Friday, December 28, 2007

Single Convex Yunzi Stones Arrived Today

I was so happy to get my single convex yunzi stones from Yellow Mountain Imports today. I placed my order on the 20th so it only took eight days for them to arrive.

The first thing I noticed is that the white bowl is significantly taller than the black bowl, but they seemed to be about equally full. Upon examination it became clear that the black stones are not only smaller in diameter than the white stones, which was expected, but also noticably thinner as well, which I didn't expect, but was certainly fine, and makes sense given the fact that if they were the same thickness they would be out of proportion.

My bowl for the black stones was a bit lopsided, which I found to be quite charming actually. The lids fit amazingly well. I actually had to work a little the first time to open the bowls. I can imagine transporting these bowls strapped into my Ishi travel bag without worrying about the lids coming off.

I have not washed nor treated the stones with oil yet, and I am not sure if I am going to bother to do so. I like the feel of the stones as they are. I really like the thickness, and since I bought the smaller stones they fit well on my Japanese sized board. They are a little more difficult to remove from the board than double convex stones. I find it easier to remove them with a thumb and index finger rather than with the index finger and middle finger that I use to place them initially.

Where these stones really shine is in game review when it comes time to play out a variation. I decided to try them out with a game from Go World. I chose the first game in issue 95 (Summer of 2002). The game was titled "Meinen Magic in the Fujitsu Cup". Even though I have the Go World Digital Archive I happen to have a hard copy of that issue. I found the game in Smart Go and made a copy of it to load in my Go World tab in Smart Go and renamed the record GW095-01. Pak Yeong-hyeon was white and O Meien was black. I read through the commentary for each figure before I added the stones to the board so I would know to stop for commented moves and to play out variations. I clicked through the record on my tablet pc and had my hiba board next to it. As I clicked through the game I placed the yunzi stones on the board. When I came to a variation I put out the stones upside down. It was so easy to remove the variations after I was done playing them. All I had to do was look for the flat stones and pull them off the board, and I didn't have to worry about messing up the main line of play.

These stones are a pleasure to use and a value when you consider that you are getting stones and bowls for one reasonable price. I would recommend them as a first set of stones to anyone.

I'm actually thinking that I might like them better than my slate and shell stones that I paid over $500.00 for. Maybe I will sell them some day so I can buy more go books.

I am considering using these to mirror my online games to slow myself down and to force myself to read looking at real stones instead of the computer screen.

I love my single convex yunzis.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going To The OZA in Baltimore

I was on the fence about this for a few weeks, but I finally decided that I am really going to the OZA in Baltimore this year. This will be my first time at the OZA, so I am really excited. It will also be my first tournament since starting my lessons with Mr. Yang again. I notice that there are a good number of players near my strength (11 kyu) already registered for the OZA, and that can only get better as the event approaches. This was not true when I first considered going. At that time I would have been pretty much alone at the bottom of the field. It was looking pretty lonely in the double digit kyus, but now I have plenty of company. It seems I can look forward to even games after all.

I can also look forward to finally meeting the primary inspiration for my go blog, NannyOgg from KGS, who is the author of the Shodan Challenge blog, a link to which has been in my list of links since the inception of my blog, along with Chiyo Dad's blog link. Nanny has been an inspiration as she has detailed her journey to Shodan.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Go Stones

I broke down this morning and finally bought the single convex yunzi stones that I have been wanting from Yellow Mountain Imports.

I have been wanting these to use in reviewing games, and my frustration yesterday over being afraid to try the variations in the games I was reviewing (for fear of losing my place) made me dust off the Pay Pal account and make the purchase.

I can hardly wait for these stones to arrive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Studying With Go World

The three back issues I had ordered of Go World arrived.

Last night and this morning I replayed the first three games in Go World issue 111, which were the games of the 3rd Toyota & Denso Cup: Cho U vs. Yi Se-tol. I played them on my hiba board with my slate and shell stones in front of the Christmas tree. It was a pleasant experience, but I don't think I got the most out of it. Although I read the commentary, I didn't actually play out the variations, but just looked at the variation figures. I think I need to get some single convex yunzi stones for reading through my Go World collection. After carefully placing the stones of the main line on the board I was afraid to add the variation stones for fear that I would get confused and be unable to get back to the main line. If I had single convex yunzis I wouldn't have to worry about this, and could just pick up the inverted stones of the variation without even having to think about it.

One thing I noticed is that it is taking me less and less time to find the next moves in the main line diagrams. I'm not sure why, but I figure it has to be a good sign. I am also not sure what I got out of replaying the games, but I figure it couldn't have hurt.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yang Lesson Today

I had my biweekly (fortnightly) Yang lesson today. We played and reviewed two games as usual.

At the end of the second game review I was told that I had done well today with territory, but that I had done poorly with life and death. That was an understatement. Today my life and death was terrible. I'm never really sharp with it, but I am usually better than today.

I was advised to do problems. I think I will drag out "1001 Life and Death Problems and work my way through the one move problems again.

I recorded my game reviews with Camtasia Studio again. Each review was roughly 34 minutes in length and took up 20 megs of disk space.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Go World Digital Archive - A Go Retiree's Dream Come True

I recently purchased the entire Go World Digital Archive from Kiseido... 108 glorious issues of articles, commented games, and "news", now history, of the world go scene.

At the same time I ordered the archive I subscribed to Go World to obtain future issues. Shortly after that I ordered the three back issues necessary to fill in my collection from where the digital archive ends at issue 108 and my new subscription begins at issue 112.

I had subscribed to Go World back in 1995, and have issues 72 through 97 in hard copy. I allowed my subscription to lapse at the same time that I stopped taking lessons. This was a bad decision in both cases. What could I possibly have been thinking?

I now have all 108 issues of Go World installed on my Motion M1400VA tablet PC, which happens to be the optimal go study machine. It is over three years old, but still going strong, and since go applications demand so little, I am hoping to get another two years of carting my tablet to workshops and tournaments. It's not everyone who has a three year old piece of hardware that still turns heads. I do.

But I digress... this is about the Go World Archive.

I began my exploration of the archive at issue 1, and had started to enter game records. But a quick read of the html index that came with the archive suggested that I look up the games in SmartGo . I decided to look for a game from issue 96. I first tried searching by name, at which point I discovered that I was not able to copy the name from the archive, but had to type it out instead. This inability to copy might be a security feature designed to prevent partial copying of the file, or it might be that the use of jpg images and OCR make this impossible, but it is inconvenient nonetheless. When I typed one of the names of the players I could not find any corresponding files in the library. I assumed that I had not entered the name the way SmartGo wanted to see it, so I sorted the records by date and found the game easily among the other 12 or so records for that date. Because I wanted to be able to add the variations shown in the commentary without altering the library file, I decided to rename the file and save it in a folder dedicated to holding sgf files from Go World which I have reviewed. I named the file GW096-02 because it is the second game review in the 96th issue. This folder of files should be a handy way to keep track of which games I have reviewed. I also created a new tab in SmartGo to display these records.

