Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Think I Know What Happened

I am feeling a little bit better now after researching my opps from Hoboken. Apparently I was paired in all four game against someone weaker than myself. The system punished me severely for my one loss, and it didn't reward me at all for my three wins. Being on the borderline to begin with, I got burned. It's as simple as that. I will be checking the stats of my opps from now on before I allow myself to expect anything.

It was a mistake thinking that I couldn't drop after a winning tournament.

Win A Prize - Lose a Rank - What?

Last week I checked my rating to see if the results of the Hoboken tournament were in yet. They weren't, but I found that my rating had increased to -8.92, which was up from the -8.98 I had achieved immediately after the congress.

I checked my rating again this morning.

Imagine my surprise, having gone 3-1 in Hoboken, to see that my new rating had dropped to -9.10 after having achieved prize winning results in my last tournament.


It just doesn't make sense.

I would rather that I had stabilized at 9 kyu as a result of my 2-3 record at the congress. At least that would have made sense.

I came back from Hoboken feeling that my 8 kyu rating would at least be solidified. I didn't really expect it to change for the better by more than a couple hundredths of a point.

It just doesn't make sense to win and have your rating go down as a result.

At least my sigma is up to 0.47773

But now I have to enter as 9 kyu at my next tournament.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hoboken Tournament Report

Yesterday I played in a tournament in Hoboken. I was lucky enough to get a ride to the playing site with five other players from the Princeton Go Club. We had a nice time riding up and back together. I met up with them on campus for the ride.

I saw lots of people I know from previous tournaments and enjoyed my time chatting between rounds.

I went 3-1 to defend my tenuous rating of -8.98, which I earned through a two stone self promotion at the Congress this year just the month before.

I will admit to having been very nervous about this tournament because I did not want to slip back to 9 kyu. There is something nice about having a rating that matches one's AGAID number. However, it seemed unlikely that I could defend this rating, especially in New Jersey where ratings are particularly tough due to the location of the Fen Yun Go School. We are lucky to have such good competition, but it makes New Jersey events particularly tough when the young strong locals come out in force.

My four games were all with opponents under the age of 20. Three of them were with young students of Feng Yun, so it was quite a challenge to go 3-1, and I am particularly pleased with my record.

My first game was a loss, and I braced myself for the rest of the day. I recorded my first game, and sat down with Masaki Hamiguchi, one of my strong long time go buddies, and we went over the game. He is such a good teacher, and showed me where I went wrong. Primarily I failed to reduce the Chinese opening with a shoulder hit at the proper time, making it difficult for me to reduce it later. I had taken a smaller move along the side instead.

My first opponent was a young boy who made sure I knew before the end game started that he was winning. I am sure that was my subtle hint to resign, and in a club game I would have. But I was there to play go, and if I resigned every game I played with a child under the age of ten once i was behind, I would have some very long waits between rounds. I told him that I agreed with his assessment, but that I would enjoy finishing the game nonetheless, and so we did. I lost by 36.5, which was less than I would have expected given the massive kill. This boy was so committed to the Chinese Opening that he chose to play it as white. I am not sure that I have seen this before. It is time to review my Guo Juan Audio Go Lessons on the Chinese Opening.

My second opponent was the only one who was not a student of Feng Yun. She was a sophomore in college who was attending her first tournament. She had been playing go for about three years, which she had discovered in high school by way of Anime. That game turned out to be a decisive victory for me at 56.5, and I recorded that game as well up until I was about ten minutes away from byo yomi.

As much as I like having a recording so I can benefit from my mistakes, I found that I had worn myself out considerably with recording those first two games. I ended up in byo yomi in both of them, which was no surprise given that I was playing what looked like an eight year old boy who didn't need long to decide his next move, and a college student who was a self proclaimed fan of blitz.

Masaki suggested that I stop recording, and predicted that I would be two stones stronger if I did. Whether he was right about the increase in go strength, or not, I definitely found myself refreshed by not recording, and I felt a definite increase in stamina.

My third game was with a very young boy from the Feng Yun Go School who was playing as a 7 kyu. I managed to isolate some of his stones early on in the game to create a huge area of territory, which he added to by attempting unsuccessfully to live. It turned out to be an easy game, and I came out of it refreshed and with a 15.5 victory. We both played quickly so I had more than an hour to relax and do tsumgo before the 4th round.

