This is a problem that came up in a 9 stone handicap game I was playing on DGS. I ended up resigning after I misread this life and death situation, as ended up being behind by too much… But afterwards I looked it over again, I wonder if there is a way to save these stones. The situation is simple, save the square marked stones after white plays their marked stone (red triangle); it’s black’s move.
This actual problem looks simple to me… but somehow I just can’t figure it out… Where is Batman when you need him…
So I decided to revisit my account; previously I didn’t really do much on KGS… it was too hard to get games. However, recently I managed to get a few; mostly I think this is because somehow my rank got jumped to 14k? and thus automatch had more options for pairings, and while I’m down to 16k now it still is easier than when I was at 20k. My current won/loss record (for ranked games) is 11/12, which looks better as well.
So I here are three games that I played recently; I don’t have time to review them in depth, and I can’t embed EidoGo on wordpress… for some dumb reason, really… So here are the numbered gibo [기보; kifu], as well as links to the sgf files, should you want to review them thoroughly (hint hint)
The first game was a loss, but not by that much… I’m Black, and my opponent is a 14k from Japan (evidenced by their profile, and the Japanese comments I couldn’t understand during the game) I payed very light, more so than usual, so it wasn’t a typical big-framework-turns-into-territory game that I would normally lose by the early middle game… It remained close till the end of the middle game, with a few mistakes costing me a win. The result of a loss by 3.5 points, is very slim. Gibo is here, and if someone can tell me what they were trying to say to me, please do.
So after this, I went on to play a game against an 18k, I had dropped back to 18k? with my previous loss, so got paired up to someone a few stones weaker. This game because a massacre… I’m not sure if his 18k rank is very solid, or if my understanding of normal strength at 18k is overestimated. Either way, I turned on the auto pilot after the opening… Of course this isn’t the best way to play, and he managed to capture 8 stones of mine, simply because I wasn’t reading at this point and just clicking… Somehow, it is hard to concentrate on a game like this. In the end I was ahead by enough, and my opponent ended up resigning close to the end. While this game wasn’t useful for me, I think such games help the weaker player; when I was in a similar position, seeing my groups die one after another after simple reading mistakes definitely spurred me on in terms of studies.The gibo is here, but there isn’t much to say about this.
The third game now… which is more even. I played black, and this was against a 17k, whose username was “serenity”… In my head that is a Firefly reference, and anyone saying differently will be scoffed at! Anyway, the result was a convincing win for me, so I ended up at 16k after this, which is about what my rank on KGS should be (according to other people). The game ended up fairly territorial, but my opponent was more aggressive than I was; however, I had an edge in reading/fighting skills, so I stopped most of his invasions. A few mistakes here and there didn’t affect my score that much. What was interesting is that I started realising that his invasions actually helped me in securing my territory; of course this is normal, but it made me rethink invasions… I’m not sure what the lesson for me here is, but there must be one for sure. The gibo is here.
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’).
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…
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…
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.
This game was played at the club this Tuesday, against a 10k player (the same one I played earlier this year, where I won by 35.5 points) I’m going to call him King Leonidas from now on, because he plays till the last stone… It’s basically “you want my stones? come and take them!” attitude-resignation-be-damned. Even in the face of inevitable doom, he doesn’t give up… This game, where I ended with a 71.5 win, was over midway already, but again: resignation be damned.
Overall it was a fun game; I made a few mistakes, but I also managed to pull off some great moves. I don’t have an extensive gibo [기보; kifu], as I didn’t record it while we were playing; the following is based on snapshots I took during the game, which already distracted me at times.
So the start was very good for me: White didn’t finish his jeongseok [정석; joseki] patterns, and played very passively. The marked stones is where white probed, and I responded; so I got fairly strong wall-ish things that secured a lot of territory, while White was suddenly limited to living in the centre. We each had two corners, though one of my corners need to be secured further, and one of White corners (lower left) wasn’t fully secured either, which I would end up exploiting later. None of the White groups look very safe at this point, a lot of them didn’t have eye shape yet, so I was surprised that White went for the passive probes, rather than first secure himself and then start invading aggressively.