There is enough material in this archive to keep me occupied for a very long time.

A couple days ago someone asked me online, "Who is your favorite pro?" If he had asked "Who is your favorite teacher?" I would have said Yilun Yang without hesitation, but I had the feeling he was asking me about a playing style preference. I told him that I didn't have a favorite pro because I have not reviewed enough pro games to know whose style I like. I always felt that reviewing pro games was not very productive at my level because I won't understand most of the moves. But now it feels as if my lack of pro game viewing is a big gap in my appreciation of the game of go, which I intend to change through the use of the Go World Archive.

If I find a favorite pro I'll post about it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Reviewing Lessons - Found Interesting Commentary

I love the way Mr. Yang teaches using even games. He leaves opportunities along the way for the student, or presents him with challenges. You can't assume that he is playing his best. You can't assume that you can trust that if he made a move that it has to be a good one, and that you should not challenge it. You have to evaluate the board just as critically as you would when you play any other opponent to look for the mistakes and weaknesses. Later in the review you find out which moves were not optimal, why they were played, what you missed, and what you could have done better.

Because of this style it is impossible for me to judge how well I am doing because the bar keeps moving. I might think I am doing really poorly when, in fact, I am doing quite well. That was illustrated by the commentary in one of my lessons I took five years ago that I reviewed today...

goddess [-]: gee I seem to be in a lot of trouble now
goddess [-]: I did hane cause I was obviously weaker
goddess [-]: but this result doesn't seem good
goddess [-]: let me try to read it
pala [-]: you did well, and i did badly today
pala [-]: that is why you will feel uncomfortable
goddess [-]: oh
goddess [-]: like when I play my tournament games
goddess [-]: and the opponent doesn't play like the people at the yang workshops
goddess [-]: and it makes me crazy
pala [-]: right
goddess [-]: well I am going to spend some time thinking now
pala [-]: that is why i have to play wildly

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back To 7k on KGS

I have fallen down on my promise to play rated games with greater regularity on KGS. I had planned to play one rated game a day on weekdays for a total of five rated games a week. I wanted to do this primarily to keep that question mark away from my rating. My resolve only lasted for a couple of weeks. I had settled in at 8k after a few weeks of rated games and then I had stopped, probably because I was devoting so much time to reviewing my past lessons.

A couple days ago someone I recognized from Go Discussions who was two stones weaker asked me for a game. I asked if he wanted a free or rated game, and he chose rated. With some measure of fear I proceeded to play the rated game fully expecting to lose. I went into it willing to lose cheerfully, sacrificing myself on the alter of go to encourage someone weaker than myself. Afterall, isn't that what we are supposed to be doing, and what others before have done for us? It is impotant to play white even if you don't feel comfortable doing it.

I was losing, but found a chance for a great double atari late in the game which brought it to a conclusion in my favor, and I was instantly 7k. The first thing that went through my mind was that I would avoid playing rated until Thursday so Mr. Yang could see my 7k even if it was to disappear later.

I have my next lesson tomorrow. I hope that having reviewed so many former lessons will help my game.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reviewing My Former Yang Lessons

I have been reviewing my former Yang lessons to get rid of those pesky triangle marks I referred to in a recent post. But I also wanted to reveiw them to get back in the spirit of things now that I am taking lessons again.

I decided to begin with the first lesson game Mr. Yang and I played on KGS. Since November 13th I have reviewed 61 games spanning a time period of one and a half years. When I got to game 111a I had a good laugh because that game was played right after I had "beaten" at 4 dan on KGS and had become 5d? as a result. It was a joke, and I never used the game to play rated after I achieved the rank, that was never the intent so the administration didn't care since I was not going to corrupt the system. Also KGS was a lot smaller in those days, and I don't think it could be done now because the current rating system would probably not allow that rank to linger as long as it had five years ago when I played my little joke. I think I kept the vanity rating for a couple weeks.

Here is some of the commentary from the next game I played with Yang:

pala [-]: now w has two weak groups
goddess [5d?]: yes
pala [-]: not good, attach to weak stone

One interesting thing about having the rank of 5d? is that I found that I was treated very differently than I had been treated as the 6k that my rating had drifted to previously. Everyone wanted to talk to me and play with me. I had been fairly well known, and thought I was popular, but people I had never met before started coming out of the woodwork to speak to the female 5d. After a few weeks I turned off the rank and went back to life as usual, and was much happier.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SmartGo and EverNote - Perfect Together

The more I use SmartGo the more I am convinced that it is a "kick ass" go study tool. The review of my previous lessons with Yang in SmartGo has promted me to look more closely at how SmartGo handles the markup of sgf files. I find that I am in love with the way SmartGo reads coordinates from the file and places letters on the board to show these moves. (Until I actually understood what was happening I found it really confusing to have letters appearing on the board that I knew I didn't put there.) In the past I used to spend hours tediously adding triangles to mark moves referenced by coordinates so they would be easy to find. SmartGo saves me the trouble. This feature works especially well for me when I use the markup style of showing next moves with capital letters rather than lower case because it avoids the confusing duplication of letters in lower and upper case. Seeing A, a, B, b drove me absolutely nuts. But the best part is that if my way of viewing things isn't your way of viewing things, you get to have it your way. It's like SmartGo is the "Burger King" of sgf editors. I am now in the process of going through my lessons and removing all of those pesky triangles that I don't need anymore.

As much as I love SmartGo, I still cling to CGoban on occasion because of it's fantastic move tree, but the coordinate markup feature of SmartGo has forced me to take a closer look at the SmartGo tree, and I am getting used to it even though it doesn't offer the fully expanded glorious visual map that CGoban offers.

The title of this post mentions a program called EverNote. (Follow the link to buy it cheap.) I have used this program for years to collect recipes, and web clippings, and emails with registration keys for software... all the things you jot down and don't want to lose. In all that time I never actually thought about the value of this program for studying go until recently. The program is basically an endless tape of notes which you can categorize and search. I created a category called "go study journal" and I have been putting in all of the nitty gritty details of my go study... the stuff that absolutely no one is interested in, even though they might think they are... the stuff from which I choose to spare you. I can use a tool in EverNote called the "universal clipper" which not only allows me to do a screen capture ala SnagIt, but actually deposits that screen shot into an new note in the "go study journal" category, where I can then add text to annotate it.

Evernote happens to be running a special promotion until the end of November which will allow you to purchase it for thirty dollars off the regular price. It is too good a deal to miss, and you can use it to organize every other area of your life as well. I have absolutely no connection with EverNote, other than as an enthusiastic user. And I would love to see other go players benefit from its use in go study so I bring it to your attention here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Had My Second Lesson On Thursday

I had my second lesson with Mr. Yang in my new series of lessons which I started two weeks ago. It is actually lesson 134 with Mr. Yang if you count the lessons I took previously from 1998 to 2003. I know this because I named my lesson game records with numbers, and the last two lessons I took in 2003 were named 132a and 132b. Of course that doesn't count the few times we had spent our lessons reviewing games I had played with people at my own rank.

