Last week, we saw how sente might take advantage of an ambiguous opening by keeping both static-rook and swinging-rook openings as options. This week, we will take a look at gote’s more sophisticated responses. Let’s go back to the familiar opening.
☗P-76 ☖P-34 ☗P-66 ☖P-84 ☗S-78 ☖S-62 ☗P-16 ☖P-14 ☗P-26
Last week, we considered ☖K-42 (or ☖P-54) and ☖S-32. In both cases, sente was able to take the lead by exploiting gote’s weakness against a static-rook (in the first case) or swinging-rook (in the second).
There is a better strategy which gote can use here. It goes like this:
☖S-42 ☗S-38 ☖P-54 ☗S-27 ☖S-33 ☗B-67 ☖P-85 ☗B-77 ☖K-42 ☗R-88 ☖K-32 ☗K-48 ☖G(61)-52 ☗K-38 ☖B-31
Gote gradually builds up a Yagura castle, while sente makes sure to swing straight to ☗P-88 in order to prevent gote from conquering the 8th file. Notice that if gote pulled back the bishop ☖B-31 first and then moved ☖K-42, sente could attack ☗P-86 ☖Px ☗Bx and an exchange between sent’s bishop and gote’s rook would be guaranteed. Avoiding this pitfall, gote first castles the kind and then pulls back the bishop. From here, the game will then continue as:
☗G(69)-58 ☖P-74 ☗G(58)-48 ☖S-73 ☗K-28 ☖P-94 ☗P-96 ☖S-84 ☗P-56
Notice how sente is taking care to keep the castle constantly together by maintaining the connection between the two golds. Meanwhile, gote prepares for a Climbing-Silver strategy.
☖P-75 ☗R-78 ☖R-72 ☗B-68
At this point, the game is very much a tie. Gote is the one making the moves, but sente can alAso boast a superior castle together with the possibility of retaliating in future with ☗B-46, thanks to how the Silver-Crown has been constructed.
What would you make of this result? Which side would you prefer to be on? Since this type of board rarely makes it to professional matches or to standard textbooks, this is an excellent way of testing your own intuition and judgement as a shogi player.
As always, comments are warmly welcome.