My fourth game was with a young teenage female student of the Feng Yun Go School. This was also a relatively easy game. This opponent had won all three of her games to this point, so she was being matched up to play a stronger player even in the fourth round. Given that the handicap was inadequate for her stated rank, it was an important game for me to win. I did so by 26.5

At the awards ceremony I received some cash, and I got to choose a go book. They had more than a handful of books I did not already own, and I selected "The Go Companion: Go in History and Culture" by John Fairbairn and T. Mark Hall the Creators of GoGoD.

I came back seriously pumped and logged in immediately to KGS to look for my friends so i could brag. I found a few, and by 12:30 I had come down far enough to attempt to sleep.

It was a very exciting day, and I am very glad I went.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Exciting Evening At The Princeton Go Club

My first game was with an AGA 3kyu. I took 5 stones and ended up winning by 19 points. I counted the game a number of times, but aside from that, I played pretty quickly. We replayed the game up to the point where he felt that the he had suffered a meaningful loss, which was actually early in the middle game when I isolated two of his stones. It was nice to replay the game up to that point from memory. It is entirely different from clicking through it online.

I am keeping track of who I play and how I do, so I can come up with a reasonable handicap for each individual. He and I should try four stones next time and see how it goes. I know I don't do well giving handicap, so I am sure when I play weaker players I will be unlikely to give the proper handicap and win.

My next game was with a young girl who is 8 kyu AGA. But her mother wanted to get her and her younger sister to begin heading home shortly after 9:00 PM, so we discontinued play when the mother, being a strong player, offered to review the game for us.

Oh, and did I mention, the mother's name? She is Feng Yun, 9p. Just how cool is that?

It was quite an honor to have the opening reviewed by Feng Yun. I will be going to the club again next week. I feel really lucky to be at the proper level to give a reasonable game to both of Feng Yun's daughters.

Going To Princeton Go Club Again Tonight

In about a half an hour I will be out the door to attend the Princeton Go Club again tonight.

Since my husband wakes me up at 5:30 AM every weekday, my leaving the house at 7:00 PM to attend a go club feels like venturing out at 10:00 PM if I were getting up at at a normal time. I don't like playing at night, and I have stayed away from evening clubs because I have a fear of doing poorly. But let's face the fact that I have a fear of doing poorly online too, or at a tournament. I have such a fear of doing poorly that I will use almost any excuse to not play, but to watch instead. So I have decided that I am simply going to face the fact that I am likely going to show performance that is anywhere from one to two stones below what I am capable of at a decent hour, and I will just suck it up and play.

When discussing the club with my friend Charles, who has no fear of playing at all, I realized that what I like about the club is that if I go I am forced to play. Online I can say, "No". But at the club if I am not playing I look like a chicken. And if I am not playing, then what on earth am I doing there?

So, off I go, to be brave, and to play.

I am wearing the tshirt from the 2004 New Jersey Yang Workshop. That is the one that has Yilun Yang's face embedded in the grain of a 9x9 go board.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Went To The Princeton Go Club Last Night

On a weekday I get up at 5:30 AM, so by the time the evening rolls around I am pretty tired and reluctant to play go because I feel that I am about two stones weaker than I am in the morning. But I finally dealt with my fear of playing at night, and forced myself out of the house to go to the Princeton Go Club last night. It felt really great to play some casual games over the board.

There were only two other people there because it was the first meeting of the semester and the word had not gotten out to all the students yet. The three of us in attendance took turns playing and watching, so each of us got to play two games and watch one. It was great to play over the board rather than online. It was also great to play without a clock as I would at a tournament. I play quickly, so I actually play faster without a clock than with a clock. I had forgotten what club play feels like. It is a whole different experience from online play and tournament play.

The only thing I missed was actually reviewing the game in depth since no one recorded, and we did not attempt to replay.

I will be going back again next Wednesday looking for a ride to the Hoboken tournament on the 20th. Maybe I can persuade my friend Charles to come to the club.

Friday, August 21, 2009

American Go Association Go Database

At the U.S. Go Congress this year the AGA rolled out the American Go Association Go Database.

You can find the main page at:


A search for AGAID#8 will yield my page at:


Above you can see my entry ranks for all tournaments beginning with the 1997 Go Congress. You can also see the five year stretch where I was stuck pretty much stuck at 13 kyu.

I like that you can look up your opponents and see how many games they have in the database.

I was even told on a thread on Go Discussions that if I would email them sgf files of my tournament games that they would upload them to the database. It would be really neat if the people who record their games would do this. If they did you could look at the other games your opponent had played. I would find that interesting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

SDK Again - Ratings Are In

The ratings are in from the U.S. Go Congress.

