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 Post subject: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #1 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:50 am 
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Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game

254 pages
Published in 2008
Publisher: Hinoki Press

Overall rating: 3/5

General aspect
Format is nice, not too big, so that the book can be carried around easily (according to the motto of the publisher).
The book is well printed and the font is easy to read. As a nice feature, key sentences are printed in bold characters, drawing the reader's attention to important points.
The layout is pleasant, with, generally, one figure (actual game) on the left page and two diagrams (variations) on the right page.

Content
Twenty-two games played by Hane Naoki, from his days as an insei to his first title, and commented by him, with a focus on thickness, how he creates it and how he uses it. Recurring themes are that he is usually satisfied with moves that achieve a 80% result ("not getting one's stomach full"), the second best strategy, that he likes to take his time, avoids unclear fights and waits for the thickness to yield results later in the game.

Overall impression
1) + The content is often interesting and explained in a simple, easy-to-understand way.
2) - Despite what the title and the foreword may advertise, I didn't get the impression that it explained clearly enough how the create and use thickness.
3) - Translation is often akward and sometimes even looks like gibberish to me (disclaimer: I am not a native speaker of English).

Detailed comments
1) In game 1, the following position arose and Hane (10 years old and an insei at the time) played 35. According to him, this move is greedy and aims at achieving too much (see variations). White pincered at 36 and because of the aji of the white at c13, black's group had to be protected by playing 37.
This felt like the kind of comments that can be very useful to many players. It is simple, clear and can be put to use immediately in our games.




In game 3, he explains how the solid reinforcement move at 14 could have been put to better use by attacking at 17, instead of exchanging 16 for 17. This is practical and a good example of how playing a solid move allows one to play more severely later.




The same can be said of the comments in game 5 for instance. Hane gives very clear and useful comments about how he should have dealt with his moyo being opened to reduction in two places.

The comment p. 77 about making white play many moves around black's thickness is also easy to understand and illustrates an important point.

There is a sizeable amount of such comments (not all of them about thickness) in this book and they can provide the reader with quite a few interesting ideas and new insights about his games.


2) My biggest problem with this book is a)its lack of focus b)the lack of (thorough) explanations.

Bits of useful information are scattered here and there, leaving the reader with a rather unclear overview of the topic. And, despite the title, it is not really made clear what a thick move is and how the reader is supposed to create and use thickness.

Several times Hane's comments run along the lines of "this move looks very slow, and it probably is, but this is my style and I was hoping that the thickness it created would yield good results later". Great. But I fear that this kind of comment isn't enough for the reader to get a feel for how to create thickness and use it. Obviously just playing slow-looking moves won't do!

This lack of detailed comments on why this particular move is good at this particular moment, or on how it became useful later, is well illustrated by move 59 in game 2 (a teaching game with his father, Hane Yasumasa 9p). Hane Naoki's comment is "Black 59 is the quintessence of my go style. However it is only thick (...) in many cases, this kind of slack moves ends up becoming unexpectedly effective later on." So far so good, but the trouble is were are never shown later how this move was useful to black's position. My best guess is that it made black more solid in this area, consequentely allowing him to tackle the lonely marked white stone more severely. But without any comment from the author, it is unclear (to me) from the game record only wether the move served any meaningful purpose later in the game.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bcm59
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . X X X . . . X O . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . X X X O O . . . O . X . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . O X X . O . . . . . , X . . |
$$ | . . . O . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . O O X . . 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . O X X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . O . . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . Q . . . . . O . . |
$$ | . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . O . X . . . . . X . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . X . . . X . X . . O . . |
$$ | . . O , X X . . . , O . . . X , . . . |
$$ | . . . O O X . O . O . . O . . X . O . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


It may also trouble the reader that some moves seem to contradict the advertised purpose of the book. In game 4 (p. 47), we are told that the tobi at 33 was "too pedantic" and "unsufficiently forceful". Black should have played a more severe move (see the variation). Ok, but what about the striving-for-80%-result, not-getting-one's-stomach-full attitude? Maybe this has something to do with what Hane says p. 34, "I make strong moves only when my influence is stronger and sounder than my opponent's", maybe not. It is left to the reader to decide.




