|Quest of the lost systems|
|Chapter One: Yagura|
|Section 1: suzume-zashi, or attack a la sparrow shish kebab|
He was a skinny boy with no skills. But there was one thing he did do
very well, yes, shogi, and in those days even a small boy could get some
money with it. Even to this day, on festive occasions we sometimes see the
likes of them, but there were a lot of street tsume-shogi men up until Pre-WW
They displayed a tsume problem on the board, calling to passers-by to play
against them. Those tsume problems looked appetizing but had hidden traps.
People paid fee for an attempt, and if they correctly checkmated the king,
they bagged the prize money. Masuda, already a shrewd player, foresaw every
trick and mated the king relentlessly. Soon he was known to all the tsume-shogi
men as the bad brat, to the extent that some of them offered him money in
return for not participating the game. In the meantime, he became friends
with one of them, who offered him a handsome reward in exchange for providing
all the answers of the tsume problems in a book, one of the source books
for street tsume-shogi men. Even for Masuda, it took several days to solve
all the problems, but that wasn't the end of the story.
This easy-going guy confided in the brilliant 13 year-old that he often
made the wrong moves against customers, and ended up paying the prize money.
"Will you write down all the possible variations as well?" he
asked, so Masuda had to delay another several days to leave for Osaka, where
he was planning to become a pupil of the famous pro, Kinjiro Kimi.
The very first attempt of suzume-zashi created by Kozo Masuda was a success.
That it was played by the white player seems, in hindsight, to be more than
suggestive of what followed afterwards. In the current context of yagura,
the suzume-zashi (played by Black) usually takes the following configuration.
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
+---------------------------+ White in hand: nothing
|wL wN * * * * * wN wL |a
| * wR * * * * wG wK * |b
|wP * * wS * wG wS wP wP |c
| * wB wP wP wP wP wP * * |d
| * wP * * * * * * bP |e
| * * bP bP bP * bP bP * |f
|bP bP bS bG * bP bN * bL |g
| * wK bG bB * bS * * bR |h
|bL bN * * * * * * * |i Black in hand: nothing
Diagram 2. Basic formation of Black's suzume-zashi; up to (w)B-8d.
You might have misgivings about its effectiveness because 1c position
is guarded by three pieces (L, N and K), which equal the Black's attacking
pieces (L,R and B), but you'll see...