On Thursday we played two games and reviewed them. I did screen capture videos of the lessons as I did two weeks ago, and will probably continue to do this. It takes longer to watch the videos than to click through the sgf files because the time spent thinking of alternate moves in response to Mr. Yang's questions is in the video. But it is a good way to get a feel for the flow of the game before using the sgf files. So I watch the lessons in video format two or three times.

When I took lessons previously I would edit the game records to move comments back in the record so they referred to the next move rather than to the current move. I started to do this in 2003 when I moved my lessons to KGS because it emulated the style of commenting that Mr. Yang used when he commented games off line.

My first 12 lessons were on IGS and I found it difficult to edit the game records to include the variations and the comments so I found myself getting behind in the editing. So at the 1999 go congress I asked Mr. Yang if he would play a game with me for one hour and then spend the other hour of the lesson time commenting the game offline and sending it to me. It was an unusual arrangement, but because I was a weak player I could not remember the comments and variations to insert them into the game record like a strong player would be able to do after the lesson. So I think it was a good way for me to take lessons. We started that arrangement in August of 1999 after the go congress and continued with it until January of 2001 when we started lessons on KGS.

I guess you could say that one of my claims to fame is that I was the first student to bring Mr. Yang to KGS for lessons. Others followed, and the rest is history.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Started Lessons With Yilun Yang, 7p Yesterday

After a four and a half year break I decided to start lessons again with my teacher Yilun Yang, 7p. I always loved the lessons I took with him from January of 1998 through March of 2003 (over five years). The main reason I stopped when I did was because I was not playing enough, nor studying enough, to justify taking the lessons. It was always good entertainment for me and a social event as well, but it couldn't be called studying go if I wasn't doing anything outside of the lessons to enrich my study.

That was then... this is now...

I'm retired and I have the time to play, study, and review my lessons.

Speaking of reviewing my lessons, I have discovered an exciting way to save my lessons for future review. I have a screen capture program called Camtasia Studio. Yesterday I used it to record the screen during the review of my lesson games. I sized the game window at 800 x 600 and captured only the window in which the review was taking place in order to keep file size down. Mr. Yang and I played two games in our two hour lesson. The first review resulted in a 40 minute video file. The second review resulted in a 30 minute video file. I can replay these files as often as I want and relive the review exactly as it occured in real time. I have replayed them each twice already.

Back in 1998 when I first took lessons, in the spirit of sharing, I made my lessons public on KGS in the Wings Go Club Room. They were in the late morning on Saturdays so it was a good time for most people in Europe or the United States who wanted to watch. At the time I thought that it didn't bother me to have people watching me play. I think I was fooling myself, however, to think that I wasn't self conscious, and that it didn't effect me to have all those people watching... as many as ten or more people at a time. It is probably one of the reasons that I stopped taking lessons when I did. So this time my lessons are in the English room at a time that is convenient to me, and they are private. I feel a little selfish about this, but I have to do what it right for me.

I had been thinking of starting lessons again ever since I retired, but it was a recent post to the Go Discussions web forum asking questions about your go teacher that really pushed me over the edge and got me to send the email asking about starting up again.

I am really happy to be doing this, but it is very important to me that I keep focused on what is important, which is enriching my love of the game, not improving my rating. It's not that I would mind improving my rating, but I don't want to lose sight of what is really important.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My First Crane's Nest

We have all seen the Crane's Nest in our studies of life and death. And since everyone else has seen it as well, our opponents may see it coming, and it is rare for it to come up in actual play. I played a Wings Go Club League Game last night which gave me my first opportunity to play the Crane's nest. I hope to eventually learn how to post a game record here, but for now I will just put up a couple of screen captures of this interesting game. Anyone who wants to see the setup of the position can look at my info as buzzsaw on KGS and bring up the buzzsaw-Kireta game of 2007-10-16. I was white.

Here is the Crane's Nest:

This capture was satisfying, but didn't give me nearly enough of an advatage to win the game. It happened fairly early in the game, and my opponent clearly outplayed me throughout the opening. and was leading by about nine points when I made a fatal cut that resulted in the capture of nine stones. My opponent went on to atari the cutting stone so as to make life along the bottom. The 18 point swing was enough for me to win the game with a final score of +12.5 for white.

Earlier in the game I had attempted a throw in at t7 which made the cut of r4 a failure because the black stones along the right still had two liberties and black could atari from s4 since there was no shortage of liberties for black on the left. Naturally I tenukied at that time. It was only after the final liberty of the black stones along the bottom was taken that the cut worked since either atari would result in a loss for black, albeit the atari from r3 made the most sense.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

8k Again

I did what I promised and sought a rated game on KGS after my last post.

I played a 10k and at the end of the game I was 8k again.

I had a really good time reviewing the game with a 5k who happened to watch the tail end of it. We went over the corner I had killed to try a few variations.

Life is good again.

Hoboken Tournament Results

I attended the Hoboken tournament on Sunday. I enjoyed the time I spent with friends, especially a fairly new go acquaintance from the Montgomerville club who I got to know well during our hour and a half ride to and from the tournament.

However, this event turned out to be the worst tournament experience I have had since my very first tournament in 1997 when I (through ignorance) entered three stones stronger than I should have at the U.S. Go Congress in 1997 in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I went on to lose the first five tournament games of my career sending my self esteem plummeting lower each day. The low point of that week was when I spent several minutes sobbing in the ladies' room after resigning to an eight year old 26 kyu who claimed not to know better than to use her IGS rating as an entry rank. (This was back in 1997 when IGS ranks were really really tough). There is only one game per day in the main event of the congress so I had plenty of time to ponder my first dismal experiences with tournament play back in 1997. It's a wonder I bounced back, but I did.

One thing these two events had in common was the number of children I played, about 75% of my opponents were very young children. In both cases I also had a tendency to allow the first game of the tournament to set a bad tone for the rest of the event and it was a downward spiral from there on.

It's not that I mind playing children, because I really don't. I also don't mind losing. What I dislike are ugly games filled with really stupid moves, and that is what I seemed to end up playing over and over again on Sunday. The lowest moment was the point at which I forgot what color I was during a ko fight in my second game and made a "threat" against my own corner. It was a mistake from which I knew I wasn't going to recover, not so much because it would lose the game for me, because there was plenty of time to recover from it. I just wasn't in the frame of mind to recover, so I promptly resigned after that move. It was about ten minutes into the game and I had hours to ponder my stupidity before my next match. I even reprised my crying jag in the ladies' room from ten years ago after my ko debacle. This clued me in to the fact that I had reached an unusually low mental state. I had been proud of the fact that I hadn't sobbed in the ladies' room in many years. It just felt like deva vu all over again.

