Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Had Fun At The Jennie Shen Workshop

We had a good workshop last weekend with Jennie Shen at the University of Pennsylvania.   I played three even games with players very near my own strength.   The B group had a concentration of players in the 10k through 8k range.     

Jennie provided good analysis that went deep into the middle game fighting.  I found it very interesting watching not only the B analysis (my own group), but also catching the tail end of the A analysis when I was lucky enough to conclude one of my games early on with a resignation, my own, of course.  :-)

I was very pleased to have the time to sit in on the A analysis while my peers were laboring to conclude their own games in the next room.   I can never understand the desire to finish workshop games which are probably only going to make it to move 100 in analysis, although Jennie went deeper into the game than I am accustomed at workshops.

We all were able to see the A analysis on the final day since it made little sense for B players to play a game with each other that would not see analysis while a pro was in the next room.  I don't think anyone in the B group opted to play rather than watch A analysis.

I also found it a contrast to what I am accustomed to that handicap was used in the games.  At Yang workshops games tend to be even regardless of the disparity in rating in order to allow for more natural opening play for analysis.  That makes sense given Yang's emphasis on opening theory.   In contrast Jennie seemed more interested in getting to the very late opening and early middle game.  She mentioned a part of the game that we, in English, do not even have a name for: the part which is actually between what we call the opening and what we call the middle game.   She told us the name for it in Chinese, but I didn't quite catch it.  Maybe we need another go word in English.   I imagine there is no word for it in Japanese either, because if there were we English players would undoubtedly be aware of it, and using the word as our own, as we do so many other Japanese terms.

Jennie informed us that you can't lose the game in the first sixteen moves, but when a strong player interpreted that to mean that she did not think the opening was important, she was careful to correct him on that.  The opening isn't unimportant, you just can't lose in the first sixteen moves, barring a very unusual situation.

I got to see some players at the workshop that I had played in previous tournaments, and I got to meet some new people too.   One of the highlights of the weekend was our trip to Chinatown for a nice dinner.   I was in the same car with NannyOgg from KGS who had come down from New Hampshire in a rental car.  Through failure to observe on all our parts that car was impounded that night.  When we walked back from dinner we could not find the car and confirmed with a passing police officer that it had been towed.  The four of us from that car, including Jennie, got an exciting and lengthy trip to the impound lot to reclaim the vehicle.   Jennie characterized it the next day as a super tesuji.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Off To Jenny Shen Workshop

Tomorrow I will be off to Philadelphia to attend the Jenny Shen Workshop.   I can hardly wait.   I will see NannyOgg there.  She is the author of the Shodan Challenge Blog which was one of my primary inspirations for starting a blog of my own.    NannyOgg and I met online initially through the Wings Go Club leagues.   Way back in the day I think that I actually used to give handi to Nanny, but those days are LONG gone.

I am not going to be bringing my Tablet PC to the workshop.   It still works fine, but it's old and slow, and I have two game recording devices at my disposal, both of which I will be bringing with me.   I will have my iPod Touch with SmartGo touch, and I have my Palm device with Pilot GOne. 

Got A Review Yesterday

In my previous blog post I put out an open invitation for stronger players to observe my games weekdays from about 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM and offer comments afterwards. 

Yesterday I stuck up an auto match at the assigned time and noticed a 1 dan and a 1 kyu observing.  After the game was over they offered to review.  It turns out they had seen my blog posting and taken me up on my request for observers.   I very much appreciated the review.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Got Myself One Official Mentor - Looking For More Off The Record

While reading Go Discussions I learned about a room on KGS with which I had been unfamiliar.   It is called The Enclave.   I discovered that many people I know hang out it in regularly.  I was pleased to see them there, and I have met some new people as well.   

I found out that they have a mentoring system at The Enclave.   Having mentored someone since January myself, and seeing how it has benefited him to have someone sitting in on so many of his games, I thought that maybe it was a good idea for me to seek out a mentor for myself.    I realize that this might sound odd coming from someone who takes professional lessons.  The person I continue to mentor also takes professional lessons with Yang.  However, two hours of a professional's time on alternate weeks is not the same thing as having a stronger amateur player following you around and taking an interest in your game.   That is what I do for my "mentee".  We rarely play each other but we review a lot.  I don't think there is a good simple word for the one who is being mentored, so I call him my mentee.  Forgive me for making up a word.

I got a mentor through The Enclave who is 1k and who is mostly available evenings.   I don't play much at all in the evening, so I don't expect that my games will be watched much, but we can certainly review the games I play earlier in the day, which is probably a better use of the limited time my mentor may have available to give me than for him to watch me play and review afterward.  That takes twice as much time, if not more.

I also don't think most people are as interested as I am in watching games of players weaker than themselves.   I actually find it fascinating to watch games of players three, four, and five stones weaker than myself to see what I can find in their games that they might not have seen themselves.  I think it is a good way to focus on life and death as those situations often come up in the corners at my level and below.   It is also a good way to look for good end game moves.

My feeling is that the greater the number of  strong players who take an interest in my game the better, so I am hoping to find others to watch me play from time to time.

So let this be an open invitation to players stronger than my own 8k on KGS to look in on my game and to offer some comments afterwards if the spirit moves you.   Having observers makes me want to try harder for "the fans" and helps me to slow down a little.  As much as I detest blitz, I play really fast if I don't check myself.   I tend to play weekdays between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM on KGS as buzzsaw. I use auto match, so my games won't be in a room, but will appear in the active games list.   My attitude lately is that strangers are for play, and friends are for review.  That seems to be working for me emotionally.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Got Discouraged Yesterday

Yesterday I had a very discouraging go day.  I know I should play more, so I decided to play some games yesterday in the morning before my lesson with Yilun Yang to warm up.    I played three games in a row early in the morning.  They were auto match games set at the slowest possible setting, which is 25 minutes of basic time.  I played them rather quickly though, not using the time I had available to myself.  It wasn't a blitz pace by any means, just a fairly normal online playing pace.   I lost all three games, which really didn't bother me  all that much.  I was fine with the results, and glad that I had gotten some games in.

What bothered me was the effect that these games had on my lesson with Yang a half hour later.   After the first lesson game was over Yang commented immediately that I had played too quickly.  He hadn't told me that in a long time.  I knew it was true.  I had been sucked into a quick pace with those games earlier, and even though I had taken a half hour to distance myself from them, I continued to play at way too quickly a pace to think through my moves properly for my lesson.  This was very disturbing to me.

My lessons are at 11:00 am.  I know one thing for sure.  I won't be playing any games the morning of my lesson again.  I'll do tsumego instead, and play game after.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Counting Up My Go Workshops So Far

After signing up for the Jenny Shen workshop coming up this December I realized that it would be my first multiple day workshop with a pro other than Yilun Yang.   That prompted me to ask myself just how many workshop I had attended with Yang to date.  

From August 1997 until January of 2008 I have attended Yang Workshops at four locations.  In the early years I would attend three workshops a year during the Summer, Fall, and Spring.  More recently I have limited myself to one workshop per year in the Winter.

Following is a list of those workshops to the best of my memory broken out by year:

1.......1997.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

2.......1997.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

3.......1998.....Gaithersburg Yang Workshop

4.......1998.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

5.......1998.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

6.......1999.....Gaithersburg Yang Workshop

7.......1999.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

8.......1999.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

9.......2000.....Gaithersburg YangWorkshop

10.....2000.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

11.....2000.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

12.....2001.....Gaithersburg Yang Workshop

13.....2001.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

14.....2001.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

15.....2002.....Gaithersburg Yang Workshop

16.....2002.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

17.....2002.....Lancaster Yang Workshop

18.....2003.....Gaithersburg Yang Workshop

19.....2004.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

20.....2005.....Evanston Yang Workshop

21.....2005.....New Jersey Yang Workshop

22.....2006.....Evanston Yang Workshop

23.....2007.....Evanston Yang Workshop

24.....2008.....Evanston Yang Workshop

Unusual Auto Match Results

I played an auto match game on KGS today and recognized the name of my opponent as someone I had played before.   I recalled that the last time we had played it was a rated game in which I was leading up until the end.  After I passed my opponent pulled off an invasion that should not have worked, but it did, and I lost that game by 18.5

I recalled that the main reason I had lost that game was that I had not bothered to count the board as I would have in a real life tournament game.  I had plenty of time on my clock.   I could have counted, and I could easily have made a few defensive moves if I had bothered to count the board.   Even without the defensive moves I came to realize later when reviewing the game that the correct move would have come to me if I had spent sufficient time reading.  I found the right move easily later.  However, I let myself get thrown by the invasion.

