Our topic is both separating the opponent into two large groups and cutting off
the escape of invading stones. There are a number of terms that are used, but
the basic purpose is the same. By not allowing the opponent’s stones to connect,
we look to gain some benefit.
However, separating is such a basic technique that often it’s not necessary to
use the sort of unusual shapes or clever order of moves that we call tesuji.
Before examining tesuji that separate, let’s look at a few examples of separating
that don’t locally require “tesuji” per se.
1 2
Diagram 3: Sideways Bump
1 D
Diagram 2: Solid Descent
1 B
Diagram 1: Jump-Descent
Jumping to Q separates the white
stones on the left and right. Jumping
out with A instead would allow
White B; a diagonal move at Black
C would allow White to link up at
Q. Black will now solidify territory
while attacking to the left and right.
Because ´ is high, Q is the strong-
est way to separate White. Playing
at A would give White sabaki (mak-
ing flexible shape lightly) chances
with B. Instead of Q , if C, White
can play at Q ; or, if Black D then
White E fortifies a weak group.
If Black descends to A in this case,
White B is good enough to give
Black trouble. In such cases, the
sideways bump with Q is effective.
Black should bump the side he
doesn’t mind making stronger.
Tesuji that Separate, that Prevent the Connection of the Opponent’s Stones
Problem 9: Jump
White to Play
The basic principle of pressing is to get out one
step in front of your opponent and press his head
down. However if you hurry to press your
opponent’s head down, there are many cases in
which you put wind in his sails instead.
C 2
1 A
Diagram 3:
´ is the tesuji.
The jump to ´ is the move. If Black gives atari
with A, White can press down with the ko starting
at B. If Black is going to play here he must choose
the slide at Q . Spreading out with ´ is fine; if
surrounding conditions permit, White can consider
the pincer at Q .
White still has the possibility of attaching at C to
seal Black in. This is thanks to jumping out an extra
step at ´ .
4 2
5 3 1
Diagram 2: Too Hasty
It’s hard to expect success after hastily blocking
with ´ . Black crawls with Q and Q and then can
play Q . This is fine for Black. Instead of Q , Black
can also play an asking move with an atari at A.
Neither the slack move in the previous diagram nor
the hasty move in the current diagram can be called
tesuji. Look for a moderate approach that dimin-
ishes White’s weaknesses while pressing Black.
Diagram 1:
One Step Behind
´ lets Black run out with Q , leaving White a step
behind. Instead of ´ , it’s tempting to try to pincer
Black with a move around Q , but White doesn’t
have eyes yet, so playing this way would be risky
and depends on surrounding circumstances. After
Q , White can press at A, but this does not have a
big impact.
Instead of Q , jumping to B fails due to a shortage
of liberties.
A 1 C
B 2
Diagram 3: Bump
“Light” and “heavy” are among the more difficult go terms to understand. One
simple expression of the concept is this: “heavy” refers to a lump of stones that
cannot easily be sacrificed. Therefore, when you attack, you want to make the
opponent’s stones heavy so that he is less likely to be able to set up a trade.
These tesuji are apt to be overlooked, but as your skill increases they become
more and more necessary.
However, be careful that you don’t strengthen your opponent instead of making
him heavy. If you do, your attack will not succeed.
1 B
C 3
Diagram 2:
Pushing Along
Pushing along against White with Q forces ´ , then
Q attacks while taking profit along the side. Usually
this white shape could be considered thickness, but
in this case Black already has Q in place as a pincer.
Rather than thick, White is heavy. Instead of Q , if
Black A, then White at Q , Black B, White C, and
the attack has no effect.
Bumping with Q forces White to stand with ´ ,
after which Black defends with Q . Instead of Q , if
simply A, B, or something similar, White can go
for a trade in the corner with C.
Usually when you play from the inside to make your
opponent heavy, you make moves that also serve
one or more defensive purposes.
1 A
3 2
Diagram 1:
Diagonal Attachment
This is a typical tesuji for making your opponent
heavy. Black plays the diagonal attachment at Q ,
forcing White to stand at ´ , then Black attacks
with Q . Just playing Q first lets White jump to the
3-3 point at A—White is happy to make a trade
here. After the exchange of Q for ´ , if White jumps
into the corner with A, Black descends to B. The
corner stones would be under pressure and the side
Problem 10: Double Hane
Black to Play
A 4 3 C B D
Diagram 3: Resurrection
Attacking a weakness directly doesn’t always
work out well. Eyeing it from afar while getting
benefits elsewhere is usually good enough.
A 4 2 3 C 6 8
1 5 7
Diagram 1: A Gift
Pushing and cutting directly with Q and Q leads
nowhere. White connects with ´ , and Black has
no good follow-up, so the cutting stone becomes a
gift. About the best Black can do is to force with Q
and Q , but this does not make up for the loss
incurred by solidifying the upper side.
