would be too heavy and considered a misplacement of power.

17 expects 18-21. A possibility for breaking in at K3 exists, but the fact that 21 threatens white's base should be especially noted.

The exchange 22-23 is even. The moves could have been reversed, but then black might play L17 to threaten white. It would also gain a large area. 23 is the last big extension; after this comes the middle-game.

Diagram 5

In Diagram 5 note that 10 plays on the second line. This does not contradict axiom 2, since it is a necessary auxiliary move to others on the third and fourth. 12 is played at an important central point.

Up to 17, each in turn played along the side or slightly closer to the centre. 18 occupied a large placement along the upper side. If white did not play here then of course black would have on his next move. Because of this possibility white allows 19 to attack the corner. This is one of the few examples where a large placement along the side precedes the closing of a corner.

After 30, black can occupy S17, after which white would play R8. But if black plays R9, white extends with S17. This is an even choice.

II. Extensions

Diagram 6

Extensions can be made from two to five points from a given stone. In Diagram 6, black makes a five points extension at the top; white makes a two-point extension at the right, and a four-point one at the left. The two-point extension is the strongest of all. Although all these are on the third line, often a fourth-line extension turns out to have better effects.

Diagram 7

In Diagram 7, black makes a three-point extension on the right side. On the left, 13 is a high six-point extension. (The high or low extension us determined by the situation lower-right.) 1-11 press black along the side; in this situation white must take advantage of the big wall on the left by making a large extension to the right. If he desired only a two or three-point extension he could simply make this on the first move.

Diagram 8

The idea behind an extension can either be to prevent being pincered by the opponent, or to prevent the opponent's extension. In Diagram 8, we see 1 on the left pincers (or squeezes) the white stones - white played 7 in Diagram 6 to prevent this. On the right 1 pincers black's corner stone.

[Start] Continued in part 2 on BGJ 8 page 10.

This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 7
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

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