Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Back on the 8th of July

As mentioned in last Saturday's post, I'll be out of town and this blog will resume on the 8th of July. I've informed all of my correspondence opponents and turned-on my vacation messages.

Keep sente!

Late breaking news

Yellow Mountain Imports has advised me that their GoBox will be available in early July (shipment is due to arrive on July 1st) and that their slate & shell stones will be available in mid-to-late July.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"My position is worse than yours"

Move 49. I'm white and I don't think I'm ahead.
Black doesn't think he's ahead either.

So I'm playing a correspondence match with xed_over. I had allowed him a double-approach on one of my corner stones and by move 48 I place my stone and comment that I'm beginning to feel the burden of a poor fuseki.

He writes back, "Ha-ha! And I thought I was having trouble catching-up!"

We're always our own harshest critics, aren't we? You could be marching nicely along the fourth line or walling-in your opponent as he or she desperately defends or floats eyeless on the side of the board; but you'll still think that you're on your way to losing the match. Only impartial eyes can discern the truth.

We're at move 72 of this rated game (so no comments on it please) and I think I've gained the initiative. But it's still difficult to tell.

My position still seems worse than his.

Correction: The Tsumego have solutions

A reader pointed out to me that the tsumego on do have solutions. One needs only to click on the problem to launch an interactive Java applet that they can play against or use to display the solution sequence.

KGS Rating at 15k and I'm feeling better

Odd similarity.

A couple of losses on KGS brought my rank down to 15k and that actually makes me feel better. Of course, because rank-float had taken me up to 14k much earlier, and because I hadn't played any games for several weeks, my rank chart is looking like a Sedona desert skyline.

I do believe my friends when they tell me that I can play as strong as a KGS 14k but I'd prefer to do that on a consistent basis. Many of my peers have achieved 14k by playing more games and gaining more experience; that's a good way to earn it.

In other news

Contrary to popular speculation, I'm not an IT person, but I am rather sympathetic to my many colleagues who had found their jobs outsourced.

One of them sent me this humorous animation. It has audio so you may want to adjust your speaker volume.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Playing on correspondence servers

I now have five ongoing games on Dragon Go Server, the most well-known of the Go correspondence servers. These are one's best alternatives when one cannot find a solid hour (or more) to play a real-time game on the real-time Go servers.

Two games are rated and the other three are meant to be "teaching" or "sparring" games; ChiyoDad as punching bag. I've been on the receiving end of a lot of teaching games and reviews in the past. Sometimes the best way to repay an act of kindness is to pass it on.

I don't really know how to play a teaching game so I opt instead for what I call a "learning" game. I try to openly discuss (via comments) how the game is progressing, what risks I see, what looks stable and what doesn't. I also encourage my opponents to use Sensei's Library or books to look-up some of the positions and ideas that we're applying.

Feel free to counsel Peter (aka Ash), trevoke and Marta (aka Aurian). All of them are working hard to improve.

No comments on the rated games until they're finished, please.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Goin' fishin'

I'll be out of town so the weekly fuseki quiz (and my regular blogging) will continue on the 9th of July.

I managed to play two games on KGS on the 23rd. The first was against a bot to solidify my rank. The second was against hftsang (14k). I lost both but it felt great to again play real-time games. shygost offered me a third match but I had reached my "quota" for the day and opted to spend the rest of the evening with my family.

My return to real-time games on KGS wasn't as anxiety-ridden as I had thought it might be. I'm feeling more relaxed about just letting my rank adjust according to the results of my games. That might change if I go into an intense competitive frame of mind, but that's not the case right now. I have to deal with a job transition and possible layoffs at my company; so there are bigger things to worry about.

Tsumego galore!

In case you hadn't noticed, becci's and wchen's blog about studying weiqi in China has been updated on almost a daily basis, and often with photos. In their latest post, they provided a link to which contains all of the tsumego that they have been studying as exercises. There seems, however, to be no solutions page for these problems.

Some of you can't wait

... and frankly, neither can I with regards to Yellow Mountain Import's upcoming summer offerings. I had given you folks a sneak-peek of their GoBox (almost overdue since June's nearing its end) and their plans to sell slate/shell stones as well as "super yunzi".

Now their latest store banner indicates that they will be selling dragon-relief floor gobans. I know a number of you had been interested in these ever since I posted Pong Yen's photos from his trip to China back on February 27th and February 28th.

Photos of a Go Salon in Kyoto

Image courtesy of The Irish Go Association

Steve of the Irish Go Association had recently blogged about his visit to a Go Salon in Kyoto. It's a fun read and you can find it here.