Having just experienced a two week streak of losses online which resulted in a ratings drop from 6k to 9k, due to the lack of a calm mind, I should have foreseen poor results and taken them in stride. But I allowed it to eat away at me, which only made matters worse. At home you can walk away from the computer. But at a tournament, aside from wasting time with a bye, you are pretty much stuck, especially if you are depending on a ride.

The highlight of the day was between the 3rd and 4th rounds when a 3k friend and I played a rengo game against my traveling companion who was also 3k. So basically, I was a handicap to my partner, since I am 11k (and playing much worse to boot). The purpose of the rengo game was to see if my partner could play simply enough so I could follow. He had said that his style is on the wild side. He tempered his moves for my benefit, and we actually did quite well. He was able to set up a net that I saw, and that brought the game to an end. My traveling companion played his side of the game without a partner.

My results for the day were 1-3. And I am not particularly proud of the fact that my win was against my smallest opponent of the day, who happened to have lost all his previous games. Not only was I a failure, but a bully as well. Well, not really, I just tried to play my best, and I happened to win one game. As for my rating... I was close enough to 10k at the start of the tournament that my three losses are unlikely to result in a drop to 12k, and even if they did, that just means easier games at the next tournament so I'm not concerned with the statistical results, just getting back on track with my game mentally.

Now I am off to seek a rated game online. I can only drop so far before I meet up against opponents I have a chance against.

Blogging is good therapy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Down Down Down

Well I guess it can only go so far, but the meteoric rise has turned into a meteoric fall. I played my rated game today. I gave three stones to a 9k and after that loss I dropped another game to hit 7k, which I hope is as low as it goes.

I look forward to the time when I don't change rank with every game I play, win or loss. That should happen soon as I add to the data the server has to work with.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Got Rid of My "?" on KGS

After briefly climbing to 4k? on KGS, I finally solidified my rank on the server and settled in at 6k with no question mark.

I should be able to keep the question mark from coming back if I continue with my program of playing five rated games per week.

Today I put up my offer in Wings, then Go Discussion, and finally the English Room before finally getting a taker. It took over a half an hour before I finally got a game. I played a 6k today, and lost, to stabilize my rank at 6k.

Went To Princeton Go Club This Weekend

Yesterday I went to the Prineton Go Club.

I had an even 19 x 19 game, which I won by a half a point with a player who was uncertain of his rank. We then played a 13 x 13 in which I did considerably better. But I still think that he and I are fairly evenly matched. You can't tell much from two games.

I observed a first time player having a 13 x 13 teaching game and offered some coaching with the permission of both players.

Last I observed a very interesting game which had an exciting capturing race which resulted in a resignation. This game was being observed by an 8 dan who had been one of the four who had split the first place prize at last week's Philadelphia Fall Open. To be observing the same game I found exciting in and of itself. I knew that we couldn't be seeing the game in the same way. But we couldn't kibbitz because it was live, so I will never know for sure what was going through his head.

By the time that game was over it was me and a handful of undergraduates who were ready to head off to dinner, so the fun was over at about 5:45 and I headed home thinking that this will be a really good way to spend Sunday afternoon whenever possible.

I hope to return again next week after a week of rated games on KGS.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Playing More Rated Games On KGS

Yesterday I instituted a plan to play more rated games on KGS.

My plan is to play a rated game at generous time limits every weekday at approximately 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time. I am posting my games requesting a rated game with up to four handicap stones in either direction.

Yesteday I played a rated game which took me from 7k? to 6k?.

Today I played a rated game which took me from 6k? to 5k?.

We shall see what Monday will bring. The goal is not so much to increase my rating as it is to discipline myself to play rated again.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Philadelphia Fall Open Tournament

Last weekend I played in the Philadelphia Fall Tournament in the handicap division. The playing field was a little sparse down at my level, 11 kyu. It was my first go event in Philadelphia since moving to Ewing, New Jersey. I was able to take a train directly from West Trenton to University City, which was about a three block walk to the playing area at the University of Pennsylvania.

Saturday I chose to play the first two games and bye out of the 3rd game so I could take the train home before dark. I didn't want to be traveling in the dark since it was my first time going into Philadelphia by train. My first game was with a 12 kyu who drew white. My opponent says that I won that game with my end game skills. My second game was with a 15 kyu. The tournament directors didn't seem to want to give handicap even in the handicap division, and I ended up as white in an even game and even got 7.5 komi on top of that. I would much rather have given four stones to my opponent since playing someone so underhandicapped put a lot of pressure on me to win to defend my rating. If I had lost a four stone game to the same opponent it would not have mattered much. And the win won't do anything for my rating since I would be expected to win under those conditions. I left before the 3rd round started and got home at about 5:30.

Sunday I went in by train again. My first game on Sunday was with 6 kyu and I got four handicap stones. I was surprised since this seemed to run counter to what had been happening the day before with handicap. This was the only game I lost at the tournament and was also the most exciting. My opponent was in byo yomi when I had at least 20 or 30 minutes left on my clock. But he eventually ran me into byo yomi as well, which was quite an experience for me since I think it was the first time in my ten year tournament career that I had been in byo yomi. I usually have a fair amount of time left on my clock by the end of the game. But I think I am actually trying to read more these days, and I am building up the stamina to do it, so it would make sense that I would be using my time. My second game of the day was with another 6 kyu, and once again I got four handicap stones. I managed to get a resignation when I was over 50 points ahead according to the score estimator when I loaded the game into cgoban later.

I recorded all four of my games on my tablet pc, and I will have them reviewed by strong players to see how I did. I already has Solaris review the game I lost. He did that during our group lesson yesterday on KGS.

My next tournament will be in Hoboken, New Jersey on October 14th.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rating Going the Wrong Direction

Before the congress I was -11.7

Now I am -11.75

I am amazingly okay with this result, just surprised. It somehow seems ironic given that I had taken the third place prize in my band. Yes, I only went 3-3 at the congress, and if I hadn't been sitting down already I would have fallen over when they called my name at the awards ceremony. 3-3 didn't seem worthy of anything, but I took it, and I am very happy with my beautiful marble plaque.

As far as the rating goes... I guess I lost to people I should have won against, but like I said... I'm okay with this.

I have a two day tournament coming up soon in Philadelphia. I'll see what happens there. And there is a tournament in Hoboken coming up in October that I hope to attend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

U.S. Go Congress

I had a great time at the U.S. Go Congress this year. I ran into many Go Discussions members, and even had a game in the U.S. Open with one of them. The big surprise of the week for me was when I came in 3rd in my band in the main event, which was the 11k - 12k band. I didn't expect this at all. I got a really nice plaque. They chose nice awards this year, so it was a really good year to win a prize. The plaques were green marble with gold lettering. The first place plaques were huge and even the third place plaques were a good size.

New ratings have not been run yet. I was -11.7 when I started the Congress and I don't expect to break into 10k based on my performance, but I am hoping to get a couple tenths of a point out of this.