However, instead of ´ , if White A, then Black B,
´ , Black C, leads to a ko.
Diagram 2:
Q is the tesuji.
8 4 5
B 2 3 6
1 7
Giving atari with Q seems like erasing aji, but the
double hane with Q and Q creates new aji. White
can cut once with ´ , but then needs to come back
to defend at ´ . The profit in the corner remains up
for grabs.
Black has not disturbed the upper side, so pressing
with A or checking with B both remain powerful
Instead of ´ in Diagram 2, if White greedily goes
for the corner territory with ´ in this diagram, this
is the time for Black to push and cut with Q and
Q . If White A, Black B captures the corner. If White
C, Black captures a stone in a ladder.
If Black plays the atari at B before Q and Q, White
captures at D, and Black loses the forcing move at
Problem 12: Attachment
Black to Play
If you play a double threat that is too
unsophisticated, you may actually incur a loss.
In this situation, how can you use the cutting aji
in the corner to make shape?
4 1 A
Diagram 2:
Double Threat
Bumping with Q makes miai of the cut at A and
the hane on top of White’s stone with Q . However,
descending to ´ is quite large, and Black’s chance
to make an eye on the side is now completely gone,
so this is actually not so promising for Black.
One problem is that while Q is forcing, there is no
clear follow-up move that makes shape for Black.
These black stones will likely come under attack.
A 3 B
2 5 4
1 C
Diagram 3:
Q is the correct order.
Black first plays the attachment at Q . If ´ , Black
gives atari at Q before bumping with Q . It goes
without saying that this result is better for Black
than Diagram 1.
Instead of ´ , if White descends to Q , Black starts
a trade by playing the hane at ´ . Instead of ´ , if
White at Q , Black forces at ´ , White at Q , Black
A, White B, and Black blocks with C.
1 A
3 2
6 5
Diagram 1: Settled
Black would rather not lose the possibility of
playing the atari at Q followed by making shape
with Q and Q . It is highly likely that Black will
get to play A in sente, and this point is quite large
both in terms of territory and of being a key point
for both sides in making a base.
Forcing White to make the extension at ´ is not
something Black really wants to do, but after Q ,
this group is out of any immediate danger. However,
White is happy to be able to push with ´ .
Diagram 1:
Solid Extension
1 B
Diagram 2:
Diagonal Attachment
1 C
Diagram 3:
Knight’s Move
D 1
Attacking from above aims to seal in; attacking from below aims to take away
your opponent’s base and chase him out into the open. In many cases, while
taking away your opponent’s base you also reduce his territory and increase
your own. What’s more, while attacking you will likely solidify your
surrounding territory. If your opponent makes a mistake, or ignores your attack,
you may be able to capture his group. However, as a matter of principle you
should avoid chasing an opponent into your own moyo. You will incur a large
loss by doing so, and it will be extremely difficult to generate an attack so
effective that it makes up for this loss.
Extending to Q takes away White’s base while also
protecting the corner territory. If Black did not play
Q , White could slide to A. Even if Black then
defends at B, White gets some breathing room.
After Q , if White develops toward the center with
C, there are no immediate attacking chances against
this group. If White ignores Q , D and E are the
shape points for Black’s continuing the attack.
The diagonal attachment at Q looks to play the
hane at A next, so it demands a response. If White
A, Black continues the attack with B, an active way
to play that attempts to remove the possibility of
White C while maintaining an attacking posture.
White may feel that standing with A is heavy, and
can instead try jumping to D, a lighter way to
manage the group that involves a ko after Black E,
White F, Black A, White G.
In terms of territory, the most profitable way to
attack is with Q . However, White can aim for the
waist of the knight’s move at A, so this is a bit thin
for Black. Further, there is no particularly severe
follow-up that Black can aim for.
White can tenuki. Jumping to B just gives Black a
good chance to respond with C. White can wait until
Black plays D and then jump to E.
Problem 5: Spiral Ladder
Black to Play
Diagram 3: Ladder
11 10 8
9 7
Ultimately, this tactic is a ladder, but when it
arises unexpectedly as the result of a squeeze, it
is frequently called a spiral ladder.
Diagram 1:
Belly Attachment
C 2
1 A
If Black connects at Q from fear of being cut, White
can play the belly attachment at ´ , a tesuji to win
the capturing race. If Black A, White B.
It follows that in order to win the capturing race in
the corner Black will need to block at C. But how
can Black handle the atari at D?
Diagram 2:
Q is the tesuji.
5 3
1 D
C 2
After ´ , Black gives atari from the weak side with
Q , setting up a squeeze. Black links up and gives
atari again with Q . Reading out the finish after this
is also important.
Instead of Q , if Black connects at ´ , of course
White can capture three stones with A. Instead of
Q, if Black gives atari at B, then ´, Black C, White
D, and Black has not gained much.
