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