I am considering joining the Shodan challenge for 10k next year, so I secretly hope that I don't make 10k before it is time to declair my intentions for the challenge. One stone I can do, but if I make it to 10k in the next ratings update I could never make it to 5k by the next congress, so it would not make sense to join the challenge.

I can't wait for the new ratings to come out.

The next event on my go calendar is going to be the Philadelphia Fall Open in late September.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mr. Yang Observed One Of My Games

My previous post included a montage of pictures of Yilun Yang which I used to create a cup which I carried with me throughout the U.S. Go Congress. The purpose of the cup was to remind myself to play my best game, as I would if Mr. Yang were watching.

As it turned out Mr. Yang came by several times to observe my third game of the U.S. Open, which I happened to win. The first time he came by to study the board I held up my cup for him to see, and told him why I had brought it.

After the game was over, and Mr. Yang saw me in the lobby and he asked if I had won the game as expected. I confirmed that I had done so. This time there was no need for Mr. Yang to say, "It should not be." Instead he turned to a mutual friend and commented on my game saying, "She can fight." Given the fact that fighting had always been my weaknesss while I was taking private lessons with Mr. Yang, I considered that to be the highest praise. I have progressed beyond the opening. Mr. Yang also told me that I had missed an opportunity on the right side of the board. Later in the day I went over the game with my opponent and a dan player who confirmed this fact.

I will post more about the Congress soon. I have been too busy to post much because all of my energy since returning from the Congress has been devoted to packing and moving to a new home. And now I am devoting all of my energy to unpacking and setting up housekeeping. I will post more about the Congress and the move later.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Off To The US Go Congress

In less than one hour I will be on my way to the US Go Congress in Lacaster, Pennsylvania. This is the first time I had attended the congress since retiring and having more time to study go.

I hope for interesting games and a peaceful mind with which to enjoy them as they unfold. Other than that, I have no expectations.

Anyone reading this who is also at the congress, please look me up. My name is in my web address... Terri Schurter, so it's no secret. I am 11 kyu AGA. You'll find me at a table with a triple digit number.

To keep me focused on the questions I should be asking myself during my games I have brought with me a mug that I made. It has a montage of photographs of Yilun Yang, 7p circling the surface of the mug. I will try to play each move as if Mr. Yang were watching.

Given the fact that Mr. Yang will be there and has been known to roam the room he might be watching at any moment. I am reminded of the time Mr. Yang was watching one of my games during the 1998 Congress shortly after I had started taking lessons with him. My opponent and I met up with Mr. Yang later in the cafeteria lunch line after the game was over. My opponent mentioned to Mr. Yang that he won the game. Mr. Yang's only comment was, "It should not be." Apparently I had been ahead when he had stopped observing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My First Audio Go Lessons SGF

I have been viewing the audio go lessons quite often in the past couple months. The only thing I don't like about the site is that you only get to view each lesson you purchase for a month. This isn't going to keep me away though. You can view your lessons as often as you like during the month that you have access to them, which does encourage a measure of restraint concerning how many lessons you purchase at one time. I can understand the reasons why audiogolessons is set up that way. Some people might be tempted to be dishonest and build up a library of lessons and then share them with others, robbing the professionals of the income they deserve, so it makes sense to create a distribution model which makes it less likely that people would do such a thing. Still, my ideal setup would be a flat monthly fee for all the video you can watch similar to what is available for technical educational videos at

Having honestly purchased a lesson I would like to have a way to review the material whenever I want. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. I could take notes, make screen shots, or make an sgf. Initially I had done some screen shots of some of the early "Step By Step lectures". It was my plan to incorporate them into doc files with notes that would maintain the flow of the lesson. But I never got around to putting those pages together, so I decided to make an SGF of a lecture which is due to expire soon to see if this method would work out better for me.

I picked "Common Opening Lecture 3" for my first sgf lecture file. It took me somewhere between between two and three hours to create the file working in chunks of time rather than all at once. I got my money's worth right there. Where else can you get two hours of entertainment for one Euro?

The Common Opening #3 is the one where black ends up with a shimari consisting of a small knights move approach to a 3-4 which is facing a black hoshi stone while white has both hoshi points on the opposite side of the board. Picture the shimari in the right bottom corner facing up to a black hoshi stone.

This was a particularly good lesson for me to transcribe because as black I always begin with komoku in the upper right often resulting in a downward facing shimari with a black hoshi below it. This lesson showed how to handle the variations that result in a white play on the 3rd line below the starpoint between the black shimari and hoshi. This is definitely a lecture I need to devote time to studying.

I found the process of creating the sgf file more than just clerical. It was a study process in itself. As much as this file will be useful to me for review, it was useful in its creation as well. I don't think that it would be nearly as useful for study without having seen and heard the lecture because it doesn't follow the flow of the lecture since varitions sometimes appear in the file before they are referred to in the lecture. An sgf file isn't a movie afterall.

I am not sure if it is possible to do, but I think the most valuable way to review such a file would be to create a set of hyperlinks within the file that would take you from one part of the file to another in the same order as the lecture.

I highly recommend Audio Go Lessons to anyone who has not tried it yet. They have some free lessons you can sample. Give it a try.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Guo Juan 5p Joseki Lecture Today on KGS

Today I was able to watch a KGS Plus lecture live. I usually end up replaying them afterwards, which isn't nearly as much fun.

The lecture by Guo Juan was about joseki with emphasis on their proper use. I was pleased to watch this lecture given my newfound interest in joseki study. Guo Juan had given another lecture on joseki a couple weeks ago, which I had missed and plan to go back and watch soon.

One of the things she said today is that early on we should learn 10 joseki, then increase that to 20, and that by the time we are 1 dan we should know at least 50 joseki. That sounds reasonable to me.

In applying joseki she suggested that you know the final outcome(s) of the joseki you are considering, and to imagine those outcomes with the current board position. If none of the outcomes are pleasing to you, then it is time to make up your own move to deviate from joseki. I like that thinking.

She emphasized that it is not necessary to try to learn all joseki, but to learn the basic ones. She has audio go lessons on joseki, and also recommended taking a joseki book and picking the simple variations to learn. That's pretty much what I intend to do.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Played In A Real Club Sunday

I managed to make it to a real club Sunday afternoon. The club is near where my mother lives. It takes me over an hour to get there, so visits to the club at the Barnes & Noble in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania are few and far between.

The night before my visit I contacted one of the members online and told him I would be there. It's a good thing because as it turned out we were the only two people to show up for the club on Sunday, and he might not have bothered to come were it not for my having talked to him the night before.

I got there first and reviewed joseki for at least a half an hour before my opponent showed up. He is 1k KGS and I am 8k there. We started with a six stone game. I made some big mistakes and lost a couple groups so I ended up resigning. We decided to try seven stones, and it seems to be the right handicap for us. I managed to cut off a few white stones and won by about 15 or so. If I had not cut off the stones I would have lost the game even though white didn't manage to kill anything. That tells me that I got lucky, and 7h will still be a tough game between the two of us.

