Category Archives: Reflections

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone!

As you might have noticed, I have not been able to play as much or blog as much in the past 6 months… mostly this has been due to work commitments… I have even timed out (again) on games I was playing on DGS (my apologies… again). This year will be busy again, but I will try to post at least once a month on a game I played, some of them older ones that I still would love to share. The only real update that I have now is that I am 14k (yay!) and lets see how far I get by 5th of January 2017!


Nearing the 3 000 mark in site hits

Hi my dear readers! So the counter on this website is nearing 3 000 hits! Considering that I’ve only had this blog for about 6-7 months, I think that is a fairly good run. Of course it has come at a price… I almost missed a deadline at work because I was intent on uploading a game review and was fiddling with the sgf to make snapshots of the board; I had to ask for several extension for school assignments, thought this might be more because they usually are due on Wednesdays and Tuesdays is the weekly club evening; My other blogs are fairly neglected, having only re-blogged other people’s posts rather than written my own; and since I started playing baduk, I have had no social life outside the context of this game.

Yet still, I am amazed by a small group of regular readers, and the occasional spikes in visitors who found their way through to this blog. Since I started this journey, I’ve had 1 538 visitors accounting for a total of 2 827 page views; I’ve accumulated 30 likes on posts and 125 comments; I have 18 dedicated followers (who clicked the “follow me” button). So yay to that! Also WordPress shows from which countries people are accessing my blog; and in first place, with 1 063 views, comes the USA! Second place goes to Canada with 219, and 171 secured South Africa third place. It is funky to see some of the more distant places as well… 1 view from Mongolia and 1 view from Iceland… From the African continent, only Egypt and Madagascar feature… I knew there was a small baduk playing community in Madagascar, but am surprised to see someone from Egypt checking this blog out… Maybe they were lost…

But thank you to all those reading, and I’ll keep on writing and playing in the mean time. If anyone wants me to share something, events, etc. or wants to be a guest contributor, feel free to let me know (as soon as I have a secure “contact me” thing on here). I will be traveling to Mexico, Kenya, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, as well spending a lot of time in Johannesburg… So posts might be few until April, but I’ll try to keep things running!

Go pedagogy in South Kora (video): RELAY BADUK – 릴레이 바둑 ㅋ (Girls vs. Boys Team)

All about Influence in GO/Weiqi/Baduk

Tkts (again) to 김한비 (Daejeon/South Korea) for another wonderful short video about how kidds are being educated in Go (Baduk) in South Kora. – In my understanding “Relay Baduk” is teaching a lot more than only about GO itself… within an environment of “friendly competition” (here ‘girls team’ vs. ‘boys team’).

Screenshot1 Go pedagogy in South Korea: Relay Baduk

I have no doubts about that “Relay Baduk” can give kidds the skills as team players, and they learn to overtake responsability for their own decisions against their peer group (team), understand / read silently the doing of their Go partners (e.g. as we know in Rengo / Pair GO) and give support to each other (e.g. the stronger players help the weaker players).

I like in the video, that there is given “no time pressure” by the teacher. Every kidd takes the time it needs to think…

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Me, the teacher!

I actually was genuinely scared of losing... and the subsequent embarrassment.
I actually was genuinely scared of losing… and the subsequent embarrassment.

Usually I am the one on the receiving end of teaching games, being low of rank but stout of heart (or whatever fancy phrasing that would best describe it.) However, a friend of mine expressed interest in learning chess… naturally I immediately jumped in and saved her from that vile game! And showed her the true path! The path of BADUK!!!! Okay, I’m being overly dramatic here, and really, I don’t hate chess; but since her interest was in learning an abstract strategy game that would possibly help her in concentration, I thought I’d snatch her up before any chess player could get to her. After all, there are enough chess players in South Africa already. So, with the South African sun and a slight breeze I set myself upon the mission of teaching a very busy Med student the ultimate game…

New Doc 1_1
W+34.5; 9H & 0.5 deom [덤; komi]
 Teaching someone is something I rarely do… I tried it once, but that particular attempt didn’t work out (I’m putting it on her leaving for Uganda, not my teaching skills). Anyway, so I explained the basic rules, and we played one game of capture baduk, and one regular game on a 9×9. Afterwards we played a teaching game on a 19×19 board. She caught on pretty quick, and she did a lot better than my first game on a 19×19. I ask at each point what she tried to achieve with her move, and explained basic concepts to her as they appeared on the board (ladders, nets, etc.); the result of this first teaching game was quite good. I was very impressed by her.

