Byorgey / GoBlog

Sub-page of Byorgey

Various musings on my personal experiences with Go. Of course feel free to comment, muse along with me, etc.

Table of contents Table of diagrams
Black (me) to kill
equiLibre vs. [byorgey]
Black makes seki
Black goes for the ko
White makes seki
The Move of Terror
A good example of [d'ohsuji | Dohsuji]
This is NOT seki...

8/31/2008: Playing at the Penn Go Society

We're now firmly ensconsed in our new apartment in Philadelphia, and on the Wednesday before last I attended my first meeting of the Penn Go Society. It was fantastic fun playing real live games for the first time in---I don't know how long. Not sure of my rank, I played even games against a 14k and an 11k and won both. So at the moment I'm assuming that my rank is somewhere around 10k; as I play more games against people in the club I suppose I'll figure it out more precisely. I wasn't able to attend this past Wednesday but hope to go again soon!

7/1/2008: Return of the go blog

Recently I have been getting back into playing after a several-year hiatus, mostly due to the fact that I didn't really have anyone to play with. But in the fall I'll be starting a PhD at U Penn and am excited to join the Go club there. I've also started playing some on DGS -- but since my rating was somewhere around 22k I have been winning all my games. So far I'm at 16k and still winning all my games. We'll see how high it goes before flattening out!

2/5/2005: My first tournament

I just got back from my first Go tournament, held by the Northern Virginia Go Club. I must say, I had a great time! I was pretty happy with my play, but perhaps more importantly, everyone there was really friendly --- it was just a fun atmosphere.

I entered as 15k, and ended up with a record of 2-2, which I thought was respectable. In my first game (as black taking three stones), I was ahead by a lot, but then my opponent invaded my large corner and managed to live, which scared me --- but it turns out I still ended up with the victory by about 6 points. I lost my second and third games; in the second one I was simply outplayed, but in the third one I think I could have done better but played like crap, especially in the opening, and ended up resigning. My final game was against a kid who couldn't have been more than ten and who played disconcertingly fast. And while I was thinking he often wasn't even looking at the board. But after I got over being a little intimidated, we proceeded to have a very close game -- he built up a HUGE moyo in the center which I had to invade, but I managed to make two eyes in the center and then proceeded to destroy most of his territory, which was a good thing since I didn't have very much myself. I ended up squeaking out a win by 3.5.

Much fun indeed --- I'm already planning to attend their next tournament in April. (=

1/30/2005: Back in the game

I've been away from SL, and to a lesser extent the game of Go itself, for a while... in the meantime, I improved to around 16k on KGS, got a few more students addicted to Go, but, more importantly, also got engaged! (My fiancée doesn't know how to play but wants me to teach her. =)

But now that I am no longer stressing about proposing, I'm getting back into the game. =) I think next weekend I am going to enter a tournament hosted by a local club. I'm not really sure what to expect, since I've never played in a tournament before, but hopefully it will be fun. Although I am a little afraid that by the end of four 1 1/2-hour matches I will be sick of playing and lose concentration, but I guess that's all part of it. Anyone have any tips on staying focused and alert during tournament matches?

Oh yes, and also, I am no longer a ko virgin. I played a game on KGS where we ended up fighting a ko for the life of one of my opponent's groups, which had resulted from an invasion. I won the ko, although I think I misjudged the value of my opponent's threat and ended up losing anyway. (=

12/10/2004: Lost the ?

Woohoo, I lost my ? on KGS! I am now a solid 20k. Although judging by the margins of my victories lately I think it will continue to go up rapidly for a while. But really, who cares about rank? I am having fun. (Ahh, who am I kidding... I do care about my rank somewhat... =)

12/2/2004: Finally

Finally, I won some games on KGS! One by almost 40 points taking six stones against a 19k?, and another taking three stones against a 19k, who resigned when I was up by about 50 points. Not all that impressive I guess but a great boost to my confidence nonetheless. In the second game especially I felt I was playing much more quickly and confidently (and with less mistakes!) than in previous games.

Another fun thing was that in the second game I solved an Actual In-Game Life-and-Death Problem. Here it is:

Black (me) to kill  

Now, granted, it's not a particularly difficult life and death problem. (= But it was fun nonetheless. In general I feel like studying tsumego has definitely been improving my game -- not just my knowledge of life and death but more importantly, my reading ability.

