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 Post subject: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:39 am 
Dies with sente

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Ok. Got your attention.

Of course it is not a mistake. The pros and alphago play it all the time.

Instead this post is about some recent thoughts I have had about the 4-4 start and approaches. At my level (10k) many players (me included) seem not to be able to properly take advantage of the outside after they get invaded at the 3-3 point. And I wonder if it is a mistake for such players to play 4-4.


Motivations

1. Consider the standard Joseki for invasion:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$W
$$ ----------------
$$ | . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . O O X . . .
$$ | . . O X . X . .
$$ | . . O X . . T .
$$ | . O X . . T T .
$$ | . O X . T T T .
$$ | . . X . . . . .[/go]


Since the invader (here:white) usually keeps sente, they can toss in a stone somewhere in the triangulated area and wipe out most of the wall's potential. White gained the corner, black gained an eyeless wall.


2. Relatively new in pro games

Saw a Nick Sibicky lecture about Go Seigen. Go Seigen (according to the lecture) was one of the first top players to favour the 4-4 start over 4-3, and go on and show the world how to use the influence it gave. Before him the pros apparently preferred 4-3 since it made territory at once, and was not as invadable.

If the pros before 1950s (or so) were not comfortable handling 4-4 -- how can todays kyu players handle it!? I suspect many cannot.


3. Needs more stones to secure the corner

A 4-4 stone often needs two extra stones to secure the corner, while a 4-3 can do with one. Admittedly a 4-4 is flexible, with a 4-3 one has to commit to a direction early on.



How to exploit a 4-4 "mistake"

Ok, your 10k opponent has played a 4-4. In pro games the standard is to approach the corner - but why do we this?

After an approach our opponent has many many responses to chose from:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$W
$$ ------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . T T . . . .
$$ | . . . T T 1 T T T
$$ | . . . X . T . . T
$$ | . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . T T . . . . .
$$ | . . T . . . . . .[/go]


Our opponent will choose the one that benefits them the most. The standard replies to many of their moves is to proceed to invade 3-3 (like after pincer or large knight enclosure). By approaching we leave the invasion decision to THEM.

My recent take is that we should invade without asking! That way we get the points, and they don't get to choose. And we usually keep sente. The fact that alphago agrees has nothing to do with my reasoning.

So far in my recent games this usually works really well. But there are exceptions (see the game posted in the game analysis today).


Any thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #2 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:55 am 
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Tapani wrote:

Since the invader (here:white) usually keeps sente, they can toss in a stone somewhere in the triangulated area and wipe out most of the wall's potential. White gained the corner, black gained an eyeless wall.

This is a common misjudgement. In practice, it is not at all easy to erase the potential of such a wall. For a start, any white move nearby without backup can simply be pincered and attacked.

Quote:

If the pros before 1950s (or so) were not comfortable handling 4-4 -- how can todays kyu players handle it!? I suspect many cannot.

If you start thinking this way you'll find you can't actually play anything at all - professionals will be able to demonstrate complex subtleties in any position you care to construct.

In reality, whatever you play you will follow it up badly compared to the professional sequences, and that's okay! It turns out that ranking in go works out pretty well because all these things average out. But if you want to get better, you have to try to play good moves as part of learning how and why they are good.

Quote:
3. Needs more stones to secure the corner

A 4-4 stone often needs two extra stones to secure the corner, while a 4-3 can do with one. Admittedly a 4-4 is flexible, with a 4-3 one has to commit to a direction early on.

It's not just about flexibility, it's about the fact that the corner is equally weighted with the influence towards the centre. And if you're trying to frame this as a 'kyu players can't play that way' kind of thing, you need only to look at your recently reviewed game.

Quote:
My recent take is that we should invade without asking! That way we get the points, and they don't get to choose. And we usually keep sente. The fact that alphago agrees has nothing to do with my reasoning.


You started this post by suggesting that 10k players aren't equipped to handle the professional level subtlety of the position, and now you're suggesting moves that are currently notable because they have been introduced by alphago? Do you know that it doesn't just play the normal joseki and forget about it, instead preferring some slightly different sequences, becuase this position is just as complex and subtle as anything else? That's not to say you shouldn't play this way - you should, it's a great way to learn, and the 3-3 invasion is often a great move even without considering most modern alphago-style considerations.

Overall, you seem to regularly underestimate the value of influence. That's not unusual, influence can be harder to make use of than territory, but that isn't really an argument to play that way if your goal is to improve at go. When you start playing stronger opponents who can use the influence better (which doesn't take a professional diploma, you'll see this over just a couple of grades), it will become clear why you can't just give influence away too freely.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #3 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:21 am 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
Any thoughts?