I moved to attack the centre, and secure territory in the centre, as well as influence. However, I tried to do it by attacking some of the White stones that were played in the centre. My aim with the square marked black stone was to seperate the triangle marked white stones, and potentially kill them. Here I made a mistake, the cutting point where White played the circle marked stone was a major weakness, this ensured that my two stones above were dead, the ladder works for White. In the end I ended up making a mistake here, I didn’t read things out properly.
White ended up connecting, and I lost a capture race by one liberty, which I should have seen in advance. The fact that the white dragon (marked) survived mean that White moved back into the game. The three captured stones was at least one eye, and the two dead stones on the left was at least another eye; plus there is influence for white to start taking the centre. My respond afterwards wasn’t much better. At this point I should have started to play more defensively, as I was still ahead, and thus could afford that style of play.
So I tried to save three of my stones, and simultaneously disrupt some influence of White. However, I made a second mistake… Again I was short in a capture race, this time by two liberties. The marked black stones were captured, and now White is starting to catch up, however I did disrupt some of white’s influence, so I could make more territory on the lower side, while on the upper side White pretty much was starting to make points.
So we ended up fighting a bit over the lower right side… I tried to kill White again, but with A, the two marked black stones were dead, and thus the marked White stones could connect, and were safe. I actually didn’t see this immediately, so later I played N2, thinking that I’d killed it, which I didn’t. The overall result at this point is still in my favour by roughly 50 points at least, so I wasn’t too worried. At this point it is a lot harder for White to do anything to catch up.
White made an endgame move with 1 in the lower left corner; I spend some time reading it out, and responded by extending; and White pushed in with 3, and I blocked with 4. Here is a huge mistake by White, the proper response to secure the corner would be B1, but he played 5 at E1 instead. Black 6 at C1 created a problem for White (a 1k observing the game mentioned afterwards that at this point black is dead already), but when White connected at A, I played B, which solidified my premeditated murder… There is no way White can save the corner; the cut at C (which White did end up playing) wasn’t possible because of the marked Black stones.
Black ended up playing A, and I responded with B; this created a dead shape for White, further killing the already dead corner. White tried to save the corner by attacking the marked stones, but had too many liberties against white. Also C wouldn’t work, as the liberty at D means that I can kill a cutting move by White. At this point the game is over, but as I mentioned, I am playing King Leonidas here: resignation is not an option! But his brave Spartan will fall, inevitably.
We ended up playing endgame, and he tried to do some funky stuff inside my territory, but those invasions came too late in the game to be effective…
In reviewing the game, a 1k game some advice to King Leonidas for the future, in terms of playing against a 9 stone handicap. Next time, I probably won’t have as easy a time. But this game was fun, definitly after a series of losses I’ve suffered online recently.
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:
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.
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:
Read out what happens when you don’t play a maek, perhaps it is already dead
Pae threats are only threats if the opponent has to respond, killing something is not a threat (it, in fact, is murder)
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.
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…
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
I haven’t played on KGS in a while… and for some reason my rank got listed as “14k?” from 19k when I last logged in… Something here doesn’t make sense. So automatch put me up against an established 14k, which was going to be an uphill battle for me. I ended up playing fairly solidly, and we established two moyang [모양, moyo], but my opponent started aggressively pushing in, and at this point I just became very defensive and got pushed around the board. There were a couple mistakes on my opponent’s side, which allowed me to catch up, but I still lost by 24.5 points.
I decided to move for the orthodox opening, and started with taking the star point in the upper right corner; my opponent took the lower right star point, and at this point I wondered for a moment whether I should make it a cross by taking the lower left, but I decided that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to follow through. So instead I simply finished my opening patter with a corner enclose on the upper left. My opponent also finished an orthodox on the lower side. When I reviewed the game with Sundaay, apparently it is more common for White to go either to A or B, and split, instead of finish the enclosure; so as it was my first move, I should have moved to C or the point above, splitting the orthodox of my opponent, but instead I went for an approach with 7. White went diagonal, and I extended; and then, instead of finishing the jeongseok [정석; joseki]; here I should either have finished mine by making a 3 space jump upwards,to E or D, or attach at F, attacking… I thought 11 was an attack, but it doesn’t pressure enough, and 12 is an adequate response, securing the corner, and still allowing the develop to the left. I jumped to 13, trying to develop some sort of framework, and White starts to make some sort of box shape with 14. The sequence after it is fairly plain, and probably not good for either, we’re just building a walls and dividing the board here. With 49, White tries to push into my, still developing, framework.
