Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Get Strong at Attacking

I have been dissatisfied with my play lately. Yes, I know, so what's new? :) My teacher Sendol has told me I need to be more aggressive. Other strong players have pointed out that I need more kiai. When playing Shygost, he often can show me at least one weak group and how I should have attacked it.

I talked it over with Kipawa, and he mentioned that my attacking didn't seem to be as effective as it could be. He recommended Getting Strong at Attacking.

Yesterday, I took it down from my book shelf and did the first 50 problems. Oh boy, did I need them! I made so many mistakes, playing exactly the way I should not, or just not knowing the most effective way to attack. What a wonderful book! I played a game at night, and at least two situation from the book came up. This will be my daily studying for a while. Today, I did the first 50 problems again, and added another 10 just for good measure. I still suck at them! But if I keep going at it, I am sure I might get a tiny bit better at attacking.

Tournament countdown: five days till The 3rd Massuchusetts Go Tournament I am excited to play in a real life tournament again!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Iron Man!

Tournament is over! I am an iron man now. Wait...

I made it to all 20 games! Better than last time when I made it to only 19 of them. I feel very good about that. I ended up at sixteenth place in open division, which is an ok result. I enjoyed playing stronger opponents, and often managed to mess up against weaker opponents. Funny how that works. My SOS (Sum of Opponents Scores) was the second highest from all participants, so I did play a lot / tough opponents.

I got more byes than I really wanted to. When there is an odd number of players in a round, the system assigns a bye to the player who played the most games. I guess most other players didn't make it to as many games, since I and one other player divided all the byes between us. Oh well, sometimes a 3am bye was kind of welcome, so that I actually could get some sleep before my 9am game :)

These were five days of games at 3am, 9am, 3pm and 9pm, phew! Fun to participate, but also glad it is over. Now I can just play normal games again. Which I have been doing a lot, and as usual, messing up against patzers, sigh.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Almost There...

Yeah!!! Played nineteen out of twenty games. Or at least was present at the pairings... This morning I almost overslept! The horror! Woke up like 15 minutes before the game, so stumbled out of bed, ran downstairs and told my computers to start up fast!!! I made it. Would have been sad to miss game #19...

I am 11th place at the moment, but I can't really attribute that to my superb play. A lot of my points are from getting forced byes, which give me a whole point without ever playing in that round. I am not too impressed with the system for assigning byes. It looks like they are assigned based on the number of played games. The more games you play, the more likely you will get a bye. I have had a total of six byes in my nineteen games, which seems a bit excessive. Oh well, at least I could go to bed at 3:15am last night, and I still almost overslept!

I have played great opponents, and a lot of them offered to review after the game too. Very helpful! I love the friendly atmosphere on KGS.

Playing stronger players has made me even more intent on becoming stronger myself. I want to be able to play like that! And I will.

Off to do my daily 50 go problems now! The tournament has made me slack off on those, not a good thing. Getting back on track today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Note to Self

"Remember when dead stones are dead. Don't use them to surround an enemy group and feel all smug about enclosing it. This is a bad thing. "

Yes, I managed to do just that. Yesterday, in a tournament game even. I was happily playing, fighting, and cutting off his stones. Suddenly, reality hit. Wait! Those stones to the left. They don't look particularly alive. Heck, they even look deadish... Yet another lost game :)

It wasn't like they died during the fighting even, they were dead to start with. I really need to pay better attention to tiny details like that. Does it all come back to focus yet again?

The tournament is going well, I play mostly good games, even if I don't win that many. At the moment I am 49th out of 66 participants, but I have been as low as 62nd. I think a few things are causing that. One, this is open division, so some of my opponents are just too strong to beat in an even game. Two, I managed to mess up a few times, even against weaker players. Like when I forgot that my stones were dead. Three, people who haven't played at all yet have 5.5 points now (11 byes), so all are higher ranked than me and others with only five or less points. They will drop off in a few games if they don't start playing. But in this case, you can actually be higher rated by not playing, than by playing and losing some.

I am tremendously enjoying the games though, and the challenge of playing all twenty of them. Eleven down, nine to go, so more than halfway there. The timing of the tournament could be better though, turkey day is not the easiest time for most american people to play. How lucky that I am not American :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Question of the Day

What is the technical term for when you know the right move but still don't play it? You know, when you look at the board, see the best / biggest move and then play a gote move somewhere else...

Background of course is the tourney game I played today. Started off well, I killed his LL group. He had two weak B stones on the left, I was strong all around, so I knew I should invade. Instead, I played a nonsense turn at the top... First mistake.

Decided to just let him live on the side and build a big wall on top of him. Went well, had a beautiful wall, which I could develop nicely, I knew exactly how. I was a tiny bit worried about some stones in the UL though, so wanted to connect for sure, which I hoped was sente. My opponent correctly ignored it and played a big move to neutralize my wall... That was my second mistake.

