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.