The history of d11 opening - past 20 years

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10 posts in this thread

Ando Meritee
#1 2008-02-20 22:23:19

Ever since I started to play renju 20 years ago, most renju openings have been very stable - they have always been either black advantage or white advantage, rarely changing from one side to another.

However, d11 opening is unique. It has switched from nearly white win to nearly black win, forth and back several times in 20 years.

Since my experience of renju starts from 1988, I can only analyze the history from that year on.

During years 1988-1990, the opening was balanced, whereas during 1990-1997 the d11 opening developed towards white benefit, and it was considered too good for white, almost like i1 or i5 openings. The main reason of the d11 being nearly white win was the absence of other 13th moves.

The attempts of changing the 11th move did not work well either - both 11-j7 and 11-i11 usually resulted with white win. During that time, players were desperately trying alternative ways to keep black hopes up. For example 5-j8. I remember having won an important game with such 5th move as black in Leningrad New Year Prize tournament in 1990.

The year 1997 brought a big change in the theory of d11. All of the sudden the opening had become very equal - both black and white sides had fair chances to win. It is all thanks to the 13th move that was found by Japanese. See below:

During 1997 the d11 was considered better for black, because good black variants were developed quite fast. The typical development was like this:

It took about one year for players to invent resistance for white because the situation on the diagram above was too much under black's control - even if black did not win, he could easily force the draw later.

As a result, different kind of 14th moves were introduced during 1998, the best of which was 14-j7. For quite some time, the 14-j17 turned the tables - d11 was once again considered to be very good for white!! See below:

The year 1999 - the move 14 was no longer a surprise, the proper black responses were found, and as a result d11 was considered nearly black win!! The games of World Championship 1999 were a good proof of it. Black's response was following:

For quite some time, black dominance was terrifying. White tried several 18th move, but no good came out of those. Then, some other 14th moves were re-tried again, but yet without success.

The year 2000 brought two new 12th moves, almost at the same time. They offered a slight resistance at first, because the optimal black moves were not found yet. The white inventions were:

Because black side players had no experience of handling these new situations, so they often tried to transfer the position to something well-known, such as the variant below. But of course, such attempt failed because white can utilize the position in better way. It was a big disadvantage for black and white gained a lot from this hesitation. See below:

Year 2001 - players prepared well for coming World Championship. Both 12th moves were analyzed well and as a result, the d11 opening became nearly black win again. See the two examples below:

Soon after that, during 2002-2004, the situation equalized - d11 was considered as an equal opening. As a result, it became extremely popular among players. In some tournaments nearly half of the games were played with d11 opening.

Below there is an example of a balanced situation of d11 opening:

By 2005, the balance shifted towards white side again. The d11 was then considered to be very good for white and black side was lacking good ideas for development. Typical situation is shown below:

Years 2005-2007, the d11 opening is balanced. Black has several ways to keep the initiative which is enough for draw with careful play. Typical pattern below:

The situation today: the t11 opening has been carefully analyzed and at present it is considered as a solid draw by most strong players in the world. If one of the players tries to turn away from the optimal course, then he can risk with facing disadvantage and often even loss. Of course, changing from the main path has its elements of surprise as well.

So what is the future of d11 opening then? It is hard to say. Since the d11 has changed sides so many times in the past, and each time it has been the opinion of world's best players, so there is no 100% certainty that the top players are correct this time with their judgment about d11 being draw. However, the number of players have increased and the results of research is more accurate year by year.

Most likely, d11 will lose its attractiveness among top players because it is not easy to make good fighting games there now. Perhaps the change of opening rules might refresh d11 opening a bit.

The summary of the history of d11 in past 20 years:

1988 - 1990 - balanced
1990 - 1997 - white advantage
1997 - 1998 - black advantage
1998 - 1999 - white advantage
1999 - 2000 - black advantage
2000 - 2001 - white advantage
2001 - 2002 - black advantage
2002 - 2004 - balanced
2004 - 2005 - white advantage
2005 - 2008 - balanced

Such frequent changes of sides makes the d11 to be one of the most popular and most analyzed opening in the history. It might be interesting for new generation of players to see this overview of history. This article is my quick and perhaps a bit superficial summary of past 20 years, and may contain some slight mistakes, but at least it can show how much the d11 opening had changed forth and back during two decades.

#2 2008-03-02 05:39:36

Nice review, Ando. But the modern situation seems to be a bit different.

It seems to me that now 11d gives a significant advantage to a white player because of 12-K8. This 12th move is quite old, and for a long while it was only a trap, but now black has nothing to offer against white development there. For some years it was considered that black has advantage after 13 J9 14 G6 15 K7, but now theory knows that white has extremely compicated win there.

Other 15th moves seemed to be weaker than 15 K7. Now it is time for black to show the way to balance the whole opening.

Moreover, there is a number of 12th moves where white can gain fine position.

Best regards, Epifanov Dm.

