Read it again

I do this a lot… play on autopilot and lo and behold! Half my stones get captured… the “read it again” advice is probably the biggest advice there is for a beginner…

Finding the Wrong Moves

Triple check your moves before making them. I know, you’ve already read it all out several times and are quite certain. Well… you may have done so, but you might lose a match based on a incorrect reflex move.

Spending less than two seconds on the move because you had planned it, and you may find you have selected something similar but COMPLETELY different from what you had intended. Do it. Read it again. The life you save may be that of your single most important group on the board.

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A wishlist for Christmas

On this Christmas eve… I want to wish the world a very very happy Easter!

No joke, I wish people a happy Easter every Christmas, an old habit of mine…

But in the spirit of the holidays I decided to make a little wish list for myself, but in order to give me incentive I will link it to future goals. So I will buy myself these things, at each of these milestones.

Breach the SDK barrier

  • A nice new board and stones, perhaps from Keima…

Beat Corner Killer (2k) in a 9 handicap ranked game

  • 1000 ZAR worth of books

Catch up with 10k Master

  • Get a tattoo…

Become a dan ranked player

  • Get myself a hand fan… because without one you’re not a real dan player
  • Also I will buy a domain for my blog and get rid of the ads

Catch up with Corner Killer; pretty sure he’ll be a dan ranked player by that time

  • Shin kaya board

Beat The Kibitzer (3d) in an even ranked game

  • A set of yuki slate a shell stones…

Well… we’ll see if I make it… catching some of these people will be extremely hard, considering that 10k Master already moved from 10k to 8k on DGS in the past few months… Rank increases at SAGA are slower ’cause we play less games and there are less people to play with, so he is stronger than his 10k ranking.

Anyway, I think I’ll get my fancy set of stones (i.e. beat someone I’ve nicknamed The Kibitzer) after another few (read: many) years probably, cause he’s advancing as well. Though overall, I would like to think that I’d reach 10k by next year August, a full year since I first started playing seriously.

A plan for the holidays

Today is the last day… of the WORLD!!!! Mwoahahahaaa~

Just being silly… today is the last day of the (working) year, as tomorrow I will not be returning to the office; because it is closed for the holidays. I’ll be back (there) on the 8th of January. 20 days of rest… and debauchery… I am looking forward to it.

So for the holidays I’ve decided to work hard to ensure that I am at least 1 (if not 2 or 3) stones stronger when the new year kicks off! I will start this on the 22nd of this month, because tomorrow I’m heading to Durban for a well deserved three days of doing absolutely nothing; I could stay in Cape Town and do nothing, but in fact I am going to Durban to do nothing… because I can. Anyway, here is is my plan:

  • Go through Learn To Play Go Vol 2 & 3 again; I have finished both, but I want to strengthen what I learned here;
  • Go through Basic Techniques of Go again; for the same reason as above;
  • Finish Go Problems for Beginners Vol 1 & 2; the first will be easy, the second will be less so;
  • Play at least 10 live games a week on either KGS, IGS, OGS, or WBaduk;
  • Make all my moves on OGS and DGS (duh…);
  • Play a few games on Tygem, just because;
  • Go through all the reviews that fellow Cape Town Go Club members have done for some of my games (about 10 in all)
  • Solve at least 5 problems on one of those apps I downloaded but never used

We’ll see if I manage… But my aim is to beat 10k master at 7 stones handicap, 2 less at which I am beating him 70 percent of the time…

[book] Learn To Play Go Volume III: The Dragon Style

As opposed to the… what? the soup kitchen style?

First of all, I don’t get the title… Really, I read the book through and have no idea what this “Dragon Style” is that they are referring to here, apart from the fact that they wanted something that had an exotic Asian ring to it… Anyway, now that is out of the way, to the content we go!

This volume, the second I read after Vol II: The Way of the Horse, is very different in what it tries to instil. I found that is isn’t as “practical” as the previous volume, rather focusing on more general concepts that are important to remember. It basically outlines seven dangers and eight secrets, and then has a section with a few analysed games. I must admit that when I first read through it I found it not very valuable, I knew a lot of what it tried to explain already through experience (at least to a certain extent); however, when I read through it again, I felt that it was useful how it was laid out before me and explained with examples. What I did felt was that, while being useful to see things laid out, it was hard to see how to put it into practice. In many ways what the book presents is an attitude, rather than any practical lessons on strategy and tactics; thus putting them into practice is about forcing you to remember the seven dangers and eight secrets at all times during a game, which really is a lot harder than it already sounds.