Fuseki Quiz 11/20

Black to play in this 3-stone handicap game. I chose C as a solid move.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 10/20
(Jump to last week's quiz!)
  • A = 4
  • B = 6
  • C = 8
  • D = 2
  • E = 10, It's a big move to grab the lone white stone. Should Black neglect to play this, White will jump out to O14, causing a lot of trouble. Playing P12 makes everything secure for Black while gaining big profit.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Another Go Tournament & Solomon Choe's China Trip

Temple of Go Dojo 1k-14k Tournament

Morpheus has announced that the Temple of Go Dojo on Kiseido Go Server will be holding a summer 1k-14k tournament from June 30th to July 2nd.

I've added this event to the Community Calendar.

Solomon Choe takes off to China for Training

GoDiscussions member Solomon Choe will be participating in the Go'n'Games 2006 China trip. He's promised to keep us updated 1-2 times a week via his new blog so be sure to bookmark it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Invasions and reductions beginning as attachments

We often hear the advice about not attaching to stones that we want to attack, as the proverb goes. Also as kyu players, many of us have become familiar with the jump into the 3-3 point for an invasion as is illustrated in the joseki below.

This jump into the 3-3 works best when the opponent has no supporting stones nearby. It can be played to claim the corner or the side depending on the opponent's responses. The situation changes however after a shimari, an enclosure, is made and the opponent has extended from it.

I was recently introduced to invasions and reductions against enclosed corners while reading Takemiya's The Enclosure Josekis. The book focuses on how to deal with corners after a shimari and extension have been formed. Interestingly, Takemiya show that one of the best approaches is with a probing attack that uses a tsuke, an attachment.

This is the approach outlined in Takemiya's book for what he classifies as Star-Point Pattern Six.

The same approach is applied against an enclosure made with a 3-4 stone; 3-4 Pattern One in Takemiya's book.

Played successfuly with an understanding of the joseki, both will end with three possible outcomes.
  1. White lives in the corner and Black seals her in.
  2. White lives in the top and Black seals her in.
  3. White escapes to the center.
These studies have become necessary as I've progressed and, sometimes, opted to play as White. I'm finding reductions and invasions to be a growing part of my arsenal as I move from big-moyo games to a style that must apply and counter amashi and shinogi.

toastcrumb Launches Her Summer Blog

Well, summer vacation has started and that means lots of time for the younger Go players to really get into the game. How I envy all of them!

toastcrumb is kicking-off her summer with an ambitious agenda to achieve shodan. However she fares, it'll be interesting to watch her progress so drop by her blog and wish her luck!

Father's Day

Last weekend was Fathers' Day. After dinner was over, I spent its eve pretty much vacuuming the house, scrubbing the bathrooms, doing laundry, dusting and polishing the wooden furniture, et cetera.

It's worth it!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Last Emperor's Weiqi Set

Puyi (溥儀), the tenth and last emperor of the Qing Dynasty to rule over China.

Some of you might have seen the movie entitled, The Last Emperor. It was a dramatization of the life of Puyi (溥儀), the last emperor of China.

Pong Yen of Yellow Mountain Imports shared with me three photos he took of the emperor's weiqi set. Surprisingly, it was a rather simple one that included a pragmatic folding board.

I imagine that the emperor may have had a few weiqi sets. This may have merely been the one that survived the cultural revolution.

Notice the beautiful gold artwork on the bowls. The colors for the stones were dark and light blue.

This side-shot shows some interesting flecks within the stones themselves. Perhaps they were made of glass or some semi-precious stone? The bowls are also different from the Japanese Kitani-style.

The star points were not marked with a dot but with emphasis lines. In this photo too, you can see what is either flecking on the stones or the remnants of some design.

Back to KGS matches

I'm going to try to get in a few weekly games on Kiseido Go Server. I haven't been playing much for a long while thanks to all the hullabaloo at work. I expect to be clobbered but it would only get worse if I don't play. I also want to experiment with some new ideas and advice that I received.

Fuseki Quiz 10/20

Black to play. Miyamoto-sensei says to use your intuition.
I chose E.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 9/20
(Jump to last week's quiz!)
  • A = 6
  • B = 2
  • C = 8
  • D = 10, A severe move. Note only does it attack the Black stone in the lower right but it also threatens W-H3 as a follow-up move. Black would be forced to play H3 himself.
  • E = 4

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Temple of Go 15k-30k Tournament

Morpheus sent me an invitation to The First Temple of Go Dojo 15k-30k Tournament which will be held in the Temple of Go Dojo on Kiseido Go Server. I added the dates and times to the Calendar. If you're registered on that forum (and if you've completed your profile), the dates for the tournament will auto-adjust for your timezone.

