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.