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.