The question now is whether she’ll continue to play, I do hope so, and considering that she’s a good friend I’ll take up any opportunity to for- I mean encourage her. Playing against a 9 stone handicap was interesting for me though, I rarely play against any handicap (let alone 9 frakking stones); at some point I started to wonder whether I’d lose even… which would have been the biggest embarrassment. In the end some overplays were needed to ensure that I would save face.

Revisiting pae fights and maek

Remember the game with the pae [패; ko] fight, and – what I thought at the time to be – a great maek [맥; tesuji]? Here is the gibo [기보; kifu] again to refresh your memory:

game end
Basically I lost… but not even by as much as I should have…
ko threat
This is like punching yourself in the face during a fight

If you want my initial comments, here is the blogpost where I review my own game. But I am really sad… because in reviewing this at the club evening yesterday, I was unequivocally told that my great play at B1 was basically kicking a dead corpse after I killed it; apart from being just very very disrespectful, it lost me the pae fight… 149 was an exchange instead of a threat, and any air of greatness I felt after playing it – and the supposed B1 follow-up – evaporated into thin air. What is also interesting is that, according to The Kibitzer, it was only after I responded with 147 to 146 in the first round of threats, that the pae fight became really valuable; I guess it has something to do with the fact that otherwise White can still run.

ko theats creation
In wingchun, this is called a “chain punch”

Another lesson they instilled on me in the review was the fact that I had more threats on the board, so the exchange with Black 149 is not a good one; it gets me 30 points tops, but winning the pae fight would have gotten me more as well as seonsu [선수; sente] if White wanted to save the corner. Either way, the outcome would have been better for Black if I had not played 149, but saved that for last if White had more threats than I did (which she didn’t, apparently). The reason I had more threats is the following sequence, or at least it is a sequence of threats that would set up a new one for Black every time, and if played out will can give at least six from what was initially just one. Basically, after I played A as a threat, white answered with B; my next threat should be at C, which White needs to respond with D; next threat at E, with white playing at C to connect; then the next threat is at F, with white having to dansu [단수; atari] by playing G; then the next threat is to descend with H, and White needs to respond at I; then a threat at J, and white has to capture; then a throw in at F, which is the last clear threat there, and white responds by playing H. Including the threat that I had played in the game (A), the area can provide seven threats for Black, which is an edge in a pae fight. It is sequences like that that I have a hard time spotting.

So lessons learned:

  1. Read out what happens when you don’t play a maek, perhaps it is already dead
  2. Pae threats are only threats if the opponent has to respond, killing something is not a threat (it, in fact, is murder)
  3. Think through pae threats; and don’t approach them on a one-by-one basis, but try to find a way to play it so you can force your opponent to respond where you want them to respond.
  4. How does the board look after your opponents response? is it beneficial? are there follow-up threats? or follow-ups even after the fight is over…
  5. Calculate the value of the pae fight, and see if an exchange is better or not; also make sure that your threats are big enough in terms of potential point value

Reflections on the status quo, and moving into 2015

As my leave is ending, and I am returning to the office today for another year of stress and travel, I am happy to inform you all that, as usual, I barely did any of the things I was planning for my holiday in terms of baduk related study… Nothing out of the ordinary for me, I’m always full of great plans that make me feel good; besides, I live in Cape Town… this place is just not conducive to serious study efforts over the holidays.

But to start of the year, let’s see how I ratings are looking:

Server Rank  Ranked games
Real-life (SAGA) 19k 7 wins | 4 loss
KGS 20k 9 wins | 10 loses
IGS 17k? 5 wins | 6 loses
OGS 20k 11 wins | 8 loses
DGS 20k 19 wins | 23 loses

Overall, I’ve managed to move from 23k to 19k in about 6-7 months of playing, which isn’t all too bad. But I think my major obstacle is two-fold: not enough life and death problems, and not enough games. I played a teaching game with a 3d at the club the other day, and he remarked that my opening is very good, and my early middle game as well; where I lose is in my tendency to run away from fights. In high handicap games that usually works (up to a point), but for the most part I run from fights due to my frequent disasters in reading things out and failing to notice snap backs. In terms of not playing enough, while I play a lot on turn based servers, I think I need to get over my live online game phobia, and bring my IGS and KGS accounts back to life. One dan level member at the local club suggested that I actually play online with the board in front of me, and play – for the opening and first part of the middle game – the moves on the board as they happen online; this would maybe alleviate my tendency to lose focus of when I’m staring at the screen of death (also known as a computer screen).

I would love to make a new years resolution here, but if I do, then I pretty much assure myself of not doing those exact things… I basically need something to motivate me in doing more baduk study, and I’m out of ideas…

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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 10.33.37 PM

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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…

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.