Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oza Round Four: Calmness

Sunday morning, I woke up at the tail end of a dream. In my dream, we just had played a game, were counting, and I won the game by a few points. Good start of the day, before it even had started ^^

I talked to a friend about calmness and meditating, and we both agreed we should meditate just now, just for a few minutes before the game madness started. It wasn't much, but even the few minutes helped me to find and keep my calmness during my first game.

This time, I got black again. I had been studying Chinese opening.

Geez, I sure hoped this was not going to be one of those boring moyo versus moyo games! I decided that I would do it the easy way, invade at A and then simply reduce his moyo enough to win the game. Sounds like a piece of cake, doesn't it?

We played a few more moves.

I paused. This smelled a lot like a moyo pivot. The shape seemed to be for black to play at A, but I did not want to give white a good move at B in reply.

After thinking for a while I decided to play this way.

In my universe, this prevented white from having a good move to build his moyo. In reality, playing at A would have been correct. White's move at B would be answered by playing in upper right corner at Q14.

This game black position has an invasion at H17, and looking back, my move feels clumsy.

Luckily, my opponent cut me at A, which gave me a nice, juicy group to chase. I was not unhappy.

Time to make mistake in direction of play. I played M18, figured I would strenghten my top group. But that group is fine for now, and I'd better pressure from the other direction at P13. This is what the board would look like with correct direction of play.

My result wasn't bad, but I still wish I would have played P13. It seems like such an obvious move now.

We played, and we played, and we played. He got a nice moyo, so I did a lot of counting to make sure I stayed ahead. I stopped recording here.

I won the game by 11.5 points. I fully believe that the few minutes of meditation before this game helped me maintain my calmness and focus. I am sure there is a lesson to be learned from that. I hope I am finally ready to learn it.

Sendol review of this game.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oza Round Three: Death and Destruction

Board 42, on which I played three out of my six tournament games. I am sure there is some cosmic significance in that, even if I haven't found it yet.

Game three was my worst game of the tournament. I don't know what I was doing, but it wasn't very good. Minue reviewed the game and talked a lot about what is thickness and what is not thickness. Which, frankly stated, was more interesting than my game.

The game was too many mistakes, resulting in many dead groups all over the board. The end count was almost like a 25 kyu game, half the board was black, half the board was white. Luckily , my white half of the board was about 30 points bigger. It felt more like a swindle than like an earned win though, I killed a group that should have lived easily.

About thickness. How to know whether a group is thick or not? Basically, it needs to have at least two of
  • many eyes
  • strong connection
  • plus, many liberties
If a group has two, or all of these properties, you can think of it as a thick group.

Next requirement, it needs to be outwards facing with room for development. If it is inwards facing, it is just solid, not thick. Also, thickness implies efficiency. A local position can be thickness on one board, but overconcentrated on another board, when there is another group too close by. Minue's review has many examples.

It had been a long day, so we didn't want to spend too much time getting dinner. The best solution seemed to be to go to Ruby Tuesday. Sounded like fast and reasonable food. Turns out I was wrong on both counts, it took us ages, and my veggie burger was more awful than I have ever tasted. On the other hand, we had fun eating together, and the salad bar was good. Not to mention the fact that the Vermont Go Club managed to find a geocache while waiting for our seating.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oza Round Two: The Joys of Hastiness

Game two was another enjoyable game, the opening went well and I felt good. I was white. Review by sendol.

Opening highlights:

White has made her first mistake already, by not replying to black move five. Luckily, black is a generous player and decides to make a mistake too.

If you know the UL joseki, you will know that black now needs to atari at B17. He can end in sente so he can attack the white upper right corner. But this black atari'ed the other way. I ended up with nice profit.

Next local fight happened in upper right.

White played A after black approached, which, in hindsight, was way too hasty, and not necessary. She should just have replied at B and things would be fine.

Now black can jump out and things are pretty easy for him. Instead, black surprisingly attached to my A stone, leading to good result for white.

White got nice big profit again. I felt pretty good by now, and played A. After sendol's review, I decided that I'd rather have played B, a nice and thick move.

The game goes on for a while, I feel good and powerful and almost perfect, make mistakes, but so does he. The details aren't too important (check sgf if you want to see). But the story is funny.