After White connects at ´ , Q and Q neatly catch
White in a ladder. Even here, if Black carelessly
plays at ´ instead of Q , he gets hit with an atari—
be careful!
The Japanese name for spiral ladder, guru guru
mawashi, is a rather unsophisticated way to describe
spinning something in a circle—but when you see
it in action, the name is rather apt.
1 E
Diagram 1:
One Space Jump
Diagram 2:
Two Space Jump
1 C D
Diagram 3: Shoulder
Developing your groups into the center in and of itself provides no profit, but
it helps to prevent your opponent’s attacks before they can begin, and is also
a fundamental skill in the art of pressing or enclosing your opponent or
otherwise narrowing his space. Moving into the center appropriately is bound
to have an important effect on any fighting that ensues.
However, whether to develop into the center or to seek a base immediately,
perhaps even allowing your opponent to seal you in while you turn to play
elsewhere—this cannot be decided according to local considerations alone.
Most of all it is necessary to avoid cases in which moving out into the center
just winds up playing on dame points.
The most fundamental of all developing moves
is the one space jump. In this case the jump
prevents Black from being sealed in by White A
while also preparing threats on both the left and
right. Of course, there are other sequences here
that are also considered joseki—such as those
starting with B, C, D, or E, and a wide variety of
possible variations thereafter. But when your base
has been threatened the first possibility you
should consider is moving out into the center.
This move is based on the same basic idea as the
one space jump, but since the connection is less
secure, it is necessary to exercise caution when
the opponent’s stones draw near. This jump is
used when you want to move out quickly, and
when it is less important to exert immediate
influence on your opponent’s position. A three
space jump, however, would be too thin.
If your opponent is trying to develop into the
center and you want to develop one step faster,
you can play a pressing move on your opponent’s
shoulder such as Q . This move seems to leave a
gap in Black’s position, but after White A, Black
B, White C, Black can give atari with D and move
out so there is no need for worry.
In addition to Q , the attachment at Black D is
also an effective idea. Black C is usually not a
very good shape.
Game Example 4:
Diagonal Move
If you develop your group, you
prevent attacks before they can
occur, while also building thick-
ness of your own. Frequently you
take a point that lets you glare
menacingly in many directions.
The diagonal move of ´ allows
White to aim for both the press at
A and an attack on the black group
on the left; an invasion on the
lower side now begins to seem
possible as well.
To consider an alternative for
White, ´ would also be a good
point, calculated both to help
stabilize White’s group while also
giving a greater punch to any
invasion on the lower side.
However, the press at Q quickly
leads to a clear, easily understood
position. About the best White
can do is to spread out with ´
through ´ ; however, Q not only
connects the upper and left sides,
but even offers Black the hope
that he might make some territory
Viewed this way, ´ in the game
record is more than just a
developing move. It is a vital point to determine whether each of three groups
will become thin or thick. As such, it prevents the game from becoming
instantly bad for White and prepares to conduct a protracted resistance.
Game Record 4
2nd Meijin Title Match, Game 6
White: Sakata Eio
Black: Fujisawa Shuko
Variation: A shoulder press by Black
would be vicious.
2 3
4 5
Game situations often arise in which you are willing to take a bit of a loss
locally in order to take a big point elsewhere. There may be a proper move
available if you are willing to spend a move, but if you misapprehend the
situation a proper move may well end up being slack.
Of course, if you play nothing at all in a local area you have sente to play
elsewhere. But in cases where ignoring a local situation leaves you open to a
heavy blow it is necessary to take some sort of temporizing measure to soften
the blow. These are tesuji played in order to take sente. If you accept too
large a loss in order to get sente, the value of sente itself is lessened.
1 A
Diagram 1: Tenuki
If your opponent’s threat is not too severe, you
can just ignore it and play elsewhere. This is just
basic common sense, and requires no tesuji per
se. For example, the two space jump at Q aims
to enclose the corner next with A. But White can
still live in the corner after this and so can ignore
the threat, switching to the upper side to play ´ .
Instead of Q , if Black plays B, the threat of C is
too severe for White to ignore.
Diagram 3: Peep
To prevent White from escaping at A, capturing
with Black A would be the proper move, but a bit
slack in this case. In this shape, Black should peep
with Q , and if White responds with ´ , Black
can play elsewhere. With Q on the board, if White
tries to escape with A, Black can capture with a
net at B. The value of being able to play elsewhere
is greater than the loss incurred by solidifying
White on the upper side.
Instead of Q , if Black pulls back to ´ , then White
at Q , Black A, and Black ends in gote. That said,
if Black just ignores the situation and plays
elsewhere, the jump to White A or an invasion at
White B would be quite large. Therefore, Black
plays the block at Q , threatening to cut at C. If
White now plays ´ and ´ , Black can play else-
where, having lessened the urgency of the
situation. White for his part can also skip the
capture at ´ .