To sum up, a lot (not all) of the thick moves presented in the games are not backed up by an analysis of the position that would justify their being played. Instead the reader is told several times that Hane "puts his faith in thickness", "expects pleasant things" or "believes thickness will operate one way or another". I have no contention with these ideas and my own experience is that, indeed, creating thickness requires a bit of faith. It is an investment for future times and there is often no knowing what will be achieved with it. But at the same time, being shown the moves without sufficient explanations may leave the reader with the feeling that playing thickly equals playing slow moves everywhere and waiting for something to happen. This lack of guidance removes much of the interest one could have in a book called "The Way of Creating a Thick and Strong Game".


3) As for the translation, I am a bit puzzled it went to print as is. Since I'm not a native speaker of English, I'll refrain from quoting too many examples but the translation often seemed stilted and akward to me.

"A one point difference like this is a truly suspicious fellow (...)" p. 67

"Attaching with Black 51, drawing back to 53 and then making the fencing-in move of 55 comprise a single set of moves", p. 80.

"If White presses at 3, the jump of black 4 would seem to give Black sufficient play.", p. 81.

"When one has only a single group of weak stones that may be attacked, running away is a good strategy. Then there is no way to run away before the attack is initiated. [Before being attacked, strengthen the group rather than run.]", p. 93.


Conclusion
I was looking forward to this book and ended up being rather disappointed by the contents. There is plenty of interesting material in it, but the main topic is not adressed in a way that will make it really easier to understand. There are some really good pieces of advice but they are too scattered apart and no clear view on how to implement thickness in one's own games emerges. Maybe the fact that the games are presented in chronological order prevented the author from developing a more organized and focused teaching plan, maybe it is a teaching device ("I'll give you small bits of advice here and there and let you connect the dots"). Whatever the reason, it didn't work really well for me.

It is also a problem (and maybe a bigger one than the scatteredness of advices) that the reader is shown thick moves, some (supposedly) good, others bad, without the book providing enough explanations for the reader to "create a strong and thick game".

To sum up, a book with some good games and comments but not one that I felt has really made me understand thickness better. Maybe it will pay a careful rereading. Since the book is overall an easy read (despite the translation) I'll probably give it another shot in the near future and will be updating this review if need be.


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Hane2.sgf [207 Bytes]
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Hane4.sgf [317 Bytes]
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Hane1.sgf [383 Bytes]
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 Post subject: Re: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #2 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:50 am 
Gosei

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Hi Shenoute

Good to see that someone is still prepared to offer the community service of a book review.

I was a bit surprised at your somewhat negative view of the book. I only have the Japanese version, so can't comment on the English one, but a few of your comments made me wonder whether you have been mis-signposted either by the translation or the format.

For example, in the Japanese there is no reference to 'strong' in the title (it's just "How to Create a Thick Go Style"). By adding 'strong' to the title, the translator is making the reader associate 'strong' with 'thick', which is not exactly wrong (though tautological). But the problem comes when there is a reference to 'strong' moves in the text in the sense of 'aggressive'. Because of the signposting in the title the reader may not realise which sense is meant (e.g. in the example you gave, where Hane says he plays strong moves only where his influence is better then his opponent's, perhaps some readers misconstrue that as he only plays thick moves.

You quote: "Black 59 is the quintessence of my go style. However it is only thick (...) in many cases, this kind of slack moves ends up becoming unexpectedly effective later on." I find that misleading. 'Quintessence' implies the very best of something. But all Hane says is that Black 59 is, to be sure, typical of his go style, but it can't avoid the charge of being a "bad move". There is no reference to "many cases" of unexpected effects later on. It just says the fact that sometimes such slack moves have unexpected effects is part of the charm of go. Again I see this as a signpost gone slightly awry.

The reference to a "pedantic" ikken tobi intrigued me as I had no idea what it meant. It turns out he was just saying that Black was too concerned with playing an ikken tobi because of the proverb that an ikken tobi is never bad. (He actually prefaces it with "it may possibly be the case that ...." (naki ni shimo arazu) but it's unclear whether you or the translator omitted that.)

You may also possibly have read too much into the 80% full remark - this was a reference to an explanation of why Japanese live so long and as I recall it was given a lot of highlighting around the time of Hane's book. He is certainly not recommending slack or slow moves, but rather healthy ones.

Apart from signposting, you possibly didn't grasp the focus implied by the format. The contents page outlines the structure, and we are meant to follow Hane's progress as he learns to cope with creating thickness (the sub-text is that it takes a long time). I find that superimposing that knowledge on the games gives the focus you say is missing.