I decided that this was important moment in middle game. I had some ideas, but not sure which was best. I had a move I was dying to play, but was not sure whether this was the best timing. I mostly wanted it because it was cute. Since I tried to prevent myself from playing hasty moves (not successfully so far this game) I got up, and wandered off. I walked around for a bit. Got myself some water. Thought about the move, thought about better alternatives, thought about finding my calmness (not that I did, but at least I THOUGHT about it), and walked back to the board.

I sat down, read for a bit more, and then played the worst and hastiest move ever. Things fell apart pretty fast, I was annoyed at myself and went on to lose the game. I still had chances but didn't find them.

Oh well ^^

At least I proved to myself that hastiness is never good. Since I didn't know that yet :p

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oza Round One: Liberties Matter

First game, board 42, I took black. I thought I was doing pretty well till I got greedy and tried to kill. Sendol looked at the game, and made me realize I know nothing about go. Big surprise, eh?

In this game, I got greedy and tried to kill. Which frankly lead to a mess. I had focused on this hidden liberty. The liberty that wasn't there in my reading, or my reality, but suddenly popped up when I tried to take the ten stones, and he politely pointed out 'They still have a liberty'.


The liberty which was hidden between the bushes. The liberty who decided he did not want to be seen. And he wasn't. At least, not by me. It was one well-hidden liberty.

During review, I found out that that liberty issue wasn't a big deal at all, but many other things were. Of course, that didn't fix my 'I am guilty and I suck' feelings, but I decided I could work on those later. I still believe that every liberty in that group should have been accounted for. "It is midnight. Do you know where your liberties are?"

Some highlights:

Here I played A directly, but I should have played the two upper sansans first. I still have a hard time knowing when to play sansan and when to leave it so one can choose another joseki if needed.

For a long time, I always played it. When I realized I didn't always have to play it, I often ignored it. Followed by a period when I decided that it was too big to omit. Of course, that couldn't last, and someone convinced me that it is better to keep choices open. Which I have been doing. But shouldn't have done on this board. This position looks so much better with the sansan exchanges.

I think it is time to figure out when I want to play it and when I want to omit. Can't be too hard to learn, can it?

Here my opponent plays a greedy move (glad I never play greedy like that! Cough, cough... )

I failed to punish correctly. Where I knew I was doing a splendid job, sendol corrected me on that. I got remarks like
'sendol [-]: b too passive'. (me and my passive playing style...)
Leading to

Now if White plays at A, White will be clearly leading. Luckily, my opponent missed this opportunity and gave me some more chances.

I am too tired to show them all, but this link will get you the sendol reviewed game.

For fun, this is when I stopped recording because I was in byo yomi.

He killed my A group, I retaliated by killing his B group. It was a big mess, I was running out of time, and making way too many mistakes. I resigned.

I would like to tell about my other games, and tell many more stories, but my life is interfering. I started putting up a few oza pictures here, but I still have many to upload.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back Home From Oza

One word I can say about Oza: 'Wow!'

I had a wonderful time. I wish I could start telling you all the stories right now, but I would like to look at my games, download pictures and maybe even get some sleep. I do have a life to attend to, now that I am home again.

The short story: I went 2-4 at 1k. All six games are full of learning opportunities, I can't wait to sit down and look at them seriously. I spent some time with my first game, and had an informal opening review with GeorgeW about my second game, but that's it for now.

HKA did a wonderful job organizing this tourney in Baltimore. I think we can safely volunteer him again. I met many old and new friends: goddess, Meepy, Flameblade, ellimist, SergioP, Stormer, and gottago. I am too tired to think of everyone.

I have been composing titles for all my games to tell about them over the next few days. Apart from go, there was The Best Thai Food Ever, The Unexpected Pillow Menu, The Geocaches Which Didn't Want to be Found, The Waiter's Meltdown, The Frozen Swimming Pool, The Worst Veggieburger Ever, and The Pilot Wandering Into My Friends Room. Oh, and let's not forget the Crabcakes Recommended by All and they were right.

I will study day and night to become stronger for next oza. I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Getting My Losses Out of The Way

I was going to write a long post about yesterday's Boston tournament, but things have been more crazy than usual here, so will do the Cliff notes version instead.