A 1 C
B 3 2
Diagram 2: Block
If your opponent comes at you with a line of play that is slack, you can
respond by ignoring it or by playing a tesuji to take sente; on the other hand,
if your opponent makes an overplay or a bad move you can counterattack
directly. That is, you can move from defense to attack—this is what we will
call “striking back.” The situations and shapes in which these tesuji arise
actually have little in common, and in fact many of them could be classified
under Tesuji That Attack. But it is possible to gather together a number of
tesuji in which you seize a momentary opportunity to launch a counterattack.
First, let’s try looking at two or three examples.
D 1 I
Diagram 1:
Light Sabaki
Jumping to ´ is a light way to manage the
situation. If Black A, then White B, Black C,
White D seems about right. If Black E, then White
F, Black G, White A. White plays lightly, dodging
Black’s attack. Instead of ´ , extending to White
H would be heavy; after Black A, White is headed
for trouble. Instead of ´, if White I, Black makes
the empty triangle at J, and it is surprisingly hard
for White to manage the situation.
1 2
A 4
Diagram 2:
What White Wants
White might play the hane at ´ , hoping for Q .
Then ´ and ´ make shape with perfect timing.
Black is pushed low on the right, and White can
settle with a single move at A.
However, ´ is an actually overplay. If Black
strikes back, things will not go this way.
1 7 5
8 3 6
2 4
Diagram 3:
Q is the tesuji.
The hane at Q is the tesuji to strike back. The
point is that after White gives atari with ´ , there
is no continuation for White. If White lives with
´ , Black is happy to seal in with Q and Q .
Instead of ´ , if White at Q , Black cuts at ´ .
Unlike the previous diagram, Black is taking
influence and giving up profit, but there is no
doubt that this result is good for Black.
Problem 6: Cut Inside
Black to Play
White has just played the hane with Z. This
move is intended to remove bad aji from the
corner. But actually Black can take advantage
of a momentary opening to land a blow that
renders White’s hane useless.
1 2 B
Diagram 1:
Lacking Spirit
Playing the block at Q as an automatic response
to White’s hane is the epitome of unspirited play.
After White connects with ´ , not only have any
aims Black may have had in the corner been
removed, Black also has less of a free hand in
trying to attack the white stones in the center
because there is now a cutting point at A.
Black would like Q to perform one more task.
Cutting at ´ is meaningless after White B.
2 1 5
3 4
Diagram 2:
Q is the tesuji.
Throwing in a cut with Q is severe. If White
connects with ´ , Black extends to Q , with the
point that Q will be atari thanks to the cut at Q .
Z offers no help at all in this line of play.
Capturing the three cutting stones is unquestion-
ably good for Black.
A 3 1
Diagram 3: Sente
It follows that White has no choice but to capture
with ´ , though the atari at Q swallows up the
single white stone. After this, if White connects
the two stones and Black plays A, White needs to
play another move in the corner—otherwise
Black kills with B. This is miserable for White.
Instead of the hane at Z, capturing with ´ would
be a proper move.
From the opening through the middlegame, whether a base can be taken away
or solidified is an extremely important issue. In many cases this requires
only basic techniques, hardly worthy of being called tesuji, but still you need
to learn certain defensive shapes to prevent attacks that would chase you out
into the center.
In creating a base, you should strive to make one that is as large as possible
with the best possible aji and at the same time to create weaknesses in your
opponent’s camp. In some cases, the issue will revolve around making shape
or getting sente. Let’s look as some fundamental examples.
A 1
Diagram 1: Slide
There is nothing tricky about the knight’s move
slide to ´ . This move not only exploits Black’s
open skirt to reduce Black’s territory, it also
performs valuable duty in solidifying White’s
base. If White does not play here, Black can
choose from among Black A, B, or C, driving
White out into the center where he will have to
play on dame (neutral) points just to escape.
B 1 C
Diagram 2:
Large Knight’s Move
The large knight’s move slide is much the same
as the small knight’s move slide. However, it is a
bit more ambitious and a bit thinner as well. For
example, after Black defends at A, he has a
follow-up with the placement at B. Crawling once
more with White C removes the threat of the
placement, but ends in gote.
Before White plays ´ , Black D would be a big
move that looks to attack.
F E C 1 3
D B A 2
Diagram 3:
Diagonal Slide
There is also a shape in which White slides with
the diagonal jump to ´ , leaving behind a loophole
in his own position. This shape is useful when
White would rather not solidify Black’s right side
with White A, Q , White B, Black at ´ . Instead
of Q , if Black B, then White C. Instead of ´ ,
White could conceivably play elsewhere. How-
ever, without ´ , then Black B, White C, Black
D, White E, Black F is a severe attack.
