Sunday, July 31, 2005

Java problem or KGS?

Tried playing on KGS this morning but I kept getting a error when I tried to log in using CGoban. Norton Antivirus automatically ran last night and quarantined two Java installation files. I wasn't unable to undo these actions.

I may just have to re-install the client.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A fascinating correction on the 2x2 board

Infinitum no itte?

David Fifield contacted me regarding my original comment on the 2x2 board that "the first one who plays loses". His explanation is rather fascinating and I've reproduced it here in its entirety. Blogger has a bad habit of reformatting the text so you'll have to examine the diagrams carefully as you read.

The outcome of the 2 x 2 game depends on the ruleset used, but perfect play always leads to either a repeating position, a draw, or a win for Black.

The only way the game is guaranteed to end is with superko, so this
example uses that.

0 1 2 3 4
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
| . . | | . X | | . X | | . X | | O . |
| . . | | . . | | O . | | O X | | O . |
----- ----- ----- ----- -----

1. All four opening move are equivalent when rotation is considered.
2. This is White's only move. Anywhere else leads to life for Black with two eyes.
3. Here Black puts himself in atari...
4. And White captures.

But the game isn't over. Black now has four options: to resign, to pass,or to play on one of the two remaining points. Resignation an passing lead to an immediate loss. Playing at the same point as the first move also loses for Black:

5 6
----- -----
| O X | | O . |
| O . | | O O |
----- -----

Now superko prevents Black from capturing, because that would recreate position 1, so White wins.

Consider what happens, though, if Black plays at the other point:

5 6 7 8 9
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
| O . | | O O | | . . | | O . | | O X |
| O X | | O . | | . X | | . X | | . X |
----- ----- ----- ----- -----

7. Snapback!
8. White must play here for the same reason she had to play 2.

After position 9, superko prevents White from capturing and recreating position 4. Now, with territory scoring, both players have 0 territory and 3 captures. With area scoring, Black wins by 1. You can see that without superko, both players can just keep capturing and recapturing forever.

Kinokuniya in San Francisco & Go stones

We had lunch in Emeryville and went to Japantown and the SF Ferry Building to walk-off the meal.

The best retail outlet for Go books in San Francisco is Kinokuniya Bookstore. Most of the English books that they carry are from Kiseido and they have one shelf full of them. I bought a copy of Bozulich's exercise book on life-and-death which was priced at $9 instead of the regular $15.

The second shelf is all Go books.

Kinokuniya also carries about two-and-a-half shelves of Go books in Japanese. There was a nice pair of kids books which I captured in the second photo.

More Go books are available in Japanese.

Kids can find full-colored Go books. Some with small
magnetic gobans included.

I had ordered some stone samples from The Go Gamestore in Canada and they arrived this afternoon in the mail. The Go Gamestore is better know for offering Yunzi stones through the net and they recently began offering marble stones. A set of bi-convex marble stones costs $79 versus $51 for Yunzi. I wanted to see the difference first-hand.

For me, the marble stones felt better.

As you can see from the photo, the Yunzi stones have a non-glossy surface and tend to absorb, rather than reflect, light. As some other folks had described, they are somewhat translucent when held up to the light - with the black stone having a jade-colored cast.

The marble stones have a smooth semi-gloss surface and are slightly larger than the Yunzi stones. I liked the feel of marble better; especially against my nails when holding the stones properly. The white marble reflects more light and looks brighter.

Both stones weigh in at about 0.3 grams each. The marble stones have a faintly lower tone when smacked against wood. If you're in the market for a set, my recommendation would be to pay the premium and buy the marble stones.

Post-It Gobans

It's ChiyoDad's & ChiyoMama's wedding anniversary this weekend so Go will be low on my priorities.

I woke up a bit early today and was going through one of Nie Weiping's articles on in my sample issue of Go Winds; courtesy of Yutopian. I kept marking-up and erasing some diagrams and began to worry that I'd erase a hole in the page.

Since necessity is the mother of invention, I created goban Post-Its; a tool to map out your strategies and tactics without ruining your books or magazines.

The were made using some old 3M Y2020 Post-It sheets that I had. Each note measures 3" x 4.25" so I could only use 70% of a 19x19 goban. That's still sizeable enough for joseki and tesuji.

I Used DraGo to quickly export a blank goban into a 411x600 ppi PNG file and just cut-and-paste it into my word processor's formatted label sheet.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hit the books!

I played aKuei (30k) on a 13x13 just this afternoon and lost. He's definitely gotten stronger and he won by 26.5 moku! He deserves recognition for some particularly smart plays and sacrifices. This is how the board ended.

But there's also something amiss with my play. I don't know exactly what it is but I think I need to go back to my books and replay a few more games. A number of times, I almost felt like my focus had narrowed and I was fighting battles rather than a war.

I seemed to had gotten back the initiative when aKuei began running short on time. Although I couldn't turn the game around, I noticed that his moves lost some focus. It was, in effect, the time constraint that prevented me from losing by an even greater margin. We seem to have a difference in styles.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Credit where it's due

Someone in Japan found the image of a 4-moku goban amusing and referenced it in his/her blog with a link back. I'm flattered but the photo wasn't mine. I decided to find out who deserves the original credit.

I traced the image to David Fifield. He has an excellent site with instructions on how to make your own goban with medium-density fiberboard. His boards look quite good and I'm tempted to try out his procedures one of these days.

