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.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oza Baltimore - Day One

The Oza has been great fun. I've had an opportunity to meet NannyOgg, Flameblade and others for the first time as well as the opportunity to touch base with old friends from across the East Coast at least.

I played the lightning round at the reception the night before the first day of the tournament. There were four players to a table and we played three games with one player staying put and the others rotating around the table. Time constraints were 10 minutes basic time, sudden death. I don't play blitz online, so it was not like me to do this, but I had a glass of wine in one hand and a go stone in the other, and it worked out okay. I actually managed my clock very well, and won one of those games. It was fun.

In the main event I went 2-1 in the first day.

I played my first game against a very young girl who was quite a strong fighter, and who I observed later forcing resignations from her future opponents. I was in lightning go mode from the evening before, and unfortuantely got drawn into a quick game, which I resigned ten minutes into the game from a hopeless position. The slips hadn't even come out. How embarressing. Given the fact that four hours had been devoted to the round, I had time on my hands. My opponent had played a Chinese Opening, which I did not know how to handle. Later Massaki Hamaguchi, who is mh online and our Wings 2008 League King, showed me how to handle the Chinese opening as white, and also how to handle some other common opening situations to avoid a fighting game.

In my second game of the day I played black. I got to play my usual opening of 3-4, and 4-4 with a low knight's move shimari extension from the 3-4. I actually got to extend from that shimari in the optimal direction down the side, which surprised me since I nearly never get that opportunity. The game was ultra peaceful. I played quite solidly and succeeded in getting at least a 25 point lead. I then cut off a group, and a resignation swiftly followed. What was really eventful about this game, however, was the successful invasion which I played very lightly which drew praise from even the dan players.

In my thrid game of the day I was white again playing against another Chinese opening. Thanks to the advice from mh I knew enough to appoach the 3-4 with a large knight's move. But what really made me proud of my win in that game was that I came from behind in the end game and kept sente. Although I should have gone after the two double sente end game moves one move earlier, my opponent answered my small move in the middle of the board, and I went on to get those two sente moves by extending to the second line from the third line in both cases before doing hane from the second line to the first, thus maintaining sente and going on to get the other really big end game moves. The two double sente end game moves alone won the game, which was W+8.5 with komi being only 6.5, so I actually won it on the board by 2 points. It was slow, solid, and close.

I can hardly wait to see what the second day brings.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Go Blog You Should Read

I have added a fairly new go blog to my list of links. It is Sol's Blog of Go and Fun

Sol.ch, is a strong dan player, a regular poster on Go Discussions, and has just recently decided to enter the world of Go Blogging. He has done so in a big way with posts full of real go content including diagrams from his games. I've enjoyed reading his posts, and have responded to a couple of them.

If you haven't discovered this blog yet, please stop by and take a look.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

All About Life And Death

I am having another lesson tomorrow. In my most recent lesson I was told to do more puzzles meaning more life and death. I have a few ways to study life and death. I have the problems that come with SmartGo. I have The "Get Strong At Life And Death" book. I also have the Davies "Life and Death" from the Elementary Go Series. I have read through parts of both of these books from time to time, but have never read straight through either one of them. I also have "1001 Life and Death Problems" from the Mastering The Basics series of books.

But the jewel in my collection of life and death books is the two volume set by Cho Chikun "All About Life And death", which is currently out of print.

The way I study my collection of go books, not just life and death, is way too random. I flit from topic to topic rarely finishing one book before I have torn into another.

I want to set a goal for myself to really spend time with the Cho Chikun books and play through all of the diagrams in the two volume set of "All About Life And Death". I started yesterday with my single convex yunzi stones which made it really easy to pick up the stones from the variations without destroying the initial positions. I am working through Part 1 - Life and Death On The Second Line, and have gotten through Pattern 9.

I might make sgf files of each of the patterns so I can upload them to KGS and present them to my students. There are 346 patterns in the two volumes. Creating the sgf files would be good reinforcement. I wouldn't bother to add the comments to the files because I would have the books to refer to during the online analysis of the positions. If I did an sgf file with multiple positions for each Part I would have ten sgf files representing the patterns in the book. For instance, Part 1 is Life and Death On The Second Line and it consists of 22 patterns.

Perhaps this is just some crazy task I won't complete, but it would be really nice to have those files on my tablet to review. That way I can look at the position without seeing the continuations on the pages of the book. It would be a good way of reviewing the information to refresh my memory from time to time.

I need to able to recognize more positions from sight without having to read them out each time.