Friday, September 30, 2005

Sometimes you get lucky

I had one of the most suspenseful matches today against Lassifado (18k) in a 22k rated game (4 handicap stones). At a key point, he played his stone at M3 instead of at K3 allowing me to save a group of 4 stones surrounding H4. This allowed me to capture his dragon of 20 stones.

The critical point. K3 would have given the dragon life.

Lassifado still played a strong endgame and succeeded in reducing my territorial framework. I lost at least 10 stones because of weak formations. My thanks to him for accepting the lower handicap and for forming this kifu with me.

A few of my KGS friends and almost all of my mentors were watching. Thanks for all the support from the bleachers gang!

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I caught ChiyoMama's cold. That may partly explain why I got a headache after my lunchbreak game.

I finally finished my adjourned game with seathief (22k) which was rated at 24k with a 2-stone handicap. I lost by 6.5 moku. This was a tough game for me and seathief made better use of his time than I did.

I also lost my second match of the night by 48.5 moku against kp2 (19k, this is gangstacow's other KGS account). This one was rated at 21k with a 2-stone handicap.

Akman (22k) granted me a win by resignation in my third match. The game was set to 22k.

Despite my two losses, my KGS rank hasn't dropped from 23k so that tells me that I'm probably playing at my skill's ceiling for now. I guess then that it's a good time to come down with a cold and have to take it easy - just reading Go books for the weekend.

Game with Thumbelina takes me to 23k

Armed with a more self-awareness from my game with augustine (20k) , I decided to play another game on KGS during my early lunch break.

This was a 3-stone and 2-aspirin game for me.

I was mentally exhausted after this game with Thumbelina (19k) with a 3-stone handicap (game rank of 22k) but I won the match and found myself promoted to 23k afterwards. My thanks to Thumbelina for accepting the game with a reduced handicap.

It seemed as if I was almost about to fall into the trap of fighting too many simultaneous battles (as yoyoma (3k) had warned me about before) but I managed to clean-up my middle game. More than anything, this match seemed to have a lot of capture races and it gave my mind a heavy workout.

I also had a short rematch with Lilian (26k?) which turned out a little one-sided because she hadn't been on KGS for a while. I hope to have a another match with her in the future now that I'm entitled to one less stone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pincers and fighting spirit

augustine (20K) granted me the courtesy of a rated game with only two-handicap stones; setting the game level to 22k. I really appreciated this opportunity to test myself. The game ended after I captured a large group in the center.

I had read Otake Hideo's 3rd principle about the use of pincers and selecting where to place them according to one's strategy. This is from his book, Opening Theory Made Easy. I tried to apply my readings twice in this game but am not sure that my attempts were successful. Still, it was helpful to experiment.

This game pointed to one weakness on my part; a willingness in my mind to concede too easily. In a post-game examination of the board, I realized that, even with the loss of the black stones in M3, the surrounding white stones would be dead as long as I played again in M3 (denying the formation of two eyes). During the game, I had assumed that White would live in that area. augustine resigned on the assumption that the game was not winnable; but against a less determined spirit, that assumption might have been false.

This game was very helpful for that insight given to me. Thanks augustine!

Kyu Review: Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs

DON'T PANIC! You can get it from Yutopian for $15.50 shipped.

Book Summary
Title: The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs
Publisher & ISBN: Yutopian Press, 1889554243
Price & Sources: $15.50 shipped from Yutopian
ChiyoDad's Rank Suitability Assessment: Introductory to Intermediate
ChiyoDad's Rating: 5/5 - Add it to your library

There are folks who struggle to find enough time to study Go. For me, even simple articles from need to be thoughtfully digested in a quiet hour or more, with a sharp pencil in my hand and a goban at the ready (chai or latte are optional).

The Handbook of Proverbs is an excellent book to have for those shorter moments when you'd like to get new ideas to stengthen your game. These past days, I've taken it to my bedside for those last few minutes before the lights go off. I like this book because I can just jump to any proverb (as opposed to reading the book from front to back to absorb the concepts in a linear and systematic fashion). Most of the proverbs are illustrated showing correct and incorrect applications and, sometimes, variations.