Today I was leading again in what should have been the last few moves of the end game.   I counted the board and saw I was at least 15 to 20 points ahead.  I made a few defensive moves.  As the game was finishing up my opponent tried to pull off an invasion again anyway.  This time he failed.   I kept my cool and countered of of his moves.   I won the game by 22.5

None of what I have written so far is that unusual.  However, when looking at my list of games I came to find that my previous game with my opponent had been eight days earlier, and it had been most my recent game on the server.  Both games were rated.  It is odd that I should end up with the same opponent for auto match eight days apart.  I guess we both like auto match, and I guess we both play at the same time.  He is in Japan and I play in the morning here is New Jersey.

I need to watch less and play more for sure.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Signed Up For Jenny Shen Workshop

Jenny Shen is going to be giving a workshop in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania on December 12, 13, and 14.   It is being sponsored by the Penn Go Society.  The workshop is being offered at a great price due to a grant the club was able to obtain.  Penn Go Society members and Youth Players may attend for $50.00 and all other will pay $100.00.  That would include me.   Considering that a workshop like this would ordinarily run about $200.00 this is a great deal.  

I have taken some of Jennie Shen's lessons on the audiogolessons web site, and she is a good teacher.  I also saw her review games at the U.S. Go Congress this year.  I am looking forward to taking this three day workshop with her.  Since I know a few of the people who will be attending I am sure it will be a nice social occasion as well as a great educational experience.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Go Art - Unusual Self Portrait

I was talking to a friend of  mine online today who is a go player and also an art student.  I was telling him about how I had to create a self portrait for one of my classes back in art school.  I combined the two most important things in my life into that portrait and left my face out of it.  No one said I actually had to include my face in the drawing so I didn't.  I was a rule breaker even back then, and not much of a drawer.  I actually I wove most of my assignments.   The drawing is pictured above propped up against my iMac which happens to be showing a go game I played at the tournament in Hoboken last Sunday.   I drew that picture in 1974.  Interestingly enough, at the time I drew that picture I was already in love with the game of go in spite of having only played a few times and being unable to find players.  I had driven through a Hurricane to play one of the games I had played up to that point.  This was the phase of my life when I traveled with a go board under my arm and forced all my relatives and friends to play the game.  None of them developed an interest, and they all accused me of making up the rules as I went along.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hoboken Tournament Report

Yesterday I went to the Hoboken tournament.  It was a long trip starting out early.  I left the house at 6:20 am to catch a train leaving Princeton Junction at 7:11 am.  I got lucky at Seacaucus Junction where I caught a connecting train that should have already left the station.  Since it was arriving late to Seacaucus I didn't have to wait the 25 minutes for my connecting light rail line to Hoboken.

I met a go player I had been mentoring online since January for the first time yesterday at the tournament.  He is 11k KGS, and decided to enter at that rank.  Unfortunately he went 0-4, so he won't have an accurate assessment of his strength from yesterday's results.   I think a lot of it may be the need to get used to over the board play, with which he is largely unfamiliar.

I went 2-2 at the tournament myself.  I considered this a really good result because I had self promoted at the Congress and just recently earned my 9k rating, up from 11k.  

I had unusual results yesterday because I lost to both of my adult opponents and won against both of my child opponents.  Both of my child opponents were students of the Feng Yun Go School, so I didn't expect to win those games.  One of those children went on to receive a prize for winning three out of four of his games.

My first game was against a previous opponent.   He is currently 5k on KGS and was playing as an AGA 8k, so while my AGA-KGS ratings lag is two stones, his AGA-KGS ratings lag is three stones.   We had a challenging game.  We were both in byo yomi by the end of the game.  There were only 4 periods of 20 seconds for byo yomi, so it was a fast paced end game.   He won the game by a wide enough margin that it was unnecessary to actually determine a final point difference.  I think it was somewhere in the 15 to 30 point range.   My opponent, with whom I had lunch after the game, told me that he felt I had him through the early middle game. 

My second game was with one of the Feng Yun youngsters.   The game with him was interesting on a number of counts.  He was very aggressive and picked a fight with me, which I happened to win.  Feng Yun actually came over and stood at the board for a while visually assessing the position.  I was happy with that because I had killed a huge group in that fight by then.   My opponent was very young, perhaps six years old at most.  He could barely reach to the far side of the board.  More than once early in the game he had to aim and pitch his move to the other side, so I slid the board as far away from myself as I could so he didn't have to reach any farther than necessary.   Still he ended up shifting stones from one place to another because he would bump up against them on his side of the board as he reached to my side of the board to make his plays.  Luckily I was recording the game with SmartGo touch on my iPod.   About halfway through the game I stopped recording but I actually had to open the record during the end game to reposition stones that had been pushed out of place after I had stopped recording.   The most interesting part of our game was that after all the dame were filled there was a meaningless ko on the edge of the board.  It was simply a ko between one of his groups and one of mine.  The life of neither group depended on who won the ko.  I was ahead by a sizable margin and there were many dead stones scattered across the board.   When there was nothing left to do I took the ko.  But after awhile it became obvious to me that there was no point in playing it and I put a stone in my own territory and told him that he could have the ko.  Rather than fill it he proceeded to make more threats.  I ended up handing him three stones before I finally got annoyed and said, "I'm not going to take the ko again.  So you can fill it or we can put a stone on every point of the board that doesn't go towards making two eyes."  He looked really disappointed, then pondered what I said for a moment and filled the ko.  We passed our stones and it was over.   As I removed the dead stones and started to place them back into his territory he told me that he resigned, which was actually annoying after he had put me through the trouble of playing the end game, but at least I was saved the trouble of scoring.

My third game was against an adult who I had never played before.   He played his first move on the 3-5 so it was an unusual game at my level from the start.  Very few 9k start with anything but a  4-4 or 3-4 in my experience.   We ended up with a ko fight for the life of some stones at the bottom of the board.  It was important to both of us.  In my haste to approach and also in my confusion over recording the game I managed to miss seeing an atari from his last ko threat.   He kindly offered to let me take back my move, but I told him that I wasn't allowed to take back a move even if he said it was okay, and that it was my fault and I needed to accept the responsibility.  But, what a nice guy to offer.  It is interesting that the tournament director made a point of actually telling us at the start of the tournament that we should not take a move back even if our opponent offers a take back.  Those words must have been ringing in my ears to give me the strength to take my medicine as I knew I should.  My early resignation in the third round gave me an opportunity to get to know my friend from KGS who had also resigned relatively quickly, and to gather my strength for the battle to come.

My fourth and last game was with another Feng Yun student, who I had played at the Oza earlier in the year.   She is a good player and we always have a tough game.   Last time I killed a group of hers early on, and she nearly bounced back to win the game.   I believe she is the superior player.  This time I separated some of her stones and she separated some of mine to even things out.   She ended up reducing the size of my groups and I was very short on time so I didn't really have time to count near the end.  I think it was close, and it would have been nice to know by how much.  It wasn't as if I needed to decide whether to invade or not though, so I could live without counting.  I just had to keep playing the best I could.   There was a group of her stones in the middle of the board, however, that looked somewhat vulnerable.  If I filled all of the outside liberties and then got in a couple of atari moves in succession I might be able to kill them.   I waited until it was time for filling dame anyway, and then I started to fill them.  I got in my first atari and she saved the stone.  I got in my second atari and she made a protective move but it allowed me to atari seven or more stones which could not connect due to shortage of liberties.   She resigned right away.   We determined that she had needed to let the single stone go when I made the first atari.    I don't really know if I needed those stones to win or not, but knowledge of their imminent capture did bring a speedy end to the game via resignation.

