Journal of an American Go Player


Journal Of An American Go Player
Welcome to Naustin's Journal Page

8/16/06 I find it more than a little silly that I spent a lot of time playing on IGS and even writing a bunch here during an unusually heavy semester this last spring and haven't touched the game all summer. Well, I have had some difficulties that caused this but it would be nice if my swings back into the game would correspond more nicely with my school schedule. Anyway, just thought I would note that I played my first game in a while on IGS last night and lost to a 14k. I played some "5 stone chess" lately and it got my mind working with the stones again, not that you could tell it from my play. One thing I found is that I think I realized I am not such a horrible person at strategy games, it's just go is very complicated. It's very difficult to know what to think about and when to think about it in go because there is so much going on. I guess a lot of times I have felt like I just don't know where to begin, what part of the game to learn, and then, it never really seems so simple as learning any one piece because they are all so complicated. Anyway, I think it would be nice to have a better strategic concept of the game, including understanding how the different phases of the game merge into a whole.

4/23/06 Hello to Fat Parrot from IGS who mentioned this blog to me there. I find writing out my ideas about things often helps me to organize and make my ideas more coherent and useful. I have had a desire to do this for fuseki again recently. Fuseki is about creating a whole board position from which you have the best possible chance of winning the game. The evaluation of this depends on principles which I believe I in many ways lack. However some are clear.

Development: By development I mean the scale of your position. That means taking the big points of various kinds. I think this also can mean dispersement so in this sense speed is contrasted with thickness.

Expansibility: This seems to be another important characteristic. You have to build positions which have the best possible capacity for expansion. This means thinking of big, not just as immediate position but potential.

Choice of Joseki (of course I need to learn enough to choose amongst them): It seems to me that joseki's depend more on fuseki than the other way around. It makes more sense to choose your joseki to fit your overall strategy rather than to let your fuseki develop from the joseki's you choose.

These are intended to be general in the sense of cutting across divisions like speed/thickness or territory/influence. Thus these notions can be analyzed in these different modes depending on things like personal preference. However, these still seem to be so general that the question is how to actually achieve these standards in real life games. One problem I have is that I seem to know things like influence should make fighting easier but I don't seem to have the skill to capitalize on these. I think for this reason I prefer a thick/territorial style though I haven't really found a good balance. I think my biggest weakness is the middle game. Of course I think if I studied some joseki's I would probably get some better results but in the middle game I seem both unable to kill and equally unable to play "shinogi". Yose seems pretty basic. I of course don't claim to have mastered it but I at least feel like I know what's going on. I guess I just keep feeling that if I could get the opening to where I was pretty comfortable with it I could go on to study things like tesuji and fighting more in depth and then perhaps I could adjust my opening to allow for more possibilities. Right now I would like to think of myself as working on trying to play thick without playing unbearably slow. I think the key to this still has to be found in finding the biggest moves. But the ability to make meaningful sense of these kinds of things seems to necessitate a deeper understanding of how parts of the position relate to other parts. How the orientation and height of various groups imply that some moves are better than other. I also think I need to work on getting more out of pincer joseki because I basically hate them. I don't like fighting too much because it seems too complicated. I can read out different options but they don't ever seem to mean much compared to the actuality of what happens so mostly I just keep playing the most intuitive move hoping that at some point I will have some kind of breakthrough or develop a feel for fighting. Comments, disagreements or suggestions are welcome.

4/17/06 Go Cho! Congratulations on defending the Judan title. My extremely amateur analysis of the 4th game is this. In the first two games Cho displayed what many commentators described as his tactical genius. It seems that the games went to complicated tactical positions especially the second and that Cho was able to use this to his advantage. Of course complex tactics can't be avoided in pro go but I got the feeling the third game was Keigo succeeding at making Cho play more as he wanted to. This fourth game seemed to come down to the same issue. A complex tactical position developed in the center and Cho was able to wring this for the points he needed to win. There's an awesome, classic example of use of aji in the lower right corner. Well that's my take for what it's worth.