Although KGS ranks me at 14k, that rating is more likely due to rank float. If I played six games tonight, I think I would get knocked down to 15k or even 16k in a pinch. I know some of you think that I'm as strong as my rank indicates but I don't have the same confidence level. Besides, I've hardly played any games recently.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to participate in this tournament since I need to do extended work over the weekend. On top of that, ChiyoMama will be returning from her overseas business trip on Sunday night and we'll be driving to San Francisco International Airport to pick her up.

I'm really eager to get back into regular matches on KGS even though I expect to be clobbered. I don't know how I'll perform since I have been playing mostly teaching games on Dragon and quick games at 20k on IGS.

Drago's New Website

Gilles Arcas has registered a new domain for his freeware SGF tool, Drago. You'll now find it at Drago remains my favorite editor and GnuGo interface because of its ease-of-use, printing options, and its clean interface.

Final Version of Skype 2.5 Released

For all of you Go players who use Skpe for internet telephony, the final version of 2.5 for Windows has been released. You may want to download and install it.

Blog About Studying Wei-Qi in China

You might have already read that two of NannyOgg's friends have launched a new Go blog on the eve of their departure to China. Guo Juan had arranged for them to study over the summer with her teacher there. It should be an interesting read.

I only hope that they will be able to update the blog from China. I was told twice that Blogger could sometimes not be accessed from China because of state censoring.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Coming from YMI: Are you ready for Super Yunzi?

Pong Yen at Yellow Mountain Imports had confirmed that they will soon be stocking Japanese slate and shell stones from Hyuga in Japan. If you've recently visited their website, you probably saw their teaser ad shown below.

Teaser ad from YMI.

They will offer Yuki (Snow) and Jitsuyo (Standard) grade stones made from Mexican clams. I had touched-upon these grades in an earlier post.

He also informed me that they are working on stocking Super Yunzi which are Sizes 38 and 41. Their regular bi-convex Yunzi stones are Size 34 (9.5mm thick) as shown in the image below.

A Size 34 Yunzi from YMI.

By Japanese standards, Size 38 is 10.7mm, but YMI's would be 10.8mm. Size 41 is 11.7mm. To give you an idea of how thick these stones would be, take a look at the image below from Kuroki Goishi Ten which compares the sizes of their thick clam-shell stones.

Comparing Sizes 34 through 40.

Understandibly, not everyone likes fat stones but I know that there are many (including myself) who love their heft.

To accomodate these stones, YMI will be offering a larger-sized Kitani-style bowls made out of Indian Rosewood. Guitarists are familiar with this wood as its veneers are often used by luthiers.

An example of a guitar made from Indian Rosewood veneers.

Virtual Conferences with a WebCam

Logitech's QuickCam Fusion

I acquired a Logitech QuickCam Fusion to experiment with video telephony and have been enjoying long-distance video conversations with some of you via Skype.

My long-term goal however is to highlight the effectiveness of virtual meetings which can be used to augment the functionality of Go clubs and allow them to expand memberships beyond their immediate geographic areas.

Currently, video telephony apps like Skype and MSN Messenger only allow 1-to-1 video telephony. Apple's iChat offers multiple-user connections with a beautiful virtual conference table interface.

Apple's iChat in action.

An experimental application, WigiWigi, allows up to nine conferees on Windows XP and Mac OSX; all with super-smooth video (as long as the camera can support the frame rate). In its current form, WigiWigi establishes a direct node-to-node connection so users need to provide each other their IP address which can be looked up using online services.

The application itself is quite simple and uses only one file; you download it and run it. There is no install procedure except for allowing the application access through Windows XP's firewall.

WigiWigi in action with eight conferees and room for one more.

Fuseki Quiz 9/20

White to play. This one seems really hard.
I chose A as an urgent move but I think it's sub-optimal.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 8/20
(Jump to last week's quiz!)
  • A = 6
  • B = 10, B taking J3 is a big move which threatens a follow-up invasion at N3 as illustrated below. If W takes is able to extend to H3, then this opportunity would be lost.
  • C = 2
  • D = 8
  • E = 4

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Core Library Materials and Supplements

It's now been a year since I started taking this game seriously and I've learned quite a bit since June of 2005 when I started reading Janice Kim's Learn To Play Go, Vol.1 while my family was on vacation in Las Vegas.