I played at shodan and went 1-3. I had a great time meeting friends, and playing. I lost more than I liked, but I feel good about the tournament anyway, got my losses out of the way just in time for the Oza.

First game, I played against a shodan, and he cut at A, immediately after this joseki. I thought that was too early, but somehow I didn't punish correctly, will have to figure out what I should have done. At the end of the game, I got in time trouble. Made so many bad moves in byo yomi madness. I resigned.

Second game, against nidan, I suffered from greed and hastiness. Will have to work on that. I also got reminded that I know nothing about go. I don't think I can do much about that. Was fun to play mini Chinese again though, I hadn't played that in ages.

Third game, 2H against 2k, I panicked about giving stones and my game was not good at all.

Fourth game, 9H against 12k, I managed to kill too much, which was good, because he played very well for his level. I won that one. My only win, and not a very pretty one at that. I always feel like giving 9H is a lot of overplay and bullying, although I am getting better at playing reasonable moves, even in high handi games.

The AGA messed up my membership renewal. I paid early December both for Oza and renewal on same day, and seems like they made mistake because of the similarities between the payments. My membership info still hasn't been updated, notwithstanding two emails in their direction. Guess I'll have to gently prod them again, I would like to get it fixed before the oza. Which is one hundred and three hours away. Not that I am counting of course.

Came home, got sucked into real life by doing an unexpected grocery trip in preparation for today's snow storm and birthday party (one of my kids). Then it was time for sendol lesson, and eventually I even got some sleep ! Such a waste of time. I could study more if I didn't have to do the whole sleeping thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Boston Tournament

Tomorrow (technically today I guess), I will be attending the MGA Go Tournament. In a way it seems to pale in comparison to the Oza, on the other hand, it is a great preparation for the Oza.

Going to see it as simple training, instead as something to stress out about.

Today, I played an AGA 2d at go club and the game went quite well. Was a nice boost for my self confidence about tomorrow.

Maybe I should get some sleep though.

One hundred and fifty two hours till the Oza! Not that I am counting of course.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happiness in Little Things

Over the last few months, I have been very unorganized, and somehow my clutter overtook my goban spot. I took away the goban for a few days, and clutter had magically exploded all over the house. Very weird, that had never happened before.

Given my level of unorganization, somehow it never made it back to its rightful position.

Enter today.

I spent some time putting clutter in different spots (getting rid of it would be too much to ask, right) and lo and behold! A goban! To study! Just in time for large avalanche bliss ^^

Nine days to the Oza! Not that I am counting, of course.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Joseki Study

Minue reminded me of something I should know, but not always live by. 'When you study a joseki sequence with baduk books, don't follow its sequence just mindlessly by rote memory. Instead, try to get which miai each move in sequence aims to play. One way to define "a good move in baduk" is "every move which has a effective miai to play , so that no matter how opponent plays, one can take the other good move"'

Such a simple concept, and yet so beautiful. When I see a pro game, it is usually very clear how they keep miai in mind. When I review my own games, I often get too caught up in local crap, and forget to look at the bigger picture of finding good moves, seeing miai followup. Something to work on.

Let's look at a simple joseki to illustrate the concept.

White sees miai of A and B. If black plays the standard move at A, white extends around B.

But if black plays around B to try to attack the three stones, not taking care of his corner, this punishing sequence will follow automatically:

Black's corner gets hurt by playing the non-joseki move at K3. It makes perfect sense.

Today I will be studying joseki, keeping miai in mind. Go is so simple ^^
Only fourteen days till the Oza!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Playing Guests

Lately, I haven't been playing much, which means that my kgs rank usually isn't very solid. When I put up a game, I often get challenged by guests.

I have been enjoying playing them. I think what I like best is the unpredictability of it. It's like opening a surprise present. Will it be someone who has never played before? Will it be a reasonable strong player? Will it be a dan player intent on killing everything in sight?

Often, I end up getting really good games from guests, even if there is the occasional 20k rude escaper. What is really fun is if you get to play the same guest again a few days later, at least you have some idea of level. And can try to win this time around. If I have an escaping guest, I just consider it a win, and find another game.

One good thing about guests is that it's good reminder to play the board, not the opponent. Never bad to be conscious of that. I find that I play my opponent too often still.

Only fifteen days till the Oza!