I didn’t really know how to respond, so I got defensive, and started blocking. White did a 3-3 invasion, which seemed to live, and at this point I was seriously behind; however,with White pushing harder and harder, it felt hard to just sonppaem [손뺌; tenuki] at any point. Here is where my weakness comes in… My increasingly defensive responses, and fear of losing too much territory, allows White to play aggressively; at this point my moves really had only one purpose, try and salvage territory that I thought would be mine. The thing is, it wasn’t, and by building walls in the beginning, it made it hard to simply invade anywhere in the left side of the board… Panick, panick, panick… That’s pretty much what happened.
So we ended up with a seriously reduced territory for Black, and me rushing to respond to every move White makes. As you can see, I didn’t know where to push White; eventually I managed to box White in, and save points for myself, but they weren’t nearly enough. White ended up making points on the right side as well, extending from the corner invasion. However at this point I was eyeballing S9, this cut would possibly give me those three stones, and also perhaps give me the initiative for once. When White played 150, I decided to make my move; it seemed like I didn’t have to respond locally immediately.
I decided to play 151 at S9, and was surprised that White responded with forcing me to capture by playing 152. I’m not sure, but I thought there were other big points on the board. It turns out, however, that White needed to respond, but not by playing T9… After I capture, White makes the mistake of playing 154 at T8, and I simply capture. White then tries to secure block by playing 156 at T12, but that doesn’t work; instead, White should have defended immediately at T16, and then secure eyes by playing S19 afterwards. So in the end, the sequence up to 169 kills the whole corner, and gives me some points; I’m still behind, but it is less of an embarrassing loss by now.
We ended up playing around on the left side a bit, I tried some things that didn’t work, in the end we settled borders and I ended up with 24.5 points, while initially I expected at least a loss by 50 or more. My KGS ranked turned into “17k?”, which sounds a lot more accurate.
Update: the 2d in question who played this game with The Kibitzer informed me that some key information is missing… The stones to the left that I didn’t capture in my snapshot of the position are relevant, as the crux is that J1 and K2 would be seonsu [선수; sente]… I’ll admit that I have no clue what that entails, but there you have it… A DDK should not be trusted to take a picture of a local position on a board :p
This problem was happened on the same day as the other one I posted a few days ago. This wasn’t in my game, but a game between The Kibitzer 3d and a 2d… At the review, we spent probably 40 minutes or so on this particular position. The question was whether Black could save the marked stones or not… In this particular case, we ended up spending a lot of time looking at the possibilities after White plays A.
If White doesn’t play A, and plays somewhere else, life should be possible (I think); yet the question whether life for Black is possible after A is a debate that went way over my head – I know I’m kinda short, but still, that was some high flying baduk… After variation after variation after variation, the semi-conclusion was reached that Black could force a pae [패; ko] for mutual life… I have no clue how, as the variations went too fast for me, but in the end The Kibitzer said he’d stake his rank as a 3d on it – which prompted his opponent to remark that ad hoc demotions on the ranking system are possible… In the diagram above I didn’t include the rest of the board, as it should be possible locally…
So… Anyone want to try bump The Kibitzer down to 1d? Black to play and force a pae for mutual life…
P.S.: I actually managed to make the Black stones live! After which the two dan players remarked, with smirks on their faces, that my solution was based on White making a dumb mistake.
So… I heard a lot of stories about how many sandbaggers there are on tygem, and how crazy the play can get… I decided to use my account for a change, and thus the result was this:
Just for the record: I am black… I’m assuming I got paired with a complete beginner, who just randomly played his stones around the board. At first there seemed to be some logic behind it, but I now of opinion that this was just luck on his part. Anyway, if ever a win there was…
I have always had trouble with the concept of maek [맥], the “vital point”; I think this is best considered to be similar to the Japanese concept of tesuji, but if you want to have a fight in the comment section about the finer points of discernment between these two concepts, go right ahead; for the the purpose of my blog, maek equals tesuji. Anyway, I always had trouble with it, I knew in theory what it meant, but applying it needed a serious amount of reading ability (my opinion), so I rarely engaged with this. I did play a few maek in an earlier game, but in the one here, I really managed to use it in a decent way.
