Monday, December 26, 2005

Favorite Player

Thanks to jwaytogo, I have been watching a lot of pro games live this year. Even although it sometimes seems slow (especially the two days matches) it is really interesting to see the game develop and to discuss variations and possibilities before they are played. Of course, often proven wrong by the pros, who play something totally unexpected instead.

For a while, my favorite player was Yamashita Keigo, after he played jabberwocks in the Oza challengers final against Nakaonoda Tomomi (Aug 2005). This was another game we watched live. I remember watching the start of the game, and going out for dinner, and there were only a few moves played during the whole time we took to eat our meals. Luckily there was an intermittent wireless connection in the restaurant, so we didn't have to totally miss out on the match while eating :)

I still like Yamashita, but after seeing the Samsung semi finals, Luo Xihe is at the top of my list of favorites. All three of his games against Choi Cheolhan were good, but the last one was just brilliant. Every single of those three games involved a dragon. Choi and Luo both had won one game, so the third game was going to be the deciding match. Luo ended up with yet another dragon, and things looked pretty bleak for a while. Suddenly, a triple ko appeared, very rare, but this would give him a draw instead of a loss, so we all were happy for him. Nobody expected him to just give up this triple ko and his huge dragon though, and find compensation elsewhere. Adequate compensation even. He ended up winning the match by 7.5 points. Amazing! posted a story about it.

I am definitely going to root for Luo Xihe in the Samsung finals. He will play Lee Changho, so it's not going to be easy.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blast From the Past

A while ago, I found an old, handwritten kifu, from a game I played in 1991. It said that I was 12k, but looking at the game, I am not so sure. I played my husband, giving him 5H. We look more like 40k and 45k.

Fun to see though, and to realize that I did improve some since then. All my moves look clumsy. I am looking forward to reviewing my current games one or two years from now, and see the same relative clumsiness.

One thing about go, is that the more I play, the more I enjoy it. The game seems to get deeper and deeper, and there are always new things to be discovered. And the more I study, the more I want to know, and of course, the more I realize how totally ignorant I still am, and will stay.

I can give my husband 7H now and win, we will have to try 8 or 9 next time. He doesn't like losing, so one of my ultimate goals is to give him 9H and let him win by 0.5 points every single time. I guess I do need to improve my counting before I can do that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Beware of Bad Yose

Time to focus somewhat more on yose. A few days ago, I played a game against a good friend, and beat him for the very first time ever. He was playing simul though, so I can't count it as a real win, but it does mean I am getting closer to his level. (At least, that's what I like to think it means) This game did make me realize it's time to work on yose though, especially when an observer started out with telling us, 'Both of you missed lots of chances in yose' and 'I think the lead changed hands in yose a few times' Later, he got less diplomatic about it 'Yose scared me to death. In a close game like this, bad yose always scares me...'

Yes, I managed to get well ahead, only to give away most of it again in yose. Some of it were just cowardly and unneeded moves, and backing off where I should stood my ground. Others were pure laziness, playing too fast (in an untimed game, mind you), refusing to read too deeply, and loss of focus. I would like to blame the fact that it was a daytime game, and that the kids interrupted, but I will have to be honest and admit that it was me losing focus, and holding off too much, when I should have been pushing to win my won game. I ended up winning by a few points, but looking back, that was pure luck. My yose sucked.

The final stinger came when my teacher sendol reviewed the game. He showed correct endplay, and every variation he showed, Black ended up with a 20 or 30 points win. How embarrassing to win by only a few points instead... Heck, I should have lost the game, that would have been an even more convincing lesson.

Conclusion: my yose needs work. Or maybe it's more an issue of playing the whole game. It's not even that I not know what to play in yose, I just don't take the time and energy to figure it out. This will have to change, going to work on it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Five Stones To Go!

The official AGA ratings are in. I managed to get myself to -5.06752 with a sigma of 0.8 so looks like I can call myself 5k now. Which I knew, but it's still nice to be official. Only five more stones to go, and then the fun can start.

I really wanted to be 5k anyway, because I wanted to enter in the official AGA shodan challenge again. Yes, again I say, since I entered in January this year, when I was around 16-18k and thought I could easily reach shodan by August... I was wrong :)

The closer I got to August, the more I realized what an impossible task I had set myself, at least impossible for me. I did get myself to 7k, which wasn't bad, but nowhere close to shodan. I can either see that as a failure, because I didn't reach shodan, or just be happy about having improved nine stones in seven months.

I decided to enter the shodan challenge again, and this time actually make it. This year, the AGA did split up the challenge though. The Challenge now has five Divisions: the 20-kyu Challenge, for beginners; the 10-kyu Challenge for 11-20k players; the 5-kyu Challenge for 6-10k players, the Shodan Challenge for 5-1k players and the 5d Challenge for 1-4d players. Since I was only 7k, this meant I would be trying to reach 5k by next August. Didn't seem like enough of a challenge to me. So I desperately tried to get to 5k before the sign up deadline. I did. I signed up November 30th (deadline was Dec 1st) and proved my 5k rank this weekend during the tournament.

Now the big question is "Will I be able to make shodan by next August?". I'd like to be confident about it, but who knows? Only one way to find out.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Yesterday, I played in the Western Massachusetts Go Tournament. The short story: I played 2-1. The long story:

The day started early. I had to leave the house at 7am to be able to make it to the tournament in time. When I got up, I was greeted by snow. Let's just say that I was not happy to have to drive for two hours in a snow storm, before the roads were plowed. Lots of sliding cars, no accidents, just sliding. Still scary. I was glad when I made it to Amherst. After taking the scenic route that is, because I wasn't reading the directions correctly.

The tournament was on the 16th floor of an ugly concrete tower. Seeing the tower brought me back to my student days. Delft University of Technology had similar ugly towers, the Electrical Engineering one being the one this reminded me of.

After all the stress of the snow and the getting lost, it was nice to be greeted in a nice and calm atmosphere. People were just sitting around and chatting, catching up with old friends, playing games. It was so relaxed that the tournament didn't actually start till close to 11, instead of 10am.

My official AGA rank is 9k, but I didn't want to sandbag, so entered as 5k. On Saturday, I was a nervous wreck about the whole thing, wondering whether I could pull this off. It didn't help that a bunch of people tried to talk me out of it, and proposed 6k or 7k instead. I was convinced that 5k was right for me though, so took a deep breath, closed my eyes and said a decisive '5k' when the tournament director asked me what rank I was.

The first game had me paired against another 5k. And not just any 5k, but the 5k from my own club. I knew I could take him down. I got black, he got white. We played and we played and we played. I spotted some glaring mistakes I was making, still not sure what I was doing. I like to blame the tournament stress, I sure don't think I always play this horribly. The game went on, he was ahead by a bit, so I needed to kill something. I split one big dragon into two groups. One was too strong to kill, although I forced him to make his second eye in gote. I turned my attention towards the other part of the dragon. I slowly and methodically removed secondary eyes and eye space, and then reduced the main part to a bulky five. Put down the killing move and then he suddenly realized what had happened. That was fun! I did make so many mistakes though, I entered the game into my computer at night and was not impressed by my play. Oh well, at least I have lots of things to learn from this game. But I feel I only won because he made even more mistakes than I did. Maybe that's just normal at my level anyway :)

Time for lunch. For an extra $5, they provided pizza. Worked out well, not having to go anywhere, just nicely staying inside with all the snow and yuckiness outside. I played a game against a beginner, gave him nine stones. Always looks overwhelming, but this was enough of a beginner that I could actually do it.

Second game got me paired against another 5k. Fights broke out soon, and I lost a bunch of stones. So much for cutting and fighting :) It wasn't bad though, I squeezed every last drop of use out of those stones. Got profit by reaching in to them, and I even got him to semedori them. The rest of the game wasn't so good though. I thought I had him in a nice low position on the top, but then allowed him to grow. Not a good decision. He also grew another bigger group, but that one was undercut, so that wasn't a problem, I easily reduced it. But the game was his, I was the one making more mistakes. Oh well, more to learn from it.

Third game was against a 4k. Yet again, fights broke out, cuts were applied liberally, stones bit the dust, and muttered curses flew over the goban. When the dust did settle, I had won the game by 14.5. Nothing big died, it was a pretty even game. We both made mistakes, I just ended up making smaller ones.

The tournament was only three rounds, because they ran out of time for a fourth one. When all was said and done, I ended up fourth place in the kyu division, so that was sweet. I chose a book The Art of Capturing Stones: Sacrifice Techniques.

I was happy about playing only even games in this tournament. Last tournament I ended up giving high handicap three out of my four games, which was hard. I still made too many mistakes in my play though, quite some avoidable ones too. Will have to work on that. I guess it's all about focus again, although this seemed different from my normal lack of focus. I was focused on the game, and still made wrong moves, the kind of moves I immediately knew were wrong. I could blame the tournament stress maybe. Sigh. At least I recorded all my games, so I can figure out where and how I went wrong. And I still won two out of three games, so I must have done something right :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Go Club

Yesterday was yet another good go club meeting. I am still getting one handi from the 5k, and won my second game in a row. Both games would be won too with 6.5 komi though, so I feel that I am at least 5k now. Two weeks ago, I gave 3H to an 8k for the very first time and won that game too. I am just going to enter as 5k in the go tournament this weekend and we'll see what happens.