Problem 5: Hanging Connection
White to Play
When you have a choice of ways to live, an
alternative that gives you a somewhat bigger
space while creating weaknesses for your
opponent is better. Likewise, it is better to
choose a way to live that does not cause
problems for your other groups in the vicinity.
1 2
Diagram 1: Tenuki
The corner is alive even if White does not play
there. White can play a move like ´ to reinforce
the upper side. But then Black can capture two
stones in sente, which means that White can no
longer aim for the cutting point at A, and besides
the loss of territory is too big—this is not promis-
ing for White at all. If White lives with ´ , Black
can still force with B. Instead of ´ , if White C,
Black can start a ko later with the atari at D.
6 5 3
4 2 1
Diagram 2:
Lives, But Loses Points
The connection at ´ is sente. Q guards the cut-
ting point at A while also attacking, an attempt to
recover the loss incurred by letting White live in
the corner. In this shape the descent to Black B is
sente (threatening C), and this has a big effect on
the fighting on the upper side.
Instead of ´ , ´ or White at Q would lead to
much the same result.
6 5 3 1
4 2
Diagram 3:
´ is the tesuji.
Crouching down to defend the two stones with
´ is the correct shape. If we then follow the same
sequence as before, even if Black plays A
followed by the attachment at B, White lives with
White C, Black D, White E.
This small finesse in living in the corner com-
pletely neutralizes the descent to Black A, which
is otherwise a rather unsettling forcing move.
Classic Game 2:
Meijin Inseki’s Masterpiece
Game Record 2
White: Inoue Inseki
Black: Honinbo Dochi
Dosaku’s disciple Kuwabara
Dosetsu became the head of the
Inoue family and became the
third Inoue Inseki. The second
Inseki (Yamazaki Dosa) had been
Dosaku’s younger brother.
Dosetsu Inseki later became
Mejin Godokoro (Minister of Go)
and so is called Meijin Inseki. He
assembled a history entitled
Dengonroku (Record of Oral
History) as well as a book of life
and death problems, Hatsuyoron,
and spent considerable effort in
training Dosaku’s heir, Kamiya
Dochi. During Dochi’s training
the two played a ten game match with Dochi taking Black in each game. The
tenth game is known as Inseki’s Masterpiece.
In the game record, Black has just played the cross-cut at Q. White’s next
move is a surprising one, and a forceful way to handle the situation.
C 9
D 7 8
1 2
3 4 6
Game Continuation
With the extension to ´ , White
suddenly grabs the upper hand.
Usually White would extend to A,
but after Q , White would face a
difficult fight. Instead of Q , even
if Black pushes through at ´ , fol-
lowed by White A and Black B,
White plays C and now Black
needs to play D, so White can seal
him in with White at Q , Black E,
White at Q . This would not be
good for Black.
With ´ , White finds a stylish way
to live.
Game Example 1:
7 9
6 5
4 3
2 1
11 10
Game Record 1
Go Seigen vs. the Young 8 dans
White: Go Seigen
Black: Shimamura Toshihiro
Occasionally you can omit an
extension along a side and attach
to a stone of your opponent’s,
with the aim of making his
position overconcentrated. This
is a fast way to play.
The attachment at ´ is an imag-
inative move. Black crawls,
starting with Q , after which Q
is the key point. White considers
that he has converted the corner
into territory, while Black’s
territory on the side is not so
large because White can still play
the slide to A. The result is about
There is nothing glaringly wrong with enclosing the
corner with ´ , but the checking extension to Black A
will be severe, and Black B is still a good point.
Meanwhile, if White plays elsewhere instead of ´ ,
the approach at Black C is a perfect point.
1 2
Variation 2:
The Issue in the Center
Instead of Q in the game record, if Black plays for
territory with Q and Q , the hane at ´ stifles Black’s
position in the center. With such large scale influence
as a base, White has freedom to choose any strategy
he likes. Q in the game record is a clearer way to
play—it lets Black take sente and play first on the
remaining large opening points.
Variation 1: Leisurely
An invasion is a technique for destroying potential territory. It is the obverse
of surrounding, but as a technique it has more of the characteristics of fighting
than of opening play. An invasion is often played in association with a tesuji
to link up, or a tesuji to develop into the center, and in that sense an invasion
is often a tesuji that makes multiple threats. As invasions take away territory,
they also steal the opponent’s base. Therefore, an invasion is often a tesuji
that launches a fight.
First let’s look at some examples of key invading points in the corner and on
the side.
Diagram 1: 3-3 Point
The key point in the corner is the 3-3—hence the
proverb “if the 3-3 point is open, there is a move
there.” In star-point openings, it is rare that the
corner territory is protected in the opening. If you
enter at the 3-3 point, you can usually destroy the
corner territory easily. However, you will also
probably get sealed into the corner and your op-
ponent will gain thickness outside; the correctness
(or otherwise) of this invasion can only be judged
by looking at the whole board.