I self promoted two stones from 10k to 8k, and I managed to hold onto it by the skin of my teeth.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Aerobic Tsumego

At the Go Congress this year I decided to purchase a set of Tsumego books translated from Korean into English by a company called Baduktopia. They had a table outside the main playing area and they were selling a series of books on Life and Death. I am told by my strong playing friends that the last book in the series is difficult, and definitely dan level. They also have a series of books called "Level Up". I purchased the first set of books in the series. The answers are not in the books, but they are available for the first and second series of the Level Up books online in PDF format.

Currently the answers are not yet available online for the Life and Death books, but they are working on getting those PDF files created and uploaded.

The reason this post is called "Aerobic Tsumego" is because I have taken to solving life and death problems while walking on the treadmill. I walked for an hour and a half yesterday all the while working on life and death and working through the Level Up books.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Congress Report - Self Promoted

I decided to self promote again this year at the Go Congress. If I had been 9k at the end of the Maryland Open I would not have promoted to 7k because that would have been two far. I would have lost every game at that level. My recent dip to 10k actually offered me an opportunity to self promote the necessary two stones to 8k, and actually get a one stone promotion because I am essentially still 9k in spite of one bad tournament day. I also decided that if I played as 10k and did well that my opponents would have a right to consider me a sandbagger, and if I won a prize as a 10k it would have been a hollow victory.

I started the congress with a victory in an even game against a 5k in a casual game just before the first round of the U.S. Open. Unfortunately, he went 0-6 in the open so I don't put much stock in having won that game.

I went 2-3 at the Congress, which may just be enough to squeak into 8k territory. It is certainly enough to earn back my 9k status. It will all depend on how my opponents fare, and whether they self promoted or not. The two I won against did not self promote, so that is good news. I don't know about the other opponents.

I had a great time at the Congress. I decided not to play pair go this year although I had my pick of partners. I find it tiring to play that late at night, and I wanted to be fresh for my Friday game, which I lost by the way.

I have a lesson this Thursday and I am conflicted as to whether to show these games to Mr. Yang or not. The mistakes appear to be obvious. Strong players have pointed them out to me, and some of them were so painfully obvious that I saw them immediately in my games, which made it all the harder to play on in some cases. One might argue that it is a waste of money to show such games to Mr. Yang, but since I already know that my poor tournament results have more to do with stamina issues and mental blocks than they do with how much I know about go I like for him to see my lapses and stupid mistakes. Well, I don't LIKE it, but I think it is beneficial. The main reason I started to record my tournament games and to show them to Yang was so that the knowledge that they would be revealed to Yang would somehow make me more careful and think more of what Yang would say about the move I was considering. I hoped that would make me play better.

I have a day to decide.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DDK Again

The results from the MD Open Tournament have been entered into the AGA Rating System.

I will be playing as a 10 kyu at the Congress, as I expected.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Maryland Open

I attended the Maryland Open on Saturday of last weekend.  Attendance was low this year and it seemed that we were missing the strongest players, and there were not too many weaker players either.

This tournament was my chance to stabilize my rank at a solid 9 kyu before the Congress.  I had dipped close to 10 kyu after the New Jersey Open in February.   Unfortunately, I think I may have pushed myself down into DDK land again.   

I lost all three of my games on Saturday, and I did not play on Sunday.   All of my games were very close.   I lost the first by 4.5.  I lost the second by 0.5, and I lost the third by 2.5.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Guo Juan Group Lessons Are Going Well

I am enjoying my group lessons with Guo Juan and Jennie Shen.  They take turns doing the lessons.

A new feature has been added this semester which I like.   They are asking us to send in our games early enough so they can send them all to us before the lesson.  We receive an sgf file which is a compilation of all the games by Friday.  This way we can look at the games in preparation for the Saturday lesson.  This is really nice because it gives us a chance to think about questions, and also to try to anticipate what the teacher may choose to focus on during the analysis of the various games.  Basically we have been given an additional opportunity to prepare for the lesson beyond the time we spend looking at our own game record, and doing tsumego.

It is obvious through their analysis that Guo Juan and Jennie both look at each game ahead of time to find something to emphasize during review so they can make the best use of the time available for the lesson.

I love my group lessons, but unfortuately life happens.   Next week I have to attend a birthday party, and the following week I will be playing in the Maryland Open Tournament.   Lucky for me I am not the only person who is recording the Group B lessons in video format.   When I come back from my activities I will be able to download the lesson from the link in the lesson room and watch the video.

I highly recommend the Guo Juan group lessons.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Started Guo Juan Group Lessons Again

Yesterday was the first week of a new series of Guo Juan group lessons.   We had a few weeks between sessions, and I am ready to get involved again.  Each member of the B group sent in a game for review so we spent the entire lesson on game review this week.  Next week we will look at tsumego homework problems as well.