The thing that is notable about yesterday is that I played significantly more slowly in my games than ever before.  I was in byo yomi once, and minutes away from it the other two games that actually concluded.   And even in the resigned game I was behind my opponent in time by 15 minutes or more.   I may have been playing slowly at the Congress as well, but with twice as much basic time it is hard to tell.   I consider my new slow pace to be an advance because it is an indication that I am thinking more.

I stayed for the awards ceremony and got a ride back to Princeton Junction to retrieve my car.  I was lucky that part of the Princeton Go Club had room in the car to save me from the trip via public transportation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Purchased iPod Touch

The new iPods came out on Tuesday.  Wednesday I put in my order.   I had my iPod engraved with my name and email address just incase it gets lost.  If an honest person finds it they will be able to get in "Touch" with me to return it.  Tt the very least it will be hard for a thief to sell it when it is engraved with someone's name.

So what does the iPod Touch have to do with go?  A lot.  SmartGo is currently in beta for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  Anders Kierulf announced this shortly before the U.S. Go Congress on the Go Discussions forum, and asked for beta testers there.  I saw SmartGo in action on the iPhone at the Congress, and even posted a picture of Anders with his iPhone here on my blog.

As soon as I finish the basic set up of my iPod Touch I will be installing the beta of SmartGo, and may have it up and running in time for the Hoboken Tournament on the 21st of September.  The iPod may arrive as early as today.

In addition to SmartGo, there is at least one other go related programs for the iPod Touch, such called Tesuki, which will soon be available in the iPhone App Store.  Tesuki is mentioned in another thread on Go Discussions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

EuroGo TV

I was doing a search for "Baduk TV" recently on the web and came across a web site for EuroGo TV  

I was pleased to see that all of the videos that I have looked at so far on this site were recorded in English.  They have free videos at the site, and they also have an advanced membership option that allows you to view videos at higher resolution and  download sgf files.  Membership gives other benefits as well.

I did a search for Guo Juan on the site since I am a big fan of her Audio Go Lessons

The search yielded many videos featuring Guo Juan including a four part series covering a workshop that she conducted at the European Go Congress for double digit kyu players.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not A Go Post - A Graphics Post

I am taking a course on Photoshop Elements 6, and was having trouble posting a gif file on my other web site using iWeb.  The image was converted to a png file.  So I am going to try to upload the file here as a gif.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Go On A Treadmill

I posted this message on Go Discussions, so if you read that discussion group you can probably skip this blog entry... otherwise please continue.

I have a membership to a local gym that has something they call "cardiac theatre" which is simply a row of television sets tuned to various channels with audio input devices on each treadmill, elliptical, and bike. You can plug your own earphones into these input devices and change channels so you can watch TV or listen to music stations while you exercise.

I know I should get to the gym more often, but network TV and music is almost as boring as walking on the treadmill and doesn't make the time go by that quickly for me.

Yesterday I took my Tablet PC to the gym with me to see if I could stand it up in the book stand on the treadmill. This would never work with a laptop because the book stand is narrow from side to side, and not particularly deep either. I had to put my tablet into a portrait orientation because the width of the space was not adequate to hold the unit in landscape orientation. This made it necessary for me to size the window of cgoban so it only occupied half of the screen because it doesn't work well in a portrait orientation. If I had allowed it to fill the screen in portrait mode 
I would have had only a narrow strip at the bottom for the commentary and for the move tree. The tablet was surprisingly stable on the rack and I didn't have any fear of it falling off.

My thirty minute walk seemed like only a fifteen minute walk as I reviewed one of my Yang lesson games on the tablet.

Next I'm going to load up my tablet with some screen captures of audio go lessons and try listening to them as I walk. This will be easier because I won't have to use the stylus to navigate a tree structure as I walk. (Before anyone asks if I will share my screen captures I will say that I made them for personal review and not for distribution. Guo Juan deserves her Euros. She's already got mine.  She should have yours too.)

I wish the gym had wireless. That would be fantastic. I could watch go games live and maybe even play them "on the go".

I have a stationary bike at home, which I don't like as much as a treadmill, but if I could rig a good system for supporting the tablet while riding I might get some use out of it.

The image at the top of the post represents the appearance of cgoban as it takes up half of the screen space of my tablet in portrait orientation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

SmartGo for the iPhone

SmartGo for the iPhone and iPod made its debut at the U.S. Go Congress this year.  I was lucky enough to get a demo from Anders before the first round of the U.S. Open.  Here he is pictured holding his iPhone with SmartGo active.  The picture doesn't do the display justice, which is brilliant and dazzling.  Anders, however, is looking good, as usual.

I'll be getting an iPod when the next model comes out, hopefully in the Fall.  I can hardly wait to have all of the recording and reviewing power of SmartGo in the palm of my hand, at which point my Palm will likely be history.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Knowing A Position Can Pay Off

My teacher, Mr. Yilun Yang, has always recommended studying life and death.  It undoubtedly develops one's reading "muscle", but I think that when one knows the status of certain positions for certain, it also gives one the confidence and patience needed to find the solution in one's own games.

An example of this type came up in my game yesterday.

I had just played c14 to complete the corner.  It was my assumption that the corner could no longer be invaded.  I think I had read about it in a book at one time.  My opponent and I were chatting during our friendly game, and he said that he was thinking of where to invade in the upper left.  I told him that it was my understanding that theoretically an invasion in that corner should fail, although I admitted that I could not claim to know exactly how to refute it if he tried.   Thus the gauntlet had be tossed...  The starting position appears below...

Before we get to the actual sequence of play, which dragged on for a nerve shattering 20 moves, I want to show the position which I felt I knew.  It helped boost my confidence in the middle of the sequence, and helped me to avoid a bad move, which I might have played if I had not known the position.  Most of us know that "six die and eight live".  I even own the tshirt from Samarkand.  This life and death proverb refers to stones in a row along the second line.  The position below is taken from this game, in which six in a row appear.  Because I could recognize that this would be the position  a few moves before it actually occurred, I was able to resist the urge to make a premature hane at b12, which would have increased my cutting points, and would probably have resulted in disaster.

Here is the "six die" position...

And here is the actual sequence of play...

It was great to be able to see the "six die" position coming, and to know how to deal with it all the way through the nobi at 12, the hane at 16, the throwin at 18, and the nobi at 20.

Now I really have to pay some attention to the the following shapes:  the L, the L+1, and the L+2.  Getting the status of those positions down cold ought to be worth something.  I want to not only know what is alive, but how it is likely to be attacked, and how to refute those attacks.

Strong players can not only read, they also know stuff.  I know stuff about the opening, but I don't yet know much stuff about standard corner positions.   It's on list of things to do to acquire such knowledge.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Played Rated - Went From 8k to 7k

The friend I blogged about yesterday kept our date to play a rated even game today on KGS.  Yesterday he was 6k and gave me two stones in our handicap game.   Today he was 7k. We played an even rated game with 6.5 komi, which meant I was still slightly under handicapped.

It turned out that I didn't need the komi.    As we approached the second half of the endgame my opponent resigned because it became apparent that my moderate lead could not be overcome as there were only regular end game moves left and no real tricks to be played.

Upon his resignation I immediately became 7k, which was my plan all along.  

We had a really good time playing.  We agreed to play a slow game and chatted throughout.  Adding time, if necessary, was agreed upon by both sides.  My opponent played the game on a real board alongside the computer to slow himself down.  Since he is very far from a go club he hardly ever gets a chance to play an opponent on his real board.

The whole game had quite a real life club flavor to it, and I will probably use a real board myself next time when I play this opponent to slow myself down as well.  Incase anyone is wondering, we did agree that there would be no variations played out on the real board.  It is impossible to enforce, I realize, but I trust this person, having known him online for many years.

The real life feeling was enhanced by our review, which we conducted along with another of my online go friends who I started helping back in January, and who has since gone on to become a Yang student.  My fellow Yang student showed his superior reading skills by pointing out something I had missed in the game.  There was a weakness I was aiming at and I thought that after my opponent had added a couple stones that it no longer worked, but it actually  did work due to a ladder.  I had tried to read it but was off enough to think it didn't work.  

I've saved the game analysis locally to my computer and will go over it again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time To Play Rated Again On KGS

About two weeks before the Congress I stopped playing rated on KGS because I had a good solid 8k rating, and I wanted to maintain it as justification for my two stone self promotion.  And since coming back from the Congress I have been busy reviewing games and have not played much, and not any rated games at all.

