Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sneak Peek: The GoBox

For almost a full five months, Pong Yen at Yellow Mountain Imports had been hinting of a new product coming on the horizon. I suspected that it might be a new bag for carrying Go equipment and I was right. Pong was kind enough to share with me the first public images of YMI's new GoBox.

You can see the pre-cut foam inserts to hold the board, the bowls, and perhaps a timer. According to the specs that were provided to me, the GoBox will accomodate boards up to 6cm thick and bowls as big as the wider Go Seigen style.

Photographers will recognize this case design. It's similar to those from Hakuba, Pelican or Mamiya which are used to transport expensive photo gear when travelling. Obviously, the GoBox is meant to transport expensive full-sized table gobans and protect them from damage. As many of us know, Kaya and Spruce are soft woods.

This design is a dramatic departure from the old padded duffel-bag design that was sold through Ishi Games and Samarkand years ago. Those older bags were designed to carry folding or take-apart boards that were about 1" thick along with bowls. That older design probably provided only moderate protection for the equipment.

According to Pong, the GoBox is constructed of ABS material and it has travel locks in its latches. These photos suggest that it might be sturdy enough to withstand the tortures of checked-in luggage but I may have to assess that for myself when I can get my hands on one.

I don't have the exact dimensions so it's still unclear to me if this bag would qualify as carry-on luggage on airlines. The general rule is that the sum of a bag's dimensions may not exceed a total of 45 inches but a lot of airlines set their own rules. The arbitrarily applied dimensions of 22" x 14" x 9" would not be wide enough to accomodate a full-sized table goban.

Here's the kicker-feature. The GoBox is mobile! It has a built-in pair of transport wheels and a retractable pull-handle similar to those of modern travel luggage and laptop carriers. This makes sense when you consider the total weight of a full-sized goban, bowls and stones.

This is YMI's second design of The GoBox (I don't know what the first one looked like). It certainly takes Go bags in a completely new direction. Maybe even Mr. Kuroki of Kuroki Goishi Ten should add these to his offerings.

I'm guessing that it will be made available in mid to late Spring of 2006. That date means that it would be available before the 2006 Go Congress in North Carolina (assuming one would have some reason to take one's goban along).

YMI has not yet released the price of the GoBox but it will be sold for less than the old Ishi Games bag (which retailed for a pricey $179).

There will be more news coming so stay tuned.

Fuseki Quiz 3/20

Black to play. I chose "A".

The answer to this quiz may surprise you but it makes a lot of sense.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 2/20
  • A = 6
  • B = 10, White would be almost forced to defend with D13 after which Black could play R9. If Black neglects G14, then White turns at F15 and increases her potential of creating territory on the left side.
  • C = 4
  • D = 2
  • E = 8

Friday, April 28, 2006

Little exercises with 9x9s

IgoWin can be tough

This gets tough. And it goes up to 10 dan?

I haven't been having much time for 19x19 games so I've just been playing 9x9s, online and off. I don't know how helpful these would be to improving my skills but chrono3450 thinks that they can. I've heard that one way to keep the mind sharp is to do several simple math problems everyday. I see this as being akin to that.

Offline, I play using IgoWin which is a scaled-down freeware version of The Many Faces of Go. IgoWin has its own ranking system and goes up to "10-dan". It doesn't seem to correspond to any real-life ranking system.

As a beginner, IgoWin still proves to be quite a challenge. I've discovered that a territory-oriented strategy works fine up to about 5-kyu. After that, victory seems achievable only by fighting since IgoWin starts taking Black and gets more and more handicap stones.

chrono3450 said that he plays IgoWin at the 10-dan level and I'm still rather stumped at how to deal with it at the 3-kyu level (13 levels behind).

Microsoft's IE 7.0 falls short of Firefox 1.5

I downloaded and installed the Beta 2 version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7.0 yesterday to see if it offered any compelling reason for me to switch back from Mozilla's Firefox 1.5.

The answer is "fuggedaboutit".

My chief complaint with IE 7.0 is that it limits the total number of tabbed websites that automatically open (multiple home pages) when the browser is launched. You can launch only eight.

I open twenty-three tabs automatically when I launch Firefox 1.5. Those sites include my email accounts, news, blogs, investment sites, my personalized eBay page, my Netflix DVD queue, library accounts, and a plethora of Go-related sites.