Return to 19x19s

My biggest project of the quarter was behind me and I now can go back to regular sleeping hours. My Post-It manga pretty much summarizes the big points of my day and my sentiments.

On KGS, I played my first 19x19 in days. My opponent was Stukov (25k?) and I had a 3 stone handicap (on the assumption that I'm about 28k). yoyoma (2k) and fathwad (18k) observed albeit their presence didn't really affect my game. I lost by 7.5 moku for failure to exploit two positions as fathwad pointed out in the post-game review.

This was the first. A play on the triangle point would have gained 5-6 moku and captured at least 5 stones.

This was the second. The play was worth 5-6 moku and at least 5 prisoners.

I failed to see both due to beginner's anxiety; I couldn't see the opportunities for the atari threats. But fathwad's post-game review was very helpful and I'm thankful to him for taking the time.

The late evening was spent browsing at Borders where they had only one Go book (scandalous) and three shelves of books on Poker (that was expected). The weather has cooled here in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was wonderful to walk with the family to the bookstore and back.

I'd like to do a quick segue to the topic of movies. ChiyoMama and I watched Finding Neverland on DVD late this afternoon. She had seen it yesterday evening with ChiyoChan while I was busy with work. If you're a parent, watch the movie (preferrably with your kids). If you're not a parent, watch it anyway. I seldom recommend movies and this one is really worth your time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Other Go blogs

I finally found other Go blogs. I haven't had a chance to yet read through any of them but I'm listing the more interesting ones here in case anyone wants to have a look.
  • A Go Player - All I know at this time about the poster is that he uses the name Jay. The blog is a year old and the author is now 15k.
  • Go Shodan Challenge - The author goes by the name of O_Scientist. She lists other Go blogs in the lower part of her right column.
  • Me in Beijing - Carl, the author, is studying Wei-Chi in Beijing! He posts in English and in Swedish.
  • Ed Goes Nuts Playing Go - Edward Hammerbeck in Kentucky seems to keep this blog current. His archives go back to March 2005.

Baka no Itte

ChiyoChan (my daughter) and I had been kicking around this idea for laughs. I finally decided to give it life in the Humour category of Sensei's Library. It should bring a smile or two to some Hikaru No Go fans.

Baka no Itte (馬鹿の一手)

Tsk! Tsk! Not nice.

I had a couple more handicapped games on KGS this evening against metric (5k) and cycleist (15k). I lost both but it was interesting to see how the play unfolded. metric was kind enough to do a review of where I could have turned the game around but his explanation didn't quite sink in. I really would need to examine those two games more closely.

aKuei (28k?) and I missed playing a match. I think he lost his internet connection again and was unable to log back in to KGS.

I afterwards played against Hikaru9293 (27k?). During the game, he asked for an undo on move 111 which I granted. He said "only one undo". I later asked for an undo on move 121 and he did not respond in kind. Perhaps it was just a misunderstanding of some sort, but I did not like that at all. I turned down his subsequent request for another undo.

Hikaru9293 also briefly disputed a group of stones in the upper left corner which clearly had false eyes. I thought he wasn't being very nice but I won the match anyway by 6.5 moku (and with a 6.5 komi). I put the fellow on my censored list.

I have to say that, despite any comeuppance, it still feels better to lose to a polite player than to win against a rude one. The latter can't be avoided so I have to treat such as part of the tests and trials on the road to shodan.

Upon briefly reviewing the SGFs from the games, I saw that I had made the same mistake in my match against Hikaru9293 that metric had once pointed out to me. Hopefully, I will remember even this one lesson from hereon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Editing Sensei's Library

I've been doing some editing on Sensei's Library; mostly cleaning up the articles on The Magic of Go (Yomiuri Shimbun), glGo, DashN (aka DashBaduk) and CyberOro. I was a tad merciless and deleted as many dated comments as possible to keep the articles concise and to the point.

I also added some graphics (some hosted on my file site) to help communicate visual improvements to the readers. In email exchanges and online discussions, I've discovered that a lot of long-time IGS users haven't updated their clients and haven't taken advantage of the improved interface of glGo v1.3. That's a shame because the new client has an interface that, in in my humble opinion, is somewhat better than Sente Goban with its Photoshop-textured stones in 2D and gives the user a more realistic playing experience in 3D.

With all this editing, I've gotten more comfortable with formatting Wiki pages so I applied what I learned to my own SL home page. The avatar, incidentally, is the first and original ChiyoDad that I take my name from. It'll be interesting to see if any of you know where it's from. Alan is automatically disqualified from this guessing game.

I'm catching up on work so I've been able to steal away for a few 13x13 games. I still owe aKuei (now 28k? on KGS) and creepyjohn (22k?) games. Hang tight, fellows. I'll synch-up with the both of you soon.

Another handicap 13x13

I've opted to instead apply the first handicap options from Sensei's Library for 13x13s. The table is reproduced below. It's easier to understand.
 Difference  13x13   Komi   Difference   13x13   Komi
0 0 5.5 10 4 5.5
1(*) 0 5.5 11 4 2.5
2 0 2.5 12 4 0.5
3 0 0.5 13 5 5.5
4 2 5.5 14 5 2.5
5 2 2.5 15 5 0.5
6 2 0.5 16 6 5.5
7 3 5.5 17 6 2.5
8 3 2.5 18 6 0.5
9 3 0.5 19 6 -3.5
Found a little time so I played against Aya100 (21k?) and won by 11.5 moku. I probably should have applied a 6-rank difference instead of a 7-rank difference since the rank had a "?" at the end.