I take a go board with me when I visit my mother because I don't have internet access there. I spent at least an hour on life and death while I was there. I am currently working on the "black to kill" three move problems in "1001 Life and Death Problems". I am finding them easier than the "black to live" three move problems.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

More About Studying Joseki

I have started to work my way through the three volume joseki dictionary by Ishida. I am laying the stones out on the board and reading all of the comments as I do so. My plan is to go straight through all three volumes without attempting to remember any of the sequences the first time through the set of books.

I mentioned this plan to my long time go mentor who is an AGA 4 dan. He said that any study is good study. But he recommended that I read through the two volume set "Whole Board Thinking in Joseki" first by Yilun Yang before tackling the Ishida books.

I told him that I thought it made more sense to actually see the joseki variations before attempting to choose a joseki for a whole board position. If I didn't know what finished joseki positions looked like, how could I choose among the various continuations to solve the problems in the book?

He suggested that I simply read the books without attempting to solve the problems. I decided to give it a try, and am more than halfway through the first volume, which is the low knight's approach to the 3-4. The second volume covers the high one space approach the the 3-4. I'm going fairly quickly through the exercises since I am really only reading the book, and not placing the stones on the board. Although I did not intend to solve the problems, I could not resist trying to do so after I started to understand how the positions in the adjacent corners affected the choice of continuation. I was pleased to discover that I can make the correct choices in many cases.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Audio Go Lessons

I have known about the audio go lessons for a while, and took a few lessons a couple months ago. Recently I decided to get more involved in studying this way. The site is run by Guo Juan 5p, and she has a number of other professionals who prepare lectures for her site. If you have a KGS Plus membership you will recognize the interface.

Since my opening is generally considered to be pretty good (thanks to lessons and workshops with Yilun Yang 7p) I decided to work on my middle game through the audio lessons. The web site has the middle game training series completed for the C level, which is 30k through 10k. In the past few days I have worked my way through all five level C middle game lectures. I have enjoyed working through the lectures and intend to view them each two more times before the time expires. You pay one Euro per lecture and you are allowed to view it as often as you like for a month.

I would recomend anyone who is not yet ready for private lessons and looking for an ecomonical way to supplement their go study to consider giving the audio go lessons site a try. There are a number of free lectures there which you can view before you make a committment. They have one called the 2007 Chinese New Year Lecture which is about handicap play.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finally Studying Joseki

I say I am studying joseki as opposed to learning joseki to distinguish between just memorizing the moves, which would be learning joseki, and understanding the reasons behind the moves, which would be studying.

I have the book "38 Basic Joseki" which I have attempted to traverse at various times in the past. I also have the "Kogo's Joseki Dictionary" sgf as well as the three volume "Dictionary of Basic Joseki" by Yoshio Ishida, from which I am told the "Kogo" work is derived.

I always found the bigger compilations of joseki information to be overwhelming. Where does one start? The "38 Basic Joseki" book is less daunting. I suppose it just makes sense to start at the beginning and work one's way through step by step, but I would read, and skip around, and never really get anywhere.

But the day has finally come for joseki study because Solaris has assigned joseki study for our study group. He asked us where we wanted to start and the majority voted for the 3-4. Although I was the only one in favor of the 4-4 this is okay with me because I always start out with 3-4 when playing black, so I will have plenty of opportunities to see these joseki in my game. (Is the plural of joseki, josekies or joseki? I'll use joseki.) I secretly believe that the others in the group, being so much stronger then I, already know the 4-4 joseki.

We are beginning with the high one space approach to the 3-4. And for the first week we are focused on three responses, none of which are pincers. We are saving the pincers for the next week. Things have been kept simple by limiting the number of branches provided. A cursory glance at Volume 2 of the Ishida work indicates that there are more options to consider, but I think it is the right thing to work on a little at a time. This is reassuring to me. I actually feel like I could understand and retain what is being covered.

Comments are provided in the study file. Once I feel I understand a branch I have decided to replay it to make myself familiar with how it would appear in the various corners of the board, not just the one in the sgf file. At first I thought this meant I only needed to play it eight times since it needs to played twice in each corner given that none of the positions are symmetrical. I then realized that I actually needed to play the branch sixteen times. What if black approaches white? Will I recognize the position? I can see myself brooding over a board and thinking that I could play that joseki if the colors were reversed. I know it is silly, but this could really happen.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Starting Group Lessons With Solaris

Yesterday I started taking weekly group lessons with Solaris on KGS. So far we have a group of four students. We will meet once a week for two hours. Solaris will be sending us homework via email which will include some life and death problems and a joseki to study for the following week. One of the reasons I have chosen to participate in the group lessons is because I think a lot about studying, and intend to do so, but I haven't done enough of it. Paying for a regular group lesson seems to be an economical way to motivate myself to study and to play regularly. I anticipate it will also feel less isolated than private lessons, which certainly are great, and have their place, and I may take them again at some point.

Our first lesson with Solaris involved a six stone teaching game with one of the students. The game took about 40 minutes. We spent the remainder of the class reviewing the beginning of that game. We used the situations that arose to discuss the strength of groups in comparison to each other, and to examine possible moves for each side. We didn't go very far into the game, but the opening was quite enough to provide material for discussion.

I came away from the game with a new appreciation for the outside vs. the inside, especially in a handicap game. This was well illustrated by showing the difference for black between enclosing white and allowing her to live small along the side, vs. stealing the base and forcing her to run to the center.

Solaris works with groups of from four to six players, preferrably of a similar level. Our group ranges from 8k through 1k, so we probably have a greater than optimal spread of ranks. At 8k I am the weakling in the group, but I don't feel out of place because I know a few things about theory from having taken professional lessons for five and a half years ending four years ago. More about that in a future entry. There's so much I haven't written about yet.

I started out fairly quiet in the group yesterday, but spoke up more as I found myself suggesting the optimal moves a few times.

If you are interested in group lessons, or private lessons, with Solaris please visit his online go school.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Played In Connecticut Tournament Last Saturday

Saturday, April 28th I played in an AGA Tournament in the Hartford, Connecticut area.

I entered as an 11 kyu. I had dipped from 11 kyu to 12 kyu at the New Jersey Open by self promoting unsuccessfully to 10 kyu. I didn't do well enough at the NJ Open to hold onto my promotion. But since my rating is more volatile after my previous self promotion I should rise back to 11 kyu since I won two games out of three that I played.

In the second game of the tournament I made a bent four against my opponent, which I have never done before.

What was amazing is that that even though there were only six tables at the tournament all three of my games were even or only 0.5 komi, which is really close to even. For such a small tournament it is amazing that there were enough players close enough to my rank to provide me with so many even games.

At the same tournament two years ago I got two nine stone handicap games as black where I was actually under handicapped by 1 stone and 2 stones respectively, bringing my stagnating 13 kyu rating up to 12 kyu for the first time.

