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 Post subject: New tsume-go technique
Post #1 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:34 pm 
Gosei

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The latest Gekkan Go World (June 2013) has an article by Hiramoto Yasei 6-dan which may offer help to those mired in trying to solve tsumego problems. Unusually, the article relates also to the little booklet that accompanies each magazine. He claims that all of his students - or as he puts it "all(!)" - have made "epoch-making" progress after using his method. Those who master it will be at least 7-dan amateur.

The method seems obvious once you know what it is (wait for it ... patience is a virtue in go) but, on reflection, I've never heard anyone mention it, let alone promote it, in over 40 years of go. And, even if you have heard of it, or even claim to have invented it, I don't honestly think thsi forum would benefit from hearing about that. They'd rather hear how to get to 7-dan.

Still being patient? Good. But first a little background as to why Hiramoto may be in tune with our amateur needs. He was a late starter in the pro ranks simply because he was an amateur for a long time. He was the Students' Honinbo in 1974 and after graduation starting working for Mitsubishi Rayon. It was coming first in the 1976 qualification tournament for pros that made him change careers.

Right now, where was I? Where am I? Pause for senior moment or three. Ah, yes, pint of milk, please.

What? Tsume-go. Oh, OK, if you must. That's the trouble with these young internet whippersnappers. No patience! I remember when I was a lad...

Oh, I suppose I must get on with it. Bedtime cocoa's nearly ready.

In fact, I might try it myself when I go to bed tonight. I might even try this new tsume-go thingy.

The point is, it's something you have to do (the tsume-go thingy, that is), Hiramoto says, before you go to sleep. Not sure if that's before the cocoa or after, but you can twiddle around I suppose and see what's best for you.

When you are ready, look at a tsume-go problem to be solved and burn the position in your head. Close your eyes and solve the problem in your mind's eye. That's it. Except that he says that if you find it hard to fix the problem shape in your head, it's ok first to set it up on a board or to write it down on a scoresheet, just to help you to remember it. That's what I do with the pint of milk!

Actually, you can do this (not writing about milk, oh dear me, no!) at any time, such as walking along the street and he says "we pros often do that, but as it's dangerous (!) I don't recommend it. Sitting on a train is one ideal place. The moderate rocking motion will increase your concentration. But ... I take no responsibility if you miss your stop."

It's actually quite a long article and he discusses the reasons why it works and some spin-offs. Obviously it helps wth your reading, but apparently rather more than you may expect from just reading this advice, and it also means you can study go without a board. But it also seems to sharpen up the accuracy with which you view the board in real life, and (? or because) it helps you remember useful shapes (and whole games) better. In addition, it appears to boost a part of the brain you don't normally use for go, so that you get a health-giving feeling of rejuvenating the brain. Presumaby you can also chew gum better.

I'll skip the other points in the article, but will mention an interesting aspect of the problems in the booklet. They are all small, which is obviously the best way to start (and they are all corner problems, if that helps you), and the size of each and every problem is stated. The maximum size is 3x5. But that's not what you probably think it is. It refers only to the inside part of the problem, the bit that matters. It seems that sharpening up the accuracy of how you view a problem includes learning to screen out the surrounding stones, so that you only have to see something like half the number of stones in your mind's eye (though clearly you may need to note things like 'there's an extra liberty here').

It's free and easy enough to give it a whirl.

Oh, damn. The cocoa's gone cold!


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 Post subject: Re: New tsume-go technique
Post #2 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:39 pm 
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Thanks for the article. It sounds interesting.

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Post #3 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:50 pm 
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I do this, not often enough and definitely not as my default solving method but it's enjoyable to do so I can see myself doing it a lot more often. Usually it's happened after I laid a problem I was having trouble with out on the board and then after a while I'd go out for a cigarette (kids = no indoors smoking) and continued trying to solve it in my head whilst I was outside.