Today I accepted an offer for a clan game in the Battlefield room on KGS.  I am a member of the Honinbo clan.  The offer came from a long time go acquaintance for a game at no more than two handicap stones.  Since the offer came from a 6k, and I am 8k, I took the offer.  He seemed surprised to see me, probably because  I so often turn down offers to play.  I have to stop doing that.  But I also have to be firm about not playing when I really don't want to play, but that is another problem altogether which I may address in another post.

The game proceeded well for me.  I made a kill early on in the game.  I managed to win by 39.5 so I may have won without the kill.  But who knows what would have happened on the rest of the board without it. 

My opponent suggested that I play some rated games to get my rating up to where it belongs. 

I have decided that I will try to play one rated game each weekday between 8:00 am and 9:00 am my time, which is Eastern Daylight Time.  My opponent and I have a tentative date tomorrow for an even rated game at that time.  If I lose it won't hurt me since I will be under handicapped anyway, but if I win it should help me get my rating where it belongs, which might be 6k or 5k by now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Self Promotion Pays Off

The games from the Congress have been factored into the ratings.

Before the congress I was -11.41904 with a sigma of 0.25708

After the congress I am -9.35656 with a sigma of 0.68605

I don't have all that far to go to get to 8 kyu :-) and with my new improved sigma it should be easier to get there.

I am very happy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My U.S. Go Congress Results

I am back from the Congress and have good news to report.

I went 3-2 at my self appointed 9 kyu rank. I didn't need the note I brought from my teacher to convince the TD to allow me to self promote, but I showed it anyway just for fun. I had printed out our conversation from the sgf file in which we had our discussion, and had the TD okay it.

My first game I lost by 5.5
My second game I won by 2.5
My third game I won by 2.5
My fourth game I lost by 0.5
My fifth game I won by resignation while I was at least 40 points ahead on the board. That felt really great.

Based on the starting ranks of my first four opponents I could tell that none of them had self promoted... too many digits following the decimal point. My fifth opponent had self promoted from 12k to 9k, which based on his record he feels was one stone too optimistic. That game may not help me, but the other four should put me somewhere near -9.5 when the dust settles.

One of my rationales for trying the self promotion this year was that I was flying back early Saturday and would be unable to play the 6th round. I didn't want to run the risk of doing well as an 11k and miss the chance to earn a prize. I would have been heart breaking to board the plane at 5-0 with a game yet to play. I hoped to go 2-3 as a 9k and claim a new rank.

As it turned out my record of 3-2 meant that if I had played today I might have gone 4-2 and probably could have come in third again this year if I had done so. Last year I pulled that off with a 3-3 record, but that was undoubtedly a fluke caused by too many players byeing out of too many rounds in my band. Mediocre results and fighting spirit paid off last year. They probably don't always get such good results.

I'm okay with not playing the last round this year. Having lost my first game I probably didn't have all that great a chance at a prize anyway.

This was undoubtedly the best Congress I've ever had because I was able to tell people that I self promoted and that I was even in wins and losses at the end of the fourth round. It felt like a major victory. And the 9k I probably earned is a ten stone increase above my first AGA rating of 19 kyu.

I am very anxious for the ratings to be updated so I can see where the dust will settle.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Self Promoting To 9k At The Congress

Although I don't tend to self promote at tournaments I decided to ask Mr. Yang's advice about my entry rank for the U.S. Go Congress before our lesson yesterday.  He said he would like to see me enter as a 9k, so I am going to do that.  Having him suggest it takes the heat off of me in a way.  I don't have to be conflicted about it.  I can simply follow my teacher's directive.  

Just to be silly I printed our our conversation so I can show it to the people at the registration desk if they are reluctant to let me promote.  Since it is a two stone promotion I know they will let me do it, especially since I have a solid 8k KGS rating.  But it would just be fun to flash the document for a laugh.

It is hard to argue with a 7p, so I don't think I will have any trouble.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Tablet Is Coming Along For The Ride

I am no longer conflicted.

I have decided to bring along the Tablet PC to the U.S. Go Congress.  But the main reason I am doing so is because of the horribly long eleven hour journey to Portland with the stopover in Phoenix.   I am downloading episodes of Photoshop User TV to watch in the airports and on the flights.  Books and magazines just won't be enough to keep me happy for that long eleven painful hours.

Whether or not I lug the tablet to the playing area each day remains to be seen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conflicted About Whether To Drag Tablet To The Congress

With five days left before departure for the U.S. Go Congress I have yet to decide if I am going to take my Tablet PC with me.  For every tournament and Congress in the past couple of years I have used my Tablet PC to record games.  It's always been a hit, and to some extent an interesting distraction to my opponents, which may or may not offer me an advantage across the board.  But mostly, for the past four years, my tablet has just been a very important part of who I am as a go player.  I'm the middle aged gray haired woman with the incredibly cool contraption that people just can't keep their eyes off.

Recently, however, with my new found addiction to everything Mac,  I have lost patience with this aging technology.  Compared to my iMac my tablet is slow, and the only thing it has going for it anymore is that I can place it flat on the table between myself and the go board.  There is no doubt at all that it still carries an amazing coolness factor for that alone, but I am not sure if it worth lugging around for 11 hours from Philadelphia to Phoenix and on to Portland.  Of course there is something to be said for the entertainment value of having the tablet with me during those long waits in the airport and the flights.

I'll have my Palm to record games if I want.  I'm still conflicted.  

Next year I will probably have a nice new Mac Book Pro to take along once the tablet dies and I wean myself away from my PC hardware altogether.

When I come back from the Congress one of the first things I will be doing is installing VMWare Fusion on the iMac so I can run SmartGo.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Look For Me At The Congress

I don't look much like my picture here on my blog, nor that on Go Discussions.  I don't much resemble the highly stylized image that functions as my KGS identity either.  On KGS I am buzzsaw.   I should be easy to find at the U.S. Go Congress this year, however, since I will be sporting the cool name tag pictured above, which I have slipped into the highly functional tag holder provided at the 2007 Congress.

I hope to meet many new go players this year and visit with old friends.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Observation of One of My Students

Today my most active student, chaslayton on KGS, sent me an email with some thoughts that he said I could post on my blog.  The following is what he has to say about observing a game on the KGS server.  I thought it was insightful, and certainly echos what I feel myself many times.  You are always five stones stronger when you kibitz. 


Yesterday I watched a game on KGS – one of those fascinating games in which everything rides on a single move. In this case, if white played J2 first, white would make a second eye, thereby saving a group of about 20 endangered stones. White would then have been able to turn around and kill an equally large group of black’s stones. White would have won the game.

However, if black played J2 first, white’s large group would die and black’s would be saved. It was a huge move – the import of which was obvious to me as an observer – but neither player saw it for several turns. I was sitting at my desk yelling, “For God’s sake, somebody play J2!” When black finally did play it, white immediately saw the light, and resigned.

This brought home to me the fact that an uninvolved observer often sees the game more clearly than the players can. Even though I am far inferior to both those players, I saw what they did not. But it also brought home that even very good players make dumb mistakes – just like me. This is good for me to know. 

  Go, in this respect, is much like real life. And that, apparently, is true at every level of play. 

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Yang Lesson Review - A Small Gathering Of Friends

I have one student in particular that I have been spending a lot of time with in the past few months.  In the time that we have been working together he has gone from 21k to 14k.  He gets most of the credit due to his hard work, but I have been commenting his games pretty regularly, so I take some credit too.  Recently I started reviewing my Yang lessons with him online by replaying the sgf files of those lessons on KGS at a specific time each week.  My lessons with Yang are private, but it is really easy to upload them and step through them for my student's benefit later.  Although I used to make all my lessons public many years ago, I think that at this stage, with KGS being a little less civilized than it used to be, that I would be too self conscious making the lessons public again.  I do the replay of my lesson not only for my student, but also for myself as a form of review.  In the six weeks that I have been doing this we have drawn a small audience, and I would like to keep it that way.

There was a post not long ago on go discussions concerning stronger players "taking over" lessons, so I have been silent up until now about the reviews, and people have wandered in from time to time and they behaved themselves well.  Aside from my involvement with the Mac, the focus on my Yang lesson reviews also accounts for the lack of posts to this blog.  They have dominated my go activities lately, and I had been reluctant to mention them until now.

