Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just what is it with me and Life & Death problems?

Actually, I use my small YMI board for analyzing joseki variations, not L&D.
But you all probably wanted to see what problem 212 looks like.
Black to play and live with 1 move.

My rank on KGS says that I'm 8-kyu on that server's ranking system - based on playing medium-speed games (20 minutes plus 5x45 seconds byo-yomi) almost consistently. But just where am I right now on Graded Go Problems for Beginners: Volume III?

Problem 212 (that's page 44 under Intermediate problems, Level Three, Life & Death Problems). The old rank-range for this book was 20-kyu to 15-kyu. It has since been re-ranked as 15-kyu to 8-kyu which probably conforms to AGA ranks.

With James Davies's book, Life And Death, my progress is even worse. I've gone as far as page 39 (of 157 pages) but am currently re-reading from page 26. tetris would probably want to whack me with her avatar's pillow when she reads this.

Most of you have probably heard of Janice Kim's advice to solving Life & Death problems; do them in your head and not on a board. James Davies takes it up a notch; consider if either side can live (or kill) depending on who plays first.

It seems a bit odd, but I tend to breeze through tesuji and fuseki problems, but I notably slow-down (and sometimes struggle) with life & death.

One nasty habit of mine
At least one of my difficulties can be traced to this habit that I have of trying to keep track of each stone in sequence. It was probably programmed-in from all those statements like "Black to live in 3 moves" that you often encounter in tsumego books.

This image illustrates what I tend to visualize in my mind; stones with numbers on them: "Black 1 here, White 2 there, Black 3 here, ...".

If the analysis variations are wide, it gets difficult for me to keep track of where move 1 was and where move 2 went! For me, this sequential book-keeping seems to slow down the analysis.

This is another visualization method that seems to make it much easier for me. It's akin to Toshiro Kageyama's advice of just going systematically: "Black, White, Black, White, ...". Place the stones in your mind and count the moves later.

If it comes to the required number of moves, then great. Even if they don't, it seems that I can reset the board in my mind and analyze the alternatives faster.

Everyone's mind is wired differently, so this method may or may not work for you.

Speaking of wiring ...
Steve Fawthrop (aka DrStraw on KGS and GD) wrote an article about how to study Life & Death problems. His methodology seems to be hard-wiring the patterns into the brain. It's worth a look and your consideration.

Aaah ... Lupicia!

The Lupicia tea emporium in the San Francisco Centre.
Each of those boxes in the wall contain a particular variety of tea.

The tins on the counter are for scent-sampling and examination.

As a tea-drinker, I consider myself rather blessed to be living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lupicia has two stores in the city. If you love tea and happen to be in town, it would be well worth your time to visit one of their stores (as well as the tea-shops in Chinatown).

Lupicia is a large tea chain in Japan and they currently have three shops in the United States (two in San Francisco, California, and one in Honolulu, Hawaii). There are also two shops in Australia (both in Melbourne) and three in Taiwan.

Flavoured Green Tea No. 8503, Paradise

ChiyoMama has a preference for floral-flavoured teas while ChiyChan likes fruit-flavoured ones. Our current favorite is No. 8503 which is called Paradise. It is also suitable for iced tea.

Lupicia sells by mail and by phone. So wherever you are in the US, you no longer have an excuse for not trying their teas. They can be contacted at (415) 227-0533 [Fax at (415) 227-4161] and are located at 865 Market Street in San Francisco. Ask for a free copy of their English catalog.


At 11:04 PM, February 08, 2007, Anonymous Sorin Gherman said...

Dear ChiyoDad, you are not alone in having difficulties with life-and-death problems, as opposed to tesuji (and, not to mention, to fuseki problems).
I think this is because life-and-death problems are "deeper" when it comes to reading; tesuji problems usually involve a smaller number of moves to solve.

As for fuseki problems, don't even get me started :-) I consider them a perfect way to boost one's ego in an artificial way.
People who read books and have an analytical approach to studying Go do naturally well at fuseki problems - count me in - but unless we get good at reading close fights, we're no match to "natural born killers" who don't care much about theory.

At 12:49 AM, February 10, 2007, Blogger Alejo said...

"natural born killers"... that's scary... I always find myself in trouble with these "Jack the Ripper" players which, obviously, have some problems with my stones being ON the board and not OUTSIDE the board... I hope there is not a personal reason for that...

I'm awfully bad on tsumego... one day of those I'll start training myself on goproblems seriously.

At 10:05 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello Sorin,

Thanks for the encouragement. As seems to be the case in all things, what's best for us usually comes via the hardest path.


At 7:27 PM, February 13, 2007, Anonymous wmcguire93 said...

Concerning Teas...
Have you ever tried The Republic Of Tea brand? If so, how does it compare to Lupicia.

I to am a tea-drinker and my staples are Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong and "Tea of Inquiry" (by Republic). However, I love to try new a variety of teas and Lupicia sounds interesting.

At 8:48 AM, February 15, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello wmcguire93,

The teas are comparable in quality albeit Lupicia has much greater variety and some very interesting blends. My recommendation would be to ask for a free copy of their English catalog by calling their San Francisco number.

At 4:03 AM, February 21, 2007, Anonymous Tamsin said...

Hi ChiyoDad!

Keep persevering: improvement comes to those who work at it.

Glad to see you're interested in tea. Have you tried Earl Grey? I love it! And have you tried Lady Grey, which is more delicate and fruitier still? I also love it!

Have you ever had Poricha/Boricha? It's Korean barley tea, and it's one of the most fabulous beverages that I've tasted, but it's not easily obtained in the UK.

--Megumi (KGS to eigo de Tamsin)

At 7:13 AM, February 21, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello Tamsin,

Thanks for the encouragement! It's been a little difficult lately for me to sit down to work on tsumego.

Earl Grey has long been my favorite caffeinated dark tea since I love the scent of oil of Bergamot.

I haven't tried Boricha (aka Mugicha 麦茶) but I'll see if it can be found in San Francisco (very likely). Recently, I've been enjoying South African Rooibos which also has no caffeine. The blends that I like are usually mixed with Honeybush which adds a bit more sweetness to the taste.


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