Lesson 130: Popular Openings (1)
During one of my classes, my students and I compared baduk to other board games such as chess, backgammon, checkers, etc. For your information, most of the students were strong baduk players at high dan levels. One student stated his opinion that the opening of baduk was easier than that of other games. The reason was that there were innumerable choices of moves and formations that a player can freely choose from, and there was no need to memorize opening sequences in order not to lose quickly.
This view immediately gave rise to a lot of opposition. Other students said the freedom of choice actually made the opening of baduk more difficult, and because there were so many things you have to consider in the opening it's almost impossible to count on memory.
The difficulty of the opening stage is not the issue of this lesson, of course. Both standpoints have their own truths. I think the difference in opinion is caused by the degree of how serious the players are about their game. At least for professional players, there is no end to the study about the opening. A single innovation in an opening can make a significant difference in the whole game. As a result, many famous players labor constantly to think up new moves and create new opening formations.
We've looked at some of the representative innovations in famous openings, and the problems that the players are faced with. Now you are armed with the proper perspective about what to think about and how during the opening. However, creativity and innovation are not given by nature but obtained through hard work, namely learning and practicing the existing skills and techniques, and sometimes even memorizing and copying them. So, for several lessons from now on, I'm going to introduce more practical details of popular openings.
Let's start with the Kobayashi Opening, which started to be frequently played from the 1980s, and is still popular among players of all levels.
All the variations starting with Black 1 to 7 are categorized as the Kobayashi Opening. However, there are hundreds of variations to this sequence, and we've already studied one of them where Black encloses the corner with A and lets White expand with B. The variation you're going to learn here begins with Black's playing C instead of A.
Compared to the diagonal of Diagram 1, Black 1 here is more aggressive in not allowing White to make an easy living. White 2 was the most commonly played move until the end of the 20th century, and is still often played. Black's answer to this is usually A or B, and we're going to see the lower pincer first. If White pushes with C instead of the knight's move with 2, Black will block at D, which turns the corner into a huge territory for Black.
Before the pincers from the side were known, Black usually pushed from above as seen here. However, even though Black's territorial framework is huge, that is only one advantage for him; besides, the framework itself is not perfect because it is not easy for Black to capture White if he comes in with A or B.
The writer is a baduk professor at Myongji University and a professional player of the game.