I have been really clear with anyone who ends up watching that the objective is to review the lesson rather than go off on tangents that were never explored in the original lesson.  I also make it clear that we are trying to keep the review at the 20k - 10k level.  My student is around the middle of that range right now.  So far things have gone really well.  Last week there were only three people besides myself in attendance, and it went very smoothly.  During a previous presentation we had about eight people in the room, and it was a little more difficult to control, but I can be pretty direct, so it wasn't really a problem.

I am still not advertising the time of the review because I am not trying to populate the room, just posting about what I am doing right now in my go life, which after all is the purpose of this blog. For those who might wonder how Mr. Yang feels about my lessons reviews... he was asked, and he approves.

Neglecting My Go Blog - Sorry About That

It has been nearly a month since I posted to this blog.  My new iMac must take the blame.  I have been spending most of my waking hours reading books about the Mac, watching instructional videos on lynda.com, and learning how to use the applications that came with the iMac.

Highest up on my list of priorities has been finally using the domain that I registered a couple of years ago, terrischurter.com.   I am using iWeb to create my web site which consists of a Welcome page, a blog currently devoted to my Mac experiences, and a page mentioning my lessons with Yilun Yang.  My domain is hosted on the space provided by my .Mac account.  I am finding iWeb easier to use than Blogger , and I am posting to my Mac blog once a day on average, which is why I have been so busy.  It is great to be able to simply drag and drop images onto a page.  I really love my Mac.  There is no going back to the PC for me.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Zen Comment About "Moving" In Impressive Circles

I was having a discussion with one of my students today online.  We were talking about my new Mac computer.  He also has a Mac and is just as enthusiastic about his as I am about mine.  He was telling me that he wants to get a laptop, and I was telling him that I still have a tablet that I use, and that since it is a windows machine it can run SmartGo

I then informed him that I know Anders Kierulf in real life, and that "sgf" stands for "smart go format" which he invented.

Whereupon he said, "Wow, you move in impressive circles."

To which I responded, "I am like a go stone... I don't move... other stones gather around me."

To which he responded, "How very zen."

That was the idea.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mac Rebate

It pays to ask.  I called Apple and asked if they offer a rebate to customers who have bought a machine within a certain period of time when they upgrade models.  They gave me a $200.00 rebate, with which I was very satisfied.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Got a Mac - Kind of Off Topic, But Not Really

Given the fact that my career was that of an art educator it is amazing that it took me until now to get a Mac.  I finally took the plunge after sitting on the fence since 1984 when I abandoned the Apple IIe for my first IBM compatible.  I got a 20 inch iMac for my husband a couple weeks ago first, and then spent a few weeks getting to know his machine and trying to decide if I should get a macbook pro for myself, or if I should get an iMac too.  I decided on the 24 inch iMac because I still have a working Tablet PC, which I can count on to provide me with computing functionality when I travel.  When the tablet dies it will be time for a Mac Book Air or a Mac Book Pro.

I am not sure if I can meet all of my go needs on the Mac, but I sure hope so, because I have no intention of running windows on the machine.  I am planning to try to find Mac applications for all of my computing needs, not just go.  Those who know me can vouch that I am pretty compulsive about things, so when I make the switch to Mac I am committed.  You should have seen me when I sold Tupperware.  I do little halfway.

So far I have decided to be satisfied with iWork rather than Microsoft Office for productivity.  I might feel compelled to get a Mac version of the Adobe Creative Suite.  I do have an academic version of CS...  yes. the first version.  Since I no longer have academic status I might be compelled to take a course at a local community college and go on an academic spending spree after I decide what I think I need to have.  I am looking at the iLife applications to see if I can make do with them.  I have used Photoshop for so long though, that I think I would have a hard time making due with anything less than Photoshop Elements at least.  We'll see.

I renewed my subscription to lynda.com so I can watch tutorials on the Mac OS X operating system as well as tutorials for the iLife and iWork applications.  I'll watch everything I can and then cancel the subscription until I think I need to go on another learning frenzy.

What is kind of funny is that the very day my iMac arrived at my door I read and article in the Apple RSS feed set up in my mail program on the iMac.  The article was titled "Meet the new iMac"  I just have to figure that it's only a couple hundred dollars of money I'm out by buying at the wrong time.  If I had waited just a week I would have gotten more Mac for my money... more memory... more speed... more of just about everything,  but you have to buy some time.  Your technology is always going to be old soon, just not usually the same day you get it.

One of the things I invested in is a .Mac account, which comes with an email account and also with disk space and the ability to publish web pages and to sync multiple Macs over the web.  Given that I already have multiple Macs and stand to accumulate more, this sounds like a good thing to me.  One of the things I will do with my .Mac account is to eventually make my lesson sgf files available for download so I can share them with others.  I'll let you all know when they are available.

AGA Ratings Prediction Pans Out

After the Cherry Blossom Tournament in Philadelphia where I went 2-2, I predicted that any ratings change would be glacial and negative. I was right about that as the screen capture from my favorite note keeping application "EverNote" shows...

My rating decreased from -11.39507 to -11.41904

My sigma went from 0.26936 to 0.25708

It's just fun to keep track of.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back to 8k

I finally made it back to 8k on KGS this morning after winning an auto match game.  It was a 0.5 victory.  It feels good to be 8k again.  I want to continue to play rated on a regular basis, perhaps one game each morning whether I feel like it or not ... kind of like a daily vitamin... but I will bask in the glory of being 8k for today and not risk losing it, at least until my friends have had a chance to see that I managed to make my come back.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Interesting KGS Ratings Graph

Yesterday I was told my one of my students that my ratings graph on KGS looks like a heart attack. It is actually very interesting looking with one large upward spike and one large downward spike. The rest of the graph is pretty solid 8k. Both of the spikes were the result of streaks of winning and loseing respectively in an atttempt to get rid of a "?" at the end of my rating.
After my recent downward spike I have worked my way back up to 9k, which I hope to maintain by playing rated on a consistent basis using automatch. I like automatch because I find less ego involved in those games than games against people I know.

It looks like I have about seven months before the upward spike scrolls off the graph. Until then it will be a very interesting image.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Tournament

I am really glad I decided not to self promote yesterday at the Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Tournament at the University of Pennsylvania. I had less than stellar performance with a record of 2-2. I lost my first two games and I won my last two. Any movement in my rating is likely to be glacial, and negative, at that. I did enjoy all four of my games, however, and there were interesting things about each of them. I recorded them all, and I will be reviewing them with Mr. Yang at our next lesson on Thursday.

I'll recount the highlights of each game here.

My first game was against an opponent I had played for the first time at the New Jersey Open in February. This time I had white against him. The game was very close. I believe I missed an opportunity to either kill or make seki in the upper left. I will find out for sure on Thursday. At the end of the game I spent an inordinate amount of time counting the board three times to determine if I needed to make a protective move in an area that looked s if it might need it. There were no dame left. Finally I realized that being white I had to either pass a stone or play within my own territory anyway, so the protective move became a no brainer. After we both passed my opponent told me that he assumed I had won, and I told him that if so, it was by no more than 2.5. We counted and saw that I had a 1.5 victory, or at least we thought I did. We approached the desk to report the results only to discover that there had been no komi for white. We were both surprised. So what had been a 1.5 victory turned quickly to a loss. This was a lesson to me to actually LOOK at the pairings rather than just accompany my opponent to our table on his say so. Let me be clear that my opponent had not looked at the komi either, but has also assumed 7.5 for white. There's always something new to learn about how to conduct oneself at a tournament.

My second game was against someone I had played two or three times at the Montgomery Go Club. When sitting down to play, my opponent commented that we are very evenly matched, which we both know to be true. An interesting game was sure to follow. I had black and my opponent had komi. We had both checked to be sure about komi after my earlier surprise. In this game my opponent did hane at the head of two stones after I invaded the lower right corner from a low one space approach to a hoshi stone. I extended to the 2nd line and cut after he extended to the 2nd line as well. My understanding is that this should have been successful, but I may have played it wrong, or the position may have been complicated by an additional white stone. I managed a successful invasion on the top, and did my little "snaking" routine where I managed to reduce one of my opponent's areas. At the end of the game white (with komi) had won by 7.5, so it was a jigo on the board. He would have won by 0.5 without komi anyway so I can't complain.