There probably was some compelling reason for a software engineer to have limited the start-up tabs to a paltry eight. In any case, IE 7.0 immediately fell short of my minimum requirements so I'm sticking to Firefox 1.5.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Quitting Go?

I was a bit shocked when I was told that a friend on one of the servers had "quit" Go. As it was explained to me, he was feeling frustrated with his lack of progress and had encountered a long string of recent losses.

I can sympathize. There were a few moments back in January when I was questioning my ability to advance and that, perhaps, I should just give up. I pondered the possibility that I was a lifetime 20k.

Except for the more talented, many of us probably will hit walls on our way to to the dan ranks. Kageyama-sensei warns of these walls in his book, Lessons In The Fundamentals of Go. chrono3450 told me that he experienced walls on KGS every three ranks after 20-kyu. The comments and emails that I had received after one of my posts suggests that it is more the norm, than the exception, to encounter a wall on KGS at 18-19 kyu.

Unrealistic expectations of rapid advancement can further fuel frustrations. Some of us set goals which are too aggressive given our beginning abilities, our learning resources, and the honest amount of time that we can dedicate to studying the game.

Last year, I had told yoyoma that I was disappointed with how my progress had slowed after I got to 22-kyu. He reminded me that I am NOT Shindou Hikaru.

Very true. I am not "the chosen one" with a latent talent for the game. I don't have a ghost to teach me 24/7. I don't have much time in the day to dedicate to Go. My life story is not a fictional piece being written by Yumi Hotta.

My eight-and-a-half months of experience with this game has taught me that Go is no different than any endeavour that demands determination, discipline and time - which pretty much is a reflection of life in general. Success can be accelerated by miscellaneous gifts of fortune but, for the greater majority, success is the result of piling effort upon effort.

Thankfully, as amateurs, this game is a passion but not our livelihood. We dedicate to it as much discretionary time as we have; or as much as we can steal. It's our decision to stay with it or to leave it as our life circumstances suit us. We can push forward with our Go development or, if life demands, we can tenuki and play elsewhere.

I imagine that amateurs all have rather diverse reasons for having gotten into, and stuck with, this game. For some of us, it's become a small proving ground for our wills; a micro-arena of life. For others, it remains purely a form of recreation or, at worst, an opiate.

Going back to my friend, it seems that he only went on a two-month sabbatical from the game; as have a few other Go players that I know.

Interestingly, time away from Go can have two diverging effects. Often, one returns to the game a bit weaker than when they left. In other cases, one returns to the game stronger. I have actually seen two cases of the latter.

Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?
- Lance Armstrong in a cameo appearance on Dodgeball

Product Review: 9x9/13x13 combo board from YMI

The combo board atop my Chinese kaya goban. Note the color difference.

My replacement 9x9/13x13 combo board arrived from Yellow Mountain Imports last Monday but I didn't have the free time to write-up this review until this weekend.

The first board arrived warped. I tried to unwarp it by weighting down the center, to no avail. Thankfully, YMI sent me the replacement only two days after I had contacted them via email about the problem. The new board arrived along with a return waybill so I didn't have to pay return shipping. I just re-packed the old board and dropped it off at the freight carrier's local office.

Here's the 9x9 surface. I added silicone pads to the corners.

The total cost for this board, including shipping, handling and California state sales tax was $20.42. The board measures 35cm x 33cm x 1cm. It seems to be constructed of 7 pieces of wood. The top and bottom are covered with a thin veneer so as to make the playing surfaces look like one solid piece of wood.

The veneer playing surfaces make the board look like it is one
solid piece.

As you can see from the photos, the color of this board is more honey-like compared to the cinnamon shade of my kaya goban. I added 10mm clear silicone pads to the corners of both sides to help protect the smooth matte playing surfaces. There's a very generous 2.5cm clearance between the edge of the 13x13 grid and the edge of the board so the pads don't come into contact with any stones placed on the corners.

Click to enlarge and you'll see minor imperfections in the grid lines.
See the wide distance between the silicone pad and the corner
of the 13x13 grid?

As was revealed from the photo-tour of the Yunnan Weiqi Factory, the grids are typically drawn on by hand and not silk-screened. I found indicators of this method when closely inspecting this board; a tiny smudge here, a slight overlap of the lines there. None of these were noticeable at a normal viewing distance and I can't call them dissatisfiers.