Good Go players know that they shouldn't apply proverbs blindly. One needs to assess the regional and whole-board situation carefully to see if the proverb's guidance will be helpful. Proverbs give you ideas to consider when the right situation develops on the board.

The book contains over 150 proverbs and is divided into 11 chapters:
  1. Basic Moves and Concepts
  2. Good Shape and Bad
  3. Playing Ko
  4. The Opening
  5. Joseki
  6. Territorial Frameworks
  7. Life and Death
  8. Running, Connecting and Capturing
  9. Clever Moves, Forcing Moves, and Sacrifices
  10. A Guide to Fighting
  11. A Potpourri of Proverbs
This book says Volume One on the cover. I think that's because it's the first volume of Yutopian's Nihon Ki-in handbook series and not because there are other proverbs books that follow.

Cheaper Alternatives
I hear you. If money grew on trees, we'd all have a huge library of Go books next to our desks (not to mention a top-of-the line goban from Kuroki Goishi Ten).

Sensei's Library has its own collection of proverbs and most of these are also illustrated. I counted 95 on their summary page excluding the generic proverbs which don't apply just to Go. If your wallet is so thin that it can be measured with a micrometer, or if you prefer just doing all your reading online, this collection is your best alternative.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Petronius shares eye-candy

Back on the subject of searching for a goban, Petronius (28k?) sent me this link which provides detailed photos of one owner's set from Kuroki Goishi.

I knew that the Japanese Go sets were superior but these photos really set them apart. Yunzi and marble stones can't hold a candle to slate and shell.

Mixed evening & widescreen wallpaper

Got back into playing on KGS this evening and had mixed results. Lost one game (versus SavinKo 22k) at 2 handicap, adjourned a game (seathief, 22k, had to leave) at 2 handicap, and won my last game (versus fever 23k) at even settings.

I've been trying to apply the strategic principles that were outlined in Otake Hideo's Opening Theory Made Easy but I need to review and understand my corner josekis. I don't seem to be fighting for my walls and corners to the best of my advantage.

fathwad advanced to 16k and he really deserves it. He'll be travelling to Japan next year and he's hoping to reach amateur dan status before then. I think he'll make it. He has his own blog named Almost Flan which I'll be checking from time-to-time.

There are no Go wallpapers for widescreens so I modified one to fit.
Click to enlarge.

If by chance you have a widescreen monitor, I had modified one of Kuroki Goishi Ten's wallpapers to fit. Blogspot shrinks my uploads but it might still look okay if you stretch it to fit your screen. Feel free to download it if you like. I can email the full 1600x1080 version to anyone that wants it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Searching for the right table goban

I'm sure a lot of you have experienced this problem: choosing a goban. Mine is compounded by the fact that it must meet with ChiyoMama's aesthetics to be displayed in the living room while at the same time conforming to ChiyoDad's deeply-ingrained frugality (i.e. cheapness). Thankfully, I'm in no rush to buy.

For now, I'm shelving the idea of a floor goban since it doesn't seem practical.

I posted a call for opinions to with the hope of getting advice from experienced consumers but I still wish I could view, handle and compare my choices in person. The shortlist that I'm looking at includes:

A 2" spruce from The Go Gamestore - The Go Gamestore confirmed that this board is made from shin-kaya. The description says that it's made of 3-4 pieces of matching wood. I'd prefer one solid piece but have heard that solid pieces of this size can warp. One advantage of buying from this vendor is that they sell 9mm marble stones which I consider preferrable to yunzi (Note: I had compared these two types of stones in a previous post.). The bowls are made of jujube. The photo above is for the 1" board set which is special-priced at $145. They've offered me a set, replacing the 1" board with their 2" board, for $197. (One caveat: The marble stones are a little larger in diameter and would be a bit tight on the 2" board.)

A 2" agathis table board from Samarkand - Agathis is supposed to be a harder wood of Indonesian origin. Most agathis boards seem to be finished dark on the sides and don't appear to have the most attractive grain there. A lighter semi-opaque finish is often used on the top. I wonder if this finish gets scratched off and if it might be too glossy? In my price range, Samarkand sells 10mm glass stones which would be an acceptable alternative to marble. Combining all the preferred components, including shin-kaya bowls, will cost $198 excluding shipping.