This game is a 9 stone handicap game with a 9k on DGS, I played a game earlier with her but that ended up in my resignation. The game lasted several months, so I started out not really knowing the basic jeongseok [정석; joseki] for attachments that I was playing in response to knights move approaches in the corners; it’s funny how I can see my own progress in one game, but at least it shows I’m progressing (in the right direction). She started with a knight’ s move at C14, I attached, and she extended with 3; instead of moving to F15 or F16 to finish the jeongseok off, I extended to B15… mistake… the following sequence, gave me some of the corner, but gave her two stones for breakfast and influence in all other directions… So to start off, I wasn’t at my best in retrospect.
So we mucked around the board for a while, and by move 128 I was kinda ahead…
Overall, I had the potential of large territory in the lower right corner, the middle (a little to the right), and I had the upper left corner. The four white stones around P5 were under pressure, and with 128 at C9 I was moving to kill three of white’s stones, and potentially make more territory there.
However, 129 to 134 set up a pae [패; ko] fight, which I was dreading… After 134 white took by playing at A, I created the pae by playing at B, and white made the pae bigger (I think) by playing at C, after which I retook the pae by playing at C9. I wonder if I could have avoided the pae fight, as usually that is my preferred way of doing things; somehow pae fights are scary to me, I never manage to assess pae threats correctly, and often lose because the threats I play aren’t big enough to warrant a response.
So, into the pae fight, I the following threats were played: white played at A, and I had to respond at B; then I moved to C, and white responded at D; then white played her next threat at E and I responded by taking the white stone at A7 with F. I could have responded by connecting my group instead, but I somehow decided that it was better to take, not sure what the best response would have been. So I was settling in for a long fight, and went looking for my next threat.
I played my next threat at B4 (marked stone), because it threatened to capture the two white stones, but also threatened a follow up at A… I personally thought this was a huge threat as white had to respond to keep her corner, and the entire corner would be worth 20 points or so for me. This little maek made me swell up with pride, this was truly the vital point, when I read it out, if I played A, I should be able to kill the entire corner! so the follow-up at A for this threat would be assured. But somehow, white decided to end the pae fight with A10, and I took the corner… Perhaps it was a calculation on her part, that she decided that the territory around the pae fight was worth more than the corner, and she might have been correct… probably 30-40 points against 20? I’m not entirely sure… Still, this maek made me happy, I would never have seen this a few months ago.
So after this, we started moving into the endgame, and slowly started solidifying our borders. White tried an invasion with 151, right inside my biggest territory, but I responded and I managed to stifle the invasion. I played a one space approach with 152, which is a different response than I would have made months ago, back then I thought that the best way to defend was to attach; now I know better. White made a knights move, but then I decided to attach… the sequence up to 161 might not have been the best way to deal with it, but it kinda did the job. I blocked white with 162, as I was scared they’d connect.
After a few more endgame moves around the board, I decided to put something into practice that I recently had learned: the bima [비마; saru-suberi], also known as a monkey jump. I moved with a large knights move to A12, and sequences after that would be standard, and steal away around 6-7 points from white. Again a moment of pride – applause, applause – and we moved to finish the endgame, and started filling in the neutral points… But here I miscalculated.
As we were filling in the gongbae [공배; dame], my opponent finds a maek at A… it put the entire group (marked with X) in dansu [단수; atari]… my only option here was to connect at B, after which white can play C, which resurrects the white stones like Lazarus from whatever pit he was stuck in (in a very dead way)… also the stones marked with a circle were having some sort of duitmat [뒷맛; aji] effect… and thus my opponent gained at least 6 points, and took a whole lot away from me. Up to this point the game was close (within 5 points or so I think) but this maek swung the game decidedly in white’s favour…
Overall, I think I learned a lesson about vital points, and I applied a monkey jump for the first time; I also survived a pae fight, and managed to (initially) stifle an invasion… My play by the second half of the game was good, I think, but I also learned to read carefully, as maek can be used as easily against me as by me. I did really enjoy this game, and I’m playing a rematch with her; though, she asked to reduce the handicap to 8 stones this time… 8 stones might be enough, I’m not sure, but we’ll see.