DDKs should open on the 5-5 points. Then they do not have to worry about taking territory in the corner. :cool: OC, once there is a stone in all four corners, they should invade the corners with the opponent's single 4-4 stone ASAP. (To achieve balance. :lol:)

Oh, and forget the standard 4-4, 3-3 invasion "joseki". It's already obsolete. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #4 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:35 am 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
If the pros before 1950s (or so) were not comfortable handling 4-4 -- how can todays kyu players handle it!? I suspect many cannot.


This is ridiculous. Over the centuries, if not millennia, top players have learned how to handle 4-4 points. After all, not only did most games start out with setup stones there, pros regularly gave and took handicaps. As for today's kyu players, how can they handle any corner opening?

Quote:
How to exploit a 4-4 "mistake"

Ok, your 10k opponent has played a 4-4. In pro games the standard is to approach the corner - but why do we this?

After an approach our opponent has many many responses to chose from:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$W
$$ ------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . . T T . . . .
$$ | . . . T T 1 T T T
$$ | . . . X . T . . T
$$ | . . . . . . . . .
$$ | . . T T . . . . .
$$ | . . T . . . . . .[/go]


Our opponent will choose the one that benefits them the most.


Hello? Your kyu opponent has 17 or more chances to choose the wrong move. ;) (You left out a few.) If you invade on the 3-3 he has only two options, which means that he will choose the best move at least 25% of the time. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #5 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:08 am 
Dies with sente

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Guys, guys, this is not 100% serious. Just an experiment I am doing.

I know that the 4-4 stone has been played since forever. The lecture said is that in the 50s the pro's seemed to have thought that the influence from the 4-4 stone did not fully make up for the territorial disadvantage. This is just how I started thinking about whether the influence is really worth it.

At my current level, it feels like influence is soo easy to eradicate. Just toss in a stone, but not too close so it gets killed.

And another insight, if the Joseki really is balanced - and corner is about eight points, the influence should be on average also worth about eight points.

Regardless, even if I temporarily win a few games, maybe rank up, eventually my opponents will show me how to profit from the influence ... and I will lose games, and adapt. :-)
And meanwhile, I get a lot of 4-3 joseki rehearsed.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #6 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:34 am 
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Tapani wrote:
At my current level, it feels like influence is soo easy to eradicate. Just toss in a stone, but not too close so it gets killed.

This is normal, and it's not a bad way to learn - I remember thinking similar things, and slowly adjusting the safe distance from that influence further and further away as it turned out that 'too close' was actually quite a lot harder to work out than I'd expected.
Quote:
And another insight, if the Joseki really is balanced - and corner is about eight points, the influence should be on average also worth about eight points.

It's important to note that this isn't really a joseki in the standard opening sense. The reason it's been normal advice not to enter the 3-3 too early is that this situation is not necessarily balanced, on an empty board the influence is generally worth more.

When the 3-3 point does get taken early, such as by alphago or by professionals recently, it's actually played somewhat differently and it's not usual to just follow this standard sequence. Instead, the invaded player tends to play different variations to fight for sente, or if they do not then the invading player may try to omit the hane-connect part of the sequence in order to avoid making the wall too strong.

I used to try and count influence this way as well, but I could never really square it with the different territory/influence rewards of different joseki. I understand more now that these positions are defined by the many different weaknesses and potential future plays for each player, and it's hard to make sense of such a direct count. In the simplest sense, the value of a wall is rarely in direct territory, but in later potential and fighting. That said, you can also note that the wall will often make 8 points on its own as well as doing all that other stuff, which makes the invasion seem less great without some bigger plan behind it.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #7 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:07 am 
Lives in sente

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You will not get to strong kyu level without learning how to value and use influence, whether or not you play star points.

The easiest way to learn how to value and use influence is to play star points.

The conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #8 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:24 pm 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
I know that the 4-4 stone has been played since forever. The lecture said is that in the 50s the pro's seemed to have thought that the influence from the 4-4 stone did not fully make up for the territorial disadvantage. This is just how I started thinking about whether the influence is really worth it.