2" boards from Yutopian - They offer agathis, spruce and an inexpensive "kaya" but only one of these has a photo and and the descriptions call into question whether they might be of lesser quality. Total material cost of a spruce board with shin-kaya bowls and 10mm high-quality glass stones would come to $194.

Various sellers on eBay
- You can find "bargains" with bids starting at $100 for a full set (which only offers yunzi stones in jujube bowls); but you'll never know what you're really getting for your money until it arrives on your doorstep. If you don't like it, you'll have to shell out again just to ship it back (assuming the sale isn't final). It's never a bargain if you've not gotten real value for your money. Oddly enough, bamboo gobans less than 1" thick are getting bid higher than 2" shin-kaya gobans. I know bamboo is a durable material but it strikes me as odd that they would be valued over shin-kaya. Then again, as we learned in Economics 101, imperfect information leads to imperfect valuations of goods and services.

The set pictured above is sold by Yellow Mountain Imports for $250 at full retail price. They are now a prominent Chinese gifts auctioneer on eBay.

Kuroki Goishi Ten's 2" Bargain Special- About $330 excluding shipping. It's the most expensive option. In this case however, I would be buying actual 8.8mm slate and shell stones although not of the highest grade. The bowls are made of "new sakura". At a premium of just $133 over the set from the Go Gamestore, it's an interesting alternative if I go upscale in my budget. The set would be shipped via surface mail from Japan and that would add about $50.

If any of you know of other vendors, please feel free to post info on them in the comments.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Watching games to find my weaknesses

I've spent most of my recent time on KGS watching games; some at 3-5 dan level and others at 28-15 kyu level. It's been helpful at finding deficiencies in my own play. I try to guess what the next ideal move would be and analyze why my guess was not played-out (assuming that a superior move was played instead). This, of course, is easier to do when watching kyu games.

I'm sure my KGS mentors can find more weaknesses, but these three stood out to me last night.
  • Improve at forecasting liberties
  • Improve at maximizing the value of ko fights
  • Avoid making premature defensive moves in gote
It won't be a good weekend for playing Go. I'm working part-time (last weekend of the fiscal quarter), my cousin has a wedding this afternoon, and what's left of the Sunday will be reserved for ChiyoMama and Chiyo-chan. I'm also hoping that my friends in the path of hurricane Rita will only be slightly inconvenienced now that its been downgraded to Category 1.

I'm looking forward to playing yop (25k) next week since I promised him a game. Rank means little in the lower kyus and he's as strong (if not stronger) than I am. I watched one of his games last night. Although it looks like he lost a dragon earlier in the match, it didn't seem like he lost his nerve and his endgame was well-executed.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Art of Caroline Young

(But shouldn't there be a goban in front of her?)

Just a slight digression from Go (but you know I wouldn't be posting it if there wasn't even something Go-related on my mind).

I received an invitation to a premiere exhibit and sale of Caroline Young's latest work which is pictured above. Ms. Young has distinguished herself as a contemporary artist of the Chinese delicate style. If you appreciate classical East Asian art you will love browsing through her gallery.

Given her focus on classical Chinese themes, I'm hoping that she will eventually do something focused around Wei-Chi (as Go was originally named in China). Perhaps I'll pop the question to her at the exhibit. Wish me luck!

For those who are interested, the exhibit will be in Union City on October 8th and 9th care of Escolta Fine Arts. Their gallery focuses on Asian and Pacific Islander works.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Battling Liberty

With experimentation late last night, I found one of the weaknesses of the LibertyBot (23k) in KGS's Beginners' Room. It is understandibly strong in tactics but has no strategy. As I had mentioned to g0d0t (26k), the bot is unlikely to follow you around when you tenuki into the corners as opposed to responding to its first attack. This, of course, allows you to quickly define a large moyo and settle your bases while the bot tries to kill an isolated and abandoned stone. It will waste up to five moves with this objective, thus giving you the equivalent of a handicap.

Having said that, does that mean the the LibertyBot is useless as a training tool after you have understood this flaw?

My opinion is that it probably still has value if you practice to fight its strengths. It is still reasonably good (for lower kyus) in tactical play and it is also fast. As mentioned in my last post, I think it would be good to train myself not to react to its fast play. It would also be good training if I can win regional battles against it at the tactical level.