I think this is a useful book, for sure, but it could use some more content… The analysed games in the second section felt really like filler, more than anything else; it was not linked to the content one is presented earlier. It would have been great to see each move (or at least a few of them) thoroughly linked and analysed in the context of the dangers and secrets presented earlier. Rather, they are simply analysed games with comments on the moves and a few alternative sequences.

Overall, I think it is a good book, but it could have been a lot better if the different sections were brought together more. However, maybe if I reread it a few more times (as is good advice with any baduk related book) I’ll have a different opinion. Again, as with the previous volume, the amount of actual content vs the price is more expensive as with other books I’ve gone through; which is indicative of a general trend in publishing: lots of white space on pages, leading to a larger book with less in it.

[book] A first edition of “GO proverbs illustrated”!

An out of print first edition by someone who taught Go Seigen? Those facts alone will make me a full stone stronger…

I just got this book… it cost me a bit, but I didn’t care! It’s an investment, because my bibliophilic heart just danced and will keep dancing, preventing it from buying other books for no reason for at least a while… This is Segoe Kensaku’s “GO proverbs illustrated”, 1st edition, printed in 1960 by the Japanese Go Association. Now, I know that there are other books out there about proverbs – some good, some evil; to illustrate this: one the first end of that spectrum (not counting Segoe’s book) is the recent Nihon Kiin’s “Proverbs”, and on the other hand (judging from some reviews) “New Go Proverbs Illustrated”… But I didn’t buy this because I want to learn from it, I bought this so I could go raise the departed Segoe Kensaku from the grave so his zombie hands can sign this first edition before, you know, he eats my brains or something.

So this will be my holiday reading, and I’ll post a little review here afterwards… Not that a review is helpful, considering it is out of print, but still.

[OGS] A giant Tygem fight on OGS

Well, I’ve never played a game on Tygem; however, judging from how people have described it to me, this game would have been right at home there: 266 moves of sheer terror.

B+66.5; 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
B+66.5; 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
I’ve never done this before, usually I end up in very territorial games where the opening moves and the initial middle game (when not a handicap game) kinda decide who wins. But here, after a typical three-star-point-on-either-side setup, my opponent just tore right in, no regard for territory… attack, attack, attack, nuclear attack, biochemical attack, and eventually a suicide attack. At one point he was clearly ahead, and if he just defended and marked his territory he would have won, but he just continued on the offensive while I sniped off pieces off what could have been his territory. So lets look at some of what went down in this showdown…

In the white corner, taking one stone handicap, at 20k OGS rank, all the way from Chile: LevLynch, The Mauler! *applause* And in the black corner, at 21k OGS rank and an ELO rating of 82, from Korea and/or South Africa… HeJin, The Obsessive Blogger! *applause*

Round 1

01 openBlack goes for the star point, followed by white doing the same…Both sides are following up with Black going for the high Chinese opening, while White is opting for a version of the sam-yeon-seong po-seok [삼연성 포석; sanrensei fuseki]! Clearly they are moving to secure influence on their respective sides, and this will possible turn into a very influence based game with some nice scrapes in the middle for the centre territory… It surely will be an exciting game.

round1Black approaches, but wait… White is not responding as expected, moving to perhaps secure something on the upper side! Black 9 is trying to secure the upper left corner, and white 10 attaches… White 12 is making a diagonal move from the occupied star point on the right upper side. Black 13 again defending the corner. White 14 attacks and Black 15 extends. It looks like a fight is erupting there, and yes Black isolated the stones, but white doesn’t give up… After a few exchanges it looks like the fight turned into Blacks favour, having surrounded White with only one definite eye.

round1bBut wait, white is continuing the fight, going around into the corner… No! Black’s three stones died! What a simple reading mistake by Black, surely White is alive in the corner now! Black makes a dash for safety with 37 at L14.  But white is not giving up, he’s going after the rest of Black’s stones… It is a harsh fight, a tough fight… No! White 56 kills almost all of Black’s stones on top!