I started to slack off on playing a game every day.  I got side tracked the day I came home from visiting my mother and decided not to play a game.   That was a mistake because it made me feel as if I didn't have to keep getting in my game each day.  In fact I have played very little in the past two weeks.  Group lessons will be good for me because it will mean that I must play at least one serious game each week.  That will help me get back into the swing of things.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Jersey Open

I went 1-4 at the New Jersey Open this year.   For over a year I have tried to record every one of my tournament games.  I have had them reviewed by Yilun Yang as part of my biweekly lessons.  I was hoping to continue this tradition, so  I recorded my first game on Saturday, and started to record my second game as well. However, I was feeling particularly tired, and felt that recording was getting in the way of playing more than it usually does.   I abandoned recording shortly into the second game.  I actually won that game.  It was the only game I played against an opponent I had faced across the board previously, and it was also the only one I was to win in the two days of the tournament.    I ended up simply being outplayed in three instances.  In one instances I lost by a mere 1.5. 

It was an unusual tournament from the standpoint that three out of five of my opponents were female.  Two qualified as women, but one was a very young girl.   It was the young girl to whom I lost by 1.5 in the final round of the tournament.  I suspected she was a Feng Yun student, which was confirmed after we were done with our game.   But I also discovered that she had gone 5-0 in the tournament thanks to my not having handled some of my end game well.   Yet I felt proud to have possibly given her her toughest game at the tournament.   She played one board down from me in the 4th round against another Feng Yun student approximately her own age.   Their game was played at lightning speed, and I had a hard time keeping my eyes from it while I was trying to concentrate on my own game.  During the scoring phase they were having some difficulty adding up the points.   Playing is easy for these little ones, but math can be hard. I handed the boy a piece of paper and a pencil and he added up the areas on the paper.  I can relate.  After a really tough game I don't want to do the math in my head either.

I can say without a doubt that this tournament was the most physically demanding I have ever played.   I ended up in bed and asleep by 8:00 PM on Saturday night, and feeling just as exhausted on Sunday evening.   I attribute part of that to the fact that I am actually using so much more of my time in my games, and not leaving myself with nearly as much time to rest between rounds.   I am going to have to get used to that because as time goes on I use more and more of my time. 

There Is Death In The Dame

Another name for this post might be "Dame Disaster".

I will report on my own results at the NJ Open in another post.  But here I want to tell about the most exciting part of the tournament for me. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say it was the most fascinating part of the tournament for me.   It was fascinating, yet tragic.  After observing this event I felt as if there ought to be a lesson in it, but I don't really think there is.

Two of my go buddies were playing each other, and I was watching the very end of the game. Black seemed to have won the game for sure, by perhaps eight or more points.  There seemed to be agreement that it was over except to fill the dame and move the stones around.  In fact, white seemed tacitly prepared to lose gracefully.   Black played a dame.  White handed over a stone.   Black could have passed, and it would have been over.  But black searched for another dame, and found one.   White was poised to pass another stones, but decided to find that one last elusive dame.   He played a stone.  I froze in terror for black as I saw the damesumari from which there was no escape.   After a pause white said, "I just saw something.".  Black saw it too, and played the move he had to play to minimize his loss, hoping he still had enough to win the game, but knowing in his heart that he did not.

That was yesterday.  These two guys actually have to work together today.  They not only play in the same club.  They also work for the same employer.   Luckily there were no hard feelings, but plenty of sympathy to go around for black yesterday.

The take home lesson here, if there is one, might be "Rich men don't seek dame".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday Is "Play Like Chas Day"

Monday a week ago I was feeling depressed about my go game and I decided to try to desensitize myself to these bad feelings by playing a large number of games the next day.    I proceeded to play six games quickly that Tuesday.  I lost all six of them, and I definitely played poorly, but I achieved the result of making myself more willing to play without fear in the following days.   I found myself less concerned about playing my required go game for the rest of the week, and less insistent that they be played first think in the morning. "Play Like Chas Day" had been born.  It is named in honor of my friend, Charles Layton, who plays fast and furious, and racks up as many as 30 games in a day, and has over 5,000 games to his credit in his first year of online play.

This week I decided to repeat "Play Like Chas Day" again yesterday.  I had similar results as last time.    I played eleven games this time, and lost all but one of them.   I came away from the experience feeling as if I had played too quickly, not very well, and was not particularly interested in reviewing right away, but I was definitely desensitized.