Because the board is just 1cm thick, it doesn't give as solid a sound when a stone is placed on the surface; particularly with the silicone pads in place. The sound is more of a hollow "tok" than a sharp "tak". That was expected.

I had re-oiled my Yunzis about two weeks ago. This season's
scent is Lemon-Basil.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the value-for-money of this board and with YMI's prompt customer service. This board strikes me as a good balance between utility and good looks at under $21 shipped.

The combination of my kaya set and this combo board provides me with almost all of the gear that I need for in-person games. I just need to find a game timer and some sort of padded bag that might carry both the 19x19 and combo boards without scuffing the surfaces or edges.

Two alternatives to consider would be:
  • Samarkand's 1-inch hiba board (made in Korea) which sells for $45 (excluding shipping and handling which was $10.25 for Northern California). The thickness of this board means that it is less likely to warp. Its thickness may also add to its aesthetic appeal.
  • Yutopian's 0.5-inch Agathis board (made in Japan) which sells for $25.00 (excluding shipping and handling of $6.50). No photo is available for this board but it seems to ge a good price.

Fuseki Quiz 2/20

Black to Play. I chose "E".

It helps to look at the board from your opponent's perspective.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 1/20
  • A = 2
  • B = 6
  • C = 8
  • D = 4
  • E = 10, Attacks the R10 stone & secures the upper right corner. If W does not respond, capping the R10 stone with a B stone on P10 eclipses all of W's prospects in that area.

In other news

Well, my global conference concluded with positive reviews. My thanks to all of you who expressed your support!

Sadly, our administrator passed on to me a rumor that a layoff is in the works at our corporation. It would supposedly impact 18% of the workforce; almost 1 out of every 5 employees. She's 80% accurate with regards to these types of rumors.

Our department survived five layoffs with a loss of only one employee but it's always disturbing to hear these plans. The axe is expected to fall this summer after the fiscal year closes.

The rumor has probably been released to encourage attrition. As a contingency, I'll be investigating job opportunities at other companies over the next three months. This is an example of life forcing us to tenuki. That will take time away from Go and from blogging.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Deal Alert at Kuroki's: Ends April 30th

This is just a quick post. I've been working like crazy and both my spreadsheet and presentation apps have crashed twice on me this evening due to the sheer size of my files. I'll accept any good karma you can wish my way! My big presentation is on Thursday morning. I am not sleeping tonight!

This urgently needed to be blogged, though.

The same gentleman who provided me with considerable assistance in reviewing Mr. Kuroki's slate and shell stones has alerted me to a deal on his Japanese website. The sales period has been extended to April 30th. If you are interested, I suggest you send Mr. Kuroki an email.

  • Page for reference
  • Page translated by Google
  • Jitsuyo grade stones, size 32, 8.8mm thick, Limit of 3 per customer
  • Price 13,500 Yen (about US$115 as of today) excluding shipping and handling
  • S&H Estimate - Please inquire with Mr. Kuroki to get a current S&H estimate for air or surface freight for these stones. I was quoted 8,400 Yen for surface freight (6-8 weeks) in November 2005 but that quote was for stones, gosu, a 19x19 table board, and a 13x13 table board.
  • Cost for Size 32 Jitsuyo stones from Samarkand: US$289 excluding shipping and handling
Good hunting! If you decide to go for the deal, let him know that you found it on my blog. Maybe he'll discount me a set someday.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Workin' in a coal mine

Lord! I am SO tired! How LONG can this go ON?

I know some of you are accustomed to seeing me post on Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Unfortunately, this is my quarterly crunch week at work where we review our operational performance and scope-out continuous improvement projects. It's far busier than usual and I'm running a bit of a sleep deficit. I'll see you all on Sunday so just keep sente!

Don't try this at home

I can just imagine someone doing this at a Science Fair. It obviously performed far better than they expected. Note where the target marker was set and how much they exceeded it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Iceman & the kids make the local paper

Photo from The Oakdale Leader

In case you missed it in the recent comments, The Oakdale Leader ran a feature article about Iceman and his students. This publicity is great for the kids and the Go program that he launched. Maybe other schools will read about it and follow suit.

