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.