Then too, I don't know for certain that my rank is 28k.

Still much to learn. At least the handicap system allows me to expand my choice of opponents.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Handicaps for 13x13s

Whoever plays first will lose. (But the komi is -2.)

I played only two 13x13s this evening on KGS. I lost the first to Kivaa (27k) by 29.5 moku. I won the second against Dangure (22k) by 9.5 moku because I had applied the wrong handicap of 5 stones and a komi of 0.5.

According to Sensei's Library, Ishikura Noboru's recommendations for a 13x13 board are as follows (gap in rank, handicap stones, komi).
  • 0, 0, 5.5
  • 1, 0, 0
  • 2, 0, -5
  • 3, 2, 5
  • 4, 2, 0
  • 5, 2, -5
  • 6, 3, 5
  • 7, 3, 0
  • 8, 3, -5
I wonder if an error was made in the article. I don't understand why the subsequent komi are whole numbers. Doesn't this mean that the game can end in a draw? Maybe some keener minds can explain what I'm missing.

Other recommendations can be found in the Handicaps for Small Boards page of Sensei's Library.

Ran into Hikaru (BC-IGS) who goes by the handle of aKuei (30k?-KGS). Unfortunately, it was getting too late for me to play another game. Perhaps tomorrow evening. I guess folks are able to quickly recognize me on the servers since I always use the same login name.

Hikaru found out about KGS through this blog. Glad it's of some use to others.

A documentary about Go?

Crazy idea coming.

As popular as Go is in the East, and is becoming in the West and around the world, there seems to be no English documentary film about it. I have no experience in producing or directing, but I would be prepared to take on the challenge of making the first such film or series if I could find a way to fund it (and get a sabbatical from my company - our CEO might approve and even make a donation). I'd be happy enough, ... perhaps ... , if this blog just starts the boulder rolling down the hill and someone else does it.

If there's enough money out there for prizes that reach up to a million dollars, then there's enough money to fund a carefully budgeted but well-researched documentary. I have to find foundations or organizations that will donate funding for it. Of course, I would still need to put the whole idea together into an elevator sales pitch, get in touch with the right people, and assemble a small team to execute it well even on a tight budget.

Reality check? Well, nobody in my extended family ever thought that I would be able to put myself through college and grad school when I first immigrated to the US with one suitcase of clothes and a box of books. I'll do the reality check later.

Big thoughts. Scary. Thrilling.

Gnu Go: Training on the simulator

I can't comfortably play a straight 13x13 or 19x19 game with an online opponent due to a heavy workload this week. I'm instead training on the simulator: Gnu Go. This way, I won't have to worry about abruptly and impolitely ending a match if I get an urgent call in the middle of my breaks.

Gnu Go seems to be the strongest freeware Go computer available and and plays at the level of 9k. It has 10 level settings and I am using the lowest (1) with handicaps.

I've selected DraGo as my Gnu Go interface because the game tree (which tracks the moves) is integrated into the main window and it allows me to quickly navigate back and examine my move sequences. glGo can also be used as an interface but the tree displays in a separate window.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Registered at CyberOro

It's been almost two months that I hadn't been able to register at CyberOro via their English registration page and it was no different when I tried again at 4:00pm. Previous emails to their webmaster received no response.

At 5:30pm, I sent an another email via my corporate server (to see if the domain name of a major tech company might get their attention). I got a response under one hour telling me that the problem with their SQL database has been fixed. Perhaps it was just a coincidence.

I registered with CyberOro but honestly do not expect to spend much time there since I'm still in the lower kyus. I just wanted to make sure that my chiyodad login was reserved. After I confirmed that I could log-in, I went on the Sensei's Library page for CyberOro and did an initial clean-up of comments related to not being able to register.

I'm not sure but it looks like their client runs only on the Windows operating system. The interface is similar to, but less functional than, the one used by DashBaduk. Interestingly, Hangul (the Korean writing system) is displayed on the CyberOro client but not on the DashBaduk client.

For the most part, I have been off all the Go servers today and have played no games. It will have to be this way until I finish some major deliverables on the afternoon of July 28th.

I've set-up two nine-inch clocks in my home office (white Wal-Mart in-house brand for $3.76 each) to keep track of local and GMT time. These are meant to help me coordinate with coworkers in Scotland (currently on British summer time at GMT+1) but they will also come in handy for knowing when online events and lectures will take place on the Go servers.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Go in comics

I was curious to find out if there were other Go blogs out there. Google instead found me a new Go comic site called KoFightClub by Russ Williams. He has quite a large number of strips that he created from 2000 to 2002. I found them hillarious!

Oddly, they haven't been indexed in Sensei's Library so I will probably add that sometime next month. I wonder if he's gotten them published in print?

Feb 12th, 2002 strip from KoFightClub, by Russ Williams

KoFightClub had a link to another strip called Making Life, by Justin Carmical. It's hosted by the Springs Go Club in Colorado.

