Sunday, March 12, 2006

Play the Shell

Pick it up!

As a lower-kyu, playing Black is often more comfortable than playing White. Nevermind that there's a komi rule to even-out the game, and that you can still create a glorious mess as Black by your fourth move. It just feels better to know that you have the initiative by playing first.

I've noticed that a lot of beginners' Go books have a tendency to be Black-biased. I suppose that makes sense since beginners will often play against stronger players.

Playing White, however, supposedly teaches you to value moves that gain or keep sente. In handicap games, you also learn to make more aggressive plays and create complications.

Playing White also deepens your understanding of playing Black. It's great to know how to play the Chinese Opening to your advantage. It's even better to understand its weaknesses and how to demolish it.

On both IGS and KGS, my win ratio has increased and I'm growing confident that I will soon advance in rank. I noticed however that, in most of my recent matches, I had the opportunity to play Black. This leaves me with a gnawing feeling in the back of my head that my strength might be color-biased. I don't like that.

If I'm going to advance, I need to prove to myself that I can hold my rank with either color. I want to know that I've earned the rank and not been granted it by a mere confluence of fortunate opportunities and a rank-calculation float.

Review! Review!

I'm trying to make it a habit to review my games with stronger players as much as possible. I'm thankful that my friends on KGS like to drop-in to watch me play (or perhaps to watch me get plastered).

I now need to adjust the frequency of my play for quality rather than quantity. Reviews can take as long, if not longer, than the game itself. That leaves less time for games and forces me to find playing periods that are at least an hour long. It's a tad confining but I want to improve for my next matches and minimize my mistakes.


At 5:53 PM, March 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the best players make mistakes. You are very passionate for the game of go and you might not think so but you improve slightly every day. { we all forget this sometimes} Like many people have said before keep at it and before long Krystal will have a worthy opponent or anyone you see as a rival. Have a nice day.


At 3:36 AM, March 14, 2006, Anonymous XCMeijin said...

Long reviews? Hmm...

Generally when i review i go for a fast-paced, interactive approach. I go straight to the main battles or problems in the game and discuss them with everyone present, especially the opponent. But i rarely go through heaps of possible variations, usually i do 4-5 possible other outcomes. More time mean you can go more in-depth in the variations. But what's important, at our stage (mid kyus) is to develop out go-sense, ie, a sense of big points, life-death, tesuji, whole board perspective. Instinct, to use another word.

I agree with what you say about playing white 100%. Appreciation of sente, attacking... and not only for going against the chinese opening! Here's a tip, though you may already know it: it's better to attack the chinese opening from a high position. The usual keima, on the third line, is definitely too low

BTW, how's it going, saving up for that set of Kuroki-goishiten stones? Very expensive, thoses...


At 11:57 AM, March 15, 2006, Anonymous shrimphead said...

I feel the same way about the black/white dichotomy. I feel stronger when playing black, but I know it's all in my head. When playing black I almost never notice when I have sente, but am aware when I lose it. While playing white I am always trying to gain and maintain sente. And I never realized it until I read your blog. I look foreward to playing you on IGS. Keep up the great blog funness...

At 5:16 PM, March 16, 2006, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello Zain, XCMeijin and Shrimphead!

Thanks always for the encouragement in both my play and my blogging!

One other thing that I suspect is learned by playing White is the understanding of the balance between influence and territory. Because Black has the initiative, his first three stones tend to dictate the flow of the fuseki and White must learn how to counterbalance Black's strategy. I remember that in a section of Kajiwara's book, The Direction of Play, he did not recommend that White launch territory-oriented moves against a Black nirensei as these played into Black's hands. White is often in a reactive mode during the first 5-7 stones of a game.

I've actually got enough discretionary funds socked-away to get myself a very nice set from Kuroki Goishi Ten. I've just decided to postpone my purchase for a while. I realize the Mr. Kuroki may soon raise his prices a bit but I think I'd rather make my acquisition a well-earned reward after I advance a little further in rank.

For now, my YMI goban serves me perfectly.

Best Regards,
- ChiyoDad


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