11/28/2004: More losing, and being dumb

My KGS losing streak now stands at 8, and I've fallen to 24k. Lose your first 50 games as quickly as possible... When the goban throws you, get right back on... these are the things I keep telling myself, at least...

On a (slightly) different subject, I played a quick 9x9 game against someone who apparently was even more of a newbie than me. I won easily, but the point is I won so easily that I didn't really think. For a good laugh, check out how the game looked when it ended:

equiLibre vs. byorgey  

Yes, you can stop laughing now. (= What I didn't realize until AFTER the game is that both of White's groups can be killed by Black plays at a and b respectively. Duh.

chrise Strictly speaking you cannot kill both groups because if you make a move on one then white will save the other :)

Brent: Theoretically, yes. I probably should have used the word "either" instead of "both". However, in this particular case I'm not sure White would have. (=

chrise if my poor counting serves me well here then black should kill the lower group first and then the upper one if white blunders again :)

Brent: Actually, I think they are miai. If Black plays a, White loses 5 points and Black gains 23 (14 points of territory + 9 white prisoners) -- a swing of 28 points. If Black plays b, White loses 3 points and Black gains 25 (14 territory + 11 prisoners) -- also a swing of 28 points. So all other things being equal, I think it really doesn't matter. (Of course, in general all other things might not be equal -- in particular I think playing at a instead of b gives White more ko threats -- but in this game there obviously won't be any ko later).

11/23/2004: Losing on KGS

That's all I've been doing, recently. Granted, I have only played a grand total of 5 games, but I have lost them all. Now I've dropped to 18k?. Not to mention that in at least two of the games, I was winning, but then made a questionable move that ended up losing, just because I didn't read deep enough when I would have been fully capable of doing so. One I lost by 1.5 but should have won by about 25. Part of it is the time pressure, I guess, but I think there are other factors too (lack of confidence? lack of experience? evil gnomes?). Hopefully sometime soon I can figure out what they are. Or maybe I should find some 30k's and kick their butts...

Update: ARRRGH! I lost my sixth game by one half of a point! I came back from like 30 points down, too. Guess I need to keep studying my endgame... grr.

11/13/2004: KGS account and invasions

So I finally got a KGS account the other day (byorgey); even though I don't have much time to play I figured it would be a nice thing to have. So the first game I played was an even game as white against some guy who was 15k. I resigned after it reached this position:


I thought I did pretty well although I just couldn't compete with his HUGE territory on the bottom. I was also running VERY low on time (I'll have to get used to playing faster games, they're not my strong suit...) In retrospect, though, maybe my group in the bottom right (the result of a botched joseki) could have lived after all, which might have made the game close.

At any rate, he built up huge influence throughout the game, and I'm still not good enough (or maybe just too scared) to know how to properly invade or reduce.[3]

unkx80: Status of upper right corner - see joseki-related life-and-death example 2.

Brent: Aha! Thanks for the link. I'll have to study that one.

On a related note, however, I also just had a wonderfully fun and instructive teaching game with Adam Marquis (Makar on KGS), and I think I am starting to get an inkling of some ideas how to invade/reduce large frameworks. Now to test out these new ideas in some actual games!

11/10/2004: Go club!

I have a few students who I know are interested in go. And they know that I play since often I will have a DGS game up on my screen during lunch and so on. For a couple weeks I've been wondering about the possibility of starting a go club, but it's just one of those things I've never gotten around to (it's not like I have loads of free time!). Then this morning, one of my students (one who I did not know was interested in go) came and asked if I would be willing to sponsor a go club! Apparently he had learned the rules at one point a few years ago, and when he saw me playing or talking about it with another student, it rekindled his interest. So he found a couple friends who played and had them teach him more, and now he wants to start a club. And I know there are at least one or two other students who have just recently gotten into the game again, because they saw me playing. It seems that I radiate go-enthusiasm! (=

So another one of my students (whose dad is amateur 1d) is going to bring in a cheap set on Friday and maybe we'll do some playing at lunch. Who knows where this will end up going but I'm sure it will be fun!