Those gobans that you see in the photo are from Yellow Mountain Imports. YMI apparently gave Iceman a special price on three slightly-damaged table boards and one floor board. That was a very nice win-win arrangement.

Free Go Programs

Onscreen to the left, free bots: GnuGo being run on Drago, and IgoWin.
Onscreen to the right, server clients: glGo (for IGS) and CGoban (for KGS).

I've come to realize that a lot of beginners still aren't aware of the free Go playing programs (aka bots) that they can download and use on their computers.

While the value of playing against a bot is debatable, they can still be an acceptable alternative to playing live opponents if one is still in the lower kyus; particularly if you have a poor internet connection or if you would like a quick match that might be subject to frequent interruptions.

Here are two popular options. The first runs only on Windows but the last one is available in versions for multiple operating systems.

Waiting for the second board

Sam at Yellow Mountain Imports is shipping me a replacement mini-goban and I'm guessing that it should arrive early this week (UPS says Monday). YMI is providing a prepaid return label so I can send back the warped one.

I tried de-warping the goban by weighing-down the center with some books but it wasn't enough. I can at least be thankful for YMI's customer care.

Fuseki Quiz 1/20

Black to play. One of the five points is optimal.
The others are less so to varying degrees. I picked "D".

The diagram above comes from Naoki Miyamoto's (9p) out-of-print book, "What's Your Rating?". I believe the problems were originally published in the Nihon Ki-in's weekly back in the late 60's or early 70's.

It's a fuseki quiz with Black to play. Each of the choices, marked with alphabetical characters, has a relative value from 2 to 10. Your objective is to select the optimal move.

There are 20 in this series and I'll post one each weekend and the scoring of the choices on the following weekend. I'll then show what Miyamoto-san believes your rank should be based on the cumulative scores. It may not be accurate, but it should be a bit of fun.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wait a little longer for that review

Whoops! Quality control problem.

My mini-goban from Yellow Mountain Imports arrived today (rather fast shipment) but it has a diagonal warp. Two opposite corners point upwards so it rocks no matter which side I play on. With the 13x13 side facing up, the board will spin on a smooth surface. I tried fixing it with felt pads and later with silicone pads but the warping is too pronounced.

I sent YMI an email to see what they can do. They have a good reputation of doing right by their customers.

The finish on the mini-goban is a few shades lighter than that of the full-sized table goban that I acquired from them back in December. Its color is more towards the yellow spectrum rather than cinammon. It's not an issue for me although I was hoping that the two might perfectly color-coordinate.

Myongji: Korean and not English

I received an email from Jens Henker (Tudorus on KGS) who is enrolled in the Baduk Degree Program at Myongji University. He explained to me that the classes are taught in Korean and not in English. That could prove to be a hurdle for aspirants who find new languages a challenge.

Still, as far as East Asian languages go, Korean may be one of the easier ones for Westerners to acquire. It is not tonal like Chinese, and the Koreans seem to have a stronger preference for Hangul (the Korean alphabet) over Hanja (Chinese-based ideographs) in their literature. The latter means that you may be spared the burden of having to memorize ideographs.

If I recall correctly, Hangul has only 16 basic characters (10 root consonants and 6 root vowels). There are 9 additional stressed or aspirated consonants, and 12 vowel dipthongs; but their symbols are derived from the 16 roots so they're easy to memorize.

Drago 2.10 released

Gilles Arcas has released his latest version of Drago; adding the much-awaited PDF export functionality and a few other improvements which include:
  • The ability to output figures at each markup or comment when printing
  • The ability to export a position on the board as a flat SGF (no moves, only setup commands)
  • The ability to select the diameter of stones when exporting a position
  • Sound for stone placement

I've strongly felt that, among current SGF editors, Drago was probably the best and most flexible in printing SGFs into formats that are ideal for offline study. Adding the PDF export function will make it easy for teachers and aspiring writers to generate PDFs like this one from shygost's lessons and distribute them via the internet.

Back on the subject of learning a language

This advert for Berlitz emphasizes the importance of learning a language well.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


O.G.A. = Online Go Anxiety
F.O.L. = Fear of Losing
F.E.A.R. = False Expectations Appearing Real

There have been at least three of you who had related to me that you suffer from OGA, or Online Go Anxiety. You have no trouble playing in real life, face to face with your opponent, but you find it very difficult (even nerve-wracking) to play on a real-time online Go server like KGS.