Feb 13, 2005 strip of Making Life by Justin Carmical

I assume some of you might already be familiar with K.Budzinski's Almost Sente which has been featured in Sensei's Library. It's already been published as a book but I can't find any copies here in the US.

You can read a few of his strips on his website.

Strip 007 from Almost Sente, by K.Budzinski

Of course, most of us already know about Hikaru No Go. This manga deserves credit for having ignited a firestorm of interest in Go among Asia's youth and is has begun its encroachment in the West. It's now up to volume 4 in its English translation licensed by Viz. Excerpts can usually be found on Shonen Jump's website.

Hikaru No Go, by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata

Forgot that 13x13s count for the Judan Cup

It had completely slipped my mind that 13x13s still count for the Judan Cup (albeit at 1/5th the value of a 19x19 game). Anjin (22k?) reminded me of that last night.

I don't harbor any expectations of being a contender but at least my 13x13s count for something.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Was this seki or dead?

I need some opinions to check my ability to read ahead and analyze stone positions.

Is this situation in the lower left corner of this screen seki, White dead, or Black Dead? My opponent, mandioca (22k?) opted to pass rather than play it out. He then escaped (yet another) after I disputed his claim that my black groups (centered at d6 and c1) were dead. I won by forfeit after five minutes.

Black to play.

Although it could be played to the death of either if the wrong move was made, my read was that the positions below would be fought to seki with this sequence: B-a4, W-a3, B-b4, W-d2 (or d1), B-d1 (or d2), W-c5 (seki). There's another sequence that I read in the board but it also leads to seki; one eye for both sides and one mutual eye that kills whoever plays there first.

Did I read correctly or was there an absolute kill sequence for either Black or White?

Skyped by creepyjohn!

creepyjohn (22k?) was the first to contact me via Skype. If you think this fellow is the friendly sort from his text messages on IGS, you'll find him even MORE like that when you actually talk to him online. We didn't play a game however as I had just completed two matches with mfreeland (BC).

Skype is a great way to talk online given its minimal system requirements and cross-platform compatibility. Our conversation was loud and clear (as soon as I remembered to turn my microphone on).

It was a nice chat creepyjohn! We'll need to play a game while talking on Skype soon.

Online Safety Suggestions
As a father and an ex-techie, I'd just like to reiterate some common suggestions to those of you who may be installing Skype or any messaging service.
  • You can have multiple logins with Skype and you may want to take advantage of this. I chose to create one login (chiyodad) exclusively for Go communications. The other is for my regular communications. It can be an annoyance to switch between the logins but I feel more comfortable that way.
  • Keep your location ambiguous. I always tell folks that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (and that's also how I describe my location online). I mention no specific cities.
  • Don't give out personal information. At most, you can share your first name but, unless you really know the person on the other side of the line, keep the rest of your information to yourself. Any intelligent person on the other side of the line will understand.
Follow these cautious guidelines. Trust can eventually be earned and tested.

"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."
- Linus Van Pelt from It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lesson with UmezawaYu (teacher) on KGS

As some of you have experienced, or just noticed from my journal, I play a lot of 13x13 games. For now, my time during the day is limited so I prefer short matches.

The 5th Jodan Cup (Cho Chikun's grand Go Marathon) has begun on IGS so few players there are accepting 13x13 games. I've thus been frequenting KGS for my small board matches.

Post-It Manga by ChiyoDad

I've lost most over the past day. That's to be expected when challenging more experienced players without handicaps; but it doesn't help either to also be short on sleep. Work demands a lot of my time right now and I seem to be sacrificing some of my sleep hours for Go. I'll probably force myself to stay off the servers for a while.

UmezawaYu (teacher) provided me with a lesson today using audio (single-plex, only on her side). We first played a 13x13 game and then she reviewed it online and showed me variations. She pointed out that I make unnecessary moves and still need to recognize more basic shapes. That's all very true.

Screen capture of the online audio lesson from UmezawaYu

Her summary was that I needed more experience and that I should play more games. She also suggested that I ask for handicaps appropriate for the difference in ranks. Many thanks for the lesson!

For those of you who know me from IGS, DashBaduk and WWGo, you'll get to see (a small image of) what I look like if you click and enlarge that screen capture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Learning from mistakes

Any game that you learn something new is a good game. I usually say that when I encounter an opponent who's not as strong as I am.

Zero9090 (22k) accidentally set me up with a 19x19 match (I had asked for a 13x13). It turned into a tutoring game of sorts and I particularly liked the way he set me up. The results are shown below and I've made a mental note of what he did in case I ever have an opportunity to teach a weaker player.

Zero9090 launched an invasion in the lower right corner and this was the result. I failed to properly contain his group and he gained 10 moku even though I had supporting stones to the left.


He then launched an identical invasion on the upper right. I contained his invasion and reduced his territorial gain to just 4 moku without supporting stones to the left. Shadowcat (17k) was observing. During our post-game chat, he mentioned that he saw the change and complimented me for learning from my experience.


I lost the match but I think it helped me grow stronger. This is one game that I'll need to replay and dissect. Thanks!

I chatted with yoyoma (2k - albeit on his KGS chart it looks like he had achieved the rank of shodan at one point) during my lunch break today and he encouraged me to play more 19x19s. Those will have to wait until the end of the month; when my workload lightens and I have more time for Go.

James Doohan

This post may not appear directly related to the game of Go but read on.

