Lesson 106: Brilliant Empty Triangle (1)
An empty triangle is a most notorious shape for its inefficiency. Therefore, most strong Baduk players avoid making an empty triangle and don’t even think about the possibility of using it in their games. The repugnance against an empty triangle becomes something of an acquired instinct.
However, in certain local battles or the life-and-death of stones, this instinctive detestation for a certain shape or move, an empty triangle in this case, can become a serious obstacle for finding the best move. It is true that you need intuition to read even a small situation, or else there would be tons of variations you would have to think through; however, it is also true that you have to control your intuition not to interrupt a thorough and forthright reading.
It is not easy, of course, to shift between using your intuition in one situation and not using it in another. Frankly speaking, I don’t know how I do it myself, but I have an idea. I’m going to show you some cases where an empty triangle is the best move. They look so beautiful, maybe because it is so hard to find a brilliant move within such a bad-looking shape. After seeing these examples, I hope you learn not to foreclose an empty triangle peremptorily when you’re looking for candidates of a good move.
This is a situation often seen in a handicap game. White approaches the corner even when he doesn’t have enough space to extend. The correct move for White 1 is to simply jump at 5 and jump again to A after Black answers, by descending at 2. White 1 here is for making a cutting point at B and securing a base on the lower side. However, this is only a sweet dream of White, and there is a good way for Black to frustrate him.
It would be easy to find Black 1, the empty triangle, because of the title of this lesson. If White blocks at 2, then Black 3 is another good move. A and B are paired moves (miai). If White extends at A with 2, then White’s shape will not have a base.
This is a situation from a 3-4 point joseki. Against Black 5, the correct move for White is not 6 but A. White may want to secure the bigger territory on the side by playing 6, but there is a way for Black to punish his greed.
There are two empty triangles, Black 1 and A, and both are threatening to cut the ▲-marked white stone. But Black 1, which leaves the way to jump at 3, is the right move in this situation.
This is a similar example with the one in Dia.1. White wants to attack the black group on the side, and an empty triangle can be a brilliant choice.
As you may guess, White 1 is the move. If Black blocks at 2, then White 3 is good. As before, A and B are paired moves, and Black will lose his base on the side. To extend at A instead of blocking at 2 cannot be an answer to Black, since then White will push at 2 once again and cut the three △-marked black stones off from the group on the side.
The writer is a Baduk professor at Myongji University and a professional player of the game.