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Post #4 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 5:06 pm 
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Janice Kim suggested this method at a workshop I attended in SF a couple of years ago.

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Post #5 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 5:12 pm 
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I've heard it before, but I needed reminding. :roll:

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Post #6 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 6:24 pm 
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I suppose those little 5 x 5 endgame problems by Fukui Masaaki might work for this technique. And also Cho Chikun's at-a-glance problem books and Kato Masao's three move tesuji books.

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Post #7 Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 8:15 pm 
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lindentree wrote:
Janice Kim suggested this method at a workshop I attended in SF a couple of years ago.


Yep. See this post. It's interesting that the problem she cited was also within the 3x5 rule of thumb mentioned. But that's natural for a couple of reasons. The first is you have so start with something you actually have a chance of holding in your head. Another is that a lot of interesting basic to intermediate problems on corners and sides concern eye spaces that are close to 6 points but have some kind of special circumstances like liberty problems, etc. You know, things that are only slight better than that's obviously dead. :)

As for the claim that one who masters this will be at least 7d amateur, that's the sort of tantalizing thing one hears in a lot of disciplines. It doesn't mean it's an easy way to 7d. It just means that mastering it is hard.

Also, since many of his students were presumably insei and therefore could be considered about 8d, maybe the exercise makes them weaker. :lol:

I've tried this, BTW. It's hard and frustrating. Maybe that's the point. Anyone who is willing to put up with the pain probably has the right attitude to study, so whether the exercise helps or not may be impertinent. The real value may be in testing your willingness to do whatever is necessary, despite the pain.


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Post #8 Posted: Fri May 24, 2013 1:33 am 
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Quote:
The maximum size is 3x5. But that's not what you probably think it is. It refers only to the inside part of the problem, the bit that matters. It seems that sharpening up the accuracy of how you view a problem includes learning to screen out the surrounding stones, so that you only have to see something like half the number of stones in your mind's eye (though clearly you may need to note things like 'there's an extra liberty here').


I think that this detail is worth highlighting because it refines the idea of simply solving the problem in your head, by directing one's attention to the relevant aspects of a problem. Hiramoto Yasei's approach makes us focus on the properties of stones, and I think this is indeed a bit different than what I've heard about before.

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Post #9 Posted: Fri May 24, 2013 7:52 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
When you are ready, look at a tsume-go problem to be solved and burn the position in your head. Close your eyes and solve the problem in your mind's eye. That's it. Except that he says that if you find it hard to fix the problem shape in your head, it's ok first to set it up on a board or to write it down on a scoresheet, just to help you to remember it. That's what I do with the pint of milk!

{snip}

I'll skip the other points in the article, but will mention an interesting aspect of the problems in the booklet. They are all small, which is obviously the best way to start (and they are all corner problems, if that helps you), and the size of each and every problem is stated. The maximum size is 3x5. But that's not what you probably think it is. It refers only to the inside part of the problem, the bit that matters. It seems that sharpening up the accuracy of how you view a problem includes learning to screen out the surrounding stones, so that you only have to see something like half the number of stones in your mind's eye (though clearly you may need to note things like 'there's an extra liberty here').


Getting the problem clearly in mind is important. How often do we see a good tesuji or tsumego move, except that a key stone is not exactly where it is supposed to be? The idea of screening out unimportant stones (or just noting important aspects, such as liberties) is an interesting refinement.

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Post #10 Posted: Fri May 24, 2013 11:27 pm 
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A few random observations after trying this out before going to sleep and the next morning.

1. It's a great way to recycle simple problems.

2. Finding the right problem is a bit tricky - it can't be too hard, but if it's too easy, you might solve it while trying to memorize it.

3. Since the problems are relatively easy, all you have to do to check the answer is open your eyes and look at the problem.

4. Sometimes after solving a problem in my head, I open my eyes and am surprised how the stones look. It's not that I didn't solve it correctly, it's that while thinking about the problem, the visual aspect diminishes.