I was really very saddened to hear of the passing of James Doohan, better known as Scotty to all of us Trekkers. I haven't watched a Star Trek episode (original or spin-off series) for several years but I always liked the character of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott and felt that Jimmy did a marvelous job of portraying him.

In his final years, Jimmy battled Alzheimer's Disease. Research suggests that playing Go might reduce your risk of contracting this form of dementia.

James Doohan may not have been an engineer in real life (although he was given an honorary degree by the Milwaukee School of Engineering), but he was very much responsible for bringing to life a persona that inspired many of us to pursue challenging (and often technical) vocations, encouraged creative thinking, and made us believe that wit, intelligence and perseverance just might always allow us to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

And for those three gifts and his wonderful life, I hoist one in thanks and in sincere admiration for Jimmy!

Here's to ye, lad!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lesson with yoyoma (2k) on KGS

yoyoma (2k) provided me with a lesson this evening on KGS by reviewing one of my 13x13 games. The analysis and demonstrations were most insightful but I also came away impressed with:
  • CGoban2's (KGS client) versatility as a tool for reviewing games and variations
  • yoyoma's speed in demonstrating moves while texting (it was almost as if he had four hands)
yoyoma showed me several variations to my moves and demonstrated some eye-popping tesuji (which I probably won't be able to emulate for several ranks). There were too many areas covered for me to be able to summarize them in this journal.

He did also point out several bad beginners' habits which included:
  • The insufficient focus on the meta-objective (capturing territory)
  • The use of unnecessary protective formations
  • The use of attacks (making contact with my opponents stones) without influence
  • Unneeded plays to capture (which either robs you of moves, territory, or both)
  • The desire to protect all of your stones
This was a very helpful lesson and I now need to practice what I learned. I'm hoping to have another review with yoyoma in the future.

Many thanks!!

Skype me

I created a Skype internet telephony account under the name ChiyoDad. Its purpose is to make game discussion easier over the internet. This account is different from my regular login and it will be used exclusively for Go.

I chose Skype over the more common messenger services because it's compatible with other operating systems and it delivers good performance even at connections of 33.6Kbps. I've been using it to chat with my brother-in-law who lives in the UK. It's as clear, and often clearer than, a regular telephone line.

Going forward, I may also use it when working with a mentor (if I ever find one) and mentees (if I ever get good enough to teach).

Feel free to Skype me if I'm online. The buttons in this post and in the right column will work if you have the software already installed.

An opportunity for seki ...

In a roughly even match, Go is a game of co-existence.
Don't be greedy.

... and I blow it!

Zero9090 (22k) and I were playing a 13x13 during my break. In an interesting exchange in the upper part of the board, I saw a pattern that looked like I could create dual life (aka seki).

So naturally, I instead tried to gouge-out one of the eyes and wound-up losing my entire formation. Very unwise.

I should have played F13 but intead placed my stone in F10.

This was the first time I had encountered a seki position (at least one that I recognized before a blunder) in one of my games. F13 would have resulted in a stalemate for the two interlocked formations.

Not ready for Speed Go

I tried two games of speed Go with Haikon (22k+) this evening but found that I was still too careless and near-focused with my moves. Sensei's Library has an article as to why speed Go is bad but I still felt that it was worth trying. I wanted to see if it improves my natural reaction when I play at my regular speed.

It's another night of late work for me. My week will only get busier until most of my projects are completed on the 28th. Hopefully, I will still be able to squeeze in a game or two each day.

I noticed that Samarkand is now offering some of its wares on eBay. Unfortunately, the discounts on the starting bids are only 10%. The 5.5" agathis floorboard set that I want is being auctioned at a starting bid of $450 versus the standard retail of $500.

I wish there was a local shop where I could compare agathis and shin-kaya boards. I haven't found much help online in comparing the characteristics of the two woods. Do Yutopian or Kiseido carry any inventory of these in their Santa Monica offices?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tatami background for Drago

Gilles Arcas, the developer of Drago, sent me a patch of his program that allows the use of background tiles. The image below uses a new tatami texture with a bit less color saturation. I think it goes well with his board texture.

Drago patch using the tatami background.

The new tatami texture I created for the Drago patch.

Drago is my default application for viewing, editing, and (especially) printing SGFs. I didn't realize that is was also an excellent tool for going through Go problems until Gilles sent me a sample file. That only further enhances its value as a study tool. It's even more appealing as Gilles adds options for further personalizing the interface.

The SunXi screensaver using the Drago board texture.

Gilles was also so kind enough to send me his goban texture. I installed it into the SunXi Go screensaver which I had reviewed in this blog. It looks just great and I will try to add it to my online file library this weekend.

Escapers on KGS

I've observed more escapers on KGS than on IGS and that has me a bit peeved. Someone explained to me that this is rather common because KGS allows guests (unregistered players). Of my 12 games on that server, 2 were left unfinished by escapees (17%). By contrast, of the 115 games that I've played on IGS, only 1 was left unfinished by an escapee (less than 1%).

Unregistered guests on KGS wll typically have neither a rank nor a "?" next to their login names. It's unfair to some opponents but I'll be declining matches from those that have neither.

Interestingly, Sensei's Library actually has sections on Bad Habits, Good Habits and Go Etiquette. As a beginner however, I differ that playing to the end is a bad habit at this level. On games where my opponents have fallen behind, I generally encourage them to play to the end if they would like to experiment.

