Saturday, April 29, 2006


With my new study method, I have rediscovered my PDA as a way to store reviews and problem collections to take with me on the road. I have a very old PDA, which was out-of-date already when I bought it last year. I did not want to spend much money on it.

I have used it for geocaching, and some for go, but I have to admit that the heavy users were my kids, who like playing the games on it. Until I started more goban studying this week, that is.

Yesterday, we had a homeschool meeting at a playground, so the kids were all playing, while the parents were socializing in the sun (Yay for homeschooling!). I had gotten my PDA from the car and was working through some tesuji problems. One of my friends was watching me and looking more and more puzzled.

Finally she asked 'What are you doing on that PDA?'
'Go problems'
'You are NOT playing GO on it, are you?????'
'Yup ^^'.
'I thought that was one heck of a long calendar you must be updating'...

Ha! Whoever would want to use a PDA for calendar and memo functions? Way more perfect to take sgf files to wherever I want to study go. Silly people.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Study Method

This week, I have been trying out a new way of studying, recommended by my teacher minue. I have been playing all my lessons / reviews on a real goban instead of just on the computer. I had been doing some replaying pro games on goban and a tiny bit of studying, but not that much. My usual studying is either from books, or at the computer. Click, click, click, click. He told me how important it was to replay all those lesson sequences with my own hand.

I got out my beautiful new goban, and have been using it all week long, almost all day (well, in between life). It is interesting. Going through a lesson or review takes me a lot longer, but it feels like the learning is deeper. Maybe because all senses are involved? I don't know what it is, but I feel that I am retaining more.

Not to mention that it is an enjoyable activity to sit outdoors, at my picnic table, and play go. The feel of the stones, the sun in the sky, the daffodills blooming, the chickadees singing, the kids screaming... I am sold.

It does take a lot more time to study this way, but I believe it's worth it. I have been staring at my tournament games so many times now, that my mistakes have been etched into my permanent memory, as never to be made again.

I talked to a dan player at club about this, and he said that he always reviews all his games on a real goban, even his on line games. Interesting. I think it does beat the 'click click click' of computer reviews for sure.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You Know You Play Too Much Go...

... if your toddler's first colour words are 'black' and 'white'.

Well, at least she sorts the stones into the right bowls now. Who cares about any other colours anyway?

Did I ever mention that one of her first words was 'go book'? ^^

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Western Massachusetts Spring Tournament

On Sunday, I made the drive down to Massachussets to play in their spring tournament. Last time I had a snow storm while driving down, this time it was just a gloomy and rainy day. Perfect for being nice and snugly indoors and playing go.

It was a pretty small tourney, about 16 people maybe? I decided to enter as 3k AGA again, I felt that I should be able to do that pretty easily. I ended up playing 2-2, so looks like 3k is fine for now. My first game, I gave 4.5 reverse komi to a 5k. The game went pretty well, apart from two BIG mistakes (all the other mistakes were not as big ^^) The first one was the upper right corner.

After playing out that corner, I decided to tenuki to the upper left (C15). Bad decision. My teacher Minue made that very clear to me in his review. "C15 is big, but just territorial move. A is surronding black "stones", putting pressure on it." Yes, he is totally right, and the lack of this move is one of my big regrets for this tournament. Not to mention how horrible things get for White, when Black cuts at C and then later plays at B. W gets very much sealed in, painfully so. I guess this was a good learning opportunity to remind myself about the urgency of move A. I mean, hane at the head of two, how hard can it be to see the urgency of that? I was kind of worried about the cut at C, but I could have actually read that out after the hane and seen that I was fine.

My second big mistake was a hasty invasion of the right, resulting in a group which was a pain to take care of. I still managed to win the game, even when the clock started yelling at me. I discovered that I still HATE talking clocks. And the byo yomi was 4 times 15s, which is not very generous. For the longest time I had 15s SD left, and I just closed my eyes and threw stones at the board, losing like 10 or 15 points in yose that way. Won by 1.5, phew.

My second game was giving 2H to a 5k, although I suspect that she was somewhat weaker. I won pretty easily by 33.5.

Time for pizza and on to round 3. This was the game I enjoyed most this tournament. I turned one of his groups into a nice dumpling, and had fun attacking another of his groups. Of course, I over-attacked and exploded, losing myself left and right, but at least I had fun before I resigned ^^.

