Fifteen Shades of Nobi

Published 29 May 2020 by antti (last edited 4 Jun 2020)
tags: terms

The nobi is a common Japanese go term that is usually translated as ‘extension’, or more rarely as ‘stretch’. It denotes a move played directly next to one’s own stone, usually with the intention of increasing its liberties.

Although ‘extension’ is a viable translation for the Japanese term, ‘nobi’ is still sometimes heard in English go jargon. This is possibly because ‘extension’ can be mixed up with its other meaning: a move played along the sides, further away from one’s own stone.

This black 1 is a nobi-extension.
This black 1 is a hiraki-extension. Do not mix the two!

Intriguingly, in Japanese go jargon, ‘nobi’ is fairly rarely used. This is because in Japanese there are many terms for subclasses of nobi, and generally the most specific term is used for clarity. Read on to see how ‘nobi’ transforms depending on the context!

Direction-specific nobi

Sagari, or descent

The sagari, or ‘descent’, is a nobi that extends towards the nearest side of the board. Most sagari are on the second line, but third and first-line sagari exist too; other moves that might qualify as sagari usually have an even more specific term available.

In English go jargon, both ‘sagari’ and ‘descent’ are used.

Black 1 is a common sagari, or descent.

Tachi

The tachi, or ‘stand’, is a nobi that extends towards the centre of the board.

This term is rarely used in the West, and most moves that qualify as ‘tachi’ are simply translated as ‘extension’ or ‘nobi’ instead.

While black 1 might technically be a ‘stand’, most people will just call it a regular extension.

Narabi

The narabi, or ‘line-up’, is a nobi that extends along the side of the board.

Like tachi, this term is rarely used in the West, and most moves that qualify as ‘narabi’ are simply translated as ‘extension’ or ‘nobi’ instead.

This narabi of black 1 is usually simply called an extension in English.

Shape-specific nobi

Oshi, or push

The oshi, or ‘push’, is a nobi that forms a lined-up shape with the opponent’s stone or stones.

Because the English term is a perfect translation of the Japanese one and just as easy to say, ‘oshi’ is practically nonexistent in English go jargon.

Near the sides, some moves that look like oshi instead become...

Black 1 is an example of a push.

Hai, or crawl

The hai, or ‘crawl’, is an oshi that is formed near the sides of the board by the player whose stones are closer to the side.

In English go jargon, ‘crawl’ seems to have a worse connotation than the Japanese term has, and therefore some moves that would be called ‘hai’ in Japanese end up as ‘push’ in English.

In Japanese, black 1 and 3 are both hai, while in English, black 1 is more often called a push and only black 3 is called a crawl.

Hiki, or draw-back

The hiki, or ‘pull’, is a nobi that, as per the name, pulls a player’s stone towards their other stones.

It appears commonly in jōseki for example as the the ‘tsukehiki’ combination, i.e., immediately following an attachment.

While the term ‘pull’ does not show up often in English go literature, ‘draw back’ instead is sometimes seen.

Black 3 is a hiki or a move that ‘draws back’, while black 1 and 3 together form the attach-and-draw-back jōseki.

Soi

The soi, or ‘run-along’, is a nobi that extends along the opponent’s wall of stones but does not qualify to be an oshi.

Both the Japanese and English terms are practically unheard of in the West, and even in Japanese go jargon, ‘soi’ only comes up rarely.

Black 1 is called a soi in Japanese, but lacks a very good English term. It would simply be called an extension.

Butsukari, tsukiatari, or bump

Butsukari, or tsukiatari, or ‘bump’ denotes a nobi that is played directly between one stone of the same colour and one stone of the opponent’s.

The Japanese term tsukiatari reflects this, as in general Japanese it means an ‘end of a road’. Butsukari, by comparison, means the same as ‘bump’, which is probably why the English term is prevalent in the West.

Black 1 is an example of a bump.

Tsuppari

Tsuppari, or ‘tension pole’, is a more specific bump, where the bumping side’s stones are blocked in both ends by the opponent’s stones.

‘Tension pole’ is my free translation, and I have never seen it in use in English go jargon; simply ‘bump’ is used instead.

Black 1 could be called a tsuppari in Japanese, while it is simply a bump in English.

Takefu, or bamboo joint

Takefu, or ‘bamboo joint’, is a nobi that mirrors another nobi of the same colour that is exactly one line away, therefore creating an uncuttable shape.

Because the English term is a perfect translation of the Japanese one and just about as easy to say, ‘takefu’ doesn't exist in English go jargon.

Black 1 and white 2 are regular extensions, while black 3 forms a bamboo joint.

Tecchū, or iron pillar

Tecchū, or ‘iron pillar’, is a sagari that is played from a star-point stone, usually as part of a jōseki sequence.

As with the bamboo joint, because the ‘iron pillar’ is an accurate and easy-to-use translation, ‘tecchū’ is not heard in English go jargon.

Black 1 is the most common example of the iron pillar.

De, or push-through

De, or ‘push-through’, is a nobi that is sandwiched by the opponent’s stones, and usually played with the intention of cutting the opponent’s stones afterwards. The ‘de-giri’, or ‘push-and-cut’, is a common example of this.

As ‘push through’ is short and informative enough, ‘de’ is not used in English go jargon.

Black 1 is a ‘push-through’, although we would rather say ‘Black pushes through with 1’.

Magari, or turn

Magari, or ‘turn’, is a nobi played from an already-existing nobi shape that does not extend in the same direction as the existing stones. Usually a turn is played in relation to the opponent’s stones, so that one’s stones ‘wrap around’ the opponent’s.

Although ‘turn’ is a good translation of the Japanese term, it still sees relatively little use (while the Japanese term is not used at all in the West).

Black 1 and white 2 are both turns; although black 1, which wraps around the white stones, is the more common example.

Sashikomi, or thrust

Sashikomi, or ‘thrust’, is a nobi that is played on an intersection which is surrounded by the opponent’s stones from three sides.

Because the new stone does not actually increase the player’s liberties, it is actually arguable whether it should qualify as an ‘extension’ or not.

Probably due to the fact that the shape itself is uncommon, ‘thrust’ is hardly heard at all in English go jargon.

This black 1 is probably the most common example of a thrust.

Comments (1)


Raivo wrote 8 months ago:

Interesting read.

Might have to start using these terms to diversify and call things as they are. Shame so many nuances are lost in translation.