Played a 13x13 against chiyoram (21k+, no relation whatsoever) on IGS. I lost but it was fascinating to see how quickly he was able to build up a living group in the corner. His defense pattern (to thwart invasions) was simple and minimalistic (a diagonal line of stones) but effective. I may try that sometime. Thanks for the game!

Back to 28k on DashBaduk

Played two 19x19s with int-99649 (27k?) on DashBaduk and she beat me easily. My rank was bumped down to 28k? on that server. The slaughter was so thorough that I chose to resign rather than play (and practice) to the end. That's not my usual style so you can probably imagine how bad it was.

My avatar on DashBaduk sums it up.
No. You may NOT see the SGFs!

Hats off to you and thanks for the games! I will need to replay them and see where I made my mistakes.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The kifu as a Rorschach test

I must have played at least six 13x13 games at various times on IGS, DashBaduk and KGS today. Maybe eight. I'm sure that I lost half of them for failure to make living groups. This is an area I'll need to read-up on.

Chatted with DrPep (22k?) this evening but we wound-up playing other opponents rather than each other. We chatted about his upcoming vacation (particularly the demanding preparations) and briefly touched on how one's state of mind affects one's game. I joked that we were evenly match against each other this evening because we were both mentally frazzled.

One of the anonymous quotes found in Sensei's Library goes:
The board is a mirror of the mind of the players as the moments pass. When a master studies the record of a game he can tell at what point greed overtook the pupil, when he became tired, when he fell into stupidity, and when the maid came by with tea.
Truly, the game reflects the state of one's mind and you could also use the kifu (game record) as something like a Rorschach test.

Mr. Chiyodad, please stare at the game record
and tell me what you see!

It was the same in kendo and in fencing. In both the dojo and the salle, a clear mind yielded excellent play. A clouded mind - one bothered by upcoming midterms, anger, or a recent tiff with a significant other - yielded substandard play. I heard that pros learn to develop a mental toughness which differentiates them from talented amateurs.

I believe it was Paul Brunton who wrote:
No victory can ever be won when it is already lost in the mind.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Day of rest & Go on the Nintendo GBA

I've been relaxing with Graded Go Problems for Beginners. ChiyoChan is three-fifths done with Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. ChiyoMama has been taking naps. It's been a busy week with little sleep so we're taking it easy at home on this very hot summer's day.

Yesterday night, at the bookstore while awaiting the release of the Potter book, ChiyoChan and I killed time by reading the Viz translations of the first four volumes of Hikaru No Go.

ChiyoChan told me that there was a HikaGo cartridge for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance (GBA) but she believes it's only available in Japanese. She said that it allows you to play Go on the GBA.

Hikaru no Go 1 for GBA.

Hikaru no Go 2 for GBA. Image courtesy of

It looks like two cartridges were released for the GBA and they are compatible only with the Japanese version of this gameplayer. A review by Daniel Thomas was the best English summary of the second GBA cartridge that I could find via Google. His site provides screen captures as well.

ChiyoChan enjoys the HikaGo anime and manga. My understanding is that Viz has also licensed the animated series and will be releasing its English dub in September of 2005. It'd be nice if English translations of the GBA game(s) would follow.

Friday, July 15, 2005

First DashBaduk Win

ChiyoChan and ChiyoMama went early to Borders so I had a little time for a 19x19 game. Things were oddly quiet on IGS and KGS so I launched my DashBaduk client where my rank is (27k?). I got a 2-stone handicap match with chae4540 (25k?).

Nice interface, color themes, animated avatars,
and plenty of controls on DashBaduk's client.

chae4540 played a fast, aggressive timed game which gave me little opportunity to think. In this situation, I felt my best option was to play in a way that minimized my mistakes.

I won by her resignation as I was able to secure a large territory on the right side of the board and was awkwardly successful in thwarting her attacks to my kill group in the lower left. She challenged me to a rematch but I declined. I was a little too buzzed after the game. Neither of us could communicate as my system could not display Hangul. That's too bad because I wouldn't mind trying to practice some of my basic Korean as I try with Zero9090.

The interface design on DashBaduk is clean. Premium users seem to get animated avatars (chae4540's character left in a sedan chair after our match ended). Your game record (gibo in Korean) is stored online and downloadable. Give it a try sometime. You'll find me there as ChiyoDad. Who else?

Graded Go Problems and a lesson from HikaGo

I've added Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Vol.1 to my library. Although it was a planned acquisition from the beginning, I didn't actually get the book until now. My thanks to all of you who strongly recommended this book. I very much appreciate everyone's comments and assistance in growing this site and guiding my Go studies.

For the love of the game, I will be studying my materials seriously to advance as far as I can. As an older beginner with a family, some goals are more of a stretch for me. But for those of you who have taken their first steps at a much earlier age, remember that, in Go and in all aspects of life, success is often measured more as a test of the will (determination and perseverance) than as a test of skill.

The panel below (click it to enlarge) is an excerpt from a Hikaru no Go manga which illustrates what I just said. My daughter, ChiyoChan, is currently going through this series. Read the panel from right to left.