I did make yet another huge mistake this game, the lack of move A in this position, I omitted it for the longest time. W finally had enough of it, and got move B... Painful. This position is still giving me nightmares. Why didn't I just play the darned move??? I have spent quite a lot of time looking at this game yesterday and today and this is the move (or lack thereof) I regret the most. Lots of other mistakes, but this one just seems worst.

My last game had a 30k moment early in the game. Still can't believe I did that, it has to do with misreading a ladder. It's a mistake I should not have been making. Oh well.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Joy of Ladders

A few nights ago, I played my weekly slaughter game with edison. During fuseki, I played this move(N3), which edison considered a mistake.

I thought that the joseki was at O4, but did not want to play that because of the White K3 stone. N3 seemed a viable alternative. My teacher minue later confirmed that O4 was a bad move on this board.

Edison hummed and hawed for a bit.

NoSide [7k]: hmm... interesting move n3
NoSide [7k]: could it be a bad move i wonder
NannyOgg [-]: well, i think joseki is O4
NannyOgg [-]: but that doesn't seem to fit the board
NannyOgg [-]: so who knows ^^
Drimgere [5k?]: >_>
NannyOgg [-]: i won't pretend to understand what i am doing :)
NoSide [7k]: temptation is very big to mess with that formation of yours
NannyOgg [-]: sure
NannyOgg [-]: don't blame me if it explodes in your face
NoSide [7k]: that's what i'm worried about
NannyOgg [-]: hehehe
NoSide [7k]: toilet break
NannyOgg [-]: LOL, i seem to do that to you at least once a game
Drimgere [5k?]: nanny loosens noside's bowels?
NoSide [7k]: i get scared easily..what can i say :)
NannyOgg [-]: hehehe
NannyOgg [-]: i'll remember that
NannyOgg [-]: and make good use of the knowledge
charkysan [14k?]: you're on a roll
NoSide [7k]: temptation to p3 is really big
NoSide [7k]: should i do it?
slade [6k?]: for some reason r3 is looking good too
NannyOgg [-]: it's your decision
NannyOgg [-]: i'll just do the exploding, you do the deciding ^^

And so it went, he did play P3. I briefly considered to cut with an empty triangle, but decided that there was no reason to do so, since the ladder didn't work for him anyway.

Of course, you can guess the rest of the story. He played a few moves and then realized the ladder didn't work. This threw him off for the rest of the game, and he ended up resigning. 2-2! I am catching up with him. I HAVE to beat him again next time!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Goban!

Finally showing off my new goban. It is just a cheap set from Yellow Mountain Imports, but I am very happy with it. It looks great and it feels great to play on it. I still want to oil the stones, as per chiyodad's example, but it might take me a while to get around to that. For now it works just fine the way they are.

I was doing some go studying on the computer today, when I realized I should be outside when we had such nice spring weather. I took my board and studied some pro games outdoors. Very enjoyable! Later I played some capture go with my seven year old daughter.

I will get to play in a go tournament this weekend, the Western Massachusetts one. Looking forward to it. I will enter as 3k again, that rating worked out well last time. Apart from the talking clocks that is, we'll see how I do with them this time ^^

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Taking a break from studying to do some writing. Any excuse will do when I am annoyed with my slow progress in memorizing the game of the century.

When I reached AGA sdk a while ago, I still didn't feel like an 'official' sdk, because I wasn't sdk on KGS yet. The KGS rankings are so much stronger than the AGA ranks, I considered myself a KGS ddk for the longest time.

Yesterday, I talked to a friend, and he convinced me that the time has come to consider myself a KGS sdk too. I seem to be playing on a 5k to 7k KGS level now, based on my games and on opinions of friends and teachers. SDK-hood is kind of inevitable, even if I still feel unsure about my own abilities part of the time. Argh, I just don't like ranks at all, it always feels like a pain when I have to deal with them.

Next on my road is AGA shodan (which doesn't seem like a big deal anymore now that I have become closer) and then KGS shodan (which seems more of a big deal, but still only a tiny step on my road to getting stronger). It's funny that the stronger I get, the less important rank seems to be getting though. Interesting. I still remember how desperate I was to to from 19k to 18k on KGS. I don't feel the same desperation about rank anymore, although my quest for improvement still is there. It just doesn't seem to be measured as much by rank, it really is about making the stones flow better and playing better moves for the board. It is measured by showing better spirit and by reading deeper and faster.

