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!

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