In it, Kaio's Go team captain explains that the great gap between Hikaru and Akira isn't in their playing abilities but in the intensity by which they try to achieve their goals. Akira poured himself into preparing for a rematch with Hikaru/Sai in the junior high tournament. It's an awakening moment for Hikaru as he realizes his "Someday I'll catch up to Akira" attitude will take him nowhere and will never narrow the gulf between their abilities. It is at the end of this chapter that Hikaru makes the decision to pursue Akira with the same ferocity.

Last game for the evening

I couldn't sleep and I blame it on the two Red Bull beverages that I drank to help me with my late-night work.

wenzi (22k?) from Singapore was online so we played a 13x13 game that turned into a cliffhanger for me. I felt as though I should have resigned about three-quarters of the way through; but I played to the end and won by 8.5 moku.

My focus was so poor and I almost didn't notice that a large cluster of his stones were vulnerable.

Black to wake-up and smell the coffee. PLAY N7!

Perhaps it's also time for me to get used to counting territory while in the game.

wenzi reads his opportunities well and had sente for most of this game. As you can see from the topmost image, I lost 10 stones in his territory. Those are the remains of what should have been a base in the lower-left corner. He choked my positions and eroded my walls.

I probably won't be much online for the next two days. I need some rest from both work and Go. Midnight of Friday is also when the next Harry Potter book releases so ChiyoChan, my daughter, and I will be at our local bookstore's release party.

Was there a way to do it?

Haikon (21k+) easily thwarted my attempts to reduce his territory in an exciting late-night 13x13 game and I lost by 21.5 moku. Like against Zero9090 (22k), I actually enjoy losing to Haikon. They're great opponents and gracious winners.

I find my matches become even more thrilling when I play to the original soundtrack of Ghost In The Shell: Innocence (Track 10). It gives the game a dramatic sense of foreboding.

8 stones lost in two failed reductions. 3 lost, and up to 10 moku, by failure to fortify.
Foiled again!

So now I'm wondering whether:
  • ... there was a smarter way to invade.
  • ... my opening attack was doomed to be limited in territory.
  • ... I pursued the wrong objectives.
I'll review our match but I feel that the scope of my vision still needs to expand. The SGF to this game is here if you'd like to download, review and comment on it. If you need an SGF viewer/editor, I strongly recommend Drago (you can read my comments on this excellent tool in this earlier post).

I'm itching to play yet another game, but I'm too tired from staying up late to finish some work-related projects.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

An encouraging game

During my lunch break today, I played a quick 13x13 game against Zero9090 (22k). I hope that I didn't keep him up since he's in Pusan, South Korea.

I won the game by 16.5 moku and Zero9090 said that I had improved. I very much respect his opinion and appreciate his kind assessment. It will take several 19x19 games on my part to see if I have truly earned his compliment.

When I asked him for this match, I consciously planned to follow some guidelines based on experience and what I had read. One of my readings suggested that beginners should experiment with a small set of rules in each game and examine the outcome.

In their small ways, I believe these self-set rules helped my game.
  • Not let my opponent get ahead in securing his corners - I learned that in my 5.5 moku loss in a 19x19 game against Piro (30k?) on KGS yesterday. He had secured a large swathe of territory in the upper right corner and it was impossible for me to reduce it after the middle game.
  • Make good shape - Actually, I still don't know what good shape is. But I learned a lot of bad shape and bad places to put your stones from my previous games. My intention was to avoid playing them again. I had read somewhere that a pro can usually defeat a kyu player just by playing good shape.
  • Think quickly - But not play mindlessly as I oftentimes had done. This relates to Sorin Gherman's (6d) advice which I had reproduced in this post.
  • Not make any empty triangles - Not make any stupid empty triangles. Not make any dang, stupid empty triangles.

Later in the day, I edited my information on Sensei's Library. I didn't know this was possible. Tamsin (1d) left me some gracious words and a lovely welcome.

I also discovered that KGS automatically archives your games in SGF and that they can be accessed at this link.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sister site launched

I created a sister site called the CLG File Library. I used which is a free no-advertising host but they don't have the very best record for uptime (about 98%).

For now, the site will just host the glGo tiles that I had created in PNG file formats (needed for glGO). In the future, I'll probably use it to archive some interesting SGFs and perhaps a few MP3s that fall under the category of "music to play Go by".

David Mechner (6d) on Go

David Mechner's (6d) advice on how to study and improve in Go is too lengthy to reproduce here but it's worth a read. Mechner is another former insei and is apparently working on a program that plays Go.

Oeda Yusuke's (9p) house circa 1988 (from David Mechner's site)

His Go biography and his overview of the ranking system and how it differs by country were interesting to read. David studied under Oeda Yusuke (9p) who was also Michael Redmond's (9p) sensei. One of the photos linked to his bio gives you a sense of how unglamorous the life of an insei is. If you have the desire to become a pro, keep in mind that, like many competitive vocations, it's a long hard road and there isn't much room at the top.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Growth, ... it will come

There are lessons for life in sports and in Go

Yuri, my fencing coach, always had a simple but helpful phrase, "It will come." Those words emphasized the need for optimism, perseverance and, above all, patience.

There were times that I'd intensely practice the same sabre exercises with no success. After days of hard devoted work, I'd reach a point of both physical and mental exhaustion and be near tears. Yuri would see my frustration, put his hand on my shoulder, smile at me and just say, "It will come."

He was right.