I don't know where Sibicky is getting his ideas, and I am not sure that he actually was talking about the 1950s instead of the 1920s. The 4-4 corner opening was a feature of the New Fuseki, which emphasized influence. Go Seigen was one of the fathers of the New Fuseki. The heyday of the New Fuseki was the 1930s, not the 1950s. The 4-4 corner opening did not disappear in the 50s, but I think it was not as popular as it is today. Certainly the sanrensei was popular into the 1970s. :)

After the rejection of setup stones and before the New Fuseki, the 4-3 was probably the most frequent corner opening. In general, the style was territorial. But the top players certainly understood influence. The 5-4 was also popular, as well as the 5-3. In fact, Dosaku liked the 5-3 so much that he invented an opening where he played it in all four corners, the Swastika 5-3. :)

I suspect that the 4-4 was not popular before the New Fuseki, not because it is strong on influence, but because it is weak on territory. That is, it is inflexible in that way. (It is flexible in terms of direction, OC.) That does not have to do with the 3-3 invasion. Actually, it has to do with the follow-up move. Today the 6-3 is a popular follow-up, but before the New Fuseki the popular follow-up was the 7-3. Neither of these follow-ups secure the corner. The 3-3 and 4-3 secure the corner, but seem inefficient. By contrast, compare the 4-4 corner opening with the 5-4. The 5-4 is obviously more influence oriented than the 4-4, being one point higher, but it also has a good territorial follow-up, the 3-4 to make a high enclosure of the corner. Perhaps it was this lack of flexibility of the 4-4 that placed it in disfavor before Go Seigen came along. And who knows about the future? Maybe the 5-4 will come into vogue. Maybe AlphaGo does not play it because it was trained initially on human play, and the 5-4 is currently unpopular. {shrug}

Quote:
And meanwhile, I get a lot of 4-3 joseki rehearsed.


Given your recent game, may I suggest playing a lot of 5-4 corner openings, and even 5-3 openings (If it was good enough for Dosaku! :)). The 5-4 is influence oriented, yet threatens to take territory as well. You can learn how to handle both. :)

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Last edited by Bill Spight on Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #9 Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:10 pm 
Dies with sente

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Tapani wrote:
Ok. Got your attention.


Not really :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #10 Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:37 am 
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Just one comment: your idea of playing stones near a wall to reduce/mitigate inlfuence is a plausible strategy, but your choice of points is much too close (or not close enough with the cheeky peep), both in this 3-3 invasion example (but if you are planning that better not to make the 2nd line hane connect giving the wall eyeshape, as AlphaGo does) and also your game over at viewtopic.php?p=222004#p222004 (that wall is so strong such moves are essentially passes if not -1 point in gote for when they later die). Here is an example of Ke Jie, who has embraced AlphaGo's early 3-3s, making a more reasonable such wall-reducing play. After the 3-3 he plays 9 on the side, quite far from the wall. If white wishes to he could play a from above, to make the wall have a base and some territory, but it's rather overconcentrated (black would approach at b next I expect).

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B Ke Jie 9p (black) vs Xie He 9p in CCTV cup today
$$ +---------------------------------------+
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . 5 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 1 3 4 6 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 2 O . . . . . , . . . X . , X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 9 . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O X X . |
$$ | . . b . . . . . . . . . . . . X O X . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . O . X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ +---------------------------------------+[/go]


So white squeezes from below and only then, with the existing support of the hoshi stone, does black go closer to the wall and then the group runs out.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Wm10
$$ +---------------------------------------+
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . X X 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X X O O O 3 . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O O . . . . . , . . . X . , X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 4 . 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . X . 6 . 7 . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X O . . |
$$ | . . 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O X X . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X O X . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . O . X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ +---------------------------------------+[/go]

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #11 Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:44 am 
Dies with sente

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@Bill,

thank you for the history lesson. Any alleged factual mistakes in Nick's lessons should primarily be attributed to my poor memory.


About playing 5-4 .. assuming you were serious ... I tried it now, just for you :p

And I won.

My opponent did not leave any reasonable space of a few squares between my walls and his attacking stones. He starting attaching to my walls! And one of my walls died, opponent lives in the middle, leaving me with two corners and a wall with 5 points (or so) of territory in eyes. I was down with some 85-90 points (+komi), we start to pass around, and my opponent just let his clock run down, losing on time. Weird.

Too ashamed over that game to show it. Worst game in a long long time.


@Uberdude

while my post has not so much to do with alphago - found out about alphago's style afterwards. Intersting to note that Ke Jie does not approach the corner first, but goes straight in.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #12 Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:19 am 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
@Bill,

About playing 5-4 .. assuming you were serious ... I tried it now, just for you :p

And I won.