I've been playing seriously for less than a year and I can still remember that I was afflicted with a bad case of OGA during my first weeks. I believe that OGA is a superset of FOL (fear of losing), and that FOL is caused by FEAR (false expectations appearing real). Most of us eventually overcome OGA and maybe this post will help accelerate the process for some of you that might have it.

Transparency and Unfamiliarity are probably two causal categories for OGA.


Here are four elements of transparency which can drive FEAR when playing online.
  1. Your match can be viewed by several people all around the world. - At any moment, your friends, rivals, or teachers can pop into your match and see how you're playing. On KGS, TheCaptain (4D) will often have as little as sixty observers watching his game.
  2. All of your games are recorded and some servers make these public. - In real life, you play a game and its history tends to vanish into the ether after the game ends. Online, your transparency doesn't end after the match is over. On KGS for example, everyone can access your past games and play them back, stone-by-stone, in all their glory as you march towards victory ... or defeat.
  3. Your rank is automatically updated by the server based on your wins and losses. - Proud of your rank? You're 20k today but what if you hit a string of losses? You think you're 17k? Will you be able to prove it in the online arena? Are you afraid of seeing your rank knocked down by a stone? Maybe two stones?
  4. Your rank and/or your win-loss ratio is public knowledge unless you choose to obscure it or, as is allowed on some servers, reset it. - KGS maintains a rank chart which is publicly accessible. Everyone can see how you've progressed, or not progressed, over time. IGS shows your win/loss count although you can reset it to zero.
Of course, why should you even be concerned about any of those four unless you're a professional (who has a reputation to maintain), a for-fee instructor (who needs to attract students), or someone who made a bet that you can achieve a certain rank by a certain date? Your friends might be interested in your progress and your games but, in my experience, they're looking for opportunities to help you.

And the rest of the Go-playing community? Think about how many there are of us in the kyu ranks. Until we even get to the dans, we're a-dime-a-dozen. In a nutshell, kyus fly under the radar and can focus on enjoying their gradual growth.

What about comparing your progress to others or to some "standard"? The simple fact is that we all have different abilities, resources and life circumstances and the combination of those three will dictate how fast we can advance.

How your online Go friends see you

How lower beginners might see you

How you see yourself

How the general Go community probably sees you


When you play online, especially as a beginner, you will be playing mostly with strangers. Often, all you will know about your opponent is their name and their rank.

Some players will provide an avatar, a visual representation of themselves, but that can be of no help either.

Above is a montage of nine avatars taken from Kiseido Go Server. Depending on your tastes, some of these images may beckon and some may repulse. Three are friends, one is a former opponent and the rest were pulled randomly. Can you tell which? Are you sure? Who would you like to play with?

On top of that, we're divorced from the pleasantries of a good, full person-to-person interaction. Your opponent may not even choose to be polite by at least saying "Hello" and "Thank you" before and after the match. Some opponents can even be anti-social.

But just like in real life, we can choose who we play against. You're not obligated to accept every challenge to a match. On KGS, I prefer to examine a challenger's profile to at least check if they might be a potential escaper or a sandbagger. If there's anything that makes me uncomfortable, I can always turn down the challenge.

By and large, however, I've found my past opponents to be enjoyable, cordial and even helpful during the post-game reviews. Sometimes, all it takes is to remember that there's a real person on the other end.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Coming-up: Mini-goban review

I won one of Yellow Mountain Imports's combo gobans at auction on eBay. These have a 13x13 grid on one side and a 9x9 on the other. It is made of kaya veneer and is 1/3 of an inch thick. The total cost, including shipping and state taxes, came to $20.42.

I could have probably made my own or bought a plywood version for about $10 on my next sojourn to Games of Berkeley. I opted for this board since I wanted something that would look appealing on the coffee table. In my upcoming review, we'll see how well this combo board complements my full-sized kaya board that I had acquired from YMI back in December 2005.

For those in the market, another attractive alternative to consider would be Samarkand's 1-inch Hiba combo board which retails for $45.

Just launched: GOAMA Newsletter from the Go Federation

Trick play for the first issue of GOAMA

Igor Grishin of the Go Federation has launched GOAMA which is intended to be an international Go email newsletter. Its main editor will be Alexandre Dinerchtein who is a Russian amateur 7D and a former Korean yeonguseng. I believe he was conferred the rank of Korean 1P.