I managed to record all three of my games on my tablet PC, just as I did at the NJ Open earlier this year and all three games have been reviewed by a strong dan player.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Great Go Blog - Shodan Challenge

Since I decided to start a Go Blog I thought it would be a good idea to actually read one that has been around for awhile, and to read it all the way through. I chose Nanny Ogg's blog Shodan Challenge . I wanted to get an idea of what kind of content people have included in their blogs. My intention in starting my own blog wasn't necessarily to provide riveting original commentary, but I also didn't want to give a day-by-day and blow-by-blow description of every tedious step in my study plan either, unless that is what people do. I was looking for a bit of guidance concerning balance by seeing what someone else had done to document her journey. I was also curious about the journey of another woman in the world of Go, so Nanny's blog was a natural choice.

As I read through the entries in Nanny's blog I became inspired by her dedication to the game, and the amount of time and effort she has spent to achieve her level of success, which I find to be quite impressive. Not only that, but the change in attitude about rank and even the lessening of the importance of reaching Shodan, I found to be very interesting and inspiring.

No longer can I feel as if I deserve to be stronger than I am. I haven't begun to pay my dues. I have read Nanny's blog from start to finish. It took me a few days a few hours at a time to do so, and it was time well spent as I gained an appreciation of what studying Go should entail.

It is my intention to pick other blogs to read in their entirety. I was initially inspired to begin blogging about my studies in the game of Go by seeing the blog maintained by ChiyoDad, ChiyoDad Learns Go. As an art teacher I was drawn by his images. I have not read the entire blog yet, but I intend to do that soon also.

So, is all this time I spend reading Go Blogs and posting on Go Discussions getting in the way of getting stronger at Go? Probably, but the name of the blog is "Enriching My Love of the Game", not "Busting My Bottom To Chase Unreasonable Goals and Setting Myself Up For Failure". Anything that enriches my love of the game I consider to be keeping me on track.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Results on Set One of Korean Academy Go Problems

As promised I am reporting on my level of mastery of the first set of problems from the Korean Academy. I had hoped for less than 10% error, which I managed to achieve with a 9% error rate, but that still seems like too much. I need to do better.

I made note of the problems which I missed when I went through them today. Soon I will go back over the problems again and see how much better I can do. I will shoot for 5% or less error next.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thought Processes That Should Be Painfully Obvious, But Sometimes Aren't

I have been spending more time with "easy" life and death problems lately. I put the word easy in quotes for a reason. I need to go back to the first set of the Korean Academy Go Problems at .

I had worked with the first set and thought that I had mastered them fairly well so I moved on to the second set. When I started to get some of the problems wrong in the second set I decided to keep track of how many I had missed. I wanted to get a percentage of wrong moves, which I think ought to be less than 10% if the problems are easy enough. (I instinctively though I had achieved this with Set 1, but I plan to go back and check that to be sure now.)

I had intended to do all 200 problems in Set 2, but after getting up to problem 50 it was obvious to me that it would be better to only go up to 100 to obtain a percentage. I got a nice round 40% wrong. While I was writing down the problem numbers I got wrong, which I won't bore you with here, I was also making some notes about things that I should be looking for.

I have read a little about solving life and death problems, and I have also many times sat through Yilun Yang's explanation of solving much more difficult life and death problems than the ones I have been attempting. So I am familiar with the importance of such things as hitting "eye points" and pushing from "the most open door first", Yet as I was looking at the solutions to the problems I had missed I was searching for some simpler, possibly more obvious things that a stong player would see without even consciously processing the information and would, therefore, not even mention in solving the problems. I came up with a few. They are presented from the perspective of black. I call them "Thought Processes That Should Be Painfully Obvious, But Sometimes Aren't"...

  • Can I see an obvious dead shape that white could make if black doesn't play on a specific point?
  • Remember that it is illegal to suicide, so look for an opportunity to crush white and he won't be able to connect, but you will be able to capture to get two eyes.
  • Avoid giving white the opportunity to make ko (since ko is almost always not good enough). Keep looking if that is all you can see.
  • Can I atari some stones? Does that make it possible to play an extension that takes away the possibility of a second eye, or threatens another atari, or creates some other mischief, after white responds to the atari?
  • Can I set up a double atari, or avoid one?
  • Can I set up a snap back or avoid one? Does the move I plan to make put me in a snapback? (This mistake is only slightly less embarrassing than self atari.) I found two examples of problems in this set where black could foolishly play himself into a snapback. They are #85 and #89.
  • Can I prevent a move that white would like to make by creating a shortage of liberties?
  • Can I avoid being disconnected, or can I disconnect white?
  • If I make what looks like an obvious move will white be able to throw in?
  • Be on the lookout for the move which seems to create the largest room to lead to trouble, while a move that gives up one more point might be the solid move.

If I come up with any more of these I will add them later.

Later today I will be going back over the first set of the Korean Academy life and death problems. I will report back on my percentage wrong. I sure hope it's below 10 percent.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Playing Across The Board In Pennsylvania

Sunday I paid my first visit to the Montogomery Go Club, which meets at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. I wasn't sure if they would have extra go boards so I brought a really light weight set with me. It consists of a set of 6 mm stones in fabric pouches I had bought at a Go Congress and a leather 19 x 19 board which was part of a set I bought from Samarkand. (I have since discarded the bags that came with the set since I prefer the fabric bags.)

This was the first time I played Go across the board in six or seven years except for AGA tournament games. I forgot how much fun it can be, and I intend to do it again soon. Since my mother lives near the club I can combine an overnight visit with my mother with a few games at the club. That is definitely a dual purpose move.

I played two very close games. One of them was an even game that I won by resignation after I managed to set up a double atari. The other game was with an AGA 3 kyu. He had never played on leather before so we used my board. I took six stones and lost that game by 6.5 after getting caught in a shortage of liberties. Before that I was ahead by about five points. So it was a really good game. Since Sunday I have spoken with my 3 kyu opponent online in the Wings Go Club room on KGS a few times and have interested him in playing in the Wings Go Club monthly leagues.

The thing I really enjoyed about playing face to face is that the games stayed with me in a way that online games don't seem to do. I found myself thinking about them over and over again over the course of the next couple of days. It may have been the novelty of it, but it sure felt good.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Easy Go Problems

One recommended way of studying life and death is to work with problems that you can solve almost immediately. Up until now I was not able to find problems as easy as that. The closest thing I could find to that level were the first hundred problems in the book "One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems" from Volume 2 in the "Mastering the Basics" series from Kiseido.

Recently I came across the go problems at The first set of The Korean Problem Academy series are just what I had been looking for. They are rated for 25k to 15k.

Doing these problems sometimes feels like nothing more than seeking the obvious vital point and clicking on it, which is something I'm told that you want to avoid in studying life and death. Upon closer reflection, however, I found that most of the problems were so easy, with sometimes only two or three places a stone could be placed, that I found myself seeing the vital point immediately, yet taking the time to look at the other points and see why they didn't work... all within the space of a few seconds.

