Learning patience from watching Krystal
Back on February 18th, I chanced upon Krystal (11k) playing a game on KGS. I had to go prepare and eat dinner but I left my desktop on.
Much to my surprise, her game was still going after I finished my meal. The middle game had just begun so I sat down to watch. I was treated to a very exciting running battle (SGF link) and an endgame that prompted her opponent to resign.
Now, Krystal is ranked by KGS as 11k and I'm currently fluctuating between 20k and 19k. From where I stand, I have no authority to judge the quality of her play. But what I did see revealed some of the qualities that I lack.
- Krystal played very slowly and it was clear that she was giving a lot of thought to each of her moves.
- She maintained connectivity between her most critical stones.
- Her shapes seemed rather efficient; giving her formations flexibility, liberties, and connectivity while, at times, creating discomfort for her opponent.
Combined with tetris's advice to do more tsumego, I've applied what I had learned from watching Krystal to my most recent games and have managed to win most of them (although often by a slim margin).
It's still too early to tell if I've improved but saiclone (aka frankiii) said that he noticed a change in my style. I would agree with him on that since I'm now rather wary of overplays and gambles.
This game was reference in the Nihon-Ki-in Small Encyclopedia of Fuseki under unusual openings. Honinbo Shusai Meijin had come out of retirement for this game sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun. Go Seigen (aka Wu Qingyuan) was testing his shin-fuseki (modern opening) and his third (tengen) move apparently caused an uproar. What follows are comments in the SGF that is stored in GoBase.org.
Shusai was scathing of Go's opening: "Creative innovation in go is to be welcomed with sympathetic interest, but regrettably Black's opening plays, which are characteristic of the `New Fuseki', have already been found wanting and are falling into disuse."
His distaste was echoed by correspondents to the Yomiuri newspaper who alleged disrepect by Go towards the senior player. Go himself was later to dismiss 5 as a "straitjacket" move, being concerned only with influence - the best plays combine territory and influence. But he was adamant that his intention was not to annoy the Meijin. he wanted to test out his new concepts against the best player available and a play at the centre point (which is what provoked annoyance - not the other two black moves) was, he said, simply a result of his feeling at the time that it formed a logical symmetry with his two corner stones.
These days we tend to embrace shin-fuseki as vital for rapid development of our positions and balance. I'm not sure that I understand the game enough to effectively apply a play on the tengen. But don't be surprised if you see me trying it out someday.