I'm obviously the sort of Go player who learns from both books and actual play. I have collected quite a few over this year and I've decided to name the best of the best; the books that I would have wanted someone to have recommend to me a year ago.

I've divided the books into two categories and selected only those that are in-print.
  • Core Library - These are the books that you should have at the appropriate level. For this post, they are highlighted with a blue background.
  • Supplements - These are books that you don't need, but are very good and could infuse you with more ideas for faster development.

Serious Introductory Stage: Core Library

If you want just a quick introduction to the game that will get you to, technically, about 35-kyu, then you just need to use the online site The Interactive Way To Go. To achieve about 28 to 26 kyu strength on KGS, these books are recommended.
  • Learn To Play Go, Vol. 1 (by Janice Kim) or Go for Beginners (by Kaoru Iwamoto) - The former is, in my humble opinion, the easiest and most convenient introductory book to start with (it also comes with cardstock boards and pieces) and may work best for some younger players. The latter is a more robust introductory book with more content.
  • Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Vol.1

Serious Introductory Stage: Supplements

These are books that you might want to turn to for a few more ideas that could power-up your game. None of them perfectly address all the needs of advancing beginners, but all three are very good. Any would probably serve you well through your teen-kyus. If possible, try to browse all three to see which might best cover the areas you would like to improve upon.
  • The Second Book of Go (by Richard Bozulich) - A people's choice book. It's very popular among beginners although some senior players feel that it touches too lightly upon its subjects. The book is meant to be seminal; not comprehensive.
  • Basic Techniques of Go (by Isamu Haruyama and Yoshiaki Nagahara) - This is my preference because it reminds me of a textbook curriculum. I like its broader coverage of handicap Go. Some of its material may be a little difficult for beginners.
  • The Fundamental Prinicples of Go (by Yilung Yang) - The most difficult of these three recommendations, it is still a good book which offers more coverage of invasions and reductions (used in the middle game) as well as fundamental strategies.

Beginner Stage: Core Library

These books are good to get at about 26 kyu on KGS but the first two will probably serve you well until you have become a single-digit kyu.
  • Opening Theory Made Easy (by Otake Hideo) - I have yet to hear one Go player say anything to suggest that this book is non-essential. It provides key ideas that will power-up your opening and lay the strategic foundation for more successful matches.
  • Cho Hun-Hyeon's Lectures on Go Techniques, Vol.1 (by Cho Hun-Hyeon) - In addition to strategy, one must develop tactical skill. This is a book that you will want to turn to after you have lost a few games because of inefficient moves. While it may seem a little dry at the start, it is actually very good material for showing the why's behind efficient moves, good shape, and elementary joseki.
  • Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Vol.2

Beginner Stage: Supplements

I very much enjoy these two books and I get a lot of ideas out of them. At this stage, both are at the borderline pf being core library materials.
  • Proverbs: The Nihon Ki-in Small Encyclopedia Series, Vol.1 - This book is great for down-time reading that can still improve your game.
  • Fuseki: The Nihon Ki-in Small Encyclopedia Series, Vol.2 - Explains the strategies behind the popular openings and gives a basic introduction as to how they should be played - and how they should be countered.

Intermediate Starter: Core Library

For many Go players, these are the holy trinity of intermediate Go books. DrStraw (AGA 5D) considers them to be absolutely essential and the ones he would recommend if he were limited to only three books. There are those who attest that these will truly lay the foundation for achieving shodan.

Make no mistake, the material in these will be difficult even in one's teen-kyus and you will not absorb everything quickly. They are meant to be read and re-read to get their full benefits.
  • Tesuji (by James Davies)
  • Life And Death (by James Davies)
  • Lessons in The Fundamentals of Go (by Toshiro Kageyama)
Understandibly, some Go players may need supplements that go beyond this list to address specific areas that they're trying to develop. Before you do that, you may want first see if this list might suffice.

More information relating to book selections can be found on's Books section and its Go Product Database.

Fuseki Quiz 8/20

Black to play. I chose D as a big point.

Scoring of Last Weekend's Fuseki Quiz 7/20
  • A = 6
  • B = 4
  • C = 10, Because the black positions on the lower right and left are strong, the invasion at Black 1 is just the move. If White jumps to L5, Black keeps up the pressure by jumping to J5. If Black fails to make this invasion, White will play H4.
  • D = 2
  • E = 8