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.