Beyond that, I've gotten an ok, on my review request but haven't gotten it back yet. But I have built up a somewhat large store of my own games auto-saved from IGS. I have decided after some prompting from Zaraki an IGS friend, to review these myself. So I have taken Kogo's joseki dictionary which is basically a rip off of the Ishida one with some additions, and have started going through my games. I will try to do as much analysis as possible basically just trying to read out better sequences for tactical mistakes and trying to find bigger moves in the opening stuff like that. I have already gone through two games fairly thoroughly and feel that this will be a very productive activity.

I have also gotten another review request from the ladder which I think is a little funny seeing as they owe me one at this point but whatever. I'm still glad to do it.

4/8/06 Well, I'm a little disappointed about Cho's loss in the third game of the Judan. I'm becoming a Cho Chikun fan. I read Murakami's "Wild Sheep Chase" awhile ago (No relation to go, though I think it would be awesome if he did write a go related novel.) and for some reason I had the picture of Cho at gobase stuck in my mind and associated with the book for no clear reason. Well he's got 2 more chances to do away with Keigo. Anyway...

I've been learning a few things lately:

1) Don't be so greedy. I can't kill everything on the board.

2) SLOW DOWN! I've gotten into the habit of playing way too fast without even thinking about my moves. I have been trying to break this habit and start expanding the scope of my questions regarding what's significant about each move.

3) Making life is FAR more important than the distant possibility of killing a group. Even though I have read things against this mentality I still get too obsessed with chasing groups and not paying attention to how that effects the game overall. I have to make sure I don't get in over my head and play the moves that guarantee life BEFORE it's too late. As a friend on IGS said, if you are strong, the opponent will magically have less.

4) Especially at my level and especially in the opening, there are just a lot of moves I shouldn't be responding too. This is a mixture of some of the indications I have gotten from this IGS friend and some of the reviews I have been reading at the Go Teaching Ladder. (I want to point out, because it wasn't obvious to me for a long time, that their library of reviews is an awesome resource. I have gone and picked out some great dan level reviews on players my own strength and it has been very helpful.) Especially plays on the 2nd line are frowned upon in the reviews. I have been spending more time trying to discern what is an essential move as in number 3, while at the same time ignoring a lot of the nonsense moves I have spent so much time giving up sente to in the past. There are so many huge moves in the opening. If I play those instead of the tiny ones, as long as I don't totally sacrifice security I am bound to have a better game

I also submitted a game to the GTL today which I haven't done in awhile.

3/28/06Watched the 2nd Judan title match the other night. Pretty exciting stuff. I thought it was particularly cool that after the first 30 moves or so, even dan level kibitzers were saying stuff like "this isn't a joseki, it's death for black!" Then the really amazing thing, a few moves later it looks even bleaker and they started claiming one of the players misread the situation. There are these two small black groups that look totally insecure, like little rabbits under a rock slide, and then 15 moves later, it looks totally the reverse. Cho's black stones have the loose cutting white group looking weaker every minute. It was nice that this game was pretty comprehensible. The opening joseki that determined so much was complicated but at the same time the moves had an intuitive dimension. They were simple in meaning even if the analysis was very complicated. They were cuts, and the questions were clear, like was that a legitimate move, will black live/die, what will he have to do? The tactics from there on out were pretty clear too, black was trying to get everything he could out of that weak white center group. It feels good to be able to watch such a game and feel that I at least understand what's going on at that rudimentary level. Watching those title matches brings back excitement and ambition. It also made me want to find out more about Cho!

3/21/06--Ok, now my report has to do with NYC go. I don't claim it's an exhaustive but here's my experiences. I got the names of some places to play before I went from the AGA site. I don't have much opportunity to play live where I'm from so I was excited about being in the big city where I would be able to, not to mention that I was on break so I would have the time and energy. I've been playing on IGS and have been doing pretty well moving up to the top of 13k/13+ range. I played first at the Manhattan go club. This was a little bit less polished than I expected because this place theoretically has Nihon Kiin affiliation. It was friendly but apparently has fallen on somewhat hard times. I only visited once though so I can't say for sure but this is the report of the "locals" also. I found a player that was about my rank (luckily as he was one of the quite few people there) and we played several very enjoyable games. I also had a very interesting conversation that touched on some of my writings here. They had plenty of boards and books and journals in several languages including english. It's easy to get to and quite friendly, a good place to start playing go while visiting the big apple. Fee is $7 to play and hang out for as long as you can and they are open.

