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.