Diagram 2:
3-3 Point from the
This is a tesuji that jumps into the middle of an
area your opponent has surrounded, making miai
of running out or diving into the 3-3 point. Choose
this option when playing the 3-3 directly would
be too cramped or could lead to damage to some
position or positions on the outside. However,
your opponent has a choice of defending the
corner or of sealing you in—if either of these is
particularly effective, this technique is not good.
Diagram 3:
3-3 Point from the Outside
From outside the area your opponent has sur-
rounded, you make miai of diving into the 3-3
point or developing. This idea could also be
categorized as a tesuji to draw near.
In general, moves that aim at an open corner from
the side are played low; in cases in which being
pressed low would be disadvantageous, you
should probably consider something else.
Tesuji to reduce liberties can be broadly divided into two categories—those
whose main idea is to take away resilience in your opponent’s shape, and
those that sacrifice. Nearly all of the examples of sacrifices consist of adding
a stone to a stone on the second line in order to sacrifice both, but tesuji to
take away your opponent’s resilience take a number of forms, and can be
hard to find. In particular, in capturing races in which there are internal
liberties, it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing so intently on taking away
your opponent’s liberties that you inadvertently take away your own. In a
capturing race, you need to save internal liberties, and ko captures, for the
very end.
1 2
Diagram 1: Throw-In
One fundamental technique for reducing liberties
is to sacrifice with a throw-in. The basic principle
is that, in sacrificing ´ and forcing Black to cap-
ture with Q , you compel Black to come in contact
with 7, in effect reducing a liberty.
Instead of ´ , if White just routinely gives atari
at ´ , Black at ´ gives Black four liberties. In-
stead of ´ , if White at Q , Black connects at ´ ,
again with four liberties.
3 B
D 1 A
Diagram 2: Attachment
The belly attachment at ´ is a classic example
of a key point for resilience.
No matter where else White plays, Black would
win by playing at ´ , but if White takes this key
point, he wins by a move.
Instead of ´ , if White simply plays the hane at
´ , then after Black at ´ , White A, Black B,
White C, Black D is fine.
3 2 1
Diagram 3: Hane
Resolving the shape with the hane at ´ is good
move order. By threatening to link up, White
invites Black to take away his own liberty with
Q . After blocking with ´ , White wins by one
move. Playing conventionally, this would be a
race of three liberties against four; ´ turns the
Instead of ´ , if White plays the hane at Q , Black
blocks at ´ , and after White A, the capture by
Black at ´ takes away a white liberty.
Problem 4: Bad Shape
White to Play
Black is threatening to link up in two different
ways. White needs to find some way to stop
one of these threats in sente. This position is
from GuanziPu.
4 1 3 B C
Diagram 1: Miai
If White A, then Black B. If White B, then Black
A. There is only one possible way to prevent
Black A, so White’s only hope is to find a good
way to stop Black B.
However, the placement at ´ doesn’t provide a
real solution when Black plays Q and Q. Instead
of ´ , if White plays the hane at C, Black links
up with Black A and it’s over.
2 1 A 3
Diagram 2: Making a
White can make a ko by playing the hane at ´
and, after Q , playing a hane at ´ , taking advan-
tage of the special properties of the corner. If Q ,
White gives atari with ´ and we have a ko.
However, instead of Q , of course Black will first
capture the ko once. Also, the connection at Black
B will serve as a ko threat. Winning this ko will
not be easy for White.
7 6 5 A 3
Diagram 3:
´ is the tesuji.
Starting by making the ugly shape with ´ is the
correct sequence. After forcing Black to connect
at Q , White plays the hane at ´ to prevent Black
from linking up. After ´ and ´ , White is two ko
threats better off than in the previous diagram.
This difference can be enough to decide the out-
come of a game.
Note that White can end this ko by connecting at
A—this is a direct ko.
Problem 4: Empty Triangle
Black to Play
Black has a gote eye along the side, so in order
to live he needs to make an eye in sente in the
center. Where is the key point to alleviate his
shortage of liberties?
6 3 A
2 4 5 1
Diagram 1: Inside Cut
The intent of Q is to first solidify the eye on the
side while waiting to see how White will attack.
The cut inside at ´ is the key point. If Q , then
´ and ´ ; instead of Q , if Black at ´ , then White
A. Either way, Black dies.
Instead of Q , if Black at ´ , White A threatens
both to capture in a snapback and to connect
1 3 6
2 4 5
Diagram 2:
Reinforcing the Center
It follows then that Black needs to make an eye
in the center in sente, but if Black just plays Q to
expand his area, he is once again cornered by the
cut at ´ .
Instead of Q , if Black A, then ´ . Instead of Q ,
if Black at ´ , then White at Q , threatening to
next steal the eye with White at Q .
