Monday, March 1, 2010

Awesome Pro game

My study mainly consists of studying pro games and doing a LOT of tsumego problems.  Pro games can be a headache most of the time, as I usually only have a rudimentary understanding of what strategies they're employing, but every so often I watch one where the entire game almost clicks in my mind.  Well, almost 100%.  My opening is still the weakest part of my game so in that respect I can get muddled but the game I watched on Baduk TV today really stuck with me because the fighting was so smooth.  I could always see the next move in my mind and all the pieces just merged together.  The commentator was just showing me things I had already read out, so it felt good to know that maybe I'm making a step forward. I'll show you some of the highlights of the game.  I forget who played it, I wasn't paying attention to the players names.

By the way for the Go uninitiated I'm working on putting up some Go terms so when I use them you can just look them up.

So the combination of Black 5 and 7 is nothing new but I've seen the pattern more so in games of the last 5 or so 2 years or so.  Playing the Mini Chinese Opening is of course an option, but personally I like the combination of a star point stone at 1 and the high enclosure of 3 and 7 because it builds a bigger area.  I'm a natural moyo (large territorial framework) player so it works.  White probes at 10 which is great timing.  Black plays at 11, which is a move I've seen before but still do not entirely understand.

If Black plays 1 then later White gets forcing moves to try and make a fairly stable group on the right side smack dab next to Black's strong area.  If you wanna kill a stone with 7, go ahead, White could just atari you or extend and his group is still fine.

Of course if Black doesn't choose to capture a stone White could take the whole corner in Gote (meaning that when he takes the corner it will be his opponent's turn).  This would suck for Black at some point.

The upper right is a new shape that is showing up more and more in pro games.  Black took the big point at the top instead of extending at A which would complete the joseki and I prefer taking the big point because the right side isn't that interesting for development and White's atari isn't that severe.  Black has more stones facing the center, so I'd feel good as Black.  By the way, where do you think White should play next?

White 26 is just plain GIGANTIC, like the Titanic minus DiCaprio.  If Black plays A his moyo at the top grows out of control and White's territory is looking a bit too small to compensate.  Here, Black has one weak group on the board and he has to start stabilizing it or he can't expect that much territory from his framework (weak groups make maintaining your holdings hard).  White kicks Black so that he has a stronger hold over the corner and then comes out to the center with his weak group at 30 (which also has a nice follow up at 32).  Now, Black has a choice and this is something I'm learning from my recent games.  You have to decide between taking a large, globally strategic point on the board or starting a direct attack.  Both are fine and are possible strategies in this case, it's just that in this game Black chose to go for the large point of 31.  I might have tried to make my group strong by trying to cover at C, but attacking White seems to be a bit clumsy and without a clear point.  Black's possible points lie more in the center than in the right and White seems to easily come out, so just leaving the attack may be prudent here.  Black could have also just grabbed cash by playing at B, but what would the viewers at home think?

Let the mayhem begin!  Black hane's under at 33 (I know some of you want to hane over, let White cut and then try to take that stone but think about how strong White's shape gets).  White makes a table shape as he comes out.  White 40 is big as it helps White have more breathing room in the center, but Black doesn't have to immediately answer.  In the end, White lives with his group and Black takes the corner while Black lives with the other left side group.  As far as grabbing profit Black is pretty good and White has a slight weakness if Black later pushes from 35 and cuts, but that's only if the White 38 stones get in any trouble.

Should White try to attack Black it doesn't so much work out.  Now, the commentator showed everything up to White 8 but I added the rest in for those of you who are wondering what happens if White cuts.  White just doesn't have a leg to stand on.  Also, remember that as long as Black 13 has 3 liberties cutting beneath 4 is a tesuji (highly effective move).

Next up is a pretty neat trade.  Black gets a ponnuki (the flower shape of 61, 59, 63, and the other black stone) and White gets the side.  Now Black's influence looks really nice but so does White's profit.  Now, this isn't the normal way that this shape is played...

It does get a bit complicated, this is more of an expert level sequence, but the gist of it is White gets a wall with some left over possibilities for Black and Black gets a lot of direct profit.  I remember the commentator saying this is not possible because Black can just fight from here, but he didn't show any sequences so I was left in the dark to think about it.

So we're left to our own devices to see what's up.  I figured since the Black A stone is there that must mean some ladder no longer functions for White.  If Black escapes with his stone and White tries to capture then Black gets absolutely AWESOME thickness when he nets White like this. 

I also thought, "Hey what if White just tries to capture the outside stone?"  Well at that point Black could just take a big corner and coming out with the top White stones is really really hard if not impossible.  After Black cuts at 12 I don't see what White can do.

Black went on to win the game by forcing his opponent to resign, which wasn't a surprise because I pretty much liked Black the entirety of the game.  It was a pretty good game and wasn't so filled with complication that it made my head explode.  Baduk TV is my new best friend.  By the way, in a future post I have super special awesome news but I want to make sure everything is a go first, so stay tuned.