Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some days, I feel like a one-trick pony

If you were to examine a sample of my games, I'd be willing to bet that many of them would contain the Chinese Opening. I used to play the low Chinese opening, but ImNoSensei inspired me to adopt the high version.

How I tend to play when I see a stone appear on the 3rd line.

The Chinese Opening tends to be my standard response to White unless she happens to play a stone on the third line when her parallel fuseki faces mine. Then I'm likely to play my first stones on parallel star-points and launch a one-space approach on the low stone (a style acquired after reading Kajiwara's The Direction of Play).


In Volume 2 of his Workshop Lecture series, Yang Yilun categorizes games as territorial and moyo oriented. (He also has a third classification: Fighting.)

A territorial opening pattern.

Territorial games are typically launched from the third line (usually the 3-4 points, also known as komoku). In territorial style play, according to Yang, you must:
  • make solid positions
  • avoid trying to develop a moyo
  • protect your weak groups
  • pay attention to the overall balance so that you can reduce your opponent's potential when appropriate
A moyo opening pattern.

Moyo games, by contrast, are launched from the fourth line (usually the 4-4 points or hoshi). The objective here is to develop a large framework which may win the game if it is all converted into territory. When your opponent invades the framework, you make territory by attacking the invading stones.

The Chinese Opening (both low and high variants) strikes me as a compromise position. As the late Kato Masao described this fuseki in his book, the hoshi stone is moyo-oriented while the 3-4 stone is territory-oriented. It is meant to be played like a moyo, with the follow-up moves extending outwards in a grand scale. Yet the lower half of it retains a strong territory orientation; able to quickly build a solid base while attacking.

To me, it's what I would call a "terrimoyo" formation.

Yang seems to suggest that it can be confusing to combine both territory and moyo styles. Perhaps my opinion will change when I develop a greater understanding of this game, but I can't help but wonder if the terrimoyo orientation of the Chinese opening could be seen as a balanced strategy that plays well into Go Seigen's concept of harmonizing the whole board.

Stuck in My Comfort Zone
Playing the Chinese Opening has, in fact, probably been helpful towards familiarizing myself with joseki since I find myself having to play either 4-4 and 3-4 josekis when my opponents approach the corners.

I don't claim to be a master of this opening. I know that I can just as easily lose with it in an even game. But I will claim to at least have a good understanding of the spirit by which it should be played; and a fair understanding of how to demolish it when playing White.

And that relates to what I'm struggling with right now. I feel so comfortable with this opening that I have not branched-out much into experimenting with pure moyo and, quite notably, pure territory openings. I believe I could manage a sanrensei (3 stones on the star-points) as I had played it often before. But I find myself quite unable to launch a pure territorial opening because I lack the experience and, consequently, the confidence to apply it.

I'm thinking that I'll need to study Yang's chapter on "How to Play A Territorial Game" and will probably have to play-out a few professional games just to see how this style is applied. This will likely lead to interesting discoveries as there are more 3-4 josekis (and rather complicated ones) than there are 4-4 josekis.

I expect that my rank will stagnate, or perhaps even drop, once I start really experimenting with new fuseki. But I guess that's better than being a one-trick pony.

Interestingly, some Go players do have a preference for styles. I recall DrStaw as having once remarked in about his dislike for moyo-oriented game.

Photo From the First Dali Cup Womens' Tournament

Click to enlarge.

Pong Yen of Yellow Mountain Imports sent me this photo of the participants in the 1st Dali Travel Cup Womens' Tournament in China. The semifinals were completed in November and the final round will take place in May. You can see the results, and the names of the participants, on this page.


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