A Go Player

One man's fascination with the world's best game

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Starting to get it

Okay. I think I really am finally integrating whatever it was that was holding me back...

Last night I played two games. In the first, I played a 23k player, and I finally made my first - um - "invasion bubble" - at least that's what I'm calling it. I was able to jump in and by hopping all around the edges of his territory and pushing, I was able to knock out about 50 points of territory. However, I then made a completely stupid mistake, let a group of mine be captured, and subsequently lost the game. S'okay.

The second game, I focused more, and played a 22k player. I was able to make two strategic captures early on, and then he resigned. I am starting to feel a little more confident.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Go Equipment Arrives


After a week of interminable waiting, the equipment I ordered is finally here. It's beautiful. The stones are nice and thick, the board is mellow and clean, and the bowls are a great dark red. I had to immediately open it all up and play a game against myself (having no one in the area to play with, you see).

One thing about the shin-kaya board. The color is great and so is the feel, but it doesn't "click" like some of the other boards I have tried. Instead there is sort of a muted "thwack". Which I think - in time - I will come to like just as much.

Problem is, I've been reading Hikaru No Go with my daughter, and I'm now WAY too used to the loud comic-style klikking and klakking that goes on inside. ^_^

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Feeling it


Last night I played a couple games, and I think whatever I needed to process is starting to become understood. I was actually able to win one game, and then beat GnuGo as well. A few more games, some more subconscious processing, and I might be able to actually start improving again ;-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Worse and worse

It's so strange.

I can't read anything anymore. It's all so foreign. I flounder and founder when I attempt to play. What happened? I just can't seem to even get back to where I was before. I feel like I'm 28kyu all over again. It's so frustrating.

I played a 19kyu player last night with a 3-stone handicap and lost by a huge margin. I just don't see how to move anymore. My strongest thing was my fuseki, and I can't even figure out how to do that anymore. Ah well... I'll keep playing and maybe it will come to me. That's what I keep saying anyway.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Go Equipment

Okay, here's what I ordered:

I wanted big stones, so I got the 10mm Glass Stones. I thought about getting the 8mm ones, but after trying both a couple times, I really like the heft and feel of the thick 10mm stones.

I had a really hard time deciding on the board to get. The Agathis table board has a beautiful red color to it on the sides, but it has a finish on the board itself, one that makes it light enough to play on. Since traditional Go boards are - to the Western eye - unfinished, consisting of just a light wax, I decided to go with the more expensive, but unfinished 2-inch Japanese Shin-kaya Table Board. The bowls I wanted would match very well with the Agathis board, due to their rich red color, but I also felt they would go well with the Shin-Kaya board. In addition, I really like the Go Seigen style bowls over the Kitani style bowls, so I ended up choosing the Dark Red Ash Bowls over the Shin-Kaya bowls.

I looked through most of the stores online:

I decided on samarkand for a couple reasons. The stone price was inexpensive, the boards were reasonable, and the conversational style of the site was SO very similar to some catalog I used to read in the past that it really sucked me in. Yes, I know that's a wierd reason, but as the Cluetrain pointed out, a transaction is a conversation with your customers, and Janice Kim's site really puts themselves out there. I liked it. Liked it enough to order from the.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

No Go

No go last night. I did study a little. But instead I was working. See, I'm consoling myself with the plan that what will happen is that I will not play for a few days, and then my subconscious will assimilate all the learning I've been doing, and I'll start playing again in a few days, and I will be so much stronger! Yea! That's it!


Okay, maybe it's wishful thinking. But I gotta do something since I don't have the time to play...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Night Off

I didn't play Go last night. Wow. I feel so relieved ;-)

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Wall Pt. 2


I have definitely run into a wall. My rating graph on KGS has flatlined. I'm reading the book Tesuji by Davies, and it's the strangest thing. When I looked at it a couple weeks ago, the moves seemed so simple and clear, and by putting a few principles from the simpler tesuji into play, I went up at least 2kyu in strength. (Not that that really means anything at my level of play, but...)

Yet now, when I look at the problems, I can't seem to figure them out. I can't seem to win a single game online. I'm wondering if this is the effect I have heard much stronger players talking about: you read something, and then you lose 2 stones in strength until you actually understand it. In any case, it's damn frustrating.

So, I'll keep practicing, and keep reading. Let's see what happens.

Saturday I played a 7-stone game against one of the good players at the club. Although he beat me handily, I was very pleased with my play in one portion of the board: I successfully kept him out of my center enclosure.