Congratulations!
Quote:
My opponent did not leave any reasonable space of a few squares between my walls and his attacking stones. He starting attaching to my walls! And one of my walls died, opponent lives in the middle, leaving me with two corners and a wall with 5 points (or so) of territory in eyes. I was down with some 85-90 points (+komi), we start to pass around, and my opponent just let his clock run down, losing on time. Weird.

I guess.

Ah, yes, Wall Death. As White without komi, I once lost two walls and still made a large central territory and won by 5 points. Boy, was my opponent surprised. :shock: :D

Yes, I was serious. You need to learn how to play the 5-4, 5-3, 4-4, 4-3, and 3-3. And even the 5-5, I submit. :lol:

And I was serious about not trying (too hard) to make territory in the opening. You worry too much about territory, right now.
Alfred E. Neuman wrote:
What? Me worry?


Keep it up, and good luck! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #13 Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:54 am 
Dies with sente

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Bill, thank you a lot here.

That 5-4 idea of yours have been on my mind a bit today. I really should create a separate account on some server and only try to play influence oriented games, and not to make territory early. And stick to the 5-4 opening :D
Maybe start a bunch of stones below my current level and see how high I can push that account.

Thanks once more.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #14 Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:56 am 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
Bill, thank you a lot here.


De nada. :)

Quote:
That 5-4 idea of yours have been on my mind a bit today. I really should create a separate account on some server and only try to play influence oriented games, and not to make territory early. And stick to the 5-4 opening :D


Interesting idea. :)

Quote:
Maybe start a bunch of stones below my current level and see how high I can push that account.


The best learning tasks are those with about a 50-50 chance of success. Yes, you are unfamiliar with the 5-4 and playing for influence. So maybe starting out one rank lower, or even two, would be good. But I doubt if going any lower would help.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 4-4 a mistake in the opening?
Post #15 Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:24 pm 
Judan

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Tapani wrote:
At my level (10k) many players (me included) seem not to be able to properly take advantage of the outside after they get invaded at the 3-3 point. And I wonder if it is a mistake for such players to play 4-4.


On the contrary - if you are not able to properly take advantage of the outside influence, it's all the more reason to play 4-4. That's how you learn.

I'd make an exception for games that you really, really want to win, such as tournament games. In that case, play to win.

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Post #16 Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:00 am 
Lives with ko

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Andy Liu 1p gave an interesting lecture at this year's US Go Congress on the topic of shoulder hits and attachments. He has been studying AlphaGo and also FineArt.

He views the shoulder hits and attachments seen in the AlphaGo not as probes but as ways to simplify the game. He calls the 3-3 invasion a shoulder hit (I prefer the more general angle play) and cites the same argument that it a) usually will get a response and b) reduces the opponent's responses compared to the knight's approach. (I have doubts about his insinuations that one can end in sente. If your opponent has more stones than you in an area, I don't think it's you that necessarily decides who ends in sente.)

For attachments, he made the same argument. The opponent will usually choose one of two hanes, and as long as you can handle either, it's okay.

There are a couple of things he did not say, but I thought about later. The first is that if the opponent plays nobi instead, that the sequence transposes to a shoulder hit sequence, which is also "simplifying." The second is that although we think of attachments as starting fights, the player who attaches does not have to crosscut after the opponent's hane. A counter-hane can be played instead, and this usually has fewer follow-ups. In fact, he didn't show any crosscut variations in his examples, only counter-hane.

He has been playing early 3-3 invasions recently himself and claims some good results. Of course, Andy is strong and may get good results no matter what he does.

None of his lecture had to do with influence vs. territory. That's a separate topic, but in another lecture he suggested that kyu players assume their groups are alive because their opponents would have a hard time killing them anyway and that even if they are killed the more important thing is whether the stones are useful than whether they are dead or alive. He is not suggesting a total disrespect of influence, though and I saw one review in which he suggested keeping a safe distance, so he is not rejecting all traditional theory.

I think if you like the center, maybe you can take Bill Spight's suggestion and play 5-5, but instead of invading at 3-3, play the shoulder hit at 5-5 against your opponent's 4-4 if and when you think the timing is right. Then you "simplify" the position in Andy's terms. (That's just my idea, it's not something I've tried but I don't think it's too bad if the whole board position is okay.)

Andy emphasized that reducing the opponent's responses and seeking sente are a big part of his philosophy and he is seeing this kind of thing in current strong AI games.

FWIW, when I was 10k I had a decent record against players who invaded early at 3-3 but had poor results playing directly at 3-3 myself in an empty corner. I am looking forward to more people trying that against me.

Maybe in another thread I'll try to share some of what Andy said in his AI talk.

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