Secondly I went out to Flushing. Flushing seemed pretty safe and there were plenty of police around, including a police station right near the go clubs. I will give the address because at the other address I had I was met with a very unpleasant attitude. This was a Friday night and I had already been to the other place out here and had had a very positive experience, so I was prepared to have a good time, and found the new address just a couple of blocks away. I went in and asked for "wei chi" because that was how the club identified itself on the web. At the other place I used the word "baduk" because that is how they described themselves on the web. Now I don't know if I used an unintentional tone of voice or spoke in a rudely curt manner, either is possible. But the girl pointed to a guy sitting at a table, and he proceeded to make it pretty clear I wasn't welcome on any terms there. I tried to work the situation out for a minute, then just decided I would head back to the other club.

This club is at 36-18 Union St. This is a Korean club. The atmosphere is different than the Manhattan place because that one seems more geared to Americans. There's no smoking there and english is the lingua franca. Here, there is almost no english spoken, though the players are friendly and willing to offer tips and lessons of kinds. There is also smoking and drinking here which may appeal to people or not. There is something of a men's club atmosphere, but as I say, I felt welcome and was treated respectfully. The players here are quite strong and they don't mind showing it. They mopped the floor with me, giving me several stone handicaps. There is also betting on the games, though I was only invited to bet once and it was totally ok that I didn't want to. I enjoyed the time here the most and had a really great night the second time I came after trying the place above, playing baduk till 7 in the morning with a couple hour break to eat at the 24 hour Korean restaurant downstairs. The fee here is also $7. Baduk makes good friends.

All in all, if you are willing to be adventurous I think you can have really awesome go playing experiences in NYC!

1/14/06--Well, I certainly haven't been spending much time here lately. I think the last entry I just popped in to write and then left without looking around. This might be about the same but I will give a little more meaty entry this time. Did another review for GTL. I highly recommend this. I really feel that the reviews I have done have helped my game. I've been hanging at about the 14+/13 k level which is ok for me. I am advancing, albeit slowly. I have been playing on IGS exclusively recently. I kind of felt like KGS was getting kind of commercialized, and real social with a lot of sex chat and stuff. On the other hand, it was pretty neat in some ways the different stuff they were doing with streaming video lessons and a lot of small clubs giving lessons on schedules. For some reason I've just felt more comfortable at IGS lately. Maybe I will pop in to KGS just to see what's going on, if it isn't exclusively for customers with good credit by now!

Oh, well, this bitterness isn't really productive or even well informed so I will shut my trap about it now. I'm in a pretty good mood, as I just played an interesting game online. I played the old


as black in this picture...Well, to my surprise, white cut at the circle. I didn't know how to handle this so I assumed I should fight it out and tried. Well to my embarrassment I ended up losing the 2, 4, 6 stones, and white had a huge group and the whole quarter of the board. Well, I figured I might as well resign. Then I was like, "well no point in resigning before you are sure to lose. At this point I've got a huge wall facing that lone white 4-4 stone. If, and I say if, I were to capture this quarter of the board, the game would be equal again, in fact, I have a large lead on the other half of the board so I would actually be ahead though by no means guaranteed victory." Well, to make a long story short...that's what happened. I played a 3-3 invasion on the 4-4 stone and white made the mistake of responding at the square. Oh I forgot to mention, I controlled the lower left corner by a shimari! So basically he had dragon facing a fairly strong wall of mine and laying on top of a secure corner group. Now he could have done things differently, I didn't play a pro level trick on him or anything...but I didn't give up and I capitalized on mistakes of white that were definitely not blunders at least for our level. It ain't over till the fat lady sings and perseverance is a virtue!!!!!

10/8/05-- Definitely not enough time for go right now. Did do another review for GTL today though.