3 1 2
Diagram 3:
Q is the tesuji.
It seems to be giving ground, but the empty
triangle at Q is the key point. If ´ , Q lives with
a bent four shape. Instead of ´ , if White pushes
in at Q , Black can ignore him and just secure the
eye on the side.
Q falls on the key point for the Q stones that are
short of liberties—the “mid-point of three stones.”
Living by exploiting your opponent’s shortage of liberties, or by alleviating
your own shortage of liberties—these themes arise when the stones for both
sides become entangled in close combat. In some cases, there may be related
capturing races you need to read out. In these situations, lines of play that
aim to make eye shape or to expand living space do not work. You need to
focus on shortage of liberty situations for yourself and for your opponent.
There are quite a few situations in which the key point turns out to be rather
unexpected, and the success rate of taking a somewhat circuitous route is
1 3
2 4
Diagram 1: Angle Wedge
The sequence of Q through Q is a procedure to
make the eye creating move at Black A an atari.
If Black plays any other move, then when Black
plays A, White can play the thrust at B, and Black
will be unable to exploit White’s weakness
because Black himself is short of liberties.
3 A
1 C 2
Diagram 2:
Empty Triangle
It may seem as though Q has no value, but in fact
it is the only way to alleviate Black’s shortage of
liberties. Once you play this move, it becomes ap-
parent that ´ and Q are miai.
Instead of Q , if Black at ´ , White can play the
angle wedge at Q , and Black dies after Black A,
White B. Instead of Q , if Q , then White at Q ,
Black C, White D, and there is no way for Black
to live.
A 3
Diagram 3:
Descent to First Line
After Black creates a three stone group to sacrifice
with Q , Black has two forcing moves—Q and
Black A. Instead of Q , if Q , then White at Q ;
instead of Q , if Black A, then White at Q , and
there is no way for Black to live. Gripping Black’s
stones from below by White at Q is a good move
that alleviates the shortage of liberties of White’s
three stones, so Black plays Q to eliminate this
Tesuji for Destroying Eye Space
You play on your opponent’s key point to divide his area in two, defeating
his aim of making two eyes. Or, just as your opponent is on the verge of
making two eyes, you strike at the weak point and create a false eye. Killing
techniques all follow these fundamentals. What’s important is to develop the
power to discern the key point in your opponent’s shape. Make sure you
don’t become confused by shapes that appear similar on the surface but are
actually different. You can often apply the proverb “the opponent’s key point
is your key point” because your opponent’s move to live is quite frequently
the move you should play to kill.
Let’s start by looking at some examples of fundamental tesuji.
A 3 B 2 1
Diagram 1: Placement
After White makes the placement at ´ , Black
dies. If Q , ´ . Instead of ´ , if White captures at
A, Black lives by blocking at ´ . Instead of ´ , if
White extends inward to ´ , Black captures with
B, threatening to either make two eyes in the
corner or to make a second eye along the side. ´
is the solution, hitting the key point for dividing
Black’s area into two eyes.
C 2 1
Diagram 2: Placement
Q is, among other things, the 1-2 key point. If
´ , Q takes a liberty from the outside. Due to the
special characteristics of the corner White cannot
play A. If White plays B to avoid the snapback,
Black plays C, and White does not have enough
room to live.
Instead of ´ , if White B, Black can just quietly
play C.
A 3 B
1 2
Diagram 3: Attachment
Q attaches at the 2-2 point. Now if ´ , then w 3 ;
instead of ´ , if White at Q , then Black at ´ —
either way, White dies unconditionally. Instead
of Q , if Q , then White at Q , Black A, White B,
and White lives by pinning Black down in the
corner. Instead of Q , if Black at ´ , then White
at Q . Instead of Q , if Black A, then White at Q .
Only Q eliminates all White’s chances to struggle
on with a ko.
Problem 12: Attachment and Descent
Black to Play
This is a famous position from Xuanxuan Qijing
(GenGen Gokyo in Japanese). With a subtle
sequence, Black increases White’s shortage of
liberties while relieving his own.
6 5
2 1 3 A
Diagram 1: Alive
There is no doubt that the attachment at Q is a
vital point. White is forced to play ´ , and Black
links up with Q and Q . However, it is not enough
to kill White after White forces with ´ followed
by A.
Instead of Q, if Black crawls to Q instead, White
gives way at Q and lives. Instead of Q , if Black
tries jumping in at ´ , White lives at Q .
A 5 3
4 1 6
Diagram 2:
Links Up on the Edge
For the time being, Q is a vital point. Instead of
´ , if White blocks Black’s retreat at Q , the cut
at ´ is decisive. However, after ´ , if Black
rushes to play Q , White lives neatly with ´ and
´ . The atari at White A is forcing so the eye on
the side cannot be taken away.