Still doing ok, got into some fighting on the bottom, and I gave atari in the wrong direction... Now my position fell apart. Game losing mistake. I resigned.

In all three of those cases, I knew exactly what the right move was, but didn't play it. There must be a technical term for that!

Here is my conversation about it

NannyOgg [-]: yes, looks better
Kipawa [6k?]: w still behind
Kipawa [6k?]: but now can resign w/honor
NannyOgg [-]: that's true
NannyOgg [-]: i even looked at this
NannyOgg [-]: i guess this game i looked at all the right moves, but didn't play them
NannyOgg [-]: need to get over that :)
Kipawa [6k?]: I wonder if there's a technical term for that
NannyOgg [-]: preferably japanese?
Kipawa [6k?]: hontephobia?
NannyOgg [-]: LOL, maybe
NannyOgg [-]: although it's not technically honte I think?
Kipawa [6k?]: poetic license
NannyOgg [-]: uh huh
NannyOgg [-]: i'll think about it
NannyOgg [-]: might pose it on my blog as question of the day
Kipawa [6k?]: have the courage to play the right move
NannyOgg [-]: yes
NannyOgg [-]: but hey, it's an improvement to at least
consider the right move, right?
Kipawa [6k?]: ...
NannyOgg [-]: as opposed to having no clue as I used to do :)
NannyOgg [-]: i'll just see my wall and my kill as good points this game
NannyOgg [-]: and H17, F13 and N5 as bad moves
NannyOgg [-]: there needs to be a balance, right?
Kipawa [6k?]: yes, your good moves balance his bad ones
NannyOgg [-]: can't have good moves without screwing up some too...

Iron Man Tournament

Just played my first game in the KGS November Iron Man tournament. Since I played open division, I had no idea how strong of an opponent I would get. I ended up with a 17k. He helped me to build a super moyo and then tried to invade, but too little and too late. Still, I was paranoid and replied to his moves, I wanted to be 100 % sure he stayed dead. Kipawa helpfully pointed out that this was a moral victory for my opponent, since I did reply to his moves, no matter how silly... I have to admit that he was right, it seemed easier to reply than to actually read. I should get over that.

Winning my first game means that I am at a tied first place now, together with the six other people who won their first game. I know that won't last, so enjoying it for the next hour or so, before my next game starts :)

Still working on the shape game, I have a hard time finding a winning strategy. This is clearly something I need more practice in, I will play it more till I figure out how to win.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Too Much Tenuki

Since my goal is to play more, I have decided to revive my mess-up R account and have been playing with it during the day. During the day means that I get interrupted all the time by fighting or crying kids, kids who need a diaper changed, requests for bandaids, demands for food, phone calls, visits, and escaping pets. This makes it a bit harder to find my focus, and I can't play as well as I can do in the middle of the night, when the house actually is quiet. But hey, at least I am still playing.

Today, I decided to start the day with a game. The distractions actually weren't too bad, maybe only seven or so, and the game went pretty well. I was nicely ahead, I had killed one of her groups. She even died in gote. I happily played on, knowing I had a won game now. Decide to try to get as much as possible in yose, while she tried to kill the group which is partly surrounding her dead group. I counted and decided I am fine, so ignored the moves I could ignore, while raking up points.

Suddenly, disaster struck. She made another move, this time in her dead group, and all my earlier reading had told me what I had to do then. The group was still dead, just needed a move. Of course, you can tell already where this story is going... Yup, I played tenuki from that move and put a stone somewhere else... So she lived and I cried.

Too much tenuki. Just as bad as too little tenuki. Some day I'll find the balance. Although maybe it's all about focus again. I knew what the right move was here, but just forgot to make it. Great learning opportunity.

The bad thing was that I wasn't even getting interrupted while this happened. Only one person to blame :)

At least I have a solid rank now. Will be easier to get games. It just is a bit sandbaggy rank, but that should clear up when I actually win some games again, right?

The Killing Game

Recently, I have rediscovered the killing game (or sometimes called The Shape Game) where one color has stones all around the board on the first line (skipping the corners) and the other color tries to live in the center. It's not easy to kill, but it's even harder to live. With perfect play, life shouldn't be possible. I haven't reached perfect playing level yet.

I remember playing this game way, way back in the Netherlands. I don't remember having so much fun with it though.

I played it with a dan friend, did pretty well the first night. Second night he had remembered his killing skills and I did not do as well (as in I couldn't live and I couldn't kill in either of the two rounds we played). Played it with another strong player, and missed an obvious living move. How shameful. He missed it too for 18 moves, when he came to his senses before I did. Will have to do 50 tesuji problems tomorrow, to repent :-p

This game is great for developing sense of shape, and thinking about sente and gote in attacking. It will make me better at killing, reading, complicated fights, harrassing weak groups, and at making sabaki. Some one commented 'Good grief, I shouldn't have brought it up. Now you'll just get strong faster. Just what we need - a Nanny who's even better at killing' ... It also helps with learning how to use walls for fighting. What a great exercise.

