TE[The 30th WAGC Round4]
TM[1 hour 30 minutes]
LT[10/15 Canadian byo-yomi]
RE[Black won by 6.5.]
White: Yu Qing Hu 8d
Black: Shin Hwan Yoo 7d
Commentary Michael Redmond 9P
(Click on the diagram to launch the game viewer. SGF file available here.)
Ranka asked Michael Redmond to explain a little about the very difficult game between China and Korea. Wang Lih-Chen and the Korean representative also helped out. Let’s first re-introduce the contestants to give you a better idea about how strong they really are and where they come from.
Korea representative Shin Hwan Yoo was an insei at the Korean Go Association for about 7 years. Ranka was mistakenly under the impression that since Yoo quit the insei he also had given up on his dream of becoming a go professional. As it turned out that is not the case. Yoo quit because of the age limit there is for insei (Yoo is 21 now) but he is still very serious about making pro and competes in the open pro tournament. As competition in Korea is severe it is very hard to make it this way but the positive minded Yoo ensures us that he believes from the bottom of his heart that he’ll make it someday.
Yu Qing Hu, born in 1981, is the winner of the 26th WAGC in 2005. He started playing Go at 7. He proved to be very talented but always choose school and an academic career before the game. As an example, Hu never participated in the pro-test (although level-wise he could have) as in China both the school’s final exam and the pro-test exam are held both in the same month.
That he is and from early age always has been a top-contender is easily demonstrated by the fact that he won one of China’s most prestigious tournaments* in 2003 and became 7 dan.
* = It is quite difficult to win any main tournament in China as, contrary to Japan, go insei are allowed and do participate, too. It is regarded as a good chance to hone their skills.
Hu also is an accomplished bridge player and was the former representative of the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics bridge team.
The game started with a long joseki, Redmond 9p told us that this variation of the Onadare joseki is a common one in recent years. The exchange white 28, black 29 is necessary for white to make it unattractive for black to capture the corner after white 30. Even after white 30, though, black could choose to take the corner by playing hane under 32 but this leaves the possibility for white to start a ko (most likely not right away) by playing at the 2-1 point under white 20.
Instead of black 39 continue playing in the upper left corner (e.g. slide to 61) is correct, too. Black 39 is a move with a double purpose, though, and it’s important to understand what the main reason behind playing it is. A side effect of black 39 is that he makes some extra points along the bottom. This, however, is not the main reason for black playing here.
As a matter of fact, if it were only for the territory gained black 39 is an inefficient move, there are too many black stones at the bottom already which makes for a poor stones/territory ratio (at this stage of the game, that is).
Black is trying to put some pressure on the white stones in lower left corner is what makes black 39 worthwhile. In any game, if a player has an unsettled group it means that his opponent most likely can exploit the situation in order to score points somewhere along the line.
The hane at 44 is not the normal shape,
The jump of white one is the proper shape here. I.e., the move the professional would play without thinking twice. Wang Lih-Chen provided us with a very interesting insight, though.
“White 1 certainly is proper but I think I could learn something myself here. Once you put the game move (white 44) on the board it actually starts to make sense in a kind of unexpected way. What I mean is that although white makes nice and solid shape in figure 01 it does give black the opportunity to play elsewhere first, leaving you with the feeling that white might have played a little slack as, in spite of the solid shape, there is not really anything interesting to try at the bottom for white. I actually think that this was Korea’s plan from the start when he played at 39. If that is the case than it’s rather uncanny, black ‘s hidden intentions thwarted by an off-shape reply by China.”
Hu seemed to have prepared white 54 in advance but this move was looked at with mixed feelings. Redmond 9p suggest playing the katatsuki or shoulder hit at 55.
If than the sequence white shoulder hit at 55, black at 104, white at 105, black 84 and white switches elsewhere.
Black 69 is a proper and solid move, black would like, though, to in the (near) future get some compensation. It therefore is an obvious goal for black to set up an attack at the left side. Although white is very much aware of this he feels it is too slack to reinforce at the left and switches to 70 instead. This is not a bad move but white now has to be prepared for black switching back to the left.
Black 71 is natural, answering white 70 in the top right corner would miss out on a chance to make things difficult for white.
White 72 shows that he’s not afraid but at the same time he hardly can expect to gain points here or get a good result. Redmond mentioned that he’d prefer to play white 72 at 73 and connect through the center instead of being cut and fight.
Black 83 things look good for black now.
Black 87, cutting directly at 89 and sacrificing this stone to connect (black at 89, white at 90 black at 88) would’ve been good enough. The Korean player, though, seems reluctant to cut China any slack at all and keeps playing the severest moves.
Michael Redmond spent the better part of evening to go through the game and see what exactly was going on. To make a long story short, though, no matter what white does he cannot expect to get a better result at the left compared to the game.
When black took a stone at 111 the usually very calm Hu reacted strongly. He flushed and shook his head in short angry motions. For most of the amateurs watching the game it was difficult to understand what was wrong now that it seemed clear that the white stones at the left wouldn’t die but later it was explained like this:
“There were several moves black could have played instead of the game move and they’re all good, some of them much better actually. However, by taking at 111 black eliminates all complications and from here on the game has a bit of a one-way street feeling. For both players there is no doubt about the fact that black is ahead. So, the reason Hu seemed agitated was that he felt embarrassed that even the simplest move possible (black 111) gave black a good result.
The game continues from here with Korea holding on to his lead and taking no riskwith steady play. Yoo afterwards seemed to regret 163 a little bit. The professionals agreed that. Although not a bad move, it would’ve been good enough and safer to play this move one space above 163.
A hectic fight follows from here, mainly because of the trouble-making style Hu adopted after he felt he was behind, trying to create complications at every turn but, so far, not succeeding in confusing Yoo.
If there is a loosing move to this game than that’s black 189. Figure 02 shows why.
Michael Redmond “There’s no way on earth black can loose the game after this. The white stones at the right are dead and the center group must be very careful not to die as wel.”
After the game we talked with Yoo and some other players;
Shin Hwan Yoo: I thought I was doing OK throughout most of the game, actually. Only somehow I ended up losing two stones at the right side (157, 163) that was bad. I made a mistake and had to choose between capturing the center and defending at the right side. The center was bigger but I feel that I lost more points than was necessary*.
* = The match was the last to end that day and both players had to play in byo-yomi for a long time, the pressure was most probably tremendous.
Hu: It was a very hard game for me. Through the middle game things were not going well for white but towards the end I finally could catch up.
Wang Lih-Chen. Yes, it is true that China was behind and that Korea was having a better game but I have to admire Hu as he stuck it out. He continued to hang in there and took the chance when he got it, very impressive stamina and tenacity. He actually reminds me of myself when I was young.
Ranka: Do you mean that you no longer have that kind of tenacity?
Wang Lih-Chen: No, ‘fraid not…
Ranka: A last question for you Michael, how strong do you feel the players of this game are compared to professionals?
Michale Redmond: About 5 dan professional, I think, difficult to be sure but that sounds about right.
Ranka: Could you beat them if you were to play them do you think?
Michael Redmond: Yes, but not every time.