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.