The KGS system promoted me to 24 kyu last night after a couple of victories (one of them against the LibertyBot). The latter seems a bit like a hollow victory but I should probably give myself credit at least for discovering one of LibertyBot's weaknesses.

yoyoma (3k) had once said that he believed my current true strength is about 24k. Well, I'm now there; so it's on my shoulders to prove that I've earned the rank and can move on upwards.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thunderstorms, A Premature 25k, and Rhythm

The San Francisco Bay Area is having one of its rare thunderstorms and both of my games for the evening were disconnected. I need to resume games with buyerp (24k) and Rafta (26k). I wanted to start another game but thought it might be unwise given the instability of my connection.

I had played four even games against the LibertyBot (23k) but won only one of them. My rank bumped up to 25k this evening but I feel it is still unproven. I think it may only be "drift" as Tokimaru (27k) likes to call it.

mungo (-) did not feel that it was in my best interest to play the LibertyBot. I too easily allow myself to follow its fast pace and therefore become less likely to play a well-thought game. There's actually a parallel to this in both kendo and fencing. Miyamoto Musashi referred to it as being trapped in the cadence of your opponent. Yuri, my sabre fencing coach, called it following your opponents rhythm instead of your own.

I may still play the LibertyBot, if only to condition myself not to succumb to its rhythm.

I'm thinking of taking another break from playing for the remainder of this week. I'd like to read more of my Go books and do some timed exercises using Drago. My last break seemed to have really helped.

Monday, September 19, 2005

How to greet your opponents

I played just an unrated 9x9 game today. I only have time to lurk on KGS in between work and conference calls.

I came across this in one player's info:

When you've lost big, due to error, greed, hurrying, allowing yourself to be bullied, nothing really sounds WORSE than your opponent giving you a plain "thanks." It's as if they're thanking you for every foolish move you made. Then again I suppose, if you're a sadistic [expletive deleted], nothing sounds BETTER than thanking someone for those bad moves, giving you the easy kind of win you tell yourself you deserve. And at the same time, you can congratulate yourself for being so insufferably polite, and completely ignore your total lack of human empathy while laughing safely on the other side of your internet connection.

Have Fun?

I really hate it when someone says that at the beginning of a game. My intent is to make sure that my opponent has no fun at all. If I could find ways to kill everyone of his stones, I wouldn't hesitate to do it. I don't expect that to be fun at all. It's very 'unfun' when I'm on the receiving end of it. At best, it's disengeneous or stupid.

Now I sincerely believe that most of my opponents (and myself for that matter) are not being mean-spirited when we greet and thank each other before and after the game. Most of us would like to keep the whole thing focused but light-hearted. The occasional practice of reviewing games after the match is also an expression of our desire to see all other Go players develop and grow.

And while it's easy to dismiss the above quotes as merely one person's act of reading too much into simple salutations, I have actually wondered myself if there aren't better expressions in English to start and end a match.

As in Go, all kendo matches in Japan are started with the expression Onegaishimasu. It is used in all Japanese martial arts (at least in the dojos that hold to tradition). Literally transliterated from Japanese, the expression means "Please". Translated, it means "Please do me the favor".

When I asked some of the older kendo teachers what the expression meant in its full context before a bout, their answers, summed up, came to this:

Please do me the favor of allowing me to spar with you. I expect no quarter and I will give none. I shall play to the fullest of my abilities and expect you to do the same. Whether I win or lose, I shall humbly take this as a learning experience.

Quite a mouthful and you feel glad that it can be encapsulated in five syllables. It strikes me as both a respectful and humble way to start off a match. But we don't have a short equivalent thereof in English.

I suppose the simple Hi, Hello, Thanks and Good game will still have to suffice.

The fun of beginners' play

I came across a couple of quotes from Go Seigen (9p) in his book, A Way Of Play for The 21st Century.

There are times when I wish that I had started with a natural talent for Go or that I could start playing at a mid-kyu or high-kyu level. Those are the times that I forget that Go is a journey with no end. Go Seigen puts it all into perspective.