Afterwards, it was mentioned that I need to work harder on separating white stones and using the influence of the handicap stones. So I went online and played a game. I gave up all four corners, and then lost the center too. I think I went a wee bit too far toward the corner-giving up idea.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Learning From The Stones

There is a very interesting article on understanding Chinese strategic concepts available from the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College. It attempts to demonstrate the underpinnings of shi by an explanation of a game of Go. Good stuff.

Hitting the wall

I seem to hit the wall a lot.

I'll be playing at what I think is a great level (for me) and then I'll start to make a couple poor moves, and suddenly I can't do a thing and the game is lost and I am staring at the wreckage of a once beautiful framework.

I play lightly when I should press, and I play defensively when I should be aggressive. I am easily threatened, and yet at the same time much too bold.

I read a quote that said that playing Go well is the art of playing a decent move over and over and over again without messing up. Not inspired fits of brilliance, but the ability to just not screw up. I can see the logic of that.

I did play a great teaching game last night and learned a lot.

I also think I need to stop playing the Hoshi points. Against someone my level, I can usually make a large center enclosure, but I play that same style in high handicap games, and in those I just can't afford to give up the center.

Anyway, I'm approaching 22 kyu. The hardest thing is to find rated opponents who are willing to play. At my level, most of my opponents still tend to be ? players.

But I still like the game :)

And I taught someone how to play last night. That's me - go evangelist.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Not much of a meeting

So there were only three people today. Apparently the president is at the US Go Congress. I missed that tidbit of information lats week as I was out of town picking up my daughter. I don't know why no one else was there, but as I said, there were but three.

I played K. who is quite good. It was a 9-stone handicap game, and I did reasonably well. I made some good plays, and then of course, followed them up with some bad ones when it got too complicated for me to read.

The third person was a visiting 3d, J. He gave K. an educational 5-stone game, which he handled with deft ease. The really cool thing was that at the end of the game, he went through a review, replaying the game from memory. K. could remember about 20 moves. I could only remember about 10. Then, he demonstrated the difference between dan level players and even low-kyu players like K. by showing how a very loose framework that developed at about the 24th move could have been developed into a huge black moyo by hitting the vital points one after another. It was amazing.

And then, on the last example, he showed the response that someone of my level would have played, then he showed K. the response that a low kyu would have played, then he showed us how he would have handled it. I couldn't even understand why he played where he did. But K. did. So I have hope that some day I will be at that level too.

Anyway, though it wasn't much of a meeting, I learned a lot.

Oh, and apparently there's several go blogs out there. I've been reading Doug's Go Blog recently.

The Monkey Jump

Last night, while playing a game in which the battle was very close, I played the monkey jump for the first time. Now, not only was it a deep intrusion into my opponent's territory, on the next play I was able to force a connection with an isolated group of three stones. And what did that do? It forced a capturing race with about 5 free liberties on both sides that would result in my capturing enough stones to change the course of the game.

So what happened? Well, what seems to happen at times on the internet servers with new players who are not yet ranked: my opponent simpley ran away, cravenly seeking to deny me my rightful victory. It's only a small thing, really. It's funny, while the internet brings communities of game players together in a way that they cannot accomplish in the real world, the virtuality of it allows people to game the system in just such a manner (among others).

The beautiful thing was (a) seeing that the monkey jump was possible, and (b) forcing a game-changing capture. Man, that was sweet. I really, really like this game.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I beat GnuGo!

Yes, it's true. Last night, after playing a couple games online, I logged off and started up GnuGo and played a game. I actually won! Amazing! But I don't feel any stronger. And my rank at KGS went back up to a 24kyu. So what does it all mean? Relax and stop worrying, I guess.

Oh, and I beat a 12kyu? - with a nine-stone handicap, though. However, that's still not bad.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I made 23kyu!

In a lengthy battle last night, I defeated a 22kyu by 0.5 points to finally break into the rarified atmosphere of the 23kyu players. And of course, I promptly followed this by losing a 4-stone handicap game to a 19kyu player by OVER 20 POINTS! Good god!

That's what happens when it gets real late, and you stop thinking. Note to self: stop playing rated games when you are tired. Goofball!

I also had a great lesson from a 7kyu player. At times we had up to seven people in the game room watching and learning along with me. The main lesson I brought back from that one was the use of sente in the endgame. Of course, sente is important throughout the game, but it's harder for me to see where it is in the opening or even the middle game. But in the endgame, how much better it is to be able to make four territory-expanding moves as opposed to only one...

I'm also reading a tesuji book. What's really amazing is that I tried to read it a few weeks ago, and thought it would be easy going. But now, as I lower myself into the game, what seemed simple become deep and mysterious, like murky river water. The half-hidden currents that push and pull on the stones are becoming clearer, but with that, the motivations for any play become more complex.

I love this game. So far, it's like peeling a never-ending onion.