All but one of my games yesterday was an auto match.  The other was with a friend who I often end up turning away because the timing isn't right when he asks me to play.   Something unusual happened with auto match yesterday. 

If you look at the image you will see all my games from yesterday including seven unfinished games in a row begun in the span of three minutes time.  I kept getting matched with the same 5k player who kept running away from me... very odd.   What was even odder is that after the 2nd time he got matched with me he kept seeking a match.  You would think that if he didn't want to play with me he would have waited until I got a match before he put up another offer.   I guess this goes to show just how few people are actually looking for an auto match.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Knowing Stuff - Bulky Five

Last night a strong player reviewed a game for me, and showed me a number of variations in a corner invasion.  He asked me what I would do if my opponent responded in certain ways... the answer being to exploit cuts.   This prompted me to reflect again on the importance of knowing stuff.   I should know that stuff, and I shouldn't have to stop to think about it or read it.  I should just know it.

I saw the importance of knowing stuff illustrated vividly yesterday afternoon in a game that two of my friends were playing together.   They shall both remain nameless here.

White was way ahead and he won the game easily, but could have won by a landslide if some vital information about the bulky five had been seared into his memory.   White had attacked a black group and reduced it to a bulky five.  There was also a false eye attached to the bulky five, and there a miai situation which insured that the false eye could never be real.    After making the placement on the vital point of the bulky five, white could have used his next move to insure the isolation of the group.  Black would have needed two moves in a row inside the bulky five to make two eyes after the killing placement.   He could never get those two moves in a row.  But rather than insuring the separation, white added a move inside the bulky five.  This was essentially a pass.   Black went on to secure a connection for his formerly dead bulky five shape to another live group.   I imagine that there was wailing and  gnashing of teeth after that.

White was in byo yomi, which of course makes it hard to think clearly.  All the more reason, however, for having as much "stuff" seared into one's memory as possible ...  stuff you don't need to think about, not for a minute, not for even ten seconds.

I had fun watching that game because I saw this situation, and I knew the instant that the second stone went down into the bulky five that it was no better than a pass.   How exciting.  White, by the way, is a great player and gave me a trashing the week before.   So I ask myself, what obvious things do I not know?  What "pass moves" do I make each day because I lack that critical knowledge?  What do I have to think twice about that will steal critical seconds when I am in byo yomi, which is more likely to occur now that I can actually read far enough ahead to start using up my time in the middle game?

I have to do more tsumego, and I have to learn more positions by heart...  L, L+1, L+2.  I have said before that I want to not only know their status, which I do, but know every likely attack, and proper refutation.

I am going to be a go player yet, and knowing stuff is going to help to get me there.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Enriching My Love Of The Game - Two Years Old

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of my first post on this blog.  

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Guo Juan Group Lessons

I recently started taking group lessons with Guo Juan, and am very excited about the group lesson experience as a supplement to my private lessons with Yilun Yang.

You can read details about the lesson schedule and get pricing information at Guo Juan's Internet Go School Web Site.    A new term will begin in April, and I know after only two weeks of participation in this term that I will be signing up again.

I had thought about taking these group lessons before, but was a bit worried about taking time out of my weekends for it.  It was the recommendation of friends, however, who had taken the lessons in the past that convinced me to do it this time.

At 120 Euros (about 160 USD) you get ten weeks of lessons.  Groups meet for an hour and a half at the assigned time in a private room on KGS.   Three groups are running this term, A, B, and C.    Apparently there was not enough interest to run the D group, although that is a shame because this would be a great way for 30k to 20k players to begin their go education along with the audio go lessons.  Perhaps players of that level don't think they are ready for lessons, but I think they are.

I am in the B group, which ranges in strength from 10k to 1k, although the strongest player currently enrolled is 4k.  Classes are an hour and a half each, but you are allowed to observe all other levels besides your own.   I enjoy watching the A group and the C group lessons too.  This gives great value for the money because you can watch four and a half hours of professional instruction a week if you are so inclined.  In addition to that you can watch the lessons in video format if you are lucky enough to have someone in the group who is able to record it and make it available for download.

During the first two weeks the lessons have consisted of review of games that students have played.   Each week we get a file of tsumego to solve.  So far there have been 20 problems in the file.   We go over many of the problems at the end of the lesson, and we receive a file later with the correct answers so we can check our work on any of the problems that we did not review in class.   

I find that having classmates adds to my desire to play and discuss games outside of class.  It's motivating.   We all know we should solve tsumego, but being given a set of problems to solve and knowing that you will be expected to have done your homework makes it more likely that you will actually work on tsumego than if you have to search out problems on your own and force yourself to pay attention to them.

