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.