5. Focusing on the crux of the problem makes you think about the empty points.

6. An unsolved problem from this morning remains present in my mind despite a 2 hour interruption.

7. One night of this and I'm still not 7d. Will have to try again tomorrow.

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Post #11 Posted: Sat May 25, 2013 12:16 am 
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daal wrote:
A few random observations after trying this out before going to sleep and the next morning.

1. It's a great way to recycle simple problems.

2. Finding the right problem is a bit tricky - it can't be too hard, but if it's too easy, you might solve it while trying to memorize it.

3. Since the problems are relatively easy, all you have to do to check the answer is open your eyes and look at the problem.

4. Sometimes after solving a problem in my head, I open my eyes and am surprised how the stones look. It's not that I didn't solve it correctly, it's that while thinking about the problem, the visual aspect diminishes.

5. Focusing on the crux of the problem makes you think about the empty points.

6. An unsolved problem from this morning remains present in my mind despite a 2 hour interruption.

7. One night of this and I'm still not 7d. Will have to try again tomorrow.


Status problems of simple corner shapes where there's potentially a lot of reading but it's not a hard shape to memorise might be a good choice for people who don't just know the shape backwards already. You can even start adding liberties or stones and proving living sequences from different starting points if you know the shape is unconditionally alive. Then with shapes which are unsettled but not simple you could think about, what if Black plays the wrong move to make life, is it a seki now or dead? The Carpenter's Square for instance would give you plenty of reading to do if you started trying to work out all the different paths to ko.

I think here, having the one corner or side shape and you can alter slightly and read out sequences for a long time with is ideal. Obviously the stronger you get the harder it is to find shapes that do this for you and stay easy to remember.

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Post #12 Posted: Sat May 25, 2013 2:32 am 
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daal wrote:
2. Finding the right problem is a bit tricky - it can't be too hard, but if it's too easy, you might solve it while trying to memorize it.



I thought this would be a problem too. But Life and Death -Davies seems to be a great source for problems.

I don't think it's about solving the problem but rather seeing the position and being able to read out every possibility.

I'm also having the same problem concerning observation 7.

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Post #13 Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 3:38 am 
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Thanks for the tip John.

I believe daal invented this study technique independently almost two years ago :) (which was also an interesting discussion). Hearing the suggestion from a very authoritative source does add credence to the idea though, especially hearing about the results of Hiramoto's students.

snorri wrote:
Anyone who is willing to put up with the pain probably has the right attitude to study, so whether the exercise helps or not may be impertinent. The real value may be in testing your willingness to do whatever is necessary, despite the pain.
That's one way of looking at it, but another angle is that going through the 'pain' makes a normal game seem like a walk in the park. Problems make you stronger. Overcoming difficulty makes you stronger. This sort of training technique, where the pressure or difficulty is ratcheted up, is common in many disciplines. Krav Maga has this sort of idea built into its training system, for example. I also remember reading somewhere about swimmers being able to swim faster and break their personal best if they imagined a shark was chasing them :). Once they realized they could swim that fast, they could do it again without the 'shark'.

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Post #14 Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:47 am 
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gogameguru wrote:
I believe daal invented this study technique independently almost two years ago :) (which was also an interesting discussion). Hearing the suggestion from a very authoritative source does add credence to the idea though, especially hearing about the results of Hiramoto's students.


Thanks for the mention, but there are a few significant differences between what I was trying to do and Hiramoto's method, though it's no coincidence that I found his idea fascinating. What I was trying was simply to improve my visualization abilities, but in retrospect, and particularly in comparison with what Hiramoto suggests, I think I focused too much on the stones themselves instead of on the contested space and the properties of the involved groups. By "properties" I mean things like their liberty count, whether they can be cut, the size and shape of the space they define etc. Being able to "see" their position in one's mind's eye is better viewed as a side-effect of thinking about the stone's properties than a goal in itself. If a stone's role is to be part of a surrounding chain, then it's not important to see it, it's enough to know it. Hiromoto's idea is that one should blend out irrelevant information by focusing on the crux of the problem, and it seems like a great way to practice making the distinction between what is important and what is secondary.