I often see double digit kyu players asking how they can improve.   This certainly seems like a great way to do it.   I would highly recommend to anyone that they take these group lessons.  It's like being at a workshop without air fare and hotel fees.  It's well worth the money.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nice Damezumari In My Game Today

I dutifully put up an auto match request this morning to play my required daily game.   I think it is a good idea to get this one required game out of the way first thing, and then maybe play more games as the day progresses because I want to play, not because I have to.

I have increased the handicap range on my free auto match settings to 9H to get practice giving handicap and also to add variety to my daily game.  So far I have only had to take or give 4H with this higher setting, probably because most other people have the handicap limits set much lower.

Today I got to play white in a 3H game.   I didn't feel as if I was doing a very good job, and I was pretty sure I was down in the game although I had not counted.   But then in the end game I saw an opportunity to set up a damezumari situation.   I only expected to get four stones out of it because I expected my opponent to see the continuation that would result in the loss of progressively more stones since two more damezumari situations would occur if he continued to answer my moves.   Much to my surprise my opponent connected not once, but twice.   With the second atari he should have sacrificed even more stones.

In the board position above white plays first.   Rather than replying at 2, black should just play at 3 and give up four stones.   The game continued as in the diagram and black resigned after move 5.     Afterward I checked to see what the score was before the sequence and I was losing as I thought.   I would have still been losing by 10.5 if he had given up four stones instead of connecting the first time.

I was really happy to have seen such a sequence and to have acted on it, but if I played a mediocre game overall, why am I so happy over this?  I must not be very highly evolved.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Long Time Study Partner - Charles

For nearly a year I have made references to someone I have mentored online.   He used to be a student, but now he is much more of a study partner than a student because he is only three stones weaker than I am at this point.  I first made contact with him when he called me up asking about Wings Go Club.  That day I helped him login to KGS for the first time.  I helped him set up an account, and I played his first 9x9 game with him there.  I have watched him grow from 21k to 10k.  I have stood in awe of his ability to play day in and day out without fear or fatigue,  and have urged him to start taking lessons with Yilun Yang, which he has been doing now for several months.

I have gone out of my way to not mention his KGS user name when I write about him because I didn't want to expose him.   But today after we reviewed a situation in his game that started as a  bulky five, then progressed to a pyramid shape, and resulted in a big chase resulting in eventual, undeserved life for his stones, I told him that I might write a blog post about it.   He said that was a good idea.  That prompted me to ask how he would feel about me using his KGS name on the blog.  The conversation went like this:

buzzsaw [7k?]: btw
buzzsaw [7k?]: I have avoided using your KGS name on my blog
buzzsaw [7k?]: and sometimes it is difficult to do
buzzsaw [7k?]: do you mind if I mention you by name?
ChasLayton [10k]: I don't care. I'm an open book.
buzzsaw [7k?]: people may come to play you 
buzzsaw [7k?]: people read my blog
ChasLayton [10k]: They do anyway.
buzzsaw [7k?]: well, yeah, I send them to stalk you
buzzsaw [7k?]: but not through the blog
ChasLayton [10k]: I figured that out
buzzsaw [7k?]: I say, "go stalk charles"
ChasLayton [10k]: and some of them do
ChasLayton [10k]: I can't imagine why, except I'm online so much
buzzsaw [7k?]: well that is the reason
buzzsaw [7k?]: it is a constant
buzzsaw [7k?]: that people like
ChasLayton [10k]: Right.
buzzsaw [7k?]: they like to see the fighting spirit
ChasLayton [10k]: I'm like gravity
buzzsaw [7k?]: the fearlessness

buzzsaw [7k?]: you are a law of nature
buzzsaw [7k?]: me too
buzzsaw [7k?]: inertia

ChasLayton [10k]: yes, it's inertia
ChasLayton [10k]: Like now, I'm itching to play again. Send me in, coach!
buzzsaw [7k?]: okay okay
buzzsaw [7k?]: go get 'em charles

The cool thing about Charles is that he plays up to 30 games a day, and has nearly 5,000 games under his belt in one year.   He is the opposite of me.  He told me that he is glad that I like to watch so much more than I like to play because he reaps the benefit of that.   That may be true, but I believe that I have learned a lot by teaching him over the course of the past year.

So when you are on KGS stop by a ChasLayton game and leave a little kibbitz message, "Buzzsaw sent me to stalk you, Charles."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Okay I Promise Not To Do This Every Day...

But I am really enjoying my new program that keeps track of how I spend my time studying go.