After this game, I played an even game with our dan player. He found a lot of aji which I hadn't seen, good learning experience :)

I am still working on Get Strong at Attacking, this seems to be the exact thing I need right now. Of course, I still mess up my attacks, but at least I am attacking more now. I am a lot more aware of weak groups, and I work harder on separating groups, so they will have to fend for themselves. I am sure I might over-attack for a while, but that should be ok. I actually did over-attack yesterday in my game against the 5k, but still won, so can't be too upset about it. Especially since he replied to my attack, when it would have been bigger to just run away.

Tournament countdown: three more days!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Get Strong at Attacking

I have been dissatisfied with my play lately. Yes, I know, so what's new? :) My teacher Sendol has told me I need to be more aggressive. Other strong players have pointed out that I need more kiai. When playing Shygost, he often can show me at least one weak group and how I should have attacked it.

I talked it over with Kipawa, and he mentioned that my attacking didn't seem to be as effective as it could be. He recommended Getting Strong at Attacking.

Yesterday, I took it down from my book shelf and did the first 50 problems. Oh boy, did I need them! I made so many mistakes, playing exactly the way I should not, or just not knowing the most effective way to attack. What a wonderful book! I played a game at night, and at least two situation from the book came up. This will be my daily studying for a while. Today, I did the first 50 problems again, and added another 10 just for good measure. I still suck at them! But if I keep going at it, I am sure I might get a tiny bit better at attacking.

Tournament countdown: five days till The 3rd Massuchusetts Go Tournament I am excited to play in a real life tournament again!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Iron Man!

Tournament is over! I am an iron man now. Wait...

I made it to all 20 games! Better than last time when I made it to only 19 of them. I feel very good about that. I ended up at sixteenth place in open division, which is an ok result. I enjoyed playing stronger opponents, and often managed to mess up against weaker opponents. Funny how that works. My SOS (Sum of Opponents Scores) was the second highest from all participants, so I did play a lot / tough opponents.

I got more byes than I really wanted to. When there is an odd number of players in a round, the system assigns a bye to the player who played the most games. I guess most other players didn't make it to as many games, since I and one other player divided all the byes between us. Oh well, sometimes a 3am bye was kind of welcome, so that I actually could get some sleep before my 9am game :)

These were five days of games at 3am, 9am, 3pm and 9pm, phew! Fun to participate, but also glad it is over. Now I can just play normal games again. Which I have been doing a lot, and as usual, messing up against patzers, sigh.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Almost There...

Yeah!!! Played nineteen out of twenty games. Or at least was present at the pairings... This morning I almost overslept! The horror! Woke up like 15 minutes before the game, so stumbled out of bed, ran downstairs and told my computers to start up fast!!! I made it. Would have been sad to miss game #19...

I am 11th place at the moment, but I can't really attribute that to my superb play. A lot of my points are from getting forced byes, which give me a whole point without ever playing in that round. I am not too impressed with the system for assigning byes. It looks like they are assigned based on the number of played games. The more games you play, the more likely you will get a bye. I have had a total of six byes in my nineteen games, which seems a bit excessive. Oh well, at least I could go to bed at 3:15am last night, and I still almost overslept!

I have played great opponents, and a lot of them offered to review after the game too. Very helpful! I love the friendly atmosphere on KGS.

Playing stronger players has made me even more intent on becoming stronger myself. I want to be able to play like that! And I will.

Off to do my daily 50 go problems now! The tournament has made me slack off on those, not a good thing. Getting back on track today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Note to Self

"Remember when dead stones are dead. Don't use them to surround an enemy group and feel all smug about enclosing it. This is a bad thing. "

Yes, I managed to do just that. Yesterday, in a tournament game even. I was happily playing, fighting, and cutting off his stones. Suddenly, reality hit. Wait! Those stones to the left. They don't look particularly alive. Heck, they even look deadish... Yet another lost game :)

It wasn't like they died during the fighting even, they were dead to start with. I really need to pay better attention to tiny details like that. Does it all come back to focus yet again?

The tournament is going well, I play mostly good games, even if I don't win that many. At the moment I am 49th out of 66 participants, but I have been as low as 62nd. I think a few things are causing that. One, this is open division, so some of my opponents are just too strong to beat in an even game. Two, I managed to mess up a few times, even against weaker players. Like when I forgot that my stones were dead. Three, people who haven't played at all yet have 5.5 points now (11 byes), so all are higher ranked than me and others with only five or less points. They will drop off in a few games if they don't start playing. But in this case, you can actually be higher rated by not playing, than by playing and losing some.

I am tremendously enjoying the games though, and the challenge of playing all twenty of them. Eleven down, nine to go, so more than halfway there. The timing of the tournament could be better though, turkey day is not the easiest time for most american people to play. How lucky that I am not American :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Question of the Day

What is the technical term for when you know the right move but still don't play it? You know, when you look at the board, see the best / biggest move and then play a gote move somewhere else...

Background of course is the tourney game I played today. Started off well, I killed his LL group. He had two weak B stones on the left, I was strong all around, so I knew I should invade. Instead, I played a nonsense turn at the top... First mistake.

Decided to just let him live on the side and build a big wall on top of him. Went well, had a beautiful wall, which I could develop nicely, I knew exactly how. I was a tiny bit worried about some stones in the UL though, so wanted to connect for sure, which I hoped was sente. My opponent correctly ignored it and played a big move to neutralize my wall... That was my second mistake.

Still doing ok, got into some fighting on the bottom, and I gave atari in the wrong direction... Now my position fell apart. Game losing mistake. I resigned.

In all three of those cases, I knew exactly what the right move was, but didn't play it. There must be a technical term for that!

Here is my conversation about it

NannyOgg [-]: yes, looks better
Kipawa [6k?]: w still behind
Kipawa [6k?]: but now can resign w/honor
NannyOgg [-]: that's true
NannyOgg [-]: i even looked at this
NannyOgg [-]: i guess this game i looked at all the right moves, but didn't play them
NannyOgg [-]: need to get over that :)
Kipawa [6k?]: I wonder if there's a technical term for that
NannyOgg [-]: preferably japanese?
Kipawa [6k?]: hontephobia?
NannyOgg [-]: LOL, maybe
NannyOgg [-]: although it's not technically honte I think?
Kipawa [6k?]: poetic license
NannyOgg [-]: uh huh
NannyOgg [-]: i'll think about it
NannyOgg [-]: might pose it on my blog as question of the day
Kipawa [6k?]: have the courage to play the right move
NannyOgg [-]: yes
NannyOgg [-]: but hey, it's an improvement to at least
consider the right move, right?
Kipawa [6k?]: ...
NannyOgg [-]: as opposed to having no clue as I used to do :)
NannyOgg [-]: i'll just see my wall and my kill as good points this game
NannyOgg [-]: and H17, F13 and N5 as bad moves
NannyOgg [-]: there needs to be a balance, right?
Kipawa [6k?]: yes, your good moves balance his bad ones
NannyOgg [-]: can't have good moves without screwing up some too...

Iron Man Tournament

Just played my first game in the KGS November Iron Man tournament. Since I played open division, I had no idea how strong of an opponent I would get. I ended up with a 17k. He helped me to build a super moyo and then tried to invade, but too little and too late. Still, I was paranoid and replied to his moves, I wanted to be 100 % sure he stayed dead. Kipawa helpfully pointed out that this was a moral victory for my opponent, since I did reply to his moves, no matter how silly... I have to admit that he was right, it seemed easier to reply than to actually read. I should get over that.

Winning my first game means that I am at a tied first place now, together with the six other people who won their first game. I know that won't last, so enjoying it for the next hour or so, before my next game starts :)

Still working on the shape game, I have a hard time finding a winning strategy. This is clearly something I need more practice in, I will play it more till I figure out how to win.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Too Much Tenuki

Since my goal is to play more, I have decided to revive my mess-up R account and have been playing with it during the day. During the day means that I get interrupted all the time by fighting or crying kids, kids who need a diaper changed, requests for bandaids, demands for food, phone calls, visits, and escaping pets. This makes it a bit harder to find my focus, and I can't play as well as I can do in the middle of the night, when the house actually is quiet. But hey, at least I am still playing.

Today, I decided to start the day with a game. The distractions actually weren't too bad, maybe only seven or so, and the game went pretty well. I was nicely ahead, I had killed one of her groups. She even died in gote. I happily played on, knowing I had a won game now. Decide to try to get as much as possible in yose, while she tried to kill the group which is partly surrounding her dead group. I counted and decided I am fine, so ignored the moves I could ignore, while raking up points.

Suddenly, disaster struck. She made another move, this time in her dead group, and all my earlier reading had told me what I had to do then. The group was still dead, just needed a move. Of course, you can tell already where this story is going... Yup, I played tenuki from that move and put a stone somewhere else... So she lived and I cried.

Too much tenuki. Just as bad as too little tenuki. Some day I'll find the balance. Although maybe it's all about focus again. I knew what the right move was here, but just forgot to make it. Great learning opportunity.

The bad thing was that I wasn't even getting interrupted while this happened. Only one person to blame :)

At least I have a solid rank now. Will be easier to get games. It just is a bit sandbaggy rank, but that should clear up when I actually win some games again, right?

