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.