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Komidashi: Hope for a Solution

Honinbo Shusaku brought the quality of play in Go to a new level. But by helping players to better understand how to play Go properly, he led to an era during which Black (the first player in Go) almost always won in high-level play - but usually by just a few stones - through solid defensive play.

Because games in Go are, in effect, won on points, though, then the problem could be fixed by decreeing that one first adds, say, 2 1/2 stones to White's count before comparing the two players to determine who won. This is komidashi.

And it solved the problem. It made Go exciting again.

It took time. Players playing defensively with the Black stones didn't need to win by more than one stone before; now that they did, they improved their play, and so the offset in the score became 3 1/2 stones... and later 6 1/2 stones or 7 1/2 stones.

The most important element in achieving the promise of komidashi was the emergence of players such as Go Seigen who showed how to play both in a more aggressive fashion and more successfully in the changed environment that komidashi created.

This success story is what I would like to see happen in Chess. But Chess is very different from Go.

In Go, there are many different possible outcomes to a game - White and Black control the same number of points on the board, Black is one point ahead, White is one point ahead, Black is two points ahead, White is two points ahead, and so on... on a board with 361 points available for the two players to control.

In Chess, checkmate either happens or it doesn't. So Chess would have to be changed before something like komidashi could be adopted.

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