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.