Not only is it useful, but it is very enjoyable too. Skipping the whole fuseki and yose part of the game, it's just fight, fight, fight, fight. My kind of game. I will be playing this a lot till I get better at it.

I decided to join the KGS November Iron Man Tournament. I participated in April and it was a lot of fun. This tournament runs five days and there are games every six hours, so a total of 20 rounds. You have to play in at least five rounds, can get byes for the other rounds if you want. I managed to play in 19 games last time, don't think I can do as well this time. Too many daytime commitments. I'll just play as many as I can.

There are two divisions, a handicap division and an open division (all even games). I entered in open, because I don't have a solidly or accurately ranked account at the moment. It seems too much work to get one, I don't care about rank on KGS anyway. I will turn the rank on my NannyOgg account back on once I have reached 1d there, and that will be a bit. Till then, I'll just have fun with my R accounts when I feel like it, and not worry about rank. Better to concentrate on playing, studying, and getting stronger. An advantage of the open division is that I will play a wider variety of players. Looking forward to this tournament!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Link To Newspaper Story

Thanks Kipawa, I hadn't realized they finally are modern enough to actually have some stories on line :) Here is the story on the paper's web site.

Today was problems day, did problems all day. Still can't do all the basic ones from the DieorLive program. I worked on a bunch of L-group (and L+1) problems too. Even there I don't get all of them right yet. So much to learn, so little time!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Way To Go

Our local newspaper ran an article on us today!

Cult hobby, huh? My friend said to be glad that they didn't call it an occult hobby instead... I think it was a good article though, and I got my first phone call about the club already! We had a few people show up today at Borders thanks to the article, some newbie players and some more experienced ones. Nice!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good Things Come in Threes

  1. A local reporter came to our go club, to write an article about us. It was fun to chat with him, we'll see how badly we get misquoted :) He stayed for quite a while, and had brought a photographer. She climbed on the tables to make good pictures of the go board, almost dropping her memory card on a game in progress...

    Publicity! Now let's just hope that this will get us more players, it would be nice to grow the club a bit. We now tend to have six to eight players show up every week, so still pretty small.
  2. We had a new player. He is KGS 3d, so pretty darn strong. He played our dan player. Our dan player (AGA 4d or 5d) was saying that he wasn't sure he could win this game. We told him that he was defending the honour of our club, so he'd better win. And he did :) Two games, one as W, and one as B, he won both. Both were tough games, they are pretty close in strength. We are thrilled to have a new strong player!
  3. I played an even game against our AGA 5k and I won!!! One handicap (so 0.5 komi) but I won by 23 moku on the board, so even with 6.5 komi, it was still a respectable win. I was annoyed at myself though for missing an obvious kill (well, obvious in hindsight), and for missing a 'cutting off the tail' later in the game. Oh well. This was the first time I beat him even at club, so I feel good about that (I had beaten him once before on dragon, but that feels different, since there is way more time to think.) He used to give me seven handicap for quite a while when I started at this go club, December last year. So maybe I have made a tiny bit of progress.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Understanding How to Play Go

I just finished reading Understanding How to Play Go by Yuan Zhou, an AGA 7d. It's an excellent book. He goes over a bunch of his games, with very very detailed commentary. In the beginning I kept falling asleep over it, but that might have been because I would start reading at 4:30am or so, when I went to bed after a night of playing on KGS. After a few days I couldn't stand the suspense anymore, I wanted to know what else happened in that game, and I started reading it during the day.

Wow! He goes over seven games, and gives very clear explanations for all the moves, and which moves would have been better. He also often shows why the player chose a certain move and not another one. It reads like an adventure novel. Some games, the lead keeps changing between the players, until the final mistake decides the winner.

There is a nice variety of games. High chinese, sanrensei, and even two games with jabberwocks, but played as W. Interesting, I have always considered it an opening for Black. Now I will have to experiment with jabberwocks when I play W. Fun!

Today, I got a phone call from a reporter at our local newspaper. Turns out he saw one of the many flyers we have been hanging around town, and wants to do a story on us!!!! He asked a lot of questions, and will be at go club tomorrow, together with a photographer. Publicity!!! We might get some new members out of this! I am excited.

My resolution to play more is working out well. I have been playing three to five games per day since I made it. More opportunities to mess up and learn :) I played three blitz games against a dan player last night, and managed to mess up two of them, but make a huge capture on the other one. This was with four handicap, so not too bad. Blitz is hard!