Okay, Kageyama. So what about that cross-cut, then? Where does one start?
I had a copy of Richard Hunter’s Cross-Cut Workshop on my bookshelf, so I thought that might be a good place. I bought this when I was quite a few stones weaker. I read it, but didn’t feel very confident applying the concepts at the time, so thought I’d return to it later. Well, now is later, I suppose, and I have a cross-cut problem to think about.
On re-reading the first three sections, I again get the feeling that everything makes perfect sense when the author is there holding my hand and explaining what each player is doing and discussing the goal of the cross-cut in relation to the whole board position. I still find the problems very hard. I still feel that it is going to take a lot of time and work to come to grips with even the very most basic of basic situations.
That being said, the author provides players in my situation a nice little framework for thinking about what to do when faced with cross-cuts. Much of his discussion centres around four proverbs about cross-cuts which Kiyonari Tetsuya used in a lecture on cross-cuts, and an additional point made by Ishikura Noboru.
He then goes through many basic cross-cut patterns and shows how these principles apply or don’t apply, as the case may be. I don’t feel it would be that useful for me to sit down and memorise all the various different patterns as I’m still struggling with fundamentals like which stone is weaker and what exactly is each player trying to accomplish. However, by reading through the variations, I feel like I’m building up a general idea of things to experiment with in my own games.
There is one aspect of the book about which I am uncertain. In the solutions to several of the problems, a correct answer is given and several variations are explored. In a couple places, the author says that a certain variation will lead to “complications” or “a complicated fight” and says things like “This cannot be recommended for a handicap game” or that such a fight “cannot be recommended for someone needing a nine-stone handicap”. Does this mean that in-and-of-themselves these are good moves, or even perhaps better moves than the ‘correct’ solution? Are they moves that could (or should?) be contemplated if playing an even game? When I talk to stronger players, there seem to be multiple types of ‘complicated’. One is the you-are-making-this-unnecessarily-difficult-please-just-keep-it-simple type; another is the yes-this-is-possible-but-you-have-to-know-what-you’re-doing-okay type. I’d like to know which family of complications we’re talking about.
In any case, here are some points that I’d like to take with me from this particular reading:
- When stones are isolated, the ‘Cross-cut? Extend!’ proverb often applies.
- When extending, usually one extends from the weaker stone and tries not to induce the opponent to make a good move.
- When stones are not isolated, don’t thoughtlessly extend – an atari might also be appropriate.
- Avoid playing atari when it just strengthens the opponent (by letting the opponent extend) and leaves you with lot of cutting points
- The ‘Capture if you can’ proverb often applies.
- As usual, everything depends on what is nearby and what is going on everywhere else on the board.
- Note to self: if trying to extend from a weaker stone, have a good think about which stone is actually the weakest!
So yes. Kageyama, I don’t yet have your corner figured out, but I’m trying to gather some resources with which to attack the problem, okay?