Beginners sometimes say to me, "I'd like to be able to play like you, but I just can't." They say they are really envious. But when I see amateurs playing and having so much fun, I'm the one who becomes envious. Amateurs can improve by 5 or 6 stones, but we professionals don't have so much room for improvement ...
-Page 73

But even weak players can, without fail, improve and enjoy Go. If they place sufficient handicap stones on the board, they can even defeat me, Go Seigen. And strong players can begin to understand Go's depth, and that itself deepens their enjoyment. And becoming one stone stronger is the supreme enjoyment.
-Page 223

Even if I set only shodan as my goal, doesn't Go Seigen's last quote mean that I can look forward to 26 more moments of supreme enjoyment?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Recovering from drive failure & KGS Avatars

I lost so many important files during my drive failure and I've been working almost every waking hour for the past two days to recover. It's been exhausting and I'm upset with myself for having put-off doing a back-up last week. It's been an unhappy lesson; particularly as it occurred during a weekend when I'm working part-time from home.

I took a couple of breaks to play Go on KGS and managed one free 13x13 and one rated 19x19. The latter was again set to a more challenging level (25k) by adjusting the handicap. I won both and the games took my mind off this PC recovery.

Those of you who've viewed my KGS profile know that I use my actual photo. Most folks prefer to use avatars so I've been toying with using an avatar of my own that accurately reflects the person and the style of play.

I came up with the draft image below based on my most popular 'toon to date.

Maybe I'll stick with my photo.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lightning strikes twice

The hard drive on my 2-month old HP PC failed this morning. I discovered that HP is using second-tier name-brand drives in their systems.

I've lost a lot of data that I hadn't yet backed-up so I'll be off KGS for a while.

Friday, September 16, 2005

For the first time, 26k

I made a breakthrough to 26k this evening. As always, ranks are precarious but it was very satisfying to reach that benchmark for the first time.

It was my third rated game of the night with bunko0463 (25k), set as even, that gave me the final nudge up. He has my gratitude for having accepted an even game, and I owe him a rematch.

I must thank Zero9090 (18k) and erislover (21k) for giving me excellent warm-ups before my rated games. They both played free games with me at reduced handicaps; and that forced me to read deeper. They both also gave me post-game reviews.

If I really did do anything significantly different tonight, it was to take mungo's (4k) counsel, yoyoma's (2k) advice, along with Toshiro Kageyama's (7p) demand (that's the best word for it) from his book, Lessons In The Fundamentals of Go.
  • I took the time to carefully survey the board before making my next move
  • I tried to look for the big points (although I know I missed a lot)
  • I applied (as much as possible and as deeply as I could) the discipline of trying to read out my moves and alternatives even if I have to do it one stone at a time
Of course, it was also good to have an undisturbed evening to play.

This was a very nice to end my 4-day Go sabbatical.

Thanks everyone!

My Yang is out of balance

It takes only one week of inactivity for you
to lose muscle mass.

"The brain needs twice as much nourishment as the body", or so the saying goes. Clearly, I have been neglecting my body. I've been favoring Yin over Yang.

I restarted my morning workouts today and found that my cardio endurance was down to 50% and the maximum weight I can lift dropped by 10%. Of course, this is my first workout in three weeks, and still with a sleep deficit, so that drop is close to normal. It'll probably take a week or two for me to get back to where I was a month ago.

It won't help my mind's concentration if my body isn't in its best shape. That means I'll need to ensure that my fitness routine isn't compromised by my Go studies. I know that I perform better and am in an uplifted mood after my workouts. Coincidentally, Men's Health magazine ran an article on page 176 about the importance of cardio workouts to mental acuity.

Need Go books?

Copy of auction image from eBay listing 4575975335.

If anyone needs more reading materials for their library, a person on eBay is selling 28 Go books (mostly earlier prints from Kiseido) starting at $0.99 for the whole lot (shipping is $16 within the USA). A quick scan of the titles suggests that there's enough material to take one up to the single-digit kyus; perhaps even shodan. A handful of these are no longer in print and may be of interest to collectors as well. The auction ends on September 22nd.

It's day four of my rest and relaxation Go sabbatical. Rest is defined as not playing ranked games (I've only had two matches during this period). Relaxation is defined as reading Go books. I'm still a little short on sleep because of my work schedule but I feel good fo having gone through more pages of my books. I may play worse when I get back on KGS since I will be experimenting with some new ideas, but I think it will pay-off in the long run.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Forcing myself to take a break

I'm officially announcing a 4-day sabbatical from playing ranked games. Today, I succumbed to the temptation to play even though I haven't done much studying or reviewed my previous games to analyze my weaknesses.