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Post #15 Posted: Wed May 29, 2013 12:08 pm 
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Oddly enough, I have a similar reading technique since I started playing go again after 2 years.
It's surprising that I am reading this today when I was pondering over how to "create" or find a reading technique that works.

Reading has always been one of my weakest points in go. But over the 2 years that I hadn't played go, I learned some things that can be applied to playing go and reading sequences.

The first thing that came to mind is remembering people's names after meeting them only once!
I've always had trouble with that too. Until I met someone who claimed he could remember anyones name for the rest of his life after meeting them once.
Ofcourse I was curious about that, and then he explained to me how he did it.

For every person, he would find a character trait or something that stood out about the person he met.
For example: short, tall, happy, old, big nose, calm.

Then he told me that he linked whatever trait he thought of first upon seeing them and linked it to their name while shaking their hand.

Let's say he met Jim. Jim was a tall man with big ears and slightly balding. He said to me, this is "Jumbo Jim". He reminds me of dumbo the elephant and Jumbo also means big or tall. That's how I will never forget his name for the rest of my life.

Then I thought to myself, that's brilliant! And I tried to find ways to apply it to my reading in go.
I found a way to link certain corner shapes with their vital points strengths and weaknesses.

For example: L+2 in the corner is alive because he has some back support.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c L+2 Shape.
$$ . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ . . . . . . . . O . |
$$ . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ . . . . . . . O O . |
$$ , . . . . O O O X . |
$$ . . . O . O X X X . |
$$ . . . . O X X . S . |
$$ . . . . . . . . S . |
$$ ---------------------[/go]


Depending on which side white plays the hane, black can play one of these squares to make life in the corner. Now if you would turn this shape 90° to the right, it would feel like it's about to tip over to the back. That's where the vital points come in. They would bring the shape into perfect balance by letting it support on the vital point.

I hope that made sense :p

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Post #16 Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:46 pm 
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I'm revisiting this thread because Hiramoto has updated his own thoughts in the latest Go World (Feb 2015), and has given more details of what he calls the "Hiramoto Method". These extra details add quite a bit of insight into how he makes the process more effective than just visualising a go position in your head before you got to sleep and (if you can do that) trying to solve it in your head.

Two techniques stand out. One is to train your brain first with simple positions. One he shows is below:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ --------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 2 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 1 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 3 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 4 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ --------------------[/go]


The other technique is to make the tsumego positions memorable, and this is where Hiramoto's special skill comes in. His shtick is to create tsumego that depict kanji, letters or numbers, but with the important feature that he manages to do this without any redundant stones.

The latest GW has a large collection, ranging in difficulty from 9-kyu to dan level. You can download this latest issue via the Nihon Ki-in for a very small fee, and the supplement to this issue has all the problems (one for each letter a to z and one for each number 0-9) in easy to follow format. If you read Japanese there is also an article inside the actual issue. In this he says his method has met with a good critical reception, as a result of which various publications are planned.

Leaving aside the ulterior motive of the method, some problems are very unusual and nice simply as ordinary tsumegos.

Here are a couple of examples that do indeed seem very easy to visualise and memorise (solutions omitted, but by all means offer your own - hidden, of course). The first is the letter 'z' and is rated as 3-kyu.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B Black to play: Letter 'z' - 3-kyu level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | O O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | X X X O . . . . . . .
$$ | . . X O . . . . . , .
$$ | . X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | X . O . . O . . . . .
$$ | X X X O O . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


The next problem is at least 5-dan level and is one he says he is especially pleased with.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B B to play: Letter 'i' - 5-dan level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | . X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | . . . , . O . . . , .
$$ | . X . . . O . . . . .
$$ | O X O . . O . . . . .
$$ | . X O . . . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


An interesting comment he makes is that the grades he gives are for life and death only, and may not correspond to actual-game strength.