One of my frustrations as a Go beginner has been the lack of my ability to read the whole board. Very often, I would become too focused on a particular battle in a match and miss the interactive opportunities of nearby stones. Some of you have experienced it and I see it in the moves of some of the other beginners that I have played.

The first chapter of The Second Book of Go (2nd Edition) has helped me with reading the opening moves on the board and visualizing new opportunities. I've been going through this chapter slowly because I've been recreating the sample games and joseki on my goban-on-a-lazy-susan.

In my last two games, a 13x13 with hgf90 (22k?) and a 13x13 on KGS, I could read the opportunities behind the stone positions better. What looks like a pincer can be an extension opportunity. A move that seems to be a threat turns out to be a false one when considering the influence one of your nearby stones have.

It was refreshing to feel that I've grown ... even just a little. I know however that I still have a lot of ground to cover.

Incidentally, if any of you are interested in learning more about fencing, try

If you're interested in kendo (in the US), I recommend that you visit the All US Kendo Federation website. My former instructor, Tanaka-sensei (7d) has been the president for a long while now.

Sorin Gherman's (6d) advice on studying Go

Using grokker, I came across another interesting website from Sorin Gherman (6d, former insei). He had some good advice about how to learn Go and I've provided it at the bottom of this post for your convenience.

He had a link to a site called Kombilo. I haven't had a chance to examine this Go study tool yet.

Sorin Gherman's Advice on How To Learn Go


    • ... play a lot
    • ... play fast games
    • ... discuss your games with your opponent or somebody stronger than you: it always helps to see it through someone else's eyes
    • ... learn several professional games by heart, and replay them regularly
    • ... study professional games (don't focus on commentaries, but try to understand the moves: before looking where the next move was played, try to think for yourself as if you were playing that game)
    • ... study lots of basic tsume-go (Cho Chikun said once: if you have 30 minutes to spend on studying tsume-go, better study 30 easy problems then one difficult problem)
    • ... try new things regularly: be ready to lose while experimenting, but you'll sure make up by also learning something useful


    • ... take the Go books (strategy, joseki, fuseki) literally: most times those books are meant to show just one, normal way of playing. If you misread them, you'll end up with many misconceptions.
    • ... suffer about a lost game too much: think of it as a lesson you learn for your next games
    • ... focus on winning the game as the only thing: try to focus instead on playing well, on playing moves you'll not regret at the post-mortem analysis, this way you'll learn and win naturally
    • ... think for too long for any particular move: usually after a long thinking session one plays strange, unnatural moves, many times wrong ones. It happens to professional players too

Business book based on Go

Any serious athlete knows that one can find in sports many a metaphor for life. I know that the same applies to Go. It looks like a former insei and now 6d-ranked (AGA) Troy Anderson had written a book which uses Go metaphors for business.

Book jacket for The Way of Go

Shown above is the jacket to his book which was taken from his consultancy site, The Way of Go, which has a few excerpts. I couldn't find the book through the California library system. It might be an interesting read.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Something for Mac fans

I was testing the grokker tool and wondered what kind of search pattern I would get for Go. It led me to Eric Piotrowski's 3D Go site where I found this really amusing Mac advertisement parody.

Eric has a very nice gallery and it's worth your time to browse it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Playing on KGS & Using a Lazy Susan

I played a couple of games on KGS this evening; a 9x9 and a 13x13. I "won" both but free games don't contribute to your ranking on KGS.

I won my 13x13 by a small margin with a seven stone handicap against metric (6k). It was interesting to watch his efforts to reduce my territory and attempt to gouge out my yet unformed eyes. I was hoping to see an interesting tesuji be executed against me. I must have responded correctly as he did not continue past his third encroaching stone and my group remained alive.

I had read only one paragraph regarding handicap games to-date. The advice was that you should use the stones primarily for influence and be prepared to lose some of them. I think I'll need to study this more.

yoyoma (3k) was rather helpful to me this evening and filled me in on KGS standards and procedures. I'll need to browse the links in his profile when I next log-in to Kiseido.

Lazy Susan from Walmart for $9.

I bought an inexpensive ($9) hardwood Lazy Susan for my goban. It allows me to quickly rotate the board so I can try-out different opening moves from Chapter 1 of The Second Book of Go (2nd Edition) in each of the corners. It also allows me to examine the stone positions at different views. It's not a fancy invention; its just a convenient study aid.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Yeah. I do need to slow down.

Zero9090 (22k) and I played another fast 13x13 game this evening. He noted that I need to slow down; and he's right. A little more time invested in my moves would yield better results.

I lost this evening's match by 1.5 moku, missing an opportunity to connect two groups of stones and losing a large cluster in the lower-bottom. It was right under my nose.

I don't mind losing to Zero9090. I feel I learn something new (or get to try new methods) in each of our matches. The opening moves were moderately aggressive (unlike my normal style). The final sequence of this game gave me an opportunity to use the method of gouging out eyes by sacrificing stones.

The background of glGo now uses my light-yellowish tatami texture which, IMHO, gives the playing area a very fresh look and it's even better than my deep red textures. You'll find it, and other textures, in previous posts.

Tatami request for glGo

Someone asked for a lighter-colored tatami texture on the dry-ish side. This is what I came up with. I increased the yellow and red color balance and lightened them.

Just like it was at obaasan's place!

Morning Fresh Tatami! Gives you a nice clean feeling!