7/23/05-- I have started trying to develop a mathematical theory of go treating the game as an abstract space and then trying to talk about the abstract structures of and in this space. Basically I would describe the project as trying to use abstract algebra to try to construct a model of the game. I will post my musings if I come up with anything genuinely interesting. This is a project I have had in mind for some time but just felt motivated by some other general musing to actually attempt. I also noticed that this attempt has provoked me to greater interest in rule set discussions because the rule set obviously impacts how you describe the system. I found this interesting because this isn't a topic I have had that much interest in generally.

7/23/05-- Reading the first couple of articles from Charles Matthews series "On Your Side" and looking again at the Nagahara book "Strategic Concepts of Go" I have been thinking about the idea of flexible planning as a very fundamental skill for playing go.

Go is noted for it's immensity of variations in any situation. This is a significant part of what makes it difficult to write computer programs that can play go well. Because of this it seems that in most situations (meaning large scale for the most part), particularly in the opening, there are a variety of ways to play that can be called successful strategies, as well as there being the same for the opponent. Because of this it seems that one cannot plan too rigorously.

The concept of miai is a good example of what I am talking about though it is also much more limited in meaning (at least as usually used). As Charles points out, miai isn't a strict identity between points but is something more like balanced options. This is the essence of what I am talking about. Basically though miai is meant to refer to pairs or a small number of options in a specific situation. I think flexible planning on the other hand emphasizes that there are a variety of strategic options in any situation.

A further implication of this is expressed in relation to the concept of aji. One of aji's primary characteristics is that it should not be eliminated but allowed to linger to the maximum degree possible. This can also be expressed in a different way if we again take a more general version of the concept. If we think of aji in the most general way as these possible alternate strategies for victory then it seems we can reasonably say that a player should not unnecessarily commit oneself to these (aji keshi = elimination/loss of aji) options but should cause them to linger and build them up. The more one succeeds at this the more one has what is called "a winning position".

This in my mind is also similar to a concept in philosophy. (Again my perpetual love for analogy!). In philosophy it is urged that parsimony is good style. That is to say that we want to make the most efficient theory which gives us the capacity to talk to maximum effect about some topic without committing us to any more assumptions than is absolutely necessary.

This raises the concept of style. This concept I think is also capable of generalization. Usually we think of style as something specific. We say a player has a territorial style, or we talk about Takemiya's Cosmic style. However, Sakata in his book Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go talks about this concept in a more general way. In the broadest sense then we can talk about playing good shape or staying connected or other such general proverbs of style. These are just points which without reference to the specific situation can generally said to be good. Obviously, as we all repeat ad infinitum you must always look at the specifics. The point however is that this good style isn't so much related to a specific sequence but is more related to the general maximization of possibility for a player. Thickness for example is also much like this, as well as kikashi. They are valuable not because there is necessarily a specific sequence spelled out which requires them but because they raise the general probability of success in that area.

How useful this is to anyone is probably somewhat questionable. I find these kinds of conceptual musing very useful in enabling me to get an abstract grasp on something and therefore feeling enabled to think effectively about the subject. I am thinking of one of my games that I played recently which I won and which I felt I deserved to win, not because I necessarily played moves which were so much better than my opponent but because I won because I was thinking effectively about the game. The effectiveness of my thinking stemmed from thinking about it in a very flexible manner. I don't have a game record but I remember that I basically reversed strategy at one point. My opponents momentum carried them through seemingly without paying attention to the positive aspect of what I gained by giving way to them and I ended with a very satisfactory game.

7/14/05-- Watched a really cool movie yesterday called "The Go Masters". It's about a Chinese go player who sends his son to Japan to study the game there. Unfortunately this is right before WWII starts as well as the time of the Chinese civil war, so the movie is basically about how these peoples lives, though devoted to this pure thing, are torn apart by the circumstances. It's not really full of go in the same way the Kawabata novel "The Master of Go" and the Hikaru no Go comics are but it's not completely absent either. I quite recommend it especially if you are apt to want to watch a movie simply because it has go in it!

7/12/05-- Thanks to Bill for the ID though I guess I was hoping the follow up page might have a little more to it. I can post any questions there though. I guess since it's a seki I could have kept at it and not given up the points. On the other hand practically I didn't want to get into an argument over the scoring at the end but that's another issue.