Yeah, ... it's very tempting to try maintaining a steep slope to that line on that KGS Rank Chart but it's not realistic.

The net result of my unbridled eagerness? I made too many silly mistakes in my game with Oa (26k); partly for lack of concentration and partly for defects in my defense structures which mungo (4k) had warned me about last week. I did a great job of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The spirit of Baka No Itte was definitely
with me today. A classic example of how to
lose a won game.

Still, the post-game review, briefly with Oa but mostly with erislover (21k), pucko (22k) and g0d0t (28k), was very enlightening and I came away with a better understanding of ladders (how to visually project them) and the Monkey Jump. Thanks gang!

My rank will settle to where it should until I have improved my skills and mental readiness. I need to have patience.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Need to understand invasions

Foiled on my invasion in the lower right.

uffehellum (25k?) won his rematch against me by 7.5 moku in a 0.5 komi match. erislover (21k) and pucko (22k) helped me review afterwards.

I thought I should play another game this evening with a lower handicap. I wanted to see the flaws in my strategies and tactics by challenging myself in an almost even match.

The game might have turned in my favor but for a late invasion I made in White's territory which was also too high and difficult to defend. erislover and pucko felt that there might have been a better chance of survival had I descended more quickly.

Both were also kind enough to point out errors in my tactics. I still find myself not reading deep enough and seeing threats where there are none.

Overall, though, the match was a very useful learning experience and I'd again like to thank erislover and pucko for their counsel.

My readings this weekend were only about the 3-3 and 4-4 josekis and those helped me in my last matches. I think I'll need to learn more about effective invasions.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Time to pause and review

I won another challenge match this evening; this one against taengmo (20k) with a 6-stone handicap. He complimented me on my play and I am thankful for his challenge. I owe him a rematch with a smaller handicap.

I'm guessing that my KGS rank chart will be close to 26k by midnight, GMT, tomorrow. If any of my previous opponents improve, my rank may even break past the 26k mark.

Despite these successes, I know that there were many flaws in my recent games. A different, or perhaps more aggressive, stone placement by my opponents could easily have turned the games around. mungo (4k) has already asked me to review my recent matches with him and I hope to do so this weekend or on Monday evening.

Although I am proud of this sharp rise of my rank, I think now is a good time to secure my base through reviews, exercises, and a continuation of my readings.

I've been fortunate to find the time in my busy work and personal schedule to play - and play well - these past few days. I can take enough satisfaction in that. It would be better that my advancement be solid rather than an overextension (to put it in Go parlance).

I learned this evening that Shugyosha (30k?) also has a Go blog entitled, "A River of Stones". Go ahead and check it out!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Broke 27k this evening

Position at the 254th move. Black captured a large group in the lower-right.

After winning my match against klongi (19k) with a 6-stone handicap, the KGS system adjusted my rank to 27k. My thanks go to klongi for having accepted my adjustment to the handicap (from 5 to 6 stones) and for the challenging game.

My rank has advanced rather quickly over the past few days but I don't feel that much stronger. That may just be self-doubt nagging my psyche since I had been a 30k for a very long time. I was expecting to have to claw my way up to the next rank.

I can only trust that, little by little, I'm doing a better job of creatively coordinating what I've learned to date about tactics and strategy.

One disadvantage of getting a higher rank is that your games do get harder and you get fewer handicap stones.

A take from Seinfeld.

joncol's KGS Stats calculator

Shugyosha (30k?) sent me the URL for joncol's (10k) KGS statistics calculator. You just type in your KGS login and it summarizes your performance against your opponents. This is the summary of my rated games for the past 180 days (practically my entire career on KGS).

Time: 2005-09-10, 01:58:43

Player 'ChiyoDad'. Ranked 19×19 games.

From 2005-03-15 to 2005-09-10 (180 days).

