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White’s first move, and the High-Lion position.

Black will normally start the game with Ln – 6h (or Ln – 7h, but moving the Lion to the side on which the opposing King is situated is symbolic of an intent to attack). White’s most principled counter-attacking move is Ln – 7e (the principle being to get your lion close to the opposing King. Of course, that is hardly significant at this stage). Black will then often open the diagonal with P – 8h, in order to support the Lion to the high position on the opposing King’s side. If White follows suit with P – 5e, and Black plays Ln – 6g, we reach the standard High-Lion position:

Black adopts the high Lion position

Black adopts the high Lion position

The High Lion on ¬†6g dominates the centre. ¬†White in turn would like to get a High Lion too. One way is to try to drive the Black Lion from it’s position in the centre. Another is to eventually move his own Lion to 9f, after first pushing the Go Between from 9e – 9f -9g. Meanwhile Black might be aiming to attack on the fourth or fifth files. Many other strategies are possible.

But Black has another High Lion position possible. After the first two moves, Black can play P – 5f instead of P – 8f. Then he plays Ln – 7g, to directly oppose the White Lion:

Opposing High Lion position

Opposing High Lion position

Here, rather than anticipating a mutual attack, Black can try to restrict White’s development. Personally, with my style, I tend to find this more difficult to play with as White.

If I were to try to avoid this by playing Ln – 6e as my first move, then Black can just play P – 8h and Ln – 6g as before, again with an opposing High Lion.

So as White, I usually play P – 5e as my first move (I think this is better than P – 8e, because of the position of the White Phoenix), intending to see on which file Black places his High Lion before bringing my own Lion out.

But this allows an early Lion foray for Black. He might play Ln – 8f as his second move, giving us this situation:

Early raid by the Lion

Early raid by the Lion

Now Black can take the Go Between. Is this OK for White? That will be the subject of a future post.