It was empowering to rip through those problems and have such success. I'm working on the second set now rated for 15k to 5k. I'll undoubtedly be hitting a wall sometime soon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Play Slow - Play White

Sometimes you just want to have a slow game online, but have a hard time finding one. I have a strategy for getting all the slow games you want, but you have to be willing to play white.

Here's my method. I put up a game with generous time limits: 45 minutes of regular time with 25 stones in 15 minutes for overtime. Then I wait. I always get a game. And I don't usually have to wait for more than a couple minutes. But I very rarely play black this way. Recently a stronger player took my offer, and I was actually shocked that I got to play black.

Either everyone likes black, or they just want to play stronger players. I think they want to play stronger players.

This is also a good method for getting games if you don't like rejection.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Replaying Shusaku Games With Mom

One of my young online Go playing friends suggested that I replay the games of Shusaku. He worked his way through the book "Invincible", and he credits that with his rise to dan status. I don't expect it to do the same for me, but I figured that it would probably help my sense of shape and wouldn't be a total waste of time given how much time I now have on my hands to enjoy Go.

It was suggested that I play the games out on a real board. Last week I was planning a trip to visit my mother overnight so I packed my go board and took "Invincible" along. As luck would have it I got stuck due to inclement weather and ended up staying for two nights instead of one. With no internet connection I decided to start replaying the games in ernest and got through the first seven games while I was there.

Now for the interesting part... 37 years ago I tried to teach my mother how to play Go. It didn't hook her the way it did me, but then I didn't really know how to teach the game back then. My mother just celebrated her 80th birthday, and works Sudoku puzzles to keep her mind active. Go would serve the same purpose if she were interested in it. Mom was watching me replay the games and started asking questions. I suggested that she play with me and take white since I was still enough of a child to want to be the young Shusaku. We played out one of the games looking for the next moves on the diagrams. In local situations where continuations were fairly obvious Mom could anticipate the moves and we talked about them.

We enjoyed our game together, and I actually think it might be time to teach Mom how to play on a small board. Back when I tried to teach her I didn't even know that boards smaller than 19 x 19 existed and I didn't know any other way to teach than to give a nine stone handicap after explaining about two eyes.

I have decided to take the review of the Shusaku games off the real board while I am at home and do them with Smart Go since there are over 400 Shusaku games in the collection. I am using the automatic replay feature at 3 second per move, which gives me enough time to try to anticipate the next move locally or to at least anticipate a tenuki.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Smart Go - It Pays To Read The Documentation

I love Smart Go but have not spent the time I should to explore all of its features. I am using it on a tablet PC at 1024 x 768 resolution. When I upgraded to version 2.0 I considered the default settings to be less friendly to the small screen than the those in version 1.0, so I kept the older version for recording games and reviewing my lesson files.

Today I decided to check and see if I could configure the layout to be more similar to the older version. Right there in the help files under "screen layout" I found the answer to my problem. Go to "View - Maximize Board" to put the comments on the left where I like them making the board can be as big as possible.

See the following screen shots to illustrate the older version on Smart Go, the newer version with default settings, and the Newer version with the board maximized.

Older version of Smart Go (version 1.5.4):

Current version of Smart Go without changing settings (version

Current version of Smart Go with the board maximized (version

Now I know that Smart Go 2.x is just as small screen friendly as Smart Go 1.x

Monday, February 26, 2007

Life and Death Problems On The Real Board

One of my favorite books is "One Thousand and One Life-andDeath Prolems" from Kiseido Publishing Company. I often carry it with me so I can do life and death problems in spare moments. Recently I decided to work through the one move problems in the book rather quickly. I did the first 300 one move problems within a couple days by looking at the book and making an effort to refute alternate answers before looking at the solution. Given the fact that there are only a few places one can move in these small problems that isn't terribly hard to do. (I do sometimes fail to visualize all liberties, however.)

When I got to the last set of one move problems starting with problem number 301, they started to feel a bit more difficult. I decided to get out a real 9x9 board and stones and lay out the problems to solve them on the board. I expected that I would need to work out variations with the stones before considering the problem solved, but I discovered something surprising...

I found it easier to read the problem when it was on the board than when it was in the book. I was really happy about this, but I found it surprising because my AGA rating from real life tournaments lags four stones behind my KGS rating from online games.

The way I am solving the problems now is to place them on the board and solve them without putting the stones down. Then after I think I have the correct solution I am trying the various lines of play with the stones to prove my answer before I look at the solution. This way I can see if I have failed to visualize a liberty. I am even trying to visualize what the final position would look like with obviously wrong moves. I am hoping that attempting to see the stones on the board will help my reading skills during games.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Ear Reddening Move

This is a game in which Shusaku played black. The marked move is known as the ear reddening move because when Shusaku played it his opponent's ears turned red. This game appeared upside down in the previous post on my retirement Go cake.

You can read about this game at Sensei's Library

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Retirement Go Cake

I posted this picture on my other web site, but it really belongs here. I have it on good authority that this is the Shusaku Ear Reddening game. However, the board is upside down. What it truely amazing is that my colleague, who found the game online with her husband's help, has no real knowledge of Go. They just happened to put a really cool game on the cake. I have the Go board part of the cake in my freezer.

Common Opening Lecture 2

Today I watched the Common Opening Lecture 2 from

I think I am going to have to watch this a few times for it to sink in.

Linked In

Mike Dobbins posted a suggestion on Go Discussions today that we create a network of go players through Linked In. I updated my profile there. Let's see if I can manage to post the button that I cut and pasted from their site.

Edit: The button is no longer showing properly so I just made it a link.

My Linked In Profile

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How I Have Been Studying

Since I started this blog I have been devoting at least an hour a day to Go activities.

I have been reading serveral times a day.

I have been working on go problems using the problems that come with the latest version of Smart Go.

I have also been working through the problems in "One Thousand and One Life and Death Problems".

I attended the NJ Open February 10th and 11th and managed to record all five of my games. I had a stronger player comment each of those games by uploading them to KGS in the Wings Go Club room.

I started an account at and have started listening to the Step By Step series of lessons. I am up to lesson five. I probably should have followed the advice of playing at least ten games between each lesson, but I was anxious to get going.

I have neglected posting to this blog, but I am going to make a greater effort to report my go study activities on a regular basis. I also want to be a little more specific about what I am actually doing to enrich my experiences with the game. This is likely to be very boring to everyone else, but it will provide me with a record of my study activities.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Finally I Have Time To Study

It has been about a week and a half since I retired from education. A couple years ago I would not have believed that I would do more than play casually in retirement, but I've decided to devote some time to reviewing my previous professional lessons and reading some of the Go books that have been accumulating dust on my bookshelves for the past eleven years.

Yesterday I was reading a Go blog and it sounded like a good way to document this journey, so here is my first entry. Anyone who is interested is welcome to follow along.