Number of games played: 116
Number of unfinished games: 3
Number of forfeited games: 0

Number of wins: 76
Number of losses: 40
Average number of games per day: 0.64
Win ratio: 65.52 %

Number of games played as white: 52 (win ratio: 71.15 %)
Number of games played as black: 64 (win ratio: 60.94 %)

Number of different opponents: 92

In addition, it shows the number of games you have played against your opponent(s) and your win percentage.

I thought it was interesting that I win more of my games as White than as Black.

Go ahead and give it a try.

From match to class

Our game turned into an eight-student class

I played a match with WonZi (30k?) which afterwards turned into a small class taught by lumen (5k) after he and at least six other observers had joined the game. Again, KGS demonstrated its strong sense of community with this amusing tranformation. At one point, even Zero9090 (18k) dropped by.

The review was helpful to me as well. I had done some risky moves (overplay) and a few unnecessary ones.

WonZi was kind enough to advise me early on that she had a bad connection and could accidentally drop out of the game. I appreciated her early warning.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Now how do I get 1-2 stones stronger?

My latest Minute Manga (done on a Post-It note)

Okay, as of this evening it looks like I have broken through the KGS 28k mark for the first time. Based on how I have been playing, this is probably a reasonable and conservative measure of my strength.

It bore out in my two matches this evening. I lost the first one against satmichel (24k) by 40.5 moku and won the second one against fever (24k) by 45.5. Both were played with four handicap stones which set the game ranks to 28k; making them par.

I'll need to again hit the books and exercises in earnest in the hope of building my strength. I may yet drop in rank but I'm at least happy with having made progress.

It must be called "28-ish" Kyu

The line on my KGS rank chart hasn't yet broken past the 28k marker as of today but the server is now reporting my rank as 28k. I must have benefited from some rounding-up in the ranking formula.

No lengthy posts for my blog right now. No fun cartoons. Work is demanding; it's quarter-end. The best I could do for entertainment is my caption to the ukiyo-e image below.

No "undos"!

Most of my last matches have been free (unranked) ones because I'm not able to play a focused game. I've also gone back to doing the Go Problems on to keep my mind in training until my next match.

Monday, September 05, 2005

By a hair

I was really spent after this game.

BRRR! My heart's is still beating at a pace after my game with PyroGX (24k). We played a 4-stone handicap game which effectively set the game rank to 28k. My rank chart had slipped downward a little and I felt that I needed to challenge myself with one less handicap stone.

When it's obvious that you're winning or losing, you relax. When you have no clue which way the score might go, that's when the game gets exciting.

Also, at the beginning, I played some unconventional moves. I was trying to be aggressive and creative at the same time. All I can say is that my moves looked sensible to me when I made them even though I heard a voice in the back of my head say, "You're gonna die. You're gonna die."

I thought PyroGX had it wrapped-up, but I won by 3.5 moku. Our end plays and our last ko fight were instrumental in the final scores.

I might have been able to establish a bigger margin but I botched-up my upper right corner and lost all of my stones there. Maybe there was a way to save them early on but I couldn't see it.

Thanks again for the challenging game, PyroGX!

BRRR! I think I'm done for the afternoon.

Mystery Shusaku Theater 3000

fathwad (17k) and chrono3450 (16k) introduced me to a fun activity on Saturday evening. They had been uploading Shusaku's games to KGS and setting them on autoplay. We then kick back and kibitz.

The atmosphere reminded me of an old program on the Sci-Fi channel.

Actually, it was quite interesting to see how Shusaku would turn the games to his favor. Makes me want to dig deeper into my copy of Invincible.

The sihouettes for fathwad and chrono3450 were taken from Mugen and Jin of Samurai Champloo.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A bamboo floor goban?

Yellow Mountain Imports sells a lot of Go gear from China on eBay.

Bamboo is often used for flooring and cutting boards. It is an easily renewable resource and fairly inexpensive. I had long thought that it could be used to make an excellent table goban since its surface can be attractive and stones make a nice snap when slapped on it.

But bamboo as a floor goban doesn't quite appeal to me. I found this item in YMI's inventory.

The design needs some refinements.
What's with the two-toned legs?

Reminds me of lumber stacks at the Home Depot.

Because bamboo is made in slats, you need to join several layers together to create one thick block. This creates a somewhat odd appearance on two of the four sides of the goban. You have a monotonous mosaic of rectangles.

The price for this item? $200 - stones and bowls included.