10/31/2004: Playing at Mayorga

Yesterday my friend Steve and I had our inconsistently-weekly game of go. (= We've found this coffee shop [ext] Mayorga where we really enjoy playing -- it's a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, they have good coffee/chai/root beer/whatever, and square tables that are just about the right size. And it's fun seeing the sorts of comments we get. My favorite:

Woman: What game is this you're playing?
Us: This is 'go'. It's the oldest board game in the world.
Woman: Oh. So, can I buy it at Toys 'R' Us?

That made me laugh. Although, I don't know -- can you buy a set at Toys 'R' Us?

Anyway, we usually talk a lot, discuss various moves, etc. Our goal is more to learn and produce a beautiful game than to determine a winner and a loser (it's much more fun that way since we're both quite competitive). So we played around 50 moves in two hours, and then decided to continue the game at a later date since we were getting hungry.

A very pleasantly spent afternoon!

unkx80: Maybe yes -- I have seen those small foldable magnetic go sets sold in toy shops or toy departments, just like those travelling chess sets.

Coyote In Canada I have often seen Go sets at those game kiosks in the malls that specialize in board games.

10/28/2004: A goban, to match my stones.

Finally, the goban I ordered came, so I have something to do with my stones. =) My little sister is very excited about learning to play so I think we're going to have our first lesson tomorrow afternoon! That should be fun. There are few things I find more enjoyable than teaching others about something I think is beautiful and interesting. Not to mention that one always understands something much better once one has taught it.

10/28/2004: I hate losing in stupid ways.

It's not so much losing that I mind (I am fairly competitive but am trying very hard to take a more balanced approach with go -- to enjoy the game and learn from mistakes, rather than trying to win at all costs). But losing because of silly mistakes, or (in this case) failure to defend a territory that turned out to have a very hard-to-spot weakness, is frustrating and irksome.

So I was playing white in a 2H [ext] game on DGS. Although my opening was poor, which put me behind, I was able to catch up in the endgame, and with only a few moves left I was (according to my count) leading by about 2.5. But then my opponent played a tesuji I had not foreseen, and ended up catching a few of my stones and taking a big bite out of some of my territory. Well, actually, I had considered his move and thought I could defend it adequately -- but he played three or four tesuji[1] in a row, the combination of which I hadn't foreseen. When it became clear to me that I couldn't defend adequately, I resigned, since it was clear that I had lost, and I didn't think there was much more that could be learned by finishing the game down to the last point. Not to mention that it would have just been painful.

Taking a bigger perspective (what can I learn from this?), this sort of thing seems to happen to me a lot, actually. I get to the end of a game and one (or several) of my territories has a weakness I hadn't seen. In this particular example, in retrospect, it's not too hard to understand -- the territory in question bulged way out into the middle of the board, and had a boundary composed of lots of small unconnected strings rather than a few, large, connected ones. So my opponent was able to make many strategic cuts -- any one of which, in isolation, I could easily have defended (which is why I hadn't bothered). But in combination they forced me into a position where I finally had to choose between saving two different groups.

So, why does this happen to me? Areas of territory are mapped out, formed and reinforced over the course of the entire game. What exactly is it about my overall play that often results in territory with insecure, piecemeal borders, and how can I go about improving? Maybe it has something to do with shape? But I don't think I'm even sure what 'shape' really means, let alone being able to tell good shape from bad. Or perhaps another thing one could say is that I tend to leave lots of bad aji?

Well, at least it's something to think about as I continue playing and studying. (=

[1] By 'tesuji' here I mean good moves by my opponent that I had not considered. Which, of course, may not be exactly the standard definition. (=

bud1027 : intereting story, btw I think that your exprience is normal and common. i have seen ur game just now, in my guess....the main problem is ur reading skill..but it's just my guess

Coyote : Cutting points close together are dangerous. Urgent moves before big moves. Yes, patching up a cut can be Gote and give your opponent a few points, but having territory cut up and destroyed utterly is worth more.

10/16/2004: Go stones!

The stones that I ordered came yesterday! And the board that I ordered is on its way too. Nothing fancy, just some official ING stones (in the hexagonal counting bowls) and a folding katsura board. I'm nowhere near good enough to invest a lot of money in good-quality equipment (even if I had a lot of money in the first place). But it's still very exciting since I've never before had my own equipment -- I've always played on other people's or online.