This is how I spent my time today...

If you click on the graphic it should open in its own window and be a little easier to read.

How Do I Spend My Time Studying Go?

I have often thought it would be a good idea to keep track of the time I spend on various go activities.  I think it would be fun if nothing else.   For an artistic type I have always had an unusual interest in how numbers can describe my life, as much as I always hated math as an academic pursuit.  I am sure it would be revealing of what I value about go. Yesterday I did a search for software for the Mac that would allow me to pursue this.   I downloaded a trial of OfficeTime, which allows one to start a stopwatch to tally up the time you spend when you are involved in any task.

I started by creating a list of the activities that I would be most likely to engage in related to my go study.   The list had thirteen items on it by the time I was finished generating it.  I can add more items if necessary.  I chose to designate these activities as projects, but I could have made them categories within one project called "go study".   Using the project format will allow me to further define activities by category within project if I choose to do so at a later time.

My Project list includes the following:

  1. blogging about go
  2. reading Go Discussions
  3. reading go books
  4. playing pro games
  5. studying tsumego
  6. watching others play on KGS
  7. reviewing games of others on KGS
  8. editing my Yang lessons Next Move SGF Style
  9. preparing and giving lesson reviews
  10. playing on KGS
  11. having my games reviewed
  12. Guo Juan Group Lessons
  13. Yang Lessons

The graphic is a chart of my go activity for yesterday and shows that I engaged in four of the thirteen activities listed above.  It also shows how much time was spent in each activity, and represents that time in a pie chart.

I can already see that I will need to add a category called "attended Go Workshop".

I should note that the chart is based on activity after I downloaded the software.  Earlier in the day I played a game and had it reviewed by a stronger player.  I can add those activities manually into the software if I desire, but I didn't bother.    I have played one game per day now for seven days in a row.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Got Caught Speeding

First of all let me report that I have played a game every day for the past five days.

Yesterday it was past 6:00 PM and I had not played my game for the day.  I was really tired from lack of sleep the night before due to a bad case of "go head", and didn't feel like playing at all.   I considered playing two games the next day to make up for it, but I thought that I should play anyway because one game a day is not that big a deal.  If I can't keep that small a commitment, then what kind of a go player am I?   Can I say I am studying with any seriousness if I can't play a game a day?   

I put up a game in the EGR and was hoping to play slowly, but got sucked into a fast pace again as I have so many times in the past.  I guess part of the problem was that I really wanted the game to be done so I could say I had played it.    I ended up resigning after failing to kill some stones that had invaded my center.   I squeezed them first, and it was looking promising.   A friend messaged me afterward and reminded me to slow down in the future.   He pointed out that I had played 40 stones in two minutes at one point during the game.

I got caught speeding.... "But officer, I had no idea I was going that fast."  

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Had A Great Game Last Night

Last night at about 7:00 PM I realized that I had not played my game for the day.   I try not to play at night because I am usually too tired to do well, and it also rams me up so much that I have trouble sleeping, which is exactly what happened last night.

I tend to prefer auto match, so I tried to use it, but it was not getting me a game in a timely fashion, so I put up an offer in the English Game Room on KGS instead.  I didn't have long to wait for someone to take it.   Much to my pleasure, the game was taken by someone who I had not played myself, but who my study partner had played previously.  My study partner has spoken very highly of this guy, and so I was very pleased to be playing him.

I had set two hours of basic time, and was hoping for a slow game.   My 6k opponent started off nice and slowly.  I followed suit.   After a bit of time had passed I realized how calming and pleasant the game was at this slow pace.  We were chatting away about our common friend, and my opponent's go club.   We were also talked about my lessons with Yilun Yang.   I invited my opponent to come and observe one of the reviews of my lessons that I do in the Wings Go Club room on a regular basis.   It turns out that his club meets one of the days that I do my weekly reviews, and he asked if the whole club could attend.   I told him I would be happy to have them.  He said that he would be able to put the review up on the wall for everyone to see.   How cool is that?

The game felt like a cross between a club game where we were socializing, and a tournament game where I was counting the board regularly and really trying hard to win.  I was doing both of those things, and enjoying myself very much.  Stylistically, I would characterize the game as one of my typical peaceful and solid games.   This was indeed a "Terri" game.  My player was very peaceful as well.  There was an attempted invasion shortly before the end, but that was a necessary try on his part.  I felt as if I could have played tenuki in the middle of the invasion a few times, but I was not about to tempt fate, having been caught in damezumari so many times in the past,  so I matched him move for move until he gave up on the invasion.

