The key to making a living shape is “not two eyes, but six points,” Ryo Maeda 6P said in the second of his four-part U.S. Go Congress lecture series. He went through various sizes of eyes, saying that most players need to “reset” their thinking. For example a group with a three-space eye “is not dead, it just has one eye.” He showed the four-space “mountain” eye, as well as the four-space square eye, which he called “baka” (‘stupid’ in Japanese). He then went on to the bulky five shape (stupid eye plus one) and the rectangular six, which is alive. Only the “flower six” (or rabbity six) is dead, but Maeda said not to worry about that shape as it has never come up in one of his games: “before you get in flower six, you do something else.” Someone from the audience suggested “stupid four plus two ears” for that shape, which was well received. He also described how to avoid studying joseki by making the rectangular six shape in the corner. Sometimes that shape can “turn into ko, but you don’t die.” Instead of studying and remembering joseki, “which is complicated — you can make one mistake and mess it all up,” just remember the rectangular six.
If you are trying to kill a group, first see if it can be turned into a five-point shape, then look to reduce it from the outside. Playing from the outside is less risky, than playing the “fancy stuff” on the inside that a professional might use, because if it fails “you can lose.” Most life and death problem books are geared toward a single answer, but in the Maeda method, “there are many right answers.” Players should “erase everything they know and start with the Maeda method — it’s not too late.” Translator Yoshi Sawada 6D said that the method is simple, “that’s why his book is only six pages” to much laughter. As he did in his first lecture on Sunday, Maeda finished Monday’s lecture with two rounds of simul rock-paper-scissors with the audience, with a prize for the last one standing.
- report/photos by Jake Edge