Rather than linking up, Black should exploit
White’s shortage of liberties.
3 A
B 5 1 4
Diagram 3: Q and Q
are the right order.
Black plays the descent to Q , looking to respond
to White A with a play at ´ . If White plays ´ to
solidify his eye in the center, Black next pushes
in once with Q . Now if White B, Black links up
at A, and this time White’s eye on the side is
Instead of ´ , if White at Q , then Black at ´ ,
ruining White’s eye shape while linking up.
Problem 5: Diagonal Move
Black to Play
7 1 5 4
3 2 A
8 6
Diagram 3: Greedy
When you capture stones, some ways to capture
are more profitable than others. That said, if
you are too greedy, you may suffer a reversal,
so you need to read the situation out completely.
This position is from Gokyo Shumyo.
B 2 A
3 1
Diagram 1:
Loses Two Points
If Black plays the hane at Q , there is no question
that the white stones are captured. That said, it is
painful to be forced by the hane at ´ . Instead of
Q, even if Black blocks at A, after White B, Black
will still need to defend at Q . For White’s part,
(after Q ) there is no chance for him to wiggle
free by moving the captured stones with a play at
Q .
2 3 1
Diagram 2:
Q is the tesuji.
After the diagonal move at Q , the three white
stones are captured. Even if White forces with
´ , Black defends with Q . This shape is clearly
superior to the previous diagram by two points.
Because this is a more ambitious way to capture
White, it grants White a considerable number of
ko threats, but it would be unbearable to give away
two points.
The hane at Q is too greedy. After White plays
the diagonal attachment at ´ , Black loses the
capturing race. Instead of Q , even if Black just
descends to Q , he still loses the capturing race
after the diagonal attachment at ´ .
With Q , Black is hoping for a block by White at
Q , followed by Q , White at Q , and Black A, but
that is not likely to come to pass.
Tesuji for Forcing Removal
These are tesuji in which you force your opponent to remove stones by winning
a capturing race. In order to take the stones off the board, your opponent
needs to play extra moves—when these fall inside what should have been
your opponent’s territory, you gain points.
The basic ideas behind these tesuji are to maximize the liberties of the stones
that will be captured, or to prevent your opponent from making an eye, etc.
They require a sharp eye for the resilient shapes. These tesuji are not showy,
but they are effective.
B 1 3 4
A 2 C
Diagram 1: Placement
White makes the placement at ´ and forces the
exchanges through Q . Doing this means Black
will need to play both A and B, giving Black a
territory of five points. If White does not make
these exchanges, Black will defend at Q and have
six points of territory. A couple of simple forcing
moves gain White a point. Instead of Q , if Black
at ´ , then White at Q and Black C lead to a
ko—this is trouble for Black.
C 3 B 4 1 D
A 2
Diagram 2: Placement
White makes the placement at ´ , and has already
made a profit after forcing with the hane at ´ .
Instead of ´ , if White just plays the hane at ´ ,
Black connects at A. Eventually Black B and
White C will occur, so Black will have seven
points of territory. However, with ´ there, Black
will have to capture at D and will have only six
points. If White can make the connection at C
before Black D, Black will get only five points.
A B 3
4 1 2
Diagram 3: Attachment
After White attaches at ´ , Black needs to play
Q and Q in order to live unconditionally. In this
shape, Black will eventually need to capture the
two stones to avoid a seki, so we can consider
that Black has six points of territory. Instead of
´ , if White first plays out White A, Black B,
then when White attaches at ´ , Black has a good
defense with a clamp at ´ —Black will get seven
points of territory.
Classic Game 2:
Game-Reversing Tesuji
Game Record 2
White: Yasui Sanchi
Black: Honinbo Sanetsu
After the death of Sansa, lead-
ership of the Honinbo school
passed to the young Sanetsu,
who was instructed by the Mei-
jin Godokoro Nakamura Doseki.
In later years, Sanetsu applied to
become Meijin Godokoro, but
Yasui Sanchi II objected and a
challenge match ensued.
However, that six game match
was played at the rate of one
game per year. There are present-
ly some who doubt whether this
was a true challenge match at all.
It is also unclear under what
handicap the match was played, but in any event the sixth game was played
with Sanetsu taking Black.
White has just linked up with Z, and Black’s stones on the left are threatened.
Game Continuation
5 4
A 2
1 13 14 12
11 9 15 3
10 16
The descent to Q is a brilliant
move. Instead of this move, if
Black A, ´ kills uncondition-
ally. After the sequence through
´ , the result is a ko, but White
has no adequate ko threat.
It may have been during this
game that Matsumoto Higono-
mori, who was watching this
game, said “the Honinbo has a
losing position” in response to
which Sanetsu said “go is my
way of serving the Shogun” and
redoubled his efforts. The six
game match ended in a draw.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful