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!

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