I guess I'd better go back to memorizing that pro game if I actually want to see any improvement happening.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Because It's There!

A while ago, someone asked me why I want to improve at go. I have been thinking about it, and am still thinking about it.

I love the way the game seems to get deeper every single day, even if I sometimes do think back wistfully to when the game still was simple. Making a move used to be so easy, I would just play the first likely move and it was fine. Now I am slowly beginning to realize that every move affects a lot of stones on the board, and I am starting to see that my opponent might not always follow my plans. Sometimes he even has a plan of his own! The fiend!

I love the way the stones sometimes flow just the right way. Mind you, this doesn't happen very often, usually they seem to be placed very awkwardly. But once in a while, I do have a game which I feel good about, where the stones fall into the right place, almost by themselves. There is a good flow to the game. I want to increase the number of games where that does happen.

I love the intellectual challenge I get from trying to improve my go game. Improving is not trivial at all, I had NO clue at all about how hard this road would be. Yes, I am enjoying every step on this road, but I will not say that this road is easy at all. When I first got back into go, I had no idea how badly this would consume me, how hyperfocused I would get on this game. And even after working hard for quite a while, I still feel very, very weak at go.

I love the sense of history I get when replaying and studying old games, and when reading about go players long ago. This drives me to improve myself as to get closer to their mastery. My go would be awesome if it would be only half as good as the old go masters.

Still, none of those reasons seem to be why I want to improve in go. I do know that the drive is there, very, very strongly. I cannot stand still, I have to play, study, do tsumego, and get stronger, there is no other option. After thinking about my reasons for a long time, I can only explain my quest for strength in George Mallory's words 'Because it's there.'.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Weekly Slaughter 2-1

Argh!! Last night, Edison beat me during our Weekly Slaughter game. I can't even blame him much, it was more me making a lot of bad decisions. He stood by and watched while I suicided my invading group. Good learning experience ^^

I will have to spend some time reviewing the game and figure out all my bad decisions, so that I won't make them again. I didn't like move 8 for me, and it only got worse from there. Oh well, next time I'll do better. It was a fun game anyway, at least till I made that doomed invasion. No idea what I was thinking, but it wasn't a particularly good plan.

The best way to describe this game came from shy: shygost [-]: now white departs wisdom... to panic. Yes, that is what seems to have happened. Very apt description.

Some random game comments:

NoSide [7k]: u know what i don't understand about our games?
NannyOgg [-]: no?
olczyk [14k]: A lot?
NoSide [7k]: our pace is almost as slow as a pro title match.... yet these people actually hangs around to watch :)
NoSide [7k]: amazing isn't it?
Battousai [-]: actually this is slower than the chinese and korean title matches :P

I started studying the game of the century: Honinbo Shusai versus Go Seigen. Go opens at sansan, hoshi, and tengen, very interesting. Yet another famous historical game, I love the sense of history these games are giving me. This is a game which was played in 1933. I relish the thought that we can study and learn from games which were played this long ago. And that go players around the world have been learning from this game for more than 70 years.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

White To Play

We have started a Ruler of the Hill type tournament with our go club, it is a fun way to get some good games in. Not to mention that there is a lot of taunting going on between the two teams, always good for the club spirit, right? Sunday night, Eksu of the other team was king, and I seemed to be the most logical one to challenge him. Soon, we got a battle game Nanny-Eksu going. It started with tengen, and only got worse from there. At some point the position was like this:

W to play. Pretty simple, right? The top group obviously can be killed. Somehow I totally misread and played tenuki... I knew that he could live or connect back now. Shows you how much time I must have spent reading that out, this is not a particularly deep problem. Sigh. I glanced at the top, said 'Too bad!' and played K2... Ended up losing the game by 4.5 points. Oh well ^^

I actually don't mind the top much, that was just a silly misread. I have more regrets about a ko I played later, and my end game. There could have been a lot of improvement in those two. My ko threats were too small and my endgame sucked. The rest of the game I felt mostly good about, it was a fun game to play. When he started with tengen, my fighting spirit demanded me to attach to him and crosscut. So we got the pinwheel fight starting at the center of the board. I love those kinds of games!

Later, my teacher sendol reviewed the game, which opened my eyes to some possibilities I hadn't seen before. So much to learn, so little time.