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.

3 comments:

Gilgamesh said...

Very neat :) I'm so jealous.. you're making progress! I'm in a rut over here. 9kyu EGF players crush me with 4 hc now. I find handi as black to be tricky..

Tristen said...

Congrats. Keep at it, you'll be dan soon!!

glint said...

Handicap Go, by Nagahara Yoshiaki and Richard Bozulich. Volume 7 of the Elementary Go Series. Gives some useful insight and guidlines for how White should approach playing handicap games.