Monday, December 26, 2005

Favorite Player

Thanks to jwaytogo, I have been watching a lot of pro games live this year. Even although it sometimes seems slow (especially the two days matches) it is really interesting to see the game develop and to discuss variations and possibilities before they are played. Of course, often proven wrong by the pros, who play something totally unexpected instead.

For a while, my favorite player was Yamashita Keigo, after he played jabberwocks in the Oza challengers final against Nakaonoda Tomomi (Aug 2005). This was another game we watched live. I remember watching the start of the game, and going out for dinner, and there were only a few moves played during the whole time we took to eat our meals. Luckily there was an intermittent wireless connection in the restaurant, so we didn't have to totally miss out on the match while eating :)

I still like Yamashita, but after seeing the Samsung semi finals, Luo Xihe is at the top of my list of favorites. All three of his games against Choi Cheolhan were good, but the last one was just brilliant. Every single of those three games involved a dragon. Choi and Luo both had won one game, so the third game was going to be the deciding match. Luo ended up with yet another dragon, and things looked pretty bleak for a while. Suddenly, a triple ko appeared, very rare, but this would give him a draw instead of a loss, so we all were happy for him. Nobody expected him to just give up this triple ko and his huge dragon though, and find compensation elsewhere. Adequate compensation even. He ended up winning the match by 7.5 points. Amazing! posted a story about it.

I am definitely going to root for Luo Xihe in the Samsung finals. He will play Lee Changho, so it's not going to be easy.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blast From the Past

A while ago, I found an old, handwritten kifu, from a game I played in 1991. It said that I was 12k, but looking at the game, I am not so sure. I played my husband, giving him 5H. We look more like 40k and 45k.

Fun to see though, and to realize that I did improve some since then. All my moves look clumsy. I am looking forward to reviewing my current games one or two years from now, and see the same relative clumsiness.

One thing about go, is that the more I play, the more I enjoy it. The game seems to get deeper and deeper, and there are always new things to be discovered. And the more I study, the more I want to know, and of course, the more I realize how totally ignorant I still am, and will stay.

I can give my husband 7H now and win, we will have to try 8 or 9 next time. He doesn't like losing, so one of my ultimate goals is to give him 9H and let him win by 0.5 points every single time. I guess I do need to improve my counting before I can do that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Beware of Bad Yose

Time to focus somewhat more on yose. A few days ago, I played a game against a good friend, and beat him for the very first time ever. He was playing simul though, so I can't count it as a real win, but it does mean I am getting closer to his level. (At least, that's what I like to think it means) This game did make me realize it's time to work on yose though, especially when an observer started out with telling us, 'Both of you missed lots of chances in yose' and 'I think the lead changed hands in yose a few times' Later, he got less diplomatic about it 'Yose scared me to death. In a close game like this, bad yose always scares me...'

Yes, I managed to get well ahead, only to give away most of it again in yose. Some of it were just cowardly and unneeded moves, and backing off where I should stood my ground. Others were pure laziness, playing too fast (in an untimed game, mind you), refusing to read too deeply, and loss of focus. I would like to blame the fact that it was a daytime game, and that the kids interrupted, but I will have to be honest and admit that it was me losing focus, and holding off too much, when I should have been pushing to win my won game. I ended up winning by a few points, but looking back, that was pure luck. My yose sucked.

The final stinger came when my teacher sendol reviewed the game. He showed correct endplay, and every variation he showed, Black ended up with a 20 or 30 points win. How embarrassing to win by only a few points instead... Heck, I should have lost the game, that would have been an even more convincing lesson.

Conclusion: my yose needs work. Or maybe it's more an issue of playing the whole game. It's not even that I not know what to play in yose, I just don't take the time and energy to figure it out. This will have to change, going to work on it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Five Stones To Go!

The official AGA ratings are in. I managed to get myself to -5.06752 with a sigma of 0.8 so looks like I can call myself 5k now. Which I knew, but it's still nice to be official. Only five more stones to go, and then the fun can start.

I really wanted to be 5k anyway, because I wanted to enter in the official AGA shodan challenge again. Yes, again I say, since I entered in January this year, when I was around 16-18k and thought I could easily reach shodan by August... I was wrong :)

The closer I got to August, the more I realized what an impossible task I had set myself, at least impossible for me. I did get myself to 7k, which wasn't bad, but nowhere close to shodan. I can either see that as a failure, because I didn't reach shodan, or just be happy about having improved nine stones in seven months.

I decided to enter the shodan challenge again, and this time actually make it. This year, the AGA did split up the challenge though. The Challenge now has five Divisions: the 20-kyu Challenge, for beginners; the 10-kyu Challenge for 11-20k players; the 5-kyu Challenge for 6-10k players, the Shodan Challenge for 5-1k players and the 5d Challenge for 1-4d players. Since I was only 7k, this meant I would be trying to reach 5k by next August. Didn't seem like enough of a challenge to me. So I desperately tried to get to 5k before the sign up deadline. I did. I signed up November 30th (deadline was Dec 1st) and proved my 5k rank this weekend during the tournament.