Also, key points are bolded mid-text in the original. I found those provided just the right amount of focus. Was this bolding omitted in the English?

As to the odd English you query, I found only the first "suspicious fellow" example awful and the rest sounded okay.

Of course, your other comments about wishing for more explanation, for example, may well stand in either version. And, again, good to see such comments!


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 Post subject: Re: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #3 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:26 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
As to the odd English you query, I found only the first "suspicious fellow" example awful and the rest sounded okay.

This was my reaction as well.

Quote:
And, again, good to see such comments!

And this too!

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Post #4 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:12 pm 
Judan
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Shenoute, thanks for the feedback.

John, thanks for the feedback to the feedback.

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Post #5 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:10 pm 
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EdLee wrote:
Shenoute, thanks for the feedback.

John, thanks for the feedback to the feedback.


I suppose a thanks for the feedback to the feedback to the feedback is in order... :salute:

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Post #6 Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:40 pm 
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Kirby :)
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 Post subject: Re: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #7 Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:03 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Hi Shenoute
(...)

Thank you for your comments. They throw an interesting light on some of the issues I had with the book.

I guess that, indeed, part of my disappointment may be due to my own expectations rather than the contents. I probably would have been less dissapointed had the book simply been called "Commented games by Hane Naoki". But then I may not have bought it :D

As for the translation I of course defer to your judgment. Let's just say that it is the first and only go book where I needed to reread sentences to ascertain their meaning (and sometimes still not being sure what was meant).

I have scanned four pages of the book, seeing that there is no sample available online and thinking that you may be interested in seeing more of it. It also serves to answer some of your remarks. You will see that I have slightly erred in my quotation of p. 47, it is not the tobi that is "pedantic", but "one feels that black is too pedantic in playing" it.

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 Post subject: Re: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #8 Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:50 am 
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Hi again Shenoute

Thanks for the attachment. I see from that that formatting was not an issue, but mis-signposting was a bigger issue than I thought. A translator doesn't just have to convey the raw meaning of the words. He has to achieve the same sort of smoothness as the original (so uses of "one" and "suspicious fellow" don't belong here), but he also has to ensure the reader is travelling in the same direction as the writer intended. That sense of direction exists in the original. It doesn't seem to exist in the English.

Apart from the points I've already mentioned, there's a couple more in the attachment. They are small things in themselves, but they are the sorts of cues a good writer uses.

One is "playing to sacrifice" rather than "playing by sacrificing". Playing to sacrifice implies sacrifice is the goal. But the goal is creating a thick position and one way Hane is suggesting of doing that is by sacrificing.

Another is the reference to "Then Black could proceed to 3 in good form." That conveys to me that the good shape of 3 is the destination. It is something static. But the Japanese word is choushi which rather conveys the idea of momentum, and it is that momentum which is the goal. That is important because a fault of thickness makers is to be too concerned with static shape. As I've said elsewhere, thickness is not really thickness unless it can function as thickness, and so it needs a dynamic element.

Interestingly, we have the opposite case later on where there is a reference to ikioi as 'momentum'. To be sure there are a few occasions when that is an acceptable equivalent, but the real idea is latent power, and that applies here. This is the equivalent of the notorious shi in Chinese that so exercises western military men.

More worrying is the reference to "When one has only a single group of weak stones that may be attacked, running away is a good strategy. Then there is no way to run away before the attack is initiated. [Before being attacked, strengthen the group rather than run.]"

The first portion doesn't make any sense to me, and evidently didn't to the translator either, because he added the bit in [ ]. But even that explanation doesn't fit the Japanese. It's the opposite even. I think Hane is simply saying (by way of explaining why it is his style not to attend to his weak groups too early) that running away only once a group has been attacked from some quarter is his preferred strategy. He never runs away if the attack doesn't come, especially if, as here, he either has time to escape anyway or he has the option (the one he chose) of sacrificing. He adds that he likes this sort of decisive strategy (sub-text: this is the way you need to think if you want to be a thick player).


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 Post subject: Re: Hane Naoki, The Way to Create a Strong and Thick Game
Post #9 Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:55 am 
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Hi John,

Thank you again for your insightful (as always) comments. It certainly sheds light on the difficulty of translating go material into English.

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