My third game was against a first time tournament player. He was a gentleman who had learned some lessons at the hands of the children in his first two games. In his first game he learned not to feel compelled to match the speed of opponents whose height does not exceed the bunny's ears at the amusement park. Just because one's opponent is rolling his eyes and acting bored is no reason to pick up the pace. I told him this after that game, and suggested that it is a much better strategy to allow the small children to figgit and look about the room. It breaks their concentration. In his second game he learned that his opponent might not remind him to hit his clock after each play. During our game, unfortunately, in spite of hitting his clock he ran out of time. I felt bad about that, and I would have said something if I had seen it coming, but I didn't notice until the red light on the clock started flashing. And not being familiar with how that clock handles byo yomi I had to call over the tournament director to confirm that time had, in fact, run out. It was sad, but it was a win. It was a close game anyway.

I toyed with the idea of byeing out of the fourth round and going home early since I was doing so poorly, but I was having fun and decided to stay. My fourth game was against a 12k. This time I had to give 2H. This game illustrates dramatically the extent to which I can gain a lead and then proceed to make idiotic mistakes to lose it. In this case, however, the lead was enough to result in a 9.5 victory even after allowing a large dead group to spring back to life. I even allowed a few dead stones to expand their numbers, and to result in a seki. This stole away at least twenty points from my lead. The highlight of that game was the fact that as white I was able to play the last dame by filling the third empty point in the seki, thus avoiding the need to play a stone in my own territory or pass a stone. We both had a good laugh over this. The huge seki made the board much easier to count since there was this vast expanse of stones we didn't have to disturb. :-)

I was actually ashamed of my fourth game, thinking that I did not deserve to win after having made two such huge mistakes. However, a dan player who reviewed it for me last night on KGS told me it was a very good game with advanced life and death reading just before my lapse and very pretty shape for white.

I know I am getting more from my tournament games by reviewing them myself and with stronger players, and by showing them to Mr. Yang. I am remembering more from each game, and I am particularly seeing more life and death situations in my games during the games and in review.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Buzzsaw Fearlessly Plays Five Rated Games In a Row

In keeping with my desire to be more fearless I decided it was time to play some rated games again. So I set up automatomatch on KGS for slow rated games up to 2h, and played five in a row. I watched my rank drop one stone per game up until I won the last game of the five games.

After losing four even games in a row I was not thrilled with having to give two stones of handicap in my fifth game. But I felt considerable better about it when my opponent's first move was to directly contact my first move, which I had played at a hoshi point. I felt as if I might have the conceptual upper hand.

I won that game by 30.5 to solidify my rank at 12k, which is one stone lower than my AGA rating. I feel so normal now, and liberated too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Impressed With The Enthusiasm Of A New Player

On January 28, 2008 I got a phone call from a beginner who lives in New Jersey who found my name and phone number of the AGA web site as the contact person for Wings Across Calm Water Go Club. He was looking for a local go club to attend. I had to tell him that Wings is a virtual club but I helped him register on KGS and played a 9x9 game with him and reviewed it.

I have reviewed some games with him since and helped him a little. I count him as one of my students, but mostly I have watched him play. Because he hurries from one game to the next so quickly he has little time for review, but I enjoy watching him. At first I was not so sure that rushing from game to game was the best thing to do, but I have come to think that the results speak for themselves. He is 16 kyu already, and not long ago he was 21 kyu, which was his first stable rating. At his level it seems that playing a lot without much review seems to be a great strategy for improvment.

What impresses me the most is the way he just plays... plays... plays, and rated too!!!

I looked at his games list today and was surprised to see only three games yesterday. But then I saw he had played 17 the day before, and 14 the day before that. Granted, these were weekend days, but still, that is a lot of games to play in two days.

I would love to recapture that enthusiasm and total lack of fear. Okay, I am not sure I ever had that enthusiasm and total lack of fear, but I did drive through a hurricane in 1970 to play a game of go, so I deserve SOME credit. Perhaps I need to develop that sense of enthusiasm and lack of fear.

If I am lucky I will meet my new go friend who has been so inspiring at the Cherry Blossom tournament at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Sunday this coming weekend. He would be playing in his first AGA rated tournament if he shows up. And if he enters as a 16 kyu it is conceivable that we might end up playing depending on the field.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NJ Open Games Reviewed With Mr. Yang

During our regular lesson on Thursday of last week Mr. Yang reviewed the first four games of the NJ Open with me. We will review the fifth game of this tournament at our next lesson on the 20th of March.

As much as I enjoy playing a game with Mr. Yang and reviewing it as we usually do in our lessons, I think that I actually enjoy reviewing games I have played with others even more. When Mr. Yang and I play a lesson game together I realize that Mr. Yang is playing in a way to keep the game reasonable. He obviously isn't going to play like a 7p. He sets up opportunities for me to punish him, and other situations which we will review later. When we go over the game he will tell me when I have missed opportunities, and made suboptimal moves. He'll ask for better moves. Sometimes I can find them. However, if I thought a move I had made was okay thrity minutes before, and I had failed to find the right move at that time, there is a good chance I will have a hard time finding it during the review. It is a different story with my tournament games, however. I played the NJ Open games nearly two weeks prior to their review. I went over those games a number of times including during the hours immediately prior to our lesson. I asked myself which moves Mr. Yang would consider slow or unnecessary, and which opportunities I had missed. I had tried to find the moves for which he might want me to seek alternatives. As a result I felt better prepared when I was being asked questions.

Another interesting aspect of reviewing tournament games is that Mr. Yang doesn't know what is coming up in the game. In one case there was a corner situation where Mr. Yang showed me what I should have played assuming that I hadn't played it. Then he realized that he was actually in the main line of play and he said, "Oh you played that."

I got a "wow" (with two exclaimation marks) when I played a corner invasion unlike my usual self.

pala [-]: wow!!
buzzsaw [8k?]: yeah wow is right
buzzsaw [8k?]: not like terri huh?
pala [-]: great forcing move
pala [-]: you are new terri
buzzsaw [8k?]: but I do get a little whimpy in a while

This is the second tournament where I have shared all of the games with Mr. Yang afterwards. I am really enjoying doing this. There is something emotionally risky about it because I have promised myself to show them all... the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain stupid like the moment in which I failed to make an obvious move to create a seki. But the advantage of exposing myself in this way is that it makes me particularly mindful of my play. I know it will come under scrutiny later because I will not allow myself to weed out games that show me in a bad light. I feel safe in doing this because Mr. Yang has known me for so long and I am very comfortable in revealing myself to him. I don't feel the need to hide anything because he is always supportive. I also believe that it is to my advantage as a student for him to see what the flow of a tournament is like for me, even if it isn't pretty. I don't worry that some of my games might not have good analysis potential because I have come to realize that Mr. Yang finds valuable lessons in any game with which he is presented.

We ended our analysis on Thursday with the game where I failed to make seki, my only loss in the tournament. It resulted in the following comments:

pala [-]: oh no.
buzzsaw [8k?]: I resign obviously
buzzsaw [8k?]: end of game
pala [-]: really painful

It's great to have a teacher who understands how you feel.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Four Wins At NJ Open Gets Me 0.06793 Rating Point Increase

I don't really believe in self promotion since I play in tournaments on a regular basis. I would like to think that if I do exceptionally well at a tournament that I could improve half a rating point. My results at the NJ Open, however, prove otherwise. The results are in.

Before the tournament I was rated -11.46300. After the tournament I was rated -11.39507. This is a ratings improvement of 0.06793, less than a tenth of a ratings point. Plus my sigma went down and is now at a low 0.26936. Having a lower sigma should slow things down even more.

Given these results I would expect to break into 10k if I can go 4-1 at my next four tournaments. This just doesn't seem right to me. It isn't that I am in such a hurry to be 10k. I would just like to see results that make sense. Less than a tenth of a point for four wins just doesn't make sense to me. The fact that one of the opponents I won against had self promoted two stones didn't help, and is all the more reason to resist self promotion myself to avoid providing a future opponent with similarly disappointing results.