Now the big question is "Will I be able to make shodan by next August?". I'd like to be confident about it, but who knows? Only one way to find out.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Yesterday, I played in the Western Massachusetts Go Tournament. The short story: I played 2-1. The long story:

The day started early. I had to leave the house at 7am to be able to make it to the tournament in time. When I got up, I was greeted by snow. Let's just say that I was not happy to have to drive for two hours in a snow storm, before the roads were plowed. Lots of sliding cars, no accidents, just sliding. Still scary. I was glad when I made it to Amherst. After taking the scenic route that is, because I wasn't reading the directions correctly.

The tournament was on the 16th floor of an ugly concrete tower. Seeing the tower brought me back to my student days. Delft University of Technology had similar ugly towers, the Electrical Engineering one being the one this reminded me of.

After all the stress of the snow and the getting lost, it was nice to be greeted in a nice and calm atmosphere. People were just sitting around and chatting, catching up with old friends, playing games. It was so relaxed that the tournament didn't actually start till close to 11, instead of 10am.

My official AGA rank is 9k, but I didn't want to sandbag, so entered as 5k. On Saturday, I was a nervous wreck about the whole thing, wondering whether I could pull this off. It didn't help that a bunch of people tried to talk me out of it, and proposed 6k or 7k instead. I was convinced that 5k was right for me though, so took a deep breath, closed my eyes and said a decisive '5k' when the tournament director asked me what rank I was.

The first game had me paired against another 5k. And not just any 5k, but the 5k from my own club. I knew I could take him down. I got black, he got white. We played and we played and we played. I spotted some glaring mistakes I was making, still not sure what I was doing. I like to blame the tournament stress, I sure don't think I always play this horribly. The game went on, he was ahead by a bit, so I needed to kill something. I split one big dragon into two groups. One was too strong to kill, although I forced him to make his second eye in gote. I turned my attention towards the other part of the dragon. I slowly and methodically removed secondary eyes and eye space, and then reduced the main part to a bulky five. Put down the killing move and then he suddenly realized what had happened. That was fun! I did make so many mistakes though, I entered the game into my computer at night and was not impressed by my play. Oh well, at least I have lots of things to learn from this game. But I feel I only won because he made even more mistakes than I did. Maybe that's just normal at my level anyway :)

Time for lunch. For an extra $5, they provided pizza. Worked out well, not having to go anywhere, just nicely staying inside with all the snow and yuckiness outside. I played a game against a beginner, gave him nine stones. Always looks overwhelming, but this was enough of a beginner that I could actually do it.

Second game got me paired against another 5k. Fights broke out soon, and I lost a bunch of stones. So much for cutting and fighting :) It wasn't bad though, I squeezed every last drop of use out of those stones. Got profit by reaching in to them, and I even got him to semedori them. The rest of the game wasn't so good though. I thought I had him in a nice low position on the top, but then allowed him to grow. Not a good decision. He also grew another bigger group, but that one was undercut, so that wasn't a problem, I easily reduced it. But the game was his, I was the one making more mistakes. Oh well, more to learn from it.

Third game was against a 4k. Yet again, fights broke out, cuts were applied liberally, stones bit the dust, and muttered curses flew over the goban. When the dust did settle, I had won the game by 14.5. Nothing big died, it was a pretty even game. We both made mistakes, I just ended up making smaller ones.

The tournament was only three rounds, because they ran out of time for a fourth one. When all was said and done, I ended up fourth place in the kyu division, so that was sweet. I chose a book The Art of Capturing Stones: Sacrifice Techniques.

I was happy about playing only even games in this tournament. Last tournament I ended up giving high handicap three out of my four games, which was hard. I still made too many mistakes in my play though, quite some avoidable ones too. Will have to work on that. I guess it's all about focus again, although this seemed different from my normal lack of focus. I was focused on the game, and still made wrong moves, the kind of moves I immediately knew were wrong. I could blame the tournament stress maybe. Sigh. At least I recorded all my games, so I can figure out where and how I went wrong. And I still won two out of three games, so I must have done something right :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Go Club

Yesterday was yet another good go club meeting. I am still getting one handi from the 5k, and won my second game in a row. Both games would be won too with 6.5 komi though, so I feel that I am at least 5k now. Two weeks ago, I gave 3H to an 8k for the very first time and won that game too. I am just going to enter as 5k in the go tournament this weekend and we'll see what happens.

After this game, I played an even game with our dan player. He found a lot of aji which I hadn't seen, good learning experience :)

I am still working on Get Strong at Attacking, this seems to be the exact thing I need right now. Of course, I still mess up my attacks, but at least I am attacking more now. I am a lot more aware of weak groups, and I work harder on separating groups, so they will have to fend for themselves. I am sure I might over-attack for a while, but that should be ok. I actually did over-attack yesterday in my game against the 5k, but still won, so can't be too upset about it. Especially since he replied to my attack, when it would have been bigger to just run away.

Tournament countdown: three more days!