The Killing Game

Recently, I have rediscovered the killing game (or sometimes called The Shape Game) where one color has stones all around the board on the first line (skipping the corners) and the other color tries to live in the center. It's not easy to kill, but it's even harder to live. With perfect play, life shouldn't be possible. I haven't reached perfect playing level yet.

I remember playing this game way, way back in the Netherlands. I don't remember having so much fun with it though.

I played it with a dan friend, did pretty well the first night. Second night he had remembered his killing skills and I did not do as well (as in I couldn't live and I couldn't kill in either of the two rounds we played). Played it with another strong player, and missed an obvious living move. How shameful. He missed it too for 18 moves, when he came to his senses before I did. Will have to do 50 tesuji problems tomorrow, to repent :-p

This game is great for developing sense of shape, and thinking about sente and gote in attacking. It will make me better at killing, reading, complicated fights, harrassing weak groups, and at making sabaki. Some one commented 'Good grief, I shouldn't have brought it up. Now you'll just get strong faster. Just what we need - a Nanny who's even better at killing' ... It also helps with learning how to use walls for fighting. What a great exercise.

Not only is it useful, but it is very enjoyable too. Skipping the whole fuseki and yose part of the game, it's just fight, fight, fight, fight. My kind of game. I will be playing this a lot till I get better at it.

I decided to join the KGS November Iron Man Tournament. I participated in April and it was a lot of fun. This tournament runs five days and there are games every six hours, so a total of 20 rounds. You have to play in at least five rounds, can get byes for the other rounds if you want. I managed to play in 19 games last time, don't think I can do as well this time. Too many daytime commitments. I'll just play as many as I can.

There are two divisions, a handicap division and an open division (all even games). I entered in open, because I don't have a solidly or accurately ranked account at the moment. It seems too much work to get one, I don't care about rank on KGS anyway. I will turn the rank on my NannyOgg account back on once I have reached 1d there, and that will be a bit. Till then, I'll just have fun with my R accounts when I feel like it, and not worry about rank. Better to concentrate on playing, studying, and getting stronger. An advantage of the open division is that I will play a wider variety of players. Looking forward to this tournament!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Link To Newspaper Story

Thanks Kipawa, I hadn't realized they finally are modern enough to actually have some stories on line :) Here is the story on the paper's web site.

Today was problems day, did problems all day. Still can't do all the basic ones from the DieorLive program. I worked on a bunch of L-group (and L+1) problems too. Even there I don't get all of them right yet. So much to learn, so little time!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Way To Go

Our local newspaper ran an article on us today!

Cult hobby, huh? My friend said to be glad that they didn't call it an occult hobby instead... I think it was a good article though, and I got my first phone call about the club already! We had a few people show up today at Borders thanks to the article, some newbie players and some more experienced ones. Nice!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good Things Come in Threes

  1. A local reporter came to our go club, to write an article about us. It was fun to chat with him, we'll see how badly we get misquoted :) He stayed for quite a while, and had brought a photographer. She climbed on the tables to make good pictures of the go board, almost dropping her memory card on a game in progress...

    Publicity! Now let's just hope that this will get us more players, it would be nice to grow the club a bit. We now tend to have six to eight players show up every week, so still pretty small.
  2. We had a new player. He is KGS 3d, so pretty darn strong. He played our dan player. Our dan player (AGA 4d or 5d) was saying that he wasn't sure he could win this game. We told him that he was defending the honour of our club, so he'd better win. And he did :) Two games, one as W, and one as B, he won both. Both were tough games, they are pretty close in strength. We are thrilled to have a new strong player!
  3. I played an even game against our AGA 5k and I won!!! One handicap (so 0.5 komi) but I won by 23 moku on the board, so even with 6.5 komi, it was still a respectable win. I was annoyed at myself though for missing an obvious kill (well, obvious in hindsight), and for missing a 'cutting off the tail' later in the game. Oh well. This was the first time I beat him even at club, so I feel good about that (I had beaten him once before on dragon, but that feels different, since there is way more time to think.) He used to give me seven handicap for quite a while when I started at this go club, December last year. So maybe I have made a tiny bit of progress.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Understanding How to Play Go

I just finished reading Understanding How to Play Go by Yuan Zhou, an AGA 7d. It's an excellent book. He goes over a bunch of his games, with very very detailed commentary. In the beginning I kept falling asleep over it, but that might have been because I would start reading at 4:30am or so, when I went to bed after a night of playing on KGS. After a few days I couldn't stand the suspense anymore, I wanted to know what else happened in that game, and I started reading it during the day.

Wow! He goes over seven games, and gives very clear explanations for all the moves, and which moves would have been better. He also often shows why the player chose a certain move and not another one. It reads like an adventure novel. Some games, the lead keeps changing between the players, until the final mistake decides the winner.

There is a nice variety of games. High chinese, sanrensei, and even two games with jabberwocks, but played as W. Interesting, I have always considered it an opening for Black. Now I will have to experiment with jabberwocks when I play W. Fun!

Today, I got a phone call from a reporter at our local newspaper. Turns out he saw one of the many flyers we have been hanging around town, and wants to do a story on us!!!! He asked a lot of questions, and will be at go club tomorrow, together with a photographer. Publicity!!! We might get some new members out of this! I am excited.

My resolution to play more is working out well. I have been playing three to five games per day since I made it. More opportunities to mess up and learn :) I played three blitz games against a dan player last night, and managed to mess up two of them, but make a huge capture on the other one. This was with four handicap, so not too bad. Blitz is hard!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Go Club

Today was real life go club, always fun. There is something satisfying about playing on a real goban, and seeing the reactions of your opponent to your moves. The sound and feel of the stones. The concentration visible on the players faces. The 'Oh, I think I messed up, didn't I?'

I played a 5k, I got 2H. This was a game with mistakes on both sides, in which a cute 'under the stones' popped up. Our 4d had seen it coming, but it came as a total surprise to both the 5k and me. It's so hard to see those things in advance. There seems to be an 'under the stones' blind spot in my reading. I ended up winning this game by resignation, I was about 30 points ahead by then. This was the third game in a row I won, so next time will be down to 1H against him!

Second game was against a 4d, who always gives me 9H. I haven't been able to consistently win even with that much handicap. Today was a good game, although I did get a bit carried away attacking one of his groups. Could just have kept harrassing it, but tried to kill it instead. This ended in a big semeai, and my reading ability was too limited to figure out the outcome. So I did the best I could, in the end just closed my eyes, filled outside liberties and prayed. It worked! Finally a semeai where my opponent was one liberty short! Usually it's me :p And why is it always just one liberty anyway? Oh well, that was another win for the day. Maybe there is hope :)

We decided that we'll play reverse komi next time instead of high handicap. High handicap games are so different from real games, I think reverse komi is going to work out better for us. I have been playing reverse komi with Kipawa (AGA shodan) and it's a lot of fun. Of course, it makes him play very viciously, using the excuse 'The komi is heavy!' Good for developing my fighting skills.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Playing More

I think I played an average of about two games every day (not counting turn based), but I have decided that I want to play more. I have made a concentered effort to play more when I am at KGS at night. So far so good. Managed to play six games, four games, and four games over the last three days. Who needs sleep anyway? As usual, those were a mixture of good games and bad games, some really bad, some reasonably good. But even in my good games, I still make way too many mistakes. Nice to have a lot of room for improvement!

Some one asked about the taisha. Kogo's joseki dictionary has quite some variations, and there is a lot about the taisha in Yoshio Ishida's 'Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Vol 2'. Not that I have studied much of it yet, but I tend to look up variations after my games, to figure out where I messed up this time. I am still studying Breakthrough to Shodan, which mentions 'Know the taisha, but don't play it'. I wonder why? :)

I have been wanting to experiment with mini chinese, maybe I'll use that for my next fuseki experimentation. I am not really done with jabberwocks though, so many fuseki, so little time! Another fun one I have been trying is the four pillars, which means to take the four side star points (before the corners) in the opening as Black. Confuses the heck out of your opponent :) My record so far is 2 wins and 1 loss. Fun to experiment!

I had a 'serious' student at homeschool club last week. Usually kids come in, play for a bit and disappear again, or start making patterns with the stones or such (we are talking young kids here) But this one actually is really interested, stays interested, and now has progressed to real go at 9x9. I gave her 5H this week and she has beaten me twice already, and I wasn't even holding back. Maybe she will stick with it. And maybe not, but she can always pick it up again 20 years from now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Focus, Focus, Focus, Focus!

It's all about focus. I would be doing so much better if I would be able to focus on every single move of the whole game. Often I either play with too many distractions (that's why I have a special mess up account) or I lose focus anyway, because I chat and read email and web surf while playing a game. Kipawa helpfully has told me 'You have to play the whole game.' So true!

The solution seems pretty simple, but I have found it harder than it should be. For now, I leave every KGS room while I am playing, so as not to be distracted by the chatter. Helps a bit, but not enough yet. And although this is part of it, it's not the only problem. Often, I just plunk down a likely move, and think about it after the fact. Of course realizing that this was not the best move after all, actually, it was a very bad move...

I guess it's not all about focus, it's also about playing too fast. Last time I talked about this on my blog, Tristen recommended to not hold any stones in my hand. The slowing yourself down to reach down into the bowl and get a stone, often adds enough time to do at least some thinking and considering. But on line, it's just too darned easy to click that mouse button. Flameblade gave me a brilliant solution. He said to hold go stones while playing on line, so I'll have to put them down before I can click. Interesting idea. I haven't tried it yet, but I might do it tonight. Slowing down and focusing will really improve my game, I am sure. Going to focus on focus, focus, and focus.

Last night, I played two Wings Monthly League games. Lost one, and won one. The fun thing is that the last game got me into the list of '20 most active league players' with 32 league games so far. I never had noticed that list until a few weeks ago, and I was within 5 games or so to be able to reach spot #20. Now I am in :-) All the other players have played in at least 10 leagues, while I have played in only 7 leagues so far. When I told a friend about this, she happily exclaimed 'That's fabulous!!! Shows how little life you actually have!'

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Breakthrough to Shodan

The Breakthrough to Shodan. This book had been recommended to me by two people, and it just arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. One of those books where you want real life to stop, and to be able to just sit down and browse and read. Of course, real life didn't stop, but I still have been able to study some of the book.

Very interesting. I have worked through the first 1.5 chapters now, and one sentence that really jumped out at me was 'Don't dodge fights. The closer you come to playing on even terms, the more you have to fight'. One of my problems in handicap games is that I often do play way too defensively. Trying to protect territory, and not attacking enough. Yes, I do know that handicap stones are for attacking, but it doesn't show in my games. Need to get over that. This book will help me a lot, I can tell already.

Last night, I played a 9H game and had fun applying some of the principles in the book. Still got wiped off the board, but at least I went down fighting. Now just need to learn how to actually win by fighting. Will be so much fun to figure it out :D

My teacher Sendol has told me that I need to play more aggressively, so it fits well with that advice. It all sounds so simple in theory, but it's harder on the board. To find the balance between unreasonable aggression and the one which actually works. I guess only one way to find out, by trying it. Or if I am really desperate, I could read out my moves before I actually play them.

Homeschool club has started again, and I offered the kids to learn how to play go. This week I had eight interested kids, including two of mine. They had fun playing capture go and some even were advanced enough (I had given them a lesson before) to teach the real beginners. It's interesting to see how they all have their own style, right from the beginning. Some play very solidly, just connecting stones. Others kind of scatter stones around the board, including putting themselves into atari. It will be interesting to see whether any stick with the game. But even if they don't, they at least have been exposed to the game now and know more about it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Go Fun

We did lots of playing, and lots of reviewing. It's amazing how she could move just a few stones, and suddenly the whole board situation was different. 'Don't let the river come out!' 'The only move!' 'Don't push from behind' It was great to learn new things, although i am sure I have forgotten at least half of them already. I think the big thing I got out of this, is a kind of whole board thinking, of figuring out what's important and what's not, and thinking about direction of play. Learned some nice, new, nifty invasions. And just generally had fun playing, eating, drinking, and breathing go for four days.

I was the weakest player at 7k, there was one other 7k, and 4k and a 2k, the other 10 people were all at least shodan. Strong group. I vow that some day I am not going to be the weakest player in this workshop. Last time I was 11k and there were at least an 8 and 9k. So I was sure I wouldn't be the weakest this time. Tough luck! Need to improve!!!

My teacher recommends at least 400 tsumego per month, at least I am doing that. Still working on at least 50 a day, and most days I succeed. It was nice to meet other problem and go book obsessed people, and compare books and stories. Gave me some more idea of books I still want :-) I browsed through some one's Get Strong at Attacking, i really liked that book. It's on my list of 'Books to get' now.

Most of the weekend was rain, but it didn't matter much, since we could stay inside and play. We did get watch some fireworks on Sunday night, which was very neat. Over a pond, next to a cemetery. I wish I had been organized enough to take my camera to it. Oh well.

Now back home, back to boring studying and playing instead of fun.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Feng Yun

Last night, I drove up to Middlebury, VT, with another go club member, to attend an event with Feng Yun. First a lecture and a demonstration, and then the highlight of the evening, she would play a simul.

I knew the simul was just for Middlebury players and strong visitors, so there was no way I would play in it. But miracles do happen and she ended up playing more players than had previously been announced. Both me and the other player of my go club were able to play, what joy! To play the second strongest woman player in the world! Who would have thought that would ever happen!

She was amazing. She played twelve of us, most of us got 9H. The few strong players, like the 4d and 5d, only got 2H. She did not have any problems with any of us, the only one who made her think a few times was the 5d. For all the others, we would put down our stone, and she would reply instantaneously, seemingly without thinking. And yes, she beat all of us. Easily too.

What a great experience! I learned a lot too, just watching her play. When I play in a handicap game, I tend to overplay a lot, hoping that my opponent won't punish correctly. But she didn't overplay at all. She just plays slow, thick moves, building up a strong position, and patiently waiting for mistakes. Then she pounces. Very effective. Showed me how much I still have to learn. Like I didn't know that yet, but it was even clearer while playing her.

Now I am even more committed to studying more and more, so I will get stronger. I might get addicted to this game! Wait, I am addicted already. Well, then I can be even more addicted. Here is the final position of the game. I had 9H and nothing died, but she had a lot more anyway. Amazing!

Time to do some problems!

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Beware the jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

My favorite opening the last few months has been mokuhazushi (3-5 point). It can lead to some interesting variations, of which the Taisha definitely is the best. I still remember the first time some one hit me with the Taisha. He totally crushed me and then in review told me 'Beware the Taisha! The joseki of a thousand variations.' That got my attention and soon I started looking into the taisha. And playing it of course, with varying degrees of success. I have to modestly admit that I am getting better and better at messing up the taisha, so I am making progress there.

When browsing through Sensei's Library some day, I discovered that my favorite opening had a name. Well, kind of. A fun name too, some one named it Jabberwocks!

This inspired me to see whether the Jabberwock user id had been taken on KGS. To my utter surprise, nobody had grabbed it yet. I couldn't resist the chance to become a Jabberwock, so that's me now. Decided to use it as my very own wacky openings account. Mostly jabberwocks, but I might experiment with others too.

I wanted to experiment anyway, having heard from people that it's hard to get games with a question mark rank. It was unexpectedly easier than I thought it would be. I just put up a game offer and waited to see what would happen. My first ranked game was against a 5k, who utterly destroyed me. Rank was still a question mark after that. Second game was against a 19k, who couldn't quite crush me, and this got me my first rank, a [12k?] Still a question mark, but at least a rank attached to it. (the average of 5k and 19k, which made sense). And yes, I know I could have played ranking bots, but I wanted to see how hard it was to find real people to play. Not to mention that bots are just boring.

I have played a few more games, bouncing up and down in rank, it seems not too hard to find an opponent. I tend to get an offer within 5 or 10 minutes of putting up a new game, even with a question mark rank.

And to illustrate the success of the jabberwocks opening strategy, it was recently played in the last match for Oza challenger decision match, by Yamashita Keigo against Nakaonoda Tomomi. What a great game that was! Jabberwocks won Yamashita the priviledge of challening Cho U for the Oza title. I am looking forwards to their matches.

Tomorrow, Feng Yun will be at the Middlebury, VT go club. It will be wonderful to see her in person. Who would have thought that one of the only two female 9p's in the world would come to Middlebury, of all places.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yay for Self Atari!

It has been one of those weeks. Somehow I have managed to put myself in atari not one time, not two times, but three times!!! Pretty amazing.

First time was a brilliant sequence I had worked out. I had totally read out how it would utterly destroy his position. The only tiny oversight was a self atari somewhere on the way... So instead I ended up utterly destroying my own position... Sad.

Second time was in a game where I was behind anyway, and I made it even worse by playing a rather big self atari in early yose. At least it wasn't the game. I still resigned in disgust at my own play.

Third time was a funny game. His group seemed to be weak, so I decided to try to kill it, cleverly disguising my eye stealing moves as normal yose moves. And yet again, I totally missed an obvious self atari. This wasn't even one in a brilliant sequence of moves, it was a totally obvious and direct self atari... He took, and I was 30 points behind. Bad, bad, bad!

I still finished the game, it was only 30 points after all. I managed to steal some points here and there, and ended up winning by half a point! Pretty amazing. The ironic thing was that he played a dame as his last move, instead of the one-point move that was still on the board. That cost him the game. Oh, and in review I realized that that black group I was targeting wasn't even weak enough, so I should just have let it alone. Sigh.

I have been thinking about why I manage to play self atari so often, and I realize that it is purely a matter of focus. If I am focusing on my game, and paying attention, I almost never make stupid mistakes like that. I just make normal mistakes :-p But when I am chatting, and web surfing, and reading email, and dealing with kid interruptions, then I suddenly get hit by self atari's. I wonder whether there is a lesson to be learned from that. A lesson about actually focusing on my games, even if they are on line ones...

My current study still mainly considers of replaying / memorizing pro games and doing problems. And problems. And problems. And more problems. We studied the family of L groups (L, L+1, etc) at go club last week, so I am entering a bunch of L group problems to use with Uligo. I want to practice them over and over, so that some one could wake me up in the middle of the night, hand me an L group related problem, and I will sleepily and automatically know the right move. At the moment I know just enough to be able to mess them up nicely. Even more so after studying them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Learning from the Masters

I have been replaying and memorizing some pro games, but I felt that I wasn't doing enough yet. Most of my pro games I have gotten from GoBase, this Go News Page and from GoGameWorld for commented games.

A few days ago, I suddenly realized that I have lots of paper sources with pro games too, which I have conveniently been ignoring. Mostly because it's so much easier to just sit and click instead of actually getting out my goban and my stones. I decided that this maybe wasn't the right attitude and that digging up those paper sources would not be a bad idea.

I looked at my go book shelf and first thing I found was Learning from the Masters: Kyu Level Commentaries on Professional Games Volume 2. This looked as good as any to start with, so I put my goban somewhere where baby couldn't reach it and started replaying the games, while reading the commentaries, and exploring variations.

Very different from just clicking. There seems to be a certain feel and flow to the stones, which I miss when I just point and click. I am kind of hoping that doing this on a real board will help me to internalize good play more easily, but even if it doesn't, there just is a lot of enjoyment to be found in this exercise. The touch of the stones, the sound of putting them down on the board.

I like the level of comments on the games, they have helped me seeing all kinds of things which I would not have noticed by myself. I think this is going to be very helpful. I managed to memorize the first 56 moves of this game without putting much effort in it, I am not going to work on memorizing the rest of the game, but will get new games to play through and memorize at least the first 50 moves.

Of course, i am also still doing problems, slowly working my way through my new Chinese books. I am now halfway volume 4 in this collection of tesuji problems which means they are not as easy anymore. Still very do-able though, I think I'll do fine with this intermediate level. We'll see what happens when I reach the volumes with the hard problems.

I finally managed to beat my husband with 6 handicap! For the longest time, I would give him 5H and I would easily win, or I would give him 6H and he would always win. But over the last few days, I have played him twice with 6H and won! He doesn't like losing, so we'll have to increase the handi to 7 now. My ultimate goal is to be able to let him win by 0.5 every single time I give him 9H. Then he doesn't have to complain about losing his games with me anymore. Let's just hope that he won't get as obsessed with go as I am and would start to work seriously on improving :-D

Friday, September 16, 2005

Chinese Go Books

I had visitors, so couldn't be on line as much. Luckily I just got a shipment of go books from China. Thus I could put a problem book open on my lap while pretending to be socializing :-) I have worked through the first two volumes of this problem collection, and am really good at recognizing 'B to play' and 'W to play' in Chinese now. I can do one of those books per day, but I am sure my problem solving speed will slow down in the next few volumes.

I also worked through the first volume of Lee Changho's Life and Death Collection which took me a lot more time. It will be a while before I have done all those volumes.

Made a start in 800 Quick Tesuji Problems but I can tell already that this is going to take quite some time too. Great problems though.

Can you tell I am very happy with my new Chinese books?

Some one asked about the Korean Problem Academy books, wondering how useful they are because of not having answer diagrams. I have found that the problems do take longer because of not knowing the answers for sure. But I think that that is a good think. It forces me to really read out the problem, as opposed to dropping a stone at a vital looking point, hoping for the best, and checking the answers. Now I read out most variations, and I also read out a lot of other moves, to prove to myself that none of them works. Sometimes I find a second move which seems to work, and I have to look more into both 'correct' moves, to figure out which is the real correct one. The lack of answers forces me to read deeper and more carefully, which in my opinion is a good thing. I would recommend those books to any one.

Just out of curiosity, I used joncol to look at how many games I have played on KGS so far. I am up to 544 games now on my NannyOgg account, of which I have lost more than half. I seem to have a much easier time winning as W, my winning perc as B is only 40 %. Makes sense of course, I just thought it was interesting. I have played 248 different opponents, which is quite amazing. Just think back 10 or 15 years, and it would have been almost impossible to play that many opponents in less than a year. I play 1.37 games per day, but that's only counting KGS, the number would be higher if I included all my KGS accts and my dragon and little golem accounts.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Little Golem

December last year, I dusted off my go board and played a few times. I thought I would really want to start playing more regularly again. Life kept getting in the way though, so I knew it wouldn't happen. I decided to check out the AGA web site, to see whether there was a club any where close by. No, there wasn't but lo and behold, there were go servers! Places where people were night and day, willing to play go. I had no idea that such a thing existed!

It took me a few weeks to get one of those go servers working with our firewall, and I was thrilled when we finally got it done. The one I managed to get working was KGS, so that's how I ended up primarily on there, although I do have an unused IGS account now too. Later, I found out that KGS most likely was a better fit for me anyway, so many people there willing to help weaker players and to review games. I had seen turn based servers mentioned, but I felt they wouldn't satisfy my immediate cravings for playing as much go as possible.

Fast forward a few weeks, when I played in my first real life tournament. I met another go player, who invited me to play on Dragon Go Server I checked it out, and suddenly I realized that this would enable me to play even more games, especially when I didn't have time to play a full game, I could always fire off a few moves on Dragon. I played for a while and found Dragon to be a perfect complement to KGS.

I had heard people talk about Little Golem but I had never checked it out myself. Till a go friend gently nudged me in the direction of that server, and I found another turn based server, but this one is based on tournaments. There are always tournaments going on, you just join and wait for the next one to start, usually within a day. So it is like dragon, but more competitive. I have been playing there for about a week now, and have been having a lot of fun. I have found that I shouldn't sign up for too many tournaments, I now have more than 50 simultaneous games going, although a bunch of those are fast 9x9 ones. I even *gasp* ended up joining in two small chess tournaments. Don't tell any one! I suck at chess anyway, but thought it would be fun to play a few games.

Today I finished my first Little Golem tournament. Came in second place out of four, with same number of points as first place, but he had played tougher opponents, so he won. Yes, I do like Little Golem!

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Monkey Jump

Remember back in the days when you first got hit by the monkey jump? The devastation it would wreak on your territory. When the only thing you could do was put down stones in a vain attempt to stop the damage, but you weren't very successful?

And then the sense of power you felt when some one showed you how to stop it properly? Not only did you now know how to deal with the monkey jump, but you would have it to hit other players with. I still remember how it was nice to know everything there was to know about the monkey jump. Life was good.

For a while, I did all the things right, according to what I had learned. Until one day, my opponent managed to wreak havoc anyway, because he was able to live in my territory, even after being cut off. That hurt! And slowly I started to realize that my standard reply for the monkey jump didn't always work. And even more slowly, I figured out that it had to do with which stones were in place and which weren't, and how he could push farther if certain stones were missing. Life wasn't as simple anymore.

A few weeks ago, we did a study session on monkey jumps at our go club. We studied the normal monkey jump, the small monkey jump, which I never even had contemplated using. Looked at which one to use under which circumstances. Looked at when one point jump might be better. How to follow up on those. I felt that I knew a bit more now, but not nearly enough.

I was thrilled when I found that a whole book had been written on the monkey jump. Perfect! Now I could learn even more about it and I would be enlightened again.

Last week, it arrived, and after making a few false starts in it,using it as bedtime reading, I finally got to sit down and really study it yesterday. Was amazed at the depth of coverage. Was confirmed in the belief that I know nothing. Now I still know nothing, but I am more aware of some of the things I know nothing about. At least I now know which replies to contemplate when replying to the monkey jump. I now know which variations to read out, and that sometimes even a diagonal play is better than a monkey jump. I read more in depth about the value of a monkey jump. Yes, the average is 9, but as always, it all depends.

Still have to do the problems in the book, which look like they are going to be harder than I thought a monkey jump problem could be. This is all so fascinating! I keep discovering new layers in go, layers I didn't even know the existence of. One thing which got reinforced to me when reading the book, is that it all comes down to reading out moves and variations, and getting better at that. Even although my reading has improved since I started seriously studying, it still is nowhere near the level where I want it to be. Heck, plainly it just sucks.

I guess on of my main study goals should be improved reading, which could be accomplished by doing a lot of problems. I had kind of slacked of on my daily Many Faces of Go problems, but back to doing 50 of those every day again. Doing lots of other problems too, some day this should pay off, right? I have reached new heights in my Many Faces of Go problems, I have hit problems up to level 142 over the last few days, where only a month ago, my average level was from 60 to 80. Maybe there is a tiny bit of hope for me.

Back to doing problems!

Monday, August 22, 2005


Yes, aggression. I have never been a very passive player, but I seem to have gotten a bit too aggressive lately. Which has lead to some nice fighting, but also to quite a lot of lost games. It's hard to find the balance between aggression for profit and aggression just for fun. I am slowly starting to see it, but it looks like I only learn the hard way. Yes, I should cut whenever it's feasible and advantageous. But no, I shouldn't cut just for the sake of cutting. I should have a bigger plan and a follow up for my cut. If I don't, better not to cut, but to play something else. Something that is part of my bigger plan.

As I said, slowly learning this, but still having too many games where I get totally drawn into a local fight, losing track of the whole board situation. And if I would at least win the local fight, that would be something, but I often manage to lose the local fight AND the whole game. But on the other hand, I do have a lot of fun fighting!

Working on attacking for profit now, as opposed to attacking for fun. Seems contrary to my playing style, so I better change my style to reflect my new philosophy. Not promising it will work all at once, but at least I will be trying.

Last night played a nice game where the stones seemed to flow really well. Still a bunch of glitches, but less than normal. So maybe there is hope for me. Some days I think this is taking way too long, on the other hand, I am enjoying the playing and studying tremendously. Who cares is it's taking longer to get to shodan than I thought it would? At least I am slowly getting stronger, at least part of the time :-) Of course, I do realize that shodan is only going to be the start of the journey. So much to study, so little time!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Four Color Go

Last week at go, we played four color go. Yes, four people, one goban, four colors. And each of those people plays for themselves, no teaming up like in rengo. It is ok to temporarily team up to kill one player. Boy, did I find that out the hard way :-p

Everything you think will work, suddenly doesn't work anymore. You have to consider your stones to be in atari when they have three liberties left, because now it can be killed by your opponents. Playing thick and like a beginnner suddenly seems to work much better than making nice shape. And there is way more social stuff going on than even in rengo, because you can change which people you work together with to kill sutff.

I started out playing very aggressively and opportunistic, taking anything I could, playing atari wherever it seemed fun. Later, I switched to more territorial, but I had a nice number of captures by then. Everything went just fine till I forgot about the '3 liberties might be dead' rule and played not as solid as I should have... That was the end of that group.

Another interesting development is that even if a group dies, nobody wants to play to take away the second to last liberty, because then the person who goes after you gets all those stones to capture. So you end up with a lot of giant seki's on the board.

It was a fun experiment, we might do this once a year or so. The weakest player ended up with the most points, our dan player ended up with the least. Yes, interesting game.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Handicap Go

After playing in the Boston tournament, I have started thinking more about handicap go. Things really are different when there are a bunch of black stones on the board already. I have found that there are quite a few books on handicap which look at it from the view point of the weaker player. But there aren't many resources for the White player. It seems that you are supposed to know what you are doing when you are white. Which isn't always true for me yet. The one which seems to go into white's mind most is 'How to Play Handicap Go' by Yuan Zhou. It's a very good book, and has gotten me interested in his other book, but it is out of print at the moment.

I have decided that I need to practice giving handicap, so I have quite a lot of dragon games going where I give handicap. Some are going well, some are not. There definitely still is a lot of room for improvement! I also have been giving handicaps to stronger players, both to see how they use their handicap stones and to practice giving handicap against some one who actually knows what he is doing.

Playing handicap as black seems easier, although it's amazing how I can get nine stones and still be pushed around by the stronger player. I played my first 9H game with my teacher Sendol where he let me win by 1.5. Yes, let me win. He clearly was playing this as a teaching game, trying to keep the margin small. He set up tons of testing situations, some of which I passed, but most of them I didn't even notice till he pointed them out in review. You know, where he showed out for almost all of his groups 'See, this is how you could have killed it'... It was a fun game. And shows me yet again how much I still have to learn. At the end of the game he remarked 'I didn't have a chance'. Gotta love his sense of humor :-p

At our go club we now have an official handicap table, which gets adjusted after three wins. Now I just need to work on getting down the handicap I get. My highest is still 9H against our dan player. My sole goal in life is to decrease that to 8... And then to 7, and so on. Last week we played our first 'official' handicap game, which I won by 22. Only two more wins :) I find that I play better in real life than at the server, I am sure it's all about focus.

Our club's 5k used to give me 7H for the longest time when I just got back into go. Now I am down to 2H against him, and I think I might be able to play him even soon. Last week he beat me at 2H, but that was purely one of those stupid mistakes on my part, I felt good about the rest of the game. You know, where you look at something and think that something must be possible there and should you defend? and then kind of forget about it... That mistake cost me about 30 points and I lost by 25 or so.

The Iwamoto tournament is over. I played one game a week for eight weeks in a row. I won 5, lost 3, and ended up as #21 out of 81 players in my division. An ok result. It was fun to participate, I will enter it again next year. In a higher division though, I would hope.

The ratings of the Boston tournament have been updated on the AGA web site and I am 9k AGA now. So I guess I officially have made it into SDK territory. At least for the AGA. Now I need to get there at KGS, where the ratings are stronger.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tournament Time

This was a tournament filled weekend. I played in two KGS tournaments (Asian day time and American daytime), in the open division, because I have had my rank turned off for a while now. The open division means that every one can enter, and pairings are random. This was an elimination tournament, so the moment you lose, you are out. I knew I wouldn't make it to the end, but figured it would be a good way to play stronger players.

In the Asian one, I made it to the third round, where I had to play against a 6k. So that was the end of the tournament for me. In the European one, I got a 3k for my first game, so that was the end too. I lost that one by only 34.5, which I thought wasn't too bad. Looking back, I did too many nonsense moves though, I should give up on making those.

Yesterday, I went to a real life tournament, in Boston. I decided to enter as AGA 8k (my official AGA rank is 12k at the moment). I figured I could do ok on that level. Well, I did play 2-2, but it was a lot harder than I expected. Because the tournament is rather small, I only played handicap games. Which isn't too bad, apart from the fact that I ended up giving high handicap 3 out of 4 games. If you add up my handicap stones, I gave a total of 25 stones over the day, and received 3. This seemed a bit unbalanced. Oh well :-)

First game was against a 15k, I gave 7 handicap. This game was just a mess. Too many weak groups, and one super heavy group, which he managed to kill. Wasn't hard either. Can't say that this was my very best game ever. Giving 7H is just really hard, I felt too overwhelmed from the beginning.

Second game was against an 18k, I gave 9 handicap. Better game, but she played very solidly. Making iron pillars the moment I played close to a corner. Connecting all of her stones as much as she could. She made some mistakes, but nothing big enough. There was a lot of aji in a certain position, but I couldn't figure out how to make use of it. A friend later told me how I could have done it, too bad. That might have given me the game. Even although I lost this game, I still feel I played better than during my first game.

It was halfway the tournament now, and I had lost all my games so far. I started to wonder whether I should have entered as an 8k, or whether that had been overly optimistic. On the other hand, high handicap games are so different from normal games, maybe I shouldn't worry too much yet, and hope for some more reasonable games next.

Third game I got lucky, finally I received some handicap. I got 3H from a 5k and it was really easy to win. He kept making nonsense invasions late in the game though, I think hoping for a mistake. At some point I was so tired of them (and my time was really low) that I just gave him 10 points in a corner, so I could live easily with the rest of my group, instead of preventing him from connecting, but being able to stir up more trouble. By that point I was around 50 ahead, so I couldn't care less about those corner points, just wanted the game to be over. End result was 35 points or so. Phew, I finally won a game!

Fourth game was yet another high handi game. I gave 9H again, and kind of expected to lose again. I made too many mistakes, but luckily, he made more. I ended up winning by 30 or so, but I don't feel I played that well. Mostly that he made more mistakes than I did. But hey, I'll take the win.

After the game, my friend came over and pointed to a position 'Why didn't you play here? That would have killed B!' I told him I didn't because B was dead already. My opponent agreed. We both considered it a dead group. Of course, it turns out that yes, there was a way to live for B, just one that the both of us hadn't seen. That's why we aren't dan players yet :-) It was on the board for ages too, I think at least 150 moves. Bad, bad, bad.

I feel that my play this tournament wasn't as good as it should have been, I think giving high handicap so many times kind of threw me off. My best games were my second against the solidly playing 18k, and the third against the 5k. The first and fourth game still had too much room for improvement. Learning opportunities.

The other members of our go club did well too. They both played 2-2. Looks like we all entered at the perfect playing level.

After the tournament, there was a blind go exhibition. That was fun to see. Mind boggling how he could do that though. We stayed for a bit, but then had to go back home. It was a long day, but I am glad we went. Hmmmm, wonder when the next tournament within driving distance will be...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Teach and Be Taught

One thing that has struck me in the go world, is how willing stronger players are to share their knowledge with weaklings such as me. An amazing number of players on KGS have helped me out, reviewing my games, giving pointers towards getting stronger, so many people giving lessons in the teaching ladder room. So much knowledge and such willingness to share.

Naturally, I have been reciprocating the favor towards weaker players. And I have discovered that I very much enjoy teaching people, endlessly talking about go, helping some one get stronger, give them insights about their play and how to improve it. I have joined The Go Teacher account on the Dragon go server. It is a group teaching account, teaches players from about 12k to 30k. It has been enjoyable to teach there, but it also has been very valuable and teaches me a lot. It helps to deepen my own understanding. It is very useful to verbalize things you were only aware of on a more intuitive level. Not only that, but reading through the comments of the other teachers has helped me too.

I take paid lessons too, with Sendol and zalmoxe. Sendol is an amazing teacher. I love the way he can change the whole board situation by putting just a few stones differently. He also is fond to point out the huge move I missed, first time playing it out and showing me why. After that, every few moves he might go back to it. 'Still'. Makes me more aware of looking for moves like that. And more aware of how bad it was to miss this particular one :-)

Fun to compare teaching styles, most people seem to develop their own style over time. Where one of my old teachers tended to use a lot of yelling when she got excited, another one wouldn't do more than say 'tsk' at a particularly bad move, making me think for myself why this was a less than optimal move. Yet others will say 'This is no good.', taking away my move and showing how much more effective just one space to the left would have been.

Today, I managed to beat The Many Faces of Go for the very first time on level 10 (the strongest level). I hadn't been playing it at all for ages, somehow robots just aren't as much fun as playing humans. But I was curious to see how I would do against it, since I felt that I had gotten a bit stronger since then. And yes, I have gotten stronger. I beat it by thirty something today, and didn't even have to focus that much on the game. It was a day time game, with the compulsory 5,000 kid interruptions. So I am happy about knowing that I can beat TMFoG now, guess I can start using it for handicap practice. Although that is more fun on people too. I might just keep using it for problems and joseki study.

Talking about problems, I have done at least ten thousand problems since January this year. Of course, a lot of those are simple ones (Korean Problem Academy and such), but it still feels like a quite respectable number. Guess I should do my daily problems for today, haven't done much yet. I also want to work more on memorizing that Honinbo game, I have 200 moves or so down.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Memorizing Pro Games

A few months ago, Nachtrabe got me interested in memorizing pro games, but somehow I never actually sat down and did it. Well, I half heartedly started on one, but life and other go studies kept getting in the way, and I don't think I can still do more than 30 moves or so of that one, if that much.

Then last week, two things happened. First, we finally got IGS working with our firewall (had to set up some proxy stuff) so I could watch the last game of the Honinbo finals. It was quite an experience, very intense game, and it was a lot of fun to discuss moves while they were being played. Black (Cho U) was ahead most of the time, but White (Takao Shinji) managed to pull off a .5 win with extremely skillful play. I spent most of a night watching the game, but had to go to sleep at 5am or so. The game was still in full swing when I logged off.

The next morning, I wanted to know who had won, and spent quite some time web surfing trying to figure it out. Amazing how even CNN doesn't cover important events like the Honinbo finals! Finally found a Japanese newspaper which had covered it and then used Babel Fish to translate it. Now I had closure. Of course, still had to find the kifu and play the game, but at least I knew who had won. I had hoped for Cho U to win, because that would have given us one or two more games.

Second thing which happened was a few days later at go club. Our dan player was talking about the game, and commenting on it, and playing it from memory! He said he hadn't even tried to memorize it, just had been replaying it so many times, that it got stuck in his mind. Hmmmmm, well, if he could do that, I figured I should be able to do that too.

I seriously started memorizing this game a few days ago, and even although life and other studies still are getting in the way, I have been able to memorize the first 150 moves so far. Shouldn't be too hard to memorize the rest. The game has amazing depth, every move has so much meaning. And I have to admit that it just is fun to memorize it. I am also hoping that it will help me with memorizing my own games, which I have been wanting to do for ages. I can sometimes recreate the first 20 to 40 moves or so, but that's it. And I am not able to do that every game anyway. So much to work on, so little time!

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Last night, I played a game in the Iwamoto Tournament. I have been doing about average in this tournament, winning 3 out of 6 games so far, placing me 42nd for the moment. I like that number anyway :-)

The game was going ok for the most part, apart from helpfully making him fix his shape at some crucial point, and some other less than optimal moves. My big mistake was giving him way too much of the center though, way more than I should have given him. Which made the game extremely close, even although I didn't realize how close. We were fighting one of those one point kos, when he passed, even although he still did have ko threats left. He thought I was ahead, so it wasn't important anyway. He was shocked when he saw the end result. Black +0.5. Yes, he was white. Gotta love those half point games.

It was a fun game, full of learning opportunities, as usual.

The Wings Go Club June league is over, I never got around to playing six games, only played three this month. Still tied for third place, so not too bad. I will try to play six games again this month.

I really like having my rank turned off at KGS. Suddenly I was able to beat 10k's who I had never beaten before. I feel stronger already :-)

Finally finished the first volume of my Korean Problem Academy books I had been working in it on and off, but never sat down and methodically did a bunch of them every day. Three weeks ago, I finally did and book one is done now! I think there are about 700 or 800 problems in them.

They don't have answers, which I first wondered about, how useful they would be because of that. It turns out I didn't have to worry. I actually think it is better not to have the answers because it forces me to really read out every sequence, and to be extremely sure about the right answer, as opposed to slapping a stone at the vital point and hoping for the best. Which is the way I often do the problems where there are answers available. Yes, I do realize that is not the best way, but sometimes it is mightily tempting.

With those problems, I have to actually sit down, concentrate and decide which solution is the best, and why another move does not work. Most of them I can do pretty fast, but some do stump me for a while. I do believe this helps to improve my reading power though.

This week at go club we had a beginner whom I gave nine stones. He turned out to be much less of a beginner than I thought he was, so that was a pretty hard game. I did manage to win, but only barely. I lived where I shouldn't have and killed some things which shouldn't have been killable. Always interesting to play against high handicap. I started a bunch of high handicap games on Dragon just to practice it more.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Joy of Eyes

Have been happily playing and messing up. But yesterday was a big mess up, even for me. I was playing an even game against a much stronger player, and was doing pretty well in the opening. It wasn't till middle game, when disaster struck. I had this nice center facing wall, which I knew was safe, so I didn't have to pay attention to it anymore, just needed to use it. Which I did not do correctly, instead played some moves at different locations of the board (Tenuki! Trying to play tenuki more, but still haven't found the right balance :-) Got distracted and carried away, chased a white group, was having a great time, while W was busy taking away all my eye space. Now it's one thing if that happens if I notice and can fight back. But in this case I truly had not noticed it at all, till I started counting to see how far behind I was. Counted the top, got a decent number of points. Then wanted to count the number of points in my dragon, and came up empty. Oops!

Funny how I totally lost track of the big picture while focusing on the small fights. Shows very clearly one of the many areas in which I still have room for improvement. Quite the learning experience :-)

Well, at least it wasn't a self atari. Grateful for small blessings.
Needless to say, the game result was W+Res.

This all happened a few days after I missed a totally obvious ko, which would have killed my opponents huge group. At least that one was at 4am, so I can claim that I was tired. But didn't have a good excuse like that in the eye less game.

So many avoidable mistakes to correct. Well, at least turning off my rank worked in a way, because I was able to beat a 10k whom I had never beaten before. So maybe there is some improvement in between the screwups :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Last weekend, I played in yet another KGS tournament. I had decided to enter the Asian day time division, because at that time my kids usually are asleep and I can concentrate on my games. I had been losing a lot of games lately, so I didn't really expect much from the tournament, I was actually tempted to only play the first three games (1am, 2am, and 3am) and then go to bed instead of playing the 4am one. I kind of expected to lose most of my games anyway.

Of course, reality was different, and I won my first three games, so couldn't resist playing the 4am one too. And to my utter surprise, this was another win! I ended up second place because my SOS (Sum of Opponents Scores) was just 0.5 points lower than the first place winner. Still very happy about it all. I won a crown next to my name on KGS, lucky me.

I decided to turn off my KGS rank for now. I hadn't been playing ranked games for a while because I wanted to experiment. But a few weeks ago, I decided to start playing them again, and just experiment in R games too. I found out that that might not be the best idea, because I immediately lost a stone. And I also found out that I did not particularly liked playing ranked games, even although I am still not sure why not. Because I can't say that I particularly care about which rank I have next to my name at KGS.

One theory is that it's all about focus. I was really focused on my tournament games, and did just fine. But my R games, I just wasn't as focused, had a lot of kid interruptions and other things going on. So I would miss things that I did not miss in my tournament games.

Yesterday, I got myself back to my old rank and then decided to stop bothering with R games. So I turned off my rank and that felt good. Now I can concentrate on playing, and studying, and getting stronger, and not on my KGS rank. I'll measure progress by which level players I can play even and do well against. Or the number of handicap stones I am getting from stronger players. I just played a even game against a KGS 10k and won. Haven't won from him before, so that was nice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Last week, finally played rengo for the very first time. It was interesting. And a bit frustrating. And challenging. And lots of fun! I managed to get myself positioned immediately after the strongest player of our group, which meant that I had to try to figure out how to reply to his vicious attacks. Well, I guess it will help to make me stronger :-)

This week has been a week of go blunders. Lost a lot of groups, totally avoidable. Made all kinds of other silly mistakes. This all culminating into a self atari on the Dragon Go Server of all places. Yes, it is a turn based server. So yes, you can think about your move. And yes, you can see it on the board before submitting it. But I still managed to do the 'Oh, simple endgame move, plunk, glance, submit, really look, ARGH!!!!, trying to stop the submitting' thing :-) It is a vital part of a group too, will lose that game now. Oh well... I could call it a learning experience, apart from the fact that I don't seem to be learning from it.

Thinking about it, it seems like my main issue still is playing too fast. I click and then think, instead of first thinking and then clicking. In real life play, I have gotten better at thinking by not having stones in my hand while playing (thanks, Tristan) I have considered sitting on my mouse hand while playing, but it seems like too much of a bother. Still...

My other issue is byo yomi. Once I enter byo yomi and that time thingy starts blinking at me every 20 secs or so, I start panicking. Which is not a good thing. I have made major blunders just because I get the 'Have to put down a stone, ANY place, can't think about it!' madness. Not sure what to do about that, sitting on my mouse hand would only make it worse I think. Maybe I should play more blitz, so I get more used to the time pressure. Or maybe I should get good enough that even my panic stones still are well placed. I think I like that last solution.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Last week, I turned out to be the happy winner of a copy of the Smartgo combo in an AGA drawing for the Shodan challengers. I have been playing around with it for a bit, and I have to say that it is a really cool program. It came with more than 30,000 pro games, so that should keep me out of trouble for a while.

I used the analyze game option, it's very interesting to see what professionals would have done in a certain situation. Usually something else than I had been doing :-) I know this program is going to be very useful in my go studies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

KGS Tournament

I have been playing in the May KGS tournamentI have been wanting to play in those tournaments before, but never actually got myself together enough to sign up in time and play. This time is different!

This tournament stretches over five days, and there are four rounds per day, six hours apart. So there will be a total of twenty games to be played, but you can request byes for 15 of them. This means that you have to play a minimum of five games over those days, which isn't too bad.

For me, the games are at 3am, 9am, 3p, and 9pm local time. I tend to be on the go server at 9pm and 3am anyway, so those rounds are easy to make. The day time ones can be harder, because of real life getting in the way, but so far I have been able to make them. Played seven games so far, which means 42 hours of a tournament game every six hours. Funny how 42 always pops up everywhere.

Out of those seven games, I have won 4 so far, so pretty average. I have played my share of good games, and my share of less than good games. My last game was cool where my opponent gave me ¾ of the board in the first fourteen moves, so nice of him. One of my reviewers is that this is where the game was won.

Fun Game
Yes, it does look kind of overwhelmingly black now.

Another fun game was my first one. I had misread a fight, and things got kind of iffy, and I lost a string of 8 stones. It still had three liberties though which I thought I might be able to use. So while I was playing, I looked and found this great tesuji, which basically sprang the string of stones back to life, killing sixteen stones of W in the process. This swung the game from 30 or so behind, to an endresult of +13.5. I love making up tesuji! I did read and re-read and triple-read this one though, just to be sure it really would work. And then I read it some more :-)

We'll see how long I can keep up the pace of a tournament game every 6 hours. So far so good though, and I should be able to play at least the next three too.

Oh, current results for the tournament puts me at 11th place out of 108. Not that it really matters, but I still like that I am not that far from the top. My sum of opponents scores (SOS) is the second highest for now though. I first thought that was because I got nice, tough opponents, but then my common math sense kicked in and I realized that it was because I played more games than most :-) Amazing how other people sometimes have to sleep!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The End Game

I have been studying some end game, trying to figure out how big moves are, working on keeping sente, finding nice tesuji to grab a few more points. Sometimes things go ok, sometimes I just am not paying enough attention, playing the first sente move that I see. Or the first move I think is sente, but turns out to be gote anyway. It is nice to have yet another area where I have room for improvement.

Today, I tried to keep sente during the end game, ignoring small moves to play some bigger or equal-sized sente move instead. Doing really well, until I think that yes, I can ignore this pushing into my group. It's only one point, right?

I am sure you can guess where this is leading. Yes, it was a bit more than one point. It exposed a connection weakness in my group (which would have been totally fine if I had replied to his pushing move) and he could put 4 stones in atari, which I couldn't save. This was about 10 points. Instead of just taking this minimal damage, I decided to make a second wrong move, and lose another 16 points... Two totally avoidable mistakes. It's amazing how often I get this learning experience. I am starting to wonder whether it will actually lead to real learning some day.

All this happened while I was in byo yomi, so I can try to use that as an excuse. But frankly, it's a lame excuse and I can't say that I believe in it. It was purely a matter of focus and attention. It was game losing too, I was ahead till it happened. Such are the ways of the double digit kyus :-)

Yesterday, my Korean Problem Academy books arrived, all the way from Korea! So exciting! I recognized a bunch of the problems from on line, but there are more than 700 problems in each book as opposed to only 200 on line. I worked through the first 100 pages of volume 1 already, so that must have been about 400 problems. I can see already that those books are going to be very helpful.

Also working on Getting Strong at Tesuji. I gave myself a challenge to try to do as many as I could in a day. I managed to get the first 150 done. Not bad, they are not that easy. And I had my normal 3,511 interruptions by life. Excellent reading practice. Maybe some day I will be able to read deeper than just one move :-p

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'd Rather Die...

... than live this way.

One of my many weaknesses has been to make weak groups, and then spend an unfortunate amount of time and a huge number of stones to defend them. Not only that, but the struggle for life, even if successful, gives my opponent a huge advantage all around me. Not a good situation.

Some one pointed out to me that I seemed to enjoy the challenge of making them live, because it reminds me of my life/death problems. She might not be too far off the mark. There is something satisfying about snatching a group from the gaping jaws of death, who cares whether the opponent gets way more out of it than I did. I did live!

Slowly, it is beginning to dawn on me, that this might not be the right attitude. Not the right playing style. That same person has been urging me to run before live, to not let myself being enclosed. But despite my best intention, I still ended up being enclosed way too often, only to find myself in yet another fiery life/ death struggle.

Things had to change. I had had enough of shameful life, enough of helping my opponent build huge moyos, enough of spending half of my game figuring out how to rescue those 42 stones which had been 'almost alive' for too long.

Last night, I made a resolution to not let myself being enclosed anymore, and if by some unfortunate event it happens anyway, to just give up on my stones. Usually it's only a few of them when it happens, my real problems start when I add more and more stones to those enclosed stones and end up at a huge disadvantage.

Yes, I might lose too many groups for a while when I am trying to figure this out. Yes, I might lose a bunch of games till I master this. Yes, I might have been able to save this group if only... But I am going to be strong and not live shamefully anymore. I'd rather die than live that way.

I'd better get real good at running. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. I played one game like this last night, gave up two groups, but was able to reach out from the outside towards them, and revive them. I didn't even want to save them, it just happened. I was trying to get some profit from their aji. So that might not have been the best game to teach me that losing groups isn't the end of the world. I am sure that most of the time I will not be able to resurrect my dead stones though. It will be interesting to see how this will work out. Fun experiment.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


Today, I went to the Vermont AGA Spring Tournament. It was perfect!

The drive up there took longer than anticipated, so I did stress a bit about arriving too late. Luckily things did work out, I was late, but the organizer knew I was coming, and had saved a spot for me. He set it up so I could play him for my first game.

I decided to enter as an 11k, which turned out to be just right. He was 2k, so I got nine handicap stones. I played a nice, solid game, he was muttering something about me playing too strong for an 11k. I proved him wrong when I managed to play a brilliant sel-atari in yose though... 25 points worth of self atari! At least it was sente :-p Thanks to that, I ended up winning by only ten or so.

Second game was against an 8k, where I got three handicap stones. The game went well, till I neglected one of the basics, the one where you keep your weak group connected or alive... So I ended up with a nice, big, but very dead group. I thrashed around for a bit, made my opponent think, did a series of very nice tesuji's. But in the end, I was just one tiny liberty short... So I resigned. Was a fun game anyway, with all the fighting. And my opponent turned out to be a KGS player, who I had played before! When he realized who I was, he immediately asked me about the hedgehog song... Such a small world :-)

Third game I had to give eight handicap against a 19k. Quite overwhelming. The board was just so majorly dominated by all those black stones. She played nicely, and solidly, and didn't let me get away with much. I still played a decent game, and in the end lost by 8. I was happy about the way I had played that one, even although I lost the game.

I did realize that I must have been about 19k when I started playing again last December. So I have improved quite a bit if I can give eight handicap now, against the level I was only four months ago. That felt good.

Last game I gave three handicap against a 14k. My last official AGA rank was 14k (in January), so I was curious to see how that one would turn out. I started out behind (obviously :-) He built nice big territories, I built smaller territories. I started reducing his territories, he allowed me to. I poked and prodded, and slowly his territories got smaller, while mine got bigger. Not only that, but I ended up with about half the center. As in a nice big open space in the center, not one of those mostly-dame centers. Pushed him around in the end game, and ended up with a 33 points win. Another game where I was happy about playing against my own old rank, and seeing that I must have improved a bit.

All together, there was a nice variety of opponents, and I think I played pretty decently. Two wins an two losses make me an official 11k AGA now.

Good things I did
  • Paid attention to my endgame, kept sente during most of it and managed to score quite a lot of points that way
  • Didn't just reply to opponents move, but evaluated it and thought about whether I needed to reply or could tenuki
  • Counted a few times during every game, and ended up pretty close to the final score
  • Tried to keep sente as much as possible. Not perfectly yet, but at least I was aware of the issue, and was looking to get and keep sente
  • Didn't let the stronger players get away with much overplay
  • Did more creating than i did destroying.
Bad things I did
  • The 25 points self-atari has to be put on the top of this list. Still can't believe I did that! OK, I can believe it, it just annoys me, yet at the same time amuses me. Great learning opportunity!
  • Didn't pay enough attention to connections, which lost me the second game
  • Totally misread a life/death situation in that second game. I need to do more tsumego!
So overall, there are more good things than bad things. I had a wonderful day, met wonderful people, and played pretty decent games. And I am officially an 11k AGA now!

The only bad thing of the day is that I got lost on the way home. Three full hours on Vermont 'scenic roads'. In the dark, in the rain, in the fog. Oh joy!