10/14/2004: Life and Death. Oh yes, and seki too.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp on life and death. But as it turns out, I only had a good grasp on the parts that I knew about. (= This position arose in [ext] one of my recent games on DGS:[2]


I was playing white, and initially thought that my corner was perfectly safe. But the more I thought about it the more I was not sure at all. My current best guess is that it is seki. But there are so many variations and so much strangeness (the corner is REALLY WEIRD) that it's hard to know for sure. Guess I just need more experience and more study.

(BTW I ended up resigning the game; even if this corner were alive I was still behind by 10 or 15 points).


Hey Brent,

Yeah, at first this looked like it would come down to a ko situation in the corner, but the more I look at it the more I agree with seki. I don't think either white or black has a killer move available. B1 and W2 are automatic, as is B3 and W4 (gote for black though), and that situation really looks unwinnable for either side. Maybe someone else will have a profound insight...

--Jonathan Salter


(Brent) Why is black+circle gote? White does not gain anything by playing W1 so I don't think black has to defend after black+circle.

I still haven't had a chance to really sit down and analyze this in detail but maybe I will at some point...

(Jon) Well, it's two points. In some games that matters.


I think actually my first thought may have been right- this scenario leads to a ko-fight. W2 is to prevent Black from getting an eye. If it's white's move first, W1 assures seki. I definitely think there may be other/better variants...

Hello Brent,

This looks familiar! Fortunately I was ahead and it was endgame so there was no worry about trying to kill or get a ko, but if I had been behind I wonder if I could have made something from the position other than seki. It is an unusual position and I hope stronger players will comment on it. chrise

Kirk: If black throws in at 4 after 2, it becomes just a two-step ko, instead of this longer ko here.

Kirk: Dan players, please review and correct as necessary...

Black makes seki  

Kirk: If it's black to play, the key point to make seki is at 1. White must connect else black gets an eye and wins (EyesWinSemeais).

Black goes for the ko  

Kirk: If black has a plethora of ko threats, he can play the two-step ko variation.

White makes seki  

Kirk: If it's white to play, he can force the seki, but not kill black.

Brent: Thanks for the analysis!

10/12/2004: GNU Go and the Move of Terror

Last night I played a quick 19x19 game against GNU Go ("quick" as in, most of my moves I didn't think about for more than 20 seconds or so, with a few notable exceptions). I took a six-stone handicap.

First of all, I should say that I was quite pleased with the result: throughout most of the game I was comfortably in the lead (by maybe 10 points or so). And this was version 3.5.10 of GNU Go playing at level 10, which is supposedly somewhere around 7 or 8k, I think. So that certainly speaks well of my rating -- I'm sure if I actually took the time to think more carefully about my moves I could do even better.

But at any rate, you may notice that I wrote "throughout most of the game"... the game had moved into the last stages of the endgame when all of a sudden, GNU Go played a move that struck terror into my heart:

The Move of Terror  

Obviously it knew something I didn't...

Flustered and still not wanting to take a long time per move, I played poorly and lost all the black stones in the area:

A good example of d'ohsuji  

...capturing the four black stones in a snapback and leaving the other black group with only one eye.

I think B3 at W4 lives in seki? But that still would have cost me the game. Is there a proper way to defend that kills the invading white stones? Or was I lost as soon as white invaded (i.e. should I have defended earlier)?


This is NOT seki...  


Err..This is not seki!!! you have died.

If you can't see this, think about it for a while. It is an eye in the stomach.

In my reading, there is not any way to save your big dragon against white's invasion. So, you surely lost the game when GNU GO invaded into the upper-left corner.

Bye @@@ have a good time@@@

byorgey: Ah, I see now... if I don't play inside, white can make the eye and then capture; if I do play inside, white can almost fill to make either a farmer's hat or bulky five. Thanks!

[2] I had some deep thoughts on this position, which led to Semi Eyes Win Semeais. ilan

[3] You definitely resigned too early, and what you wrote about the position showed that your fighting spirit wasn't happening in this game. What immediately came to mind was not any specific go related advice, but the following:

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold

You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard

You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger

You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm

You gotta stay together

You can read the rest here [ext] or watch the movie The Next Karate Kid. ilan

Brent: Thanks for the advice (and the lyrics). (= It's true, I've found that I often resign too early -- I get discouraged and overestimate by how much I am behind. But I am working on developing more fighting spirit. (= (repeats to self) bad... bold... wiser...

Byorgey / GoBlog last edited by byorgey on September 1, 2008 - 02:28
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