At the end of the month I will be playing in a tournament at the University of Pennsylvania and will have to decide at what rank to enter. I will probably enter at my AGA rating if for no other reason than to see how small the increase in rating will be if I happen to win all of my games.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blog Celebrates One Year Anniversary A Few Weeks Late

I have been retired for over a year now. It is hard to believe how quickly time passes in retirement. The old saying, "time flies when you are having fun" is true for me.

I started this blog about a week after I retired, and the year anniversary of the beginning of this blog passed without my even being aware of it. Today I checked the date on the first post, and I realized the anniversary had come and gone about three weeks ago. In the first year I posted 54 times, just slightly over once a week on average.

Thanks to those who have followed along, and especially to those who have made comments along the way.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Jersey Open - Day Two

During my first game of the day I played a young lady who had also gone 3-0 the day before. I tried to make the center of the board less valuable by extending into it, and was doing a pretty good job of it. It got to the point where it looked as if I was going to be able to kill a large number of stones in the middle, which would been even better than just making the middle less valuable. I was told by a dan player that I should have ignored the threat to my group in the upper left to make a clean enclosure of the stones in the center, but I didn't do that. I was afraid to make the game hinge on the kill. I did manage to separate the center stones, but unfortunately some of my surrounding stones got disconnected and it was going to be necessary to make seki. Sadly I had a moment of blindness when I should have thrown a second stone into an eye to prevent my opponent from capturing the single stone to make two eyes. Instead I chose to fill an outside liberty. It was stupid and it should have been obvious. If I had been watching someone else's game it would have been. I should have walked away from the game to gain composure when I realized I needed to make seki. The move was something I ordinarily would have seen, but in the excitement of the game I made a big mistake. I am not sure that seki would even have been good enough after part of my group in the upper left had been killed. I'll look into that later. I'm not ready to know that now. The board position at the time of my fatal mistake is shown below. I played A, but I needed to play B instead. I am white. One really good thing about this game was the way I handled the lower left corner. My opponent tried very hard to kill it, but I kept it alive.

In my second game of the day I managed to get a resignation from my opponent after I made a decisive kill. After it was pointed out to me in analysis that my opponent could have made a ko for life by playing at o1, I didn't feel quite so smug about the kill. But if one's opponent doesn't see the ko, then the ko doesn't exist. I was euphoric from the kill and wanted to avoid the mistake of failing to take a break at the appropriate time. I went for a break to clear my head so I would not do something stupid in the aftermath of the kill. That has happened to me more than once. The second game of the day is shown below at the point of resignation. When I returned from my break my opponent resigned. I was really tired by then, and it was a relief not to have to play the end game. I am black.

My final result for the tournament was 4-1. That earned me a nice certificate suitable for framing, and a cash prize of $40.00, which paid for my playing fee and then some. As much as it would have been nice to go 5-0 I am glad things worked out the way they did. If I had not lost the 4th game I would not have had the valuable lesson about seki, which I am unlikely to forget. I also would not have been matched against my 5th opponent so I would have missed our game, which I found to be very interesting.
I do not expect my record to be sufficient to bring me up to 10k from 11k.

It is my plan to have Mr. Yang review the NJ Open games during our next lessons.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Jersey Open - Day One

Yesterday was the first day of the New Jersey Open. Some die hard go players traveled from the Baltimore and D.C. area, but snow kept many players away this year. I think there were only 33 tables, and there were very few players weaker than myself.

I won all three of my games yesterday and I am going back hoping to win one or two more. But even if I lose both games today I will have won more than I lost, so I am in a good position.

I will do my best to keep a calm mind. I know my go skills are up to the challenge if I can just keep my mind calm.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Played Rated Again

After a few weeks of having that nasty question mark attached to my rank on KGS I decided to play some rated games to get rid of it. Yesterday I used automatch to find my games. The first game was a 0.5 komi game against a solid 8k, which I lost by 20.5, a significant defeat, especially since there was no real fighting. That loss dropped me from 7k? to 9k?. Well, that just couldn't be allowed to stand. So I fired up another automatch game right away. I ended up as white against a solid 11k giving two stones of handicap, which I knew would be a challenge. I play white often, but I am still much more comfortable as black even when there is no handicap.

I actually was ahead by 4.5 according to Score Estimator just before I played the winning move. In the screen capture below you can see the shadow of the stone that I intend to play at h19. Because black made his second eye at j19, I was able to cut at h18. I would then be able to capture the black stones to the right because black could not approach from the inside because of a shortage of libeties, but I could approach from the outside.

The screen capture below shows the position at the point at which black resigned. Score Estimator shows W+37.5 at this point. I was glad not to have to depend upon superior end game play to win the game because I am okay in the end game these days, but I hardly have superior end game skills. I would not have been happy falling to 10k, so it was a good thing to get it over with painlessly... well, at least for me. :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yang Workshop In Evanston

I spent last weekend in Evanston, Illinois at a two day Yang Workshop. This is the fourth year I have attended this particular workshop, and it was a great event as usual, even though it was a day shorter than usual this year.

After the Oza I decided to have Mr. Yang review all six of my Oza games using about thirty minutes of my regular lesson time for each game. Although I had reviewed games with Mr. Yang online during my lesson time previously, that was many years ago, and I had never reviewed my tournament games. I had only reviewed games I had played online. So this was the first time that Mr. Yang had seen any of my tournament games.

I enjoyed reviewing the games, and definitely got value from it. But one of the main reasons I wanted to do it was because I wanted Mr. Yang to get a feel for what a typical tournament is like for me. It was my hope that seeing the situations in which I end up with other players might impact in some way the situations that Mr. Yang might choose to create in our lessons games. I believe that everything he sees about the way I play has potential to influence what he does in our lessons, if not consciously, then subconsciously, based on what he knows about how I play, and what I need to practice.

Mr. Yang said something at the workshop which confirmed my belief that he had"filed away" some information from those Oza game reviews, and added it to his knowledge of "how Terri plays". There was a point in a game review or a lecture at which it was appropriate to play a 2nd line move against a 3rd line move which would then allow for a double sente move on the side. He said, "Terri makes this kind of move often." That would not be so impressive a statement if I actually got the chance to play such moves in our lesson games. But given the fact that our lesson games don't often get beyond the middle game, he had to have made that statement based on what he had recently observed in my Oza games, which we reviewed to the end. I am only one of many students that Mr. Yang had taught in the past month, which makes his observation even more impressive to me.

At the workshop I made it a point to show Mr. Yang one of the video recordings I had made of our lessons. He said he had never seen anyone make that kind of recording before. It was just like watching a KGS lecture only it was our lesson.

We did experience some significant lag in our last lesson, however, which makes the video recordings less valuable since stones and text sometimes appear very quickly in spurts when lag occurs. In those cases it is necessary to look at the sgf file to make sense of things. I told Mr. Yang that it is more efficient to view the sgf file from a time standpoint, but it is nice to be able to watch the lesson in real time as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slight Ratings Increase From Oza

I went 3-3 at the Oza, so I could have stayed the same, or I could have had a slight decrease or a slight increase in my rating. As it turned up my rating improved slightly. Actually it is so slight that it is pretty much like staying the same.

Before the tournament my rating was -11.52063 with a sigma of 0.31384.

After the tournament my rating was -11.46308 with a sigma of 0.28265.

I experienced a ratings improvement of 0.05755 points and my sigma went down by 0.03119.

I don't think that going 3-2 at the NJ Open will be enough to break into the 10 kyu range, and I am not comfortable with a self promotion to 9 kyu. Since the AGA is not currently allowing self promotions of one rank it looks as if it's going to be a tough battle to 10k.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Curious 13k Makes My Day

I was reviewing a game for a student of mine by the name of ramatheson on KGS. We had an observer, and after I had shown my student how he was making small center moves when there were big end games moves to be had by both sides our observer decided to chime in.