Ando Meritee
#3 2008-03-02 14:39:03

Actually black can play much stronger moves than in given diagram that can bring better result for black, but since the Team WC is coming up soon, it is probably not wise to disclose proper black development here. Perhaps I will add some diagrams into comments after TWC.

Ando Meritee
#4 2008-03-02 14:59:11

But you are right about the 12th move being considered as a kind of trap move until 2006 Team WC - then our team started to use this 12th move seriously during the tournament and soon that move became popular everywhere.

At that TWC, I played all my white d11 games with this 12th move: with Stefan Karlsson, Chen Wei and Hiroshi Okabe, and I won them all. So the 12th move seemed rather good for white, encouraging more people to use it.

Modern renju is typically following recent popular result in big title competition. Since that 15th move on your diagram that appeared later in the same TWC was not clearly destroyed by white, on the contrary, black was rather successful, so the 15th move became a kind of "default 15th move". The silent periods between big title competitions like TWC and WC AT do not usually change the "default" moves even if there are signs of significant changes. That is how the modern renju world handles the recent theories.

#5 2008-03-05 04:19:15

Sorry, Ando, but it seems that you don't watch for correspondence tournaments. But correspondence analyses are deeper and stronger even than WC AT and TWC analyses. And it is very significant in 11d. So 2006 wasn't an invention year for this 15th.
I'll try to post some history from correspondence tournaments concerning this matter.

The first time this 15 was offered is in 2003, seems that it was just an experiment, see diagram.
But the experiment succeeded, so in 2004 there were several games and black took 100% in this variant with this 15th, thus showing its power. In 2005 black took 100% too. In 2006 there were only one draw (Bai Shi - Epifanov), and a lot of black wins. Most of the top correspondence players was sure that this 15th is winning.
As to me, I thought this 15th is the best since 2004 till the 2006 autumn.

And in 2007 this 16th was played with terrible effect - white were overwhelming. Feel free to try it in TWC, but remember that Russian team may have my analysis. (-;

Ando Meritee
#6 2008-03-05 14:40:09

You wrote so excitedly about the year numbers here, while missing the point that I was telling - it is about when something becomes popular in renju world. I never said 12th move or 15th move were invented in WC or TWC, I said it is WHEN such moves become POPULAR among the players of the world (because it was played in a serious title competition by serious players).

My article in general was based on the tournament experience and tournament results, where people have to rely on their reading skills during games, their emotional readiness, their perception about the current status of the opening, the influence of other games, etc. It was about how the trends of using d11 and choosing sides has changed in past 20 years in tournaments. Somehow you turned my article's meaning into and issue of absolute truth about d11 based on offline deepest analyses. It means you did not understand the purpose of my article at all.

Speaking of another issue that you unexpectedly brought up (and has no relation to this article): "correspondence analyses are much stronger than AT analyses." I absolutely agree. It is impossible to do as much analyses within 2.5 hours of thinking time without using stones compared to staying home and having months of time to analyse the progress of the game using board and stones. But the tone of bringing it up was somewhat arrogant, implying that the history of d11 should be re-written based on "stronger" analyses. Maybe some masters would be offended by such tone because by this tone you are also implying that correspondence players are stronger than AT players (even if you did not mean that).

Once again, the idea of writing the history of d11 was to show how the popularity and trends of d11 have changed among world players. I am sure, an individual offline analyses trends of d11 in past 20 years may have been totally different from the real life tournament trends.

If you feel sensitive about my evaluation of "latest situation of d11" then the same way you could critisise the whole past of 20 years in my article - I am sure it does not match with the belief of many correspondence players and analysts.

#7 2008-03-06 06:15:18

Sorry, I didn't have in mind to blame you or your issue, it is very interesting and informative! I've just pointed out that renju theory must be based not only on real tournaments but on correspondence games too, that's all. In my humble opinion, renju theory is not the set of the positions that a lot of people know or a lot of people play, that is a set of position with proven results.

Ando Meritee
#8 2008-05-06 13:21:59

TWC 2008 gave us pretty clear idea of the current balance of d11 today:

There were 32 games of d11 played in TWC 2008 by the strongest players of the world, which accounts for 23.5% of all the played openings.

Black won 12 games (win rate 37.5%)
White won 13 games (win rate 40.6%)

There were also 7 draws (draw rate 21.9%)

So, to sum on the results of 32 games of d11, black side earned 48.44% of points and white side earned 51.56% of points.

Lets see how d11 will change in coming years.

#9 2008-08-17 22:55:50

U know wat,when i used to played d11 with my friends,they were seemly feared to play this opening because of the delicate opening theory.and one of my freinds,an 4dan ,once he gott used to escape from playing d11 as possible as he could,by transfering to other opennings,and for me ,albeit i d memorized many of the opening materials, i gotta say that yet i m not that clear about the variants myself.

Ur fans -_-!

Ando Meritee
#10 2008-09-03 14:15:22

Don't worry, d11 is difficult not only for you, but also for top players. Sometimes, when I have like one year break between tournaments, I feel that I have forgotten everything about the opening. :P

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