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Some people say that ...

By Rob Van Zeijst

Some people say that everything you do is an investment for your future. It is a little scary to apply this philosophy to your daily life, but when applied to business, study, games and sports, it is evident you should build on your strengths. It seems logical then to complete one task before starting another.

However, since humans are often guided by emotions rather than logic, this sometimes takes a great deal of effort. That is why I always ask my go students about their goals during a game to see how they are guided by the stones they have already played in the hope that they are not merely looking for the next small opportunity.

Now let's have a look at the game we started on Jan. 19 between Zhou Jun-xun, Taiwan's strongest player, and the current Honinbo, Shinji Takao, in the Fujitsu Cup in 2003.

Diagram 1: At this point in the game, there are two important cutting points, at A and at 15. In addition, the black and white marked cutting stones play significant roles. How will the players defend and attack in these areas? First, Black has to reduce the left side, but how? Using his marked stone to move out only splits two fairly strong white groups. In this case, it is better to threaten to pull out this stone. Black 1 is the way to do this. White 2 is a better response than B because it prevents Black from linking up at C. After the exchange 1 for 2 and 3 for 4, Black is not in immediate danger as he has possible moves at D and E. Therefore, he attaches at 5. In the sequence through 21, Black ensures life in the lower left corner while White builds more thickness. Note that Black cuts once with 15. White 22 pushes Black in the direction of White's strength and he strikes with 24 to bottle up four black stones in the sequence up to 28. Note that this also turns the exchange 15 for 16 into a fiasco for Black. In the end, White wins this game by capturing Black's invaders on the left.

Hints for improving your game

One of the single biggest investments one can make during a game is cutting. This is because the cutting move could have been used somewhere else. As we have seen before, not all cuts are equal. Sometimes it is better to prompt an opponent to spend a move to connect by threatening to cut.

Diagram 2: Black cannot cut immediately at 4. However, threatening to cut there with 1 is a good move. After the 1 through 4 exchange, Black forces White to move out with A or make life through the sequence white B, black C and white D.

Solutions to Jan. 19 problems

Solution 1A: Since 3 is sente, Black must answer at 4, otherwise White will play at 4 and connect his marked stones. Therefore, if White plays at 1 and Black answers with 2, White exchanges 3 for 4, and then plays at 5. However, at this stage, Black might play at A, followed by white B, black C, white D, etc. to black I. What would happen next is unclear, but when White gets a move around G, as in the game, the combination 1 through 5 works well for White.

Solution 1B: Note that White should keep the A for 11 exchange in reserve. After 1, if Black plays 2, White can force the sequence through 11, setting free his marked stones while killing Black's marked stones.

Solution 1C: White can also opt for 1, followed by black 2, white 3 through 7 to increase the liberties of his marked stones to three. Black now has no choice but to play at 8, making three liberties, too. White can seal in Black in sente with A, or capture Black's stones if he has a stone anywhere on the X's.

Solution 2: The combination of 1 through 7 kills Black. White 5 is an especially lethal move.

New problems

Problem 1: This joseki often appears in handicap games. After 14, Black has a cutting point between 3 and 13. How should Black defend here while attacking White's position?

Problem 2: This is another joseki where cuts are possible. Where should Black play next?

Want to find out more? Come to Ben's Cafe in Takadanobaba, Tokyo (03) 3202-2445, where the English-speaking go community congregates every Sunday. You can enjoy free lessons, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Ben's Cafe can be accessed at www.benscafe.com.

Van Zeijst is a four-time European go champion and European representative at the Fujitsu World Championship.

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