The following conversation took place...

teamochi [13k]: Are you really 7kyu?
buzzsaw [7k?]: yeah
buzzsaw [7k?]: do I seem weaker?
buzzsaw [7k?]: I am really 7k
ramatheson [13k]: Are you really 13k ?
ramatheson [13k]: :)
buzzsaw [7k?]: I have a ? cause I have not played rated in a few weeks
teamochi [13k]: Well you seem stronger than any 7kyu I've seen
buzzsaw [7k?]: I just know more than any 7k you have ever seen
buzzsaw [7k?]: thanks for the complement though
buzzsaw [7k?]: I study with a 7 dan professional
buzzsaw [7k?]: so I have a good theoretical base

Whew! I was scared there for awhile.

Later in the review I thanked him for the complement and told him that he had made my day.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Sweatshirt I Wore At The Oza

I had a sweatshirt made up at cafe press with this image on it, and wore it the first day of the Oza. It is a 9x9 go board with the face of Yilun Yang 7p embedded in the grain of the board. I did the work in Photoshop. The artwork had originally been done for a tshirt for a New Jersey Yang Workshop in 2004, and I used just the artwork to create the sweatshirt with no lettering.
To create the artwork I took a photograph I had taken at a previous Yang workshop and made it a grayscale image. I then used a posterizing filter on it to reduce it to about six shades of gray. Each shade of gray was assigned a color. Then the grain was hand drawn with a graphics tablet, then the grid was superimposed over the image. The board is actual size, so if the sweatshirt were placed flat on a table you could actually play a game on it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oza Baltimore - Day Two

It is the day afer the Oza and I am very tired. I didn’t get home until after 11:00 PM and it was a long trip home with much to think about. I slept until 9:00 AM to recover, which is a few hours past my usual wakeup time so I am rested, yet groggy.

Day two of the Oza started off well with a win which brought my record to 3-1, and provided the promise of at least a face saving result of 3-3 by tournament’s end, which is exactly what I ended up getting.

The day started off with the fourth game, in which I played black. It was a peaceful and fairly uneventful game which was quite close through the late middle game. It was touch and go though, and was anyone’s game. Fairly late in the game my opponent attempted to invade a solid corner and tried to set up a ko for life, but I declined to play it because it really wasn’t a ko at all. It just looked like one. Then later on we were putting finishing touches on the edges of territory. I played a move which I expected my opponent would realize was atari against six stones. This move required that he capture one of my stones to save his six. I never saw it as a potential trick play, and I never though that he would miss the threat. It had to be played eventually since it was forcing and would gain a point for me and lose a point for him when he took, but I guess the move was played late enough that it was not perceived as the real threat that it was. That move turned a possible win into a sure win. But at the end of the game we determined that it had not been game deciding afterall, which made me feel much better about it. I’m sure my opponent felt better as well. No one likes to win or lose a game based on that kind of oversight. After pushing around the stones during the scoring phase and seeing that it was a clear win we never actually bothered to come up with the exact number of points, but it appeared not to be over ten, yet less than twenty.

After my third win of the tournament I was destined to meet stronger opposition in the form of a 9 kyu during my fifth game. At least I got to play black again. I lost this game by 18.5. The dan players who reviewed the game afterwards liked my position early on… up through move 70, in fact. They said that I lost the game because I failed to invade the lower left corner at the 3-3 in a timely fashion. In addition to that, I had earlier failed to extend from a three stone wall on the bottom in favor of adding a stone to a framework in the upper right in response to an approach move which I thought would be followed by an invading pincer. Late in the game I did attempt the invasion at the 3-3 after it had been reinforced with an additional stone by my opponent. I made a valiant effort at life, which failed. I probably should not have forced my opponent to connect three in a row to make the killing nakade shape, which I knew he was strong enough to recognize as the killing move. People are known to make mistakes, however, so I did force that move on the off chance that the proper response might have been missed. I stopped short of capturing the nakade and making him throw in to complete the kill. Having made the nakade in the first place there was no doubt in my mind that he would throw in. I see no point in playing a truly insulting move. After game five I was 3-2 and feeling optimistic about the possibility of winning again, especially since I was not likely to meet a 9k again. However, another win was not to be.

My sixth and last game was against a 10 kyu. I had the white stones in my hand again, which is never easy for me, but I gave it my best shot. Up until this point all of my opponents had been clearly at least twenty years younger than myself, although I had played only one child. My last opponent was in my own age range, and obviously experienced. My opponent took a fairly clear lead in this game, and gave me some trouble with a group along the top which he made annoyingly small, and then attempted to kill. He had stones on either side of the eye which bordered the upper side. He did a hane on the first line and when I did atari he did hane on the other side so that I could not block without being captured. I expected this after the first hane. I could read that far, but I saw no choice but to atari his first hane and see where it might lead. As much as my atari was probably death, failure to atari was SURE death. After his second hane from the outside I considered resignation, but I looked more carefully and I realized that if I threw in and he took I could squeeze and he could not connect to the second hane due to a shortage of liberties. I had not seen that until my atari and his second hane were in place. I would never have been able to read that situation a year ago even after the addition of those two moves, and I am certainly glad that I didn't talk myself out of continuing based on how far I actually could read. I've been known to do that on occasion. When I threw in my opponent appeared to be surprised, but he then read it too, and connected out the stone that was short allowing me to save my group. After I managed to live along the top my opponent knew I could read… at least a little bit. Another highlight of this sixth game was my invasion of the upper left, which was necessary because I was behind. I thought it was destined to die, but I managed to make it live. I am going to have some stronger players look at that position. I thought I knew the killing move for my opponent, but after trying it for black in a variation I found that I was able to refute it. Maybe the invasion did deserve to win afterall. Stronger players will be able to tell me. Since it was the last game of the day I didn’t have anyone look at it yet, but I will load it up on KGS for some friends to take a look. After living in the upper left I thought I had a chance, but I needed more to win. I next managed to reduce the lower left quite successfully by jumping across a 3rd line stone from the 2nd line to the 2nd line which my opponent could not cut off. After that I counted myself ahead by a couple of points, but I think I may have been wrong. In any case I had a group in the lower right that needed an extra stone thrown in to avoid seki, and I was afraid that I could not afford to play that stone and gambled that my opponent would view it as alive. As it turned out my opponent jumped into that group. I avoided death, and got the seki I deserved. I’m still not sure if it cost me the game or not, but I did lose by about ten points, and I think there were only eight points in that territory to begin with, so throwing in a stone would have had me down by three points at the end if that were the case. The game brought my opponent’s record to 3-3 and my own to 3-3 so I figure we both got what we deserved regardless.

Aside from my first game loss, my three wins came early in the tournament. I consider myself lucky in that respect because I was able to play stronger players in my last two games. I played white three times and I played black three times. The beauty of the system is that even though it is nearly impossible to go 6-0, it is also nearly impossible to go 0-6. If your rating is accurate you are going to hit a wall somewhere and your fortune will be reversed, whether that means eventually winning, or eventually losing. 6-0 records are for children, beginners, and players who don’t play regularly enough to have their rating keep up with their improvement. And every once in awhile I guess someone else has a couple really good days, in which case they deserve to go 6-0.

One positive for me to focus on from this tournament is that my stamina was obviously up, and I credit that as much to physical exercise as to lessons. Heaven knows I don’t play enough, nor do I do enough tsumego. I have recently started doing cardio activity on an almost daily basis, which is supposed to be as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body. Another positive is that aside from my swift resignation in my first game, all of my games were reasonably close. I include the second game resignation because if it had not been for cutting off a group the game would have gone on to completion, and it would have been a close one, which I think I still would have won.

In spite of telling myself that 3-3 if good and fair, I will admit to some disappointment that I had not been able to pull off a 4-2 record given the difference between my AGA rating and my KGS rating, as well as the observations of so many that my play has improved dramatically in the year since retirement. The breakthrough they have been predicting will come some day, but apparently the time is not now. There will be more tournaments soon. For now I must focus on study, stamina, and playing. These are the things that will make the difference in the long run.

I am very happy to have gotten so much analysis from stronger players between games at the Oza, and I am going to seek even more review online to add to the lessons to be learned from this tournament. I may have had three losses, but I only had one game to be ashamed of.

I had a great time. I have a Yang workshop coming up in four weeks to look forward to in the Chicago area, which will be followed the next week by the New Jersey Open in Princeton, which will be followed a month later by a one day tournament at The University of Pennsylvania. My Winter go calendar is full, and life is good.