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Post #17 Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:18 pm 
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For the first one:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | O O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | X X X O . . . . . . .
$$ | 2 . X O . . . . . , .
$$ | . X . 3 O . . . . . .
$$ | X . O 1 . O . . . . .
$$ | X X X O O . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | O O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | X X X O . . . . . . .
$$ | 3 . X O . . . . . , .
$$ | . X . 2 O . . . . . .
$$ | X a O 1 . O . . . . .
$$ | X X X O O . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


Miai, and white is short of liberties to push in and atari at A.

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Post #18 Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:51 am 
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The 5 dan one is seki right?

Seems a little bit too easy for a sdk like me.. I am probably wrong :D

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Post #19 Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:34 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I'm revisiting this thread because Hiramoto has updated his own thoughts in the latest Go World (Feb 2015), and has given more details of what he calls the "Hiramoto Method". These extra details add quite a bit of insight into how he makes the process more effective than just visualising a go position in your head before you got to sleep and (if you can do that) trying to solve it in your head.

Two techniques stand out. One is to train your brain first with simple positions. One he shows is below:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B
$$ --------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 2 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 1 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 3 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 4 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ --------------------[/go]


The other technique is to make the tsumego positions memorable, and this is where Hiramoto's special skill comes in. His shtick is to create tsumego that depict kanji, letters or numbers, but with the important feature that he manages to do this without any redundant stones.

The latest GW has a large collection, ranging in difficulty from 9-kyu to dan level. You can download this latest issue via the Nihon Ki-in for a very small fee, and the supplement to this issue has all the problems (one for each letter a to z and one for each number 0-9) in easy to follow format. If you read Japanese there is also an article inside the actual issue. In this he says his method has met with a good critical reception, as a result of which various publications are planned.

Leaving aside the ulterior motive of the method, some problems are very unusual and nice simply as ordinary tsumegos.

Here are a couple of examples that do indeed seem very easy to visualise and memorise (solutions omitted, but by all means offer your own - hidden, of course). The first is the letter 'z' and is rated as 3-kyu.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B Black to play: Letter 'z' - 3-kyu level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | O O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | X X X O . . . . . . .
$$ | . . X O . . . . . , .
$$ | . X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | X . O . . O . . . . .
$$ | X X X O O . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


The next problem is at least 5-dan level and is one he says he is especially pleased with.


Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B B to play: Letter 'i' - 5-dan level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | . X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | . . . , . O . . . , .
$$ | . X . . . O . . . . .
$$ | O X O . . O . . . . .
$$ | . X O . . . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


An interesting comment he makes is that the grades he gives are for life and death only, and may not correspond to actual-game strength.


I don't know how I missed this post/article 2 years ago, thanks John. Last August I used Masaaki's 5x5 book for a week or so, before going to bed I'd memorise one of the problems and try to solve it in my mind's eye before falling asleep (totally unaware of this article, so I guess a lot of people may have tried in the past). They are not easy to memorise (since the shapes are quite unnatural) and have the further "weight" of needing to count the territory of each side before deciding you have actually "solved it."

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 Post subject: Re: New tsume-go technique
Post #20 Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:03 pm 
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Is this the seki you found?

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B B to play: Letter 'i' - 5-dan level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | . X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | . . 3 , . O . . . , .
$$ | . X 1 . . O . . . . .
$$ | O X O . . O . . . . .
$$ | . X O . 2 . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]


I thought that was the answer for a few hours, but how to reply to
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B B to play: Letter 'i' - 5-dan level
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . O O O . . . . . . .
$$ | 2 X . . O . . . . . .
$$ | . . . , . O . . . , .
$$ | . X 1 . . O . . . . .
$$ | O X O . . O . . . . .
$$ | . X O . . . . . . . .
$$ -----------------------[/go]

?

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