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.