Best games for Saturday

Here, I slowed down and thought it out.

gGra (26k) gave me my most difficult challenge for Saturday and forced me to think more carefully. He didn't have a lengthy record so I opted to stick with the 3-stone handicap.

I didn't play well in the right-hand corners and just barely carved territory to the right side. I was, however, more successful in carving and defending a large area in the lower left.

What I most had to struggle with was a strategy for invading the upper left corner and the top to reduce his territory. It probably made more sense to play closer to the top but I instead opted for K15. My thoughts were that I might be able to create a linking framework to my right stones with 2-3 keimas. Instead, the link evolved from my center stones.

IMHO, the key turning point was his failure to put my K12 group in atari when he had the chance. This allowed me to create the potential for a living group within his moyo. This harkens back to the importance of mindfulness.

Of course, that criticism applies to myself as well.

Here, I didn't.

Tokimaru (29k) won his rematch against me because, on two occasions, I just clicked without re-assessing the board and lost large groups. What could have been a win for me turned into a 22.5 moku loss. I imagine that mungo (4k) may be just a tad peeved with my sloppiness. (You don't need to look at that SGF. Really. You don't.)

Tokimaru mentioned that he had been reading Cosmic Go. I had heard of the book but didn't have a clue as to what was special about it. It seems to be a center-focused strategy for 4-stone handicap games.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why not turn-based Go servers?

Alan had asked me about turn-based Go servers like Dragon. I guess it's a matter of personal preference of whether you like your games real-time or turn-based. Perhaps it's because of an instant-gratification need to see my current skill level that I haven't yet tried turn-based servers.

I can't deny that there are strong benefits to these.
  1. You can take the time to analyze your position and moves. This makes them excellent for deep analytical play.
  2. You feel less pressure and are not affected by time constraints.
Of course, if you were to play in live tournaments (something still far off for the likes of me), you might find it more difficult to deal with timed play. I've seen my game, and the games of my opponents, suddenly deteriorate when the clocks start ticking down to their seconds. I feel that the needs to hone one's mental alertness and natural instincts are better served by real-time play as suggested by Sorin Gherman (6d, ex-insei).

It's been said that the mind grows and develops faster with new challenges and I could probably benefit from playing deep versus playing fast. You may yet see me on Dragon one of these days.

I've noticed an ugly growing trend of blog comment spamming; readers (or bots) posting adverts as blog-entry comments. I've deleted five of these just today. As such, I've now had to turn on word-verification for all blog comments to help stem what might become a tsunami of spam.

You might feel this way too

I was inclined to do a cartoon about how I briefly felt last night but it seems that Russ Williams had already beat me to the punch in his series, KoFight Club.

And so, one artist tips his hat to the other ...

My Thursday night wasn't bad, really. But the only exciting game was my even KGS rematch with Shugyosha (27k?) who I had played back on June 30th on IGS.

Shugyosha plays clean games. In the two we played and the two I observed, I didn't see any of the desperate dogfighting that's more common in the lower kyus (a practice that even I sometimes engage in).

IMHO, he had a bit of an edge in the beginning and had established a nice moyo. My response was:
  1. Defending my upper and upper-right region per yoyoma's (2k) guidance.
  2. Trying to build an area from the lower-left corner to the center using a sequence of keimas.
I succeeded but I think there were many weaknesses that Shugyosha could have attacked. frankiii (19k) might easily find some situations that we should have played.

Incidentally, I received an inquiry about the goban that I have been recently using to illustrate my games. I use Gilles Arcas's Drago for these because it has an Export Position feature which very quickly creates a JPEG to my specified size. This means I don't have to do screen-captures and edit them in Photoshop.

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I've been getting a lot of good use out of Gilles's application for reviewing my games and training on Go problems (see recommendation number 5 of that latter post).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I want my Badook TV

Baduk School is now offering Video On Demand for Korea's Badook TV. You can follow the link to their site and watch a teaser episode. It wasn't difficult to follow even though the program is presented in Korean. Of course, you would get notably more out of it if you could understand the language.

It is a premium service with a charge per episode. Not much information yet on the specific costs. For those of us in the lower-kyus, we might probably get more value from books but I'll know for certain after Baduk School has finished putting up its pricelist.