Round 2

round2Black is at least 82 points behind now… This will be an uphill battle from hereon. There are a few exchanges, and White kills the remaining three black stones at L14. Black starts to make territory on the bottom, and white does likewise on the right side. It looks like Black needs to play aggressively to even catch up, let alone win.

round2bAnother fights brakes out on the lower side, spilling towards the right… Black tries desperately to protect what little territory she has left, while White relentlessly moves forward… It is turning into resignation time for Black, slowly but surely…

round2cBut wait… Black 129 at L9… this might save Black’s stones around N7… And yes! It does! Oh but what happened? White 132 at K8 is suicide for the 9 White stones at L8! And yes, Black takes them! Still this isn’t enough, Black has 80 points to catch on.

Round 3

round3White will clearly defend; a quick count shows he’s still ahead, and defensive play will secure him the territory he needs. But wait, Black is going on the offensive, using her secured stones as a base of attack, keeping connected through diagonal and one point jumps… He’s surrounding the white stones on the left! But white isn’t defending there, or making eyes… There at most is one eye now! Ah! Black 187 kills the group… At this point it is unlikely that the required eyes can be made… A black eye for White in this ferocious game… Black has almost caught up…

round3bBlack marches on… Oh look, a skillful sort of semi double dansu [단수; atari] appears as Black plays 205 at E9! And White loses four more stones… But Black manages to force another such trap with 209 at D7, and White this time chooses to sacrifice two stones rather than lose the four on the left side. Now Black has caught up… As long as he doesn’t lose the corner, this game is Black…

It was actually exhilarating… and I felt more confident about my reading and fighting skills afterwards… So I’ve decided to pay some attention to my Tygem account, and go have a few epic slaughter-fests on baduk boards over there.

[OGS] A game of under 160 moves

This game I played on OGS, it was suppose to be a correspondence game, but ended up being finished very quickly: we played out the middle and endgame out in one day. My opponent here is 20k, so there was only a 0.5 deom [덤; komi] instead of a handicap; I am ranked 21k right now.

game 20141208 3
B+72.5; 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
The scene by move 13… And as usual I had no clue why I used the Chinese opening…

The game itself started out fairly basic: I used the high chinese opening, though I still have no clue what to do with it, and he took the lower star point on the left side, the 3-4 point (C17), and K3 (just below the lower star point). I decided to play on the left side, and took the star point – my thought was that if he responds on either side I could still make a base with a two or even three point jump; however, he just protected by playing G3 and I thus created my base by moving to D14. He took J16 and I decided to strengthen my influence in the upper right side by take M17… So we had a fairly equal opening.

The the game got very territorial… We started building walls, and a diagonal one started running from the upper left corner to the centre of the board; together with a small wall three quarters down the board, it gave me a “slice of the pie” kinda territory. At this point, I had fairly secure territory, while white had bit more but less secure (I think). But then, when he moved to M11 with 54, I expected him to go rambo and start attacking my influence, because if that turned into territory he’d be short.

I see lots of space between black stones… it’s almost an invitation

His move baffled me a bit, after 54 (marked) I made an elephant’s jump from one of my stones (1), and he followed with a diagonal jump (2), and I simply blocked… I expected him to play 2 at one of the points marked A to E; in my lowly DDK opinion that would cut into my influence. In fact, if he played B or C, I think he could have threatened to cut off the two marked stones above, and possibly kill one of them. Basically, the cautious response meant that from this point onwards, I simply could just defend and remain ahead on territory. He tried a corner invasion in the upper right corner, which I managed to kill (for a change), but part of me felt that if it had lived, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game, so I was merely fighting out of sheer pride. Overall it was a nice game, a short one (only 150+ moves) but still sweet.

[OGS] Loss by resignation (or by invasion?)