Maybe my mantra, "strangers are for play, and friends are for review" is wrong after all.

Anyway, I was really careful with this game.  I counted well enough that I could afford to make a real chicken move at the end.   I suppose that is bad form, but my feeling is that if I know I am winning by a big enough margin, why not avoid any possibility of trouble?   My opponent resigned the game just before scoring, which is fine with me.   It was not a large enough margin that I would have bothered to do that myself, but everyone has their own style.  In a sense, it is a way of saying, "I don't need to be shown I've lost."

The dan player who had been observing said it was a good game for me to have Yang review, and I have him look at it on Thursday.

One thing I learned from this game is that I am, in fact, capable of slowing down online.    I think that I allow my opponents to set the pace.    I must stop doing this.   If the time is there to use, it doesn't matter if they want to use it or not.  I do, and I should, regardless of what they do themselves.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reading Basic Techniques of Go

I have many books in my go library to which I have not paid adequate attention.  Some of them are just too advanced for me.  Some of them I have read earlier and at some time decide to read them again.   Basic Techniques of Go is a book  that I read previously and skimmed very quickly at the time.   I have picked it up again recently, and am finding it interesting the second time around. 

I have learned something from this book, however, about my shortcomings in digesting written go material.    With anything but the most simple diagrams, I seem to be unable to follow the addition of stones on the board that the diagrams show.   My problem seems to be an inability to "clear" the diagram of the numbered stones in advance of reading the stones one by one as they are added.   I am sure that this disability is a symptom of my inability to read well during actual games.  It is a matter of poor visualization.   Yet, when I find myself looking at a diagram that challenges me, I tend to get frustrated and move on to the next diagram.

In Chapter 1: A Survey of Tesuji, I found myself skipping over diagram after diagram due to my inability to "clear" the stones.   Obviously my visualization skills need to improve, and I imagine that a dan player reading the same material would experience no such problem.   Yet, I want to benefit from the material, so I either have to get out a board and place the setup stones to read this chapter, or I need to make an SGF file to refer to as I read it.   I am not sure yet which would make more sense.  The board and stones are more like real life, yet the SGF lasts longer, and I can go back to it later.

Chapter 2: Principles of Even-game Fuseki, on the other hand, I found very easy to read.  Starting diagrams were simple, and so few stones were added in follow-up diagrams that it was easy to "clear" the stones and see the stones as they appeared one at a time.

I wonder if most go books are meant to be read with a board or not.  Obviously no one would read a kifu without a board, or at least I think they would not.  But go books?  I wonder.

Friday, January 09, 2009

New Study Plan

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do believe in trying to improve things at any time of the year, and so I am trying to improve my study routine beginning now.   I refuse to call it a New Year's resolution.    I will call it a study plan.  

I have noticed (and been told) that my Study plan is heavy on study and light on playing.   This has always been the case with me.  Perhaps it is my academic background.

I think that I would profit greatly from playing more and studying less, so I am going to try to be more balanced this year.   I will begin by playing one game per day whether I want to or not.   I am hoping to get these games reviewed by stronger players, not just play them.  I want to learn something from the games I play.   Once I can successfully play one game a day and get it reviewed I will try increasing to two games when possible.

Another thing I want to do is to count up the games I play including my lesson games, club games, and tournament games.   I want to see how close to 1,000 games I can get this year.

Amazingly enough, the person I started to mentor online at the end of January has played nearly 5,000 games on KGS in his first year of playing go.  This has brought him to a solid 10k from 21k, and he is now more my study partner than my student.   I find his dedication to play to be amazing and inspiring.   I would never hope to play that many games in so short a period of time, but I ought to be able to get 1,000 games under my belt in one year if I really try.

I believe that the proverb is 1,000 games to shodan.   Perhaps that may have been true in the days when games were face to face, and were hard to find.   Or it might even be true today if they are slowly played, spaced out in time, and well reviewed.

If I do manage to play (and mostly review) 1,000 games this year it will be interesting to see just how much of the gap from 9k to 1d I am able to bridge.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I Won An Award in August And Didn't Even Know It

Today I got an envelope in the mail from the U.S. Go Congress.

Much to my surprise it held a certificate for Third Place in the 9 - 10 kyu division for the 2008 U.S. Go Congress.   I didn't think I would be in the running for a prize since I had left a day early and taken a bye in the 6th round.  Apparently my 3-2 record had been enough to secure me the third place spot.  Of course it didn't hurt that I played at the higher rank in the division.

I am particularly pleased with this result since I had promoted two stones and I considered it victory enough to come out slightly better than even in my game results.