Go Seigen and the unfashionable low Chinese line

I ran into this comment on BQM 194 on Sensei’s Library.

In 2004, Bill Spight gave this fuseki diagram


and made the observation

In this fuseki Go Seigen, in 21st Century Go, says that he likes (6) - (8), but does not claim that other plays are not good.

to which Charles Matthews responded

This (6) was in fashion with the pros in the early 2000s. It looks a bit as if White is reckoning that komi is large.

Here are the full line’s professional / semi-professional appearances in Waltheri.

Black White Date Result
Yoda Norimoto Qian Yuping 1994-07 W+3.5
Pang Yan Lin Feng 1996-07 W+R
Yang Jaeho Yamada Kimio 1998-06 W+R
Shao Weigang Zhang Xuan 1998-12 W+R
Kobayashi Koichi Hane Naoki 1999-01 B+R
Mok Jinseok Lee Changho 1999-01 W+R
Cho Sonjin Ryu Shikun 1999-03 W+1.5
Yu Ping Lin Chaohua 1999-04 B+1.5
Yu Ping Ma Xiachun 2000-01 W+R
Yo Kaei Sekiyama Toshimichi 2000-01 W+R
Alexander Dinerchtein (A) Michael Redmond 2001-06 W+R
Sekiyama Toshimichi Hane Naoki 2002-02 W+R
Zou Junjie Shao Weigang 2002-03 B+5.5
Cho Hyeyeon Yun Yeongseon 2002-09 B+4.5
Yamada Kimio Kobayashi Izumi 2003-06 B+R
Yu Ping Chang Hao 2003-09 B+R
Takao Shinji Yamada Kimio 2003-10 W+R
Yamada Kimio So Yukoku 2003-11 B+R
Cho Sonjin Yoda Norimoto 2004-02 W+1.5
Kobayashi Koichi Yoda Norimoto 2004-04 W+6.5
Qiu Jun Chen Xiaonan 2006-07 B+R
Takao Shinji Yoda Norimoto 2007-06 B+R
Nakaonoda Tomomi Yoda Norimoto 2008-12 B+2.5

This “Yoda–Qian line” or “Go Seigen variation” was played professionally for twelve years 1994–2008, with a core six-year period 1998–2004.

So what happened? I noticed that White lost the last three games, so did it become unplayable at a high level? Or did professionals simply grow bored of it?


Waltheri’s shows me that the low approach had its greatest popularity in 2010-2012:

The high approach was popular from 1990-2012:

KataGo gives the same evaluation to both, about 0.6 point loss compared to the 3-3 invasion or the 4-4 attachment against the 3-4 stone.

From 2013, approaching the 4-4 stone started to dominate.

I think this opening declined because, after Black 1, White wants to respond at 2 (old theory), but the relationship between 2 and A is awkward. Move A wants to be one or two points to the left to make an ideal formation, and White has no clear move to patch the overextension.


@gennan this thread is about Go Seigen recommending the one space low outside approach, rather than the more common two space low/high you show (which themselves were less common than outside approaching the 4-4 of the Chinese opening before AI made the whole thing fall out of favour).

Personally, I’ve never much liked the one space outside approach as the group ends up pretty obviously too close to the thickness of Black’s shimari. And these AI days I dislike it even more as it’s even more obvious that the exchange of outside approach for shimari is good for black, as corners and shimaris are more important than side moves.

I wonder what merits Go Seigen saw in it, I’ll check that book later. I suppose it makes Black’s group under more pressure if white does somehow end up taking the lower right corner, and the inside peep is more forcing and harder to resist as the closeness of the one space approach makes pushing and cutting more severe.


The English book from Go Seigen ‘A Way of play for the 21st century’ has no details on this move, it just says “white can play this way”, maybe the Japanese books or the TV programmes on which they were based had more details.

But this usage of it from Lee Changho seems to illustrate the point I made about the inside peep being more forcing and if white lives inside the black group being under pressure, as seen by black’s somewhat docile 33 ensuring he keeps the corner eyes and allowing white to save the invasion stone of 32 and get nice kosumi endgame in sente from both sides. Lee always makes it look so easy to beat people when they obey like this! but he of course backed this up with excellent position judgement, game control and the reading to still get a good result if they resisted the peaceful lines.