The first issue was a little sparse but I did enjoy the commented pro game and, in particular, the one-page illustration of a Korean trick play. Of course, now that I've blogged about it, I probably won't be able to apply the trick in any of my games.

Just Launched:

GoDiscussions was recently launched as an alternative moderated forum for discussing Go. Its administrator, Don, hopes to keep the atmosphere flame-free and family-friendly.

Any site that helps expands Go networking is rather helpful so we'll see how this one grows. I've posted a bit to the site already.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Studying Go Seigen's book

In his comment to one of my recent posts, Leonard Dragomir of The Warriors Go Academy asked if I had tried memorizing a pro game. He didn't explain the "why" behind it; he just tossed the idea and a few hyperlinks at me.

As is the case with any motivated student, a teacher often just has to say, "Go in that direction. You'll learn something by the time you get back."

Memorizing a game is a lot easier if you understand the reasoning behind the moves. I thought that I would try Leonard's suggestion with the partial games in Go Seigen's book, A Way of Play for the 21st Century since it's got considerable commentary. It only took me about 15 minutes to memorize and understand the first 32 moves. That's very encouraging so I'm going to see how far I can take this practice.

New freeware SGF editor features embedded audio

Frank de Groot has released Moyo Go Editor; a freeware SGF editor which was derived from his Go pattern analyzer, Moyo Go Studio.

It's an attractive editor with a uniqe capability to play back audio that is embedded in a SGF file. To create a SGF file with embedded audio, one would need the full version of Moyo Go Studio which he sells for $69. Both applications were designed for Windows only so an emulator would be needed for different operating systems.

Even with embedded audio, the SGF file retains its backward compatibility. Frank sent me a sample and I tested it with Drago and was able to open it with no problems.

Each audio segment is associated with a node (a move or variation in the SGF). Presumably, the feature could be used by remote-learning Go schools to create an audio lesson in a SGF.

In other news

A rather dramatic preview of KHII.

A tour of KHII's worlds.

ChiyoChan has been enjoying her new game, Kingdom Hearts II, which combines characters from Disney's pantheon with some from the Final Fantasy series of games. It's rather fascinating to see the pairing of Disney animation with Japanese anime.

Suntory's ad for their new drink, Final Fantasy Potion.

Final Fantasy XII is due to be released in Japan to much ado. Beverage manufacturer Suntory had launched a special drink, Final Fantasy Potion, which is tied to the game. Its humorous ad is featured above.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Direction of play

Another series of successful matches pushed my rank just barely into 17-kyu. At this point, it's safe for me to say that I've broken through my 19k barrier and that I've gotten stronger. I just have to keep on playing to see where my rank solidly settles.

Certainly, doing a little regular tsumego and taking a more time to think through my moves have contributed to my improvement. A pair of other concepts that I've been trying to apply to my matches has been a better awareness of the balance of influence versus territory and an understanding of the direction of play.

The second chapter of Takeo Kajiwara's book, The Direction of Play, has provided me with a little insight into these. That is where the example in the top board was taken. There, Black's play on D16 in response to White's D3 is considered "correct" as the follow-up approach of Black D5 has a strong relation to D16. Black projects the power of his star-point stone down into White's corner and sets up opportunities to activate it on a grand scale.

There are people who think that it makes little difference how they play in the opening. Ridiculous! A game is often decided in the opening.
- Takeo Kajiwara

If White responds with a territorial orientation, as illustrated on the first board, Black is able to expand his framework to both the left and right of the board; a situation which is poor for White and good for Black.

This second example shows what happens when White responds with a more influence-oriented approach. The result is more balanced but still slightly in Black's favor.

Doing what I can in the environmental wars

Environmental Defense's ad

I can't call myself an environmental activist. I haven't participated in rallies. I haven't collected signatures for legislative change. I only do what I can as a back-of-the-line reservist trooper in the environmental wars; making pro-environmental lifestyle choices, donating to causes and calling legislators. I actually have the telephone numbers for my senators and congressperson programmed into my mobile phone.

Recently, Environmental Defense teamed-up with The Ad Council of America to raise the alarm on global warming. In this section, I've decided to share one of their hard-hitting television spots with you.

If you'd like to understand more and assist, visit