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 :)


thrashor said...

Did you record your own games at the tournament? Even will libreral time on the tournament clocks, I still feel too pressured to record my own games.

O_Scientist said...

Yes, I did record my own game, on paper even. Very low tech :) I have found that it helps me to slow down my game, and I also just like to be able to review later. I am not at the point yet where I can remember my games.

Recording on paper can be confusing, but it gets easier and easier when you do it more often. I usually record my games at club too, so that I can review them at my leisure.


Gilgamesh said...

Grats :) Good result ^^ Is the book neat?

btw, nice touch to add the SGFs :) Looked through one game so far

cjb said...

> Yesterday, I played in the Western Massachusetts Go Tournament.

Gosh, me too, hello. I've been following your blog for a while, but hadn't twigged that you're in MA.

Congrats on your games! I only managed 1/3, losing my second game by a point after having no komi as white against a 2k. (I registered as 3k.) The loss hurt, but that's always a good motivator.

I was the guy with the British-sounding accent, by the way. At least, I hope it's still British-sounding; I've only been in the States for a month.

- Chris.