I played this game yesterday on OGS, well I finished this yesterday; a crushing defeat to say the least… I resigned by move 24, after I ran out of liberties in a fight ans was about to see my entire side of the board slaughtered. I chose surrender over death… I’m sure the samurai would think me a coward, but I would like to remind them that I am, in fact, Korean, and unlike those warlike feudal dictators, Koreans valued scholarship over war. Anyway, take a look here:

game 20141208 2
W+Resign; H7 & 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
Actually, look it up on OGS it is game number 119857… I tried to keep things connected, with 7 handicap stones that should still be the best strategy, but his invasions were skillfull, and somehow he managed to sneak into places I thought even a hollywood version of a katana couldn’t cut through… But it was amazing to watch… I thought I should be able to win at 7 stones against a 14k, but I overestimated him, and at time got drawn into fights I should have left alone. In the end, it seemed like I’d lose by around 10 points, which is somewhat close, but I played wrongly in a neutral point, and he cut at the right place… his group that I had deprived of a second eye in the beginning rose up like a zombie samurai to cut this humble Korean to pieces… I haven’t properly reviewed it yet though, I’m still mourning for my stones, but I commend my opponent to a very skillfully played game!

Officially a “casual player” now

So according to the baduk page on Wikipedia – the bastion of human knowledge and creative trolling – I am now a “casual player”, as opposed to a “beginner”… I’ve promoted to 19k on the SAGA system. It lists the 20k to 10k as casual player stage, though I have no clue on what this is based; I’d actually feel that this line should be drawn around 15k, personally. But anyway, apparently a game I played recently got recorded, or something, I’m not sure… I won a game against a 5k and a teaching game against a 1k recently, but I considered them not rated… or so I thought… or maybe it was a mistake… not sure… maybe I should check up on this… hmmmm…

I think the issue here is, according to the other players at the Cape Town Go Club, I’m under-ranked… so this jump isn’t that big a of a deal; still I hate to rank up without actually winning a game.

[OGS] A win, and an experiment with conditional moves.

I played this game on OGS, with 3 stones handicap; initially our ranks were 3 stones apart, but since I ranked up during the game it was – even if the ranks were accurate reflections of our strength – “rigged” in my favour. This is actually one of the things at OGS I have noticed, my ranking has gone up to 21k, but I’m still winning games; mostly that is because I play games where the handicap is automatically adjusted, and because I’m probably not at 21k strength, it ends up being skewed in my favour… this probably will stop once I reach the rank that is more accurate for me.

game 20141208
B+30.5; 3H & 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
But back to the game… I won by a fair margin, though it was an interesting game… With only three stones handicap, my usual “run and stay connected” strategy didn’t apply, so I had to get into a few fights. We even started off with one in the upper left corner, as you can see… And had a few up and downs on the lower side. A wall emerged somewhat diagonally from just below the centre to the lower right corner (plays 97 to 115) and then I decided to jump with 116 at O8; I thought that we were fairly even: he has the two upper corners plus territory in the middle, and I have the lower corners and some territory on the upper side and around one of the corners.

The little wall of China...
The little wall of China…

Instead of playing out the corner area, and solidify the wall after White plays 116, I decided to make a jump and try to claim territory on the right side of the cheonwon [천원; tengen] point. This is kinda out of character for me, as it isn’t a safe move, but a big one… there are no supporting stones in the area, just two walls: white above, and black below; it could go either way, and I was expecting a fight. But no fight erupted… perhaps he played it safe because his wall had gaps in it that I would be able to exploit if a fight came about (and I was better at this game); either way, we build another wall right in the middle there. I almost misread after he played, 129, as the white stone (marked) was there from earlier in the game… if I played 130 one higher, the resulting dansu [단수; atari] would have me connect, and he’d reduce the territory I could make.

In the end we danced about in the endgame, exchanging small points here and there, but it was very much decided, and I don’t think he would be able to have caught up. But what was truly interesting is that for the first time I really made use of the conditional moves option; of course it helps you visualise when you try and read things out, but what was interesting is that I managed to accurately read where my opponent would play in sequences of up to 10 moves sometimes! There was a time when I couldn’t read ahead one move, let along any sequence of some sort… but the sequence 137 to 144, part of the sequence where we made that wall in the middle and the end game sequence near the upper left corner, all read out perfectly. Of course endgame sequences are easy, there is very little variation; but in sequences of three to five moves I managed to accurately read and set out some of the smaller fights during the middle game as well… This is what I like about OGS, it helps me learn reading through its conditional moves option… And I love it…