I was asked to do another review for the GTL and am happy to do it. It does make me think I ought to try to find a game of my own to send in soon.

I've also downloaded Kombilo and a small game database for my home computer. I have been looking at some of Cho Chikun's games in particular. There's a 1968 insei league game that I thought was pretty interesting because of the symmetry of the situation. It was also interesting because Cho won by a big capture which resulted after a group of his stones got chased for awhile.

Got two volumes of the Ishida joseki dictionary through inter-library loan. Hopefully I can learn from it rather than feeling overwhelmed the way I did last time I looked at it.

I think I have been playing more consistently lately though I still find it quite frustrating that despite studying and practicing and trying to focus more in my games, the ones I lose are over things that feel preventable. An example of a fairly common type of mistake for me here is to have a group where I feel there are some weaknesses in the wall going into the endgame but that I do not defend, often because I am feeling kind of proud about being well in the lead. Then my opponent finds a weakness in my wall and exploits it to make a huge kill and reverse the lead.

These types of errors seem frustrating to me because they seem stupid in comparison to the rest of the game. I don't mean to slight my opponents (well maybe a little :) it's just that it seems these losses are more a result of lack of thought on my part than genuinely being outthought. That is it feels like I lost the game rather than that they won it. Of course this is something for me to take a look at and try to improve on. This is basically what I meant when I have before expressed that I think go is spiritual. Like some of it's other features perhaps this isn't unique to go but none the less they are positive considerations.

7/10/05-- Ok here's an interesting situation that just occurred in one of my games on IGS.


Assume black just took the top ko. This situation is slightly idealized but essentially correct. Obviously there are 2 ko's here. The problem is then that if one ko is captured then the other one can be recaptured. The twist to me seems to be the fact that neither side can fill. It seems to me that this is a kind of seki therefore. It's simply an unusual seki in that it contains two ko's. I am curious if this is true. The other guy seemed to think that this could be won so I ended up letting him take it late in the game for a capture that ensured that I won the game. I would like to know what other people think and why especially if there is a page here at SL that would explain this to me. Thanks!

Bill: It's a double ko seki.

6/04/05--I know the people who care about formatting are going to kill me for this entry but oh well what can you do? Ok, despite the fact that I have failed miserably to follow through on the study routine I set forth a couple of entries ago I have been studying and playing more. I have decided I really need to have some concept of the opening other than, there are 4 corners to the goban, start there, then the sides then the middle. I finally read, In the Beginning, and am half way through Otake Hideo's Opening Theory Made Easy. I have looked at this before but I am actually reading it and paying attention this time. For most of the time since I have come back to go seriously I have played "bang your head on the wall" style. This style does have some things going for it. Think for instance of the proverb "Lose your first 100 (1,000?) games as quickly as possible." I have been working on that model and believe it is a good one for gaining experience. It is painful, but right now I have an aching need for certain concepts. Because I have felt the pain of life without them I feel that helps me (gives me the right ?) to appreciate them more, because I have experienced the problems these concepts solve and I have gotten to the point where I understood well enough what it was that I lacked to go after obtaining it in a more serious way. That being said here are some ideas I have had recently. Fuseki is more important than joseki. Fuseki is truly the word/term that stands for all the things you want to accomplish with joseki. This is why all the books and pro's etc. warn us beginners that it's more important to understand the why of a joseki than the what. That is to say it's more important to understand than to memorize. That being said, it's quite clear that my total naive innocence of almost all joseki knowledge (save for the basic 3-3 invasion under the hoshi stone, and the joseki illustrated below) is a real problem. I think that my lack of fuseki knowledge is why I have to date found myself often defending weak groups through entire games and making very little territory and my lack of joseki knowledge is why I constantly feel overpowered by opponents in the early mid game. I've also determined that I am more comfortable playing a conservative, territorial, style than I am playing an influence oriented game. The only worry that I have about this is that knowledge is that it may cause me to start only trying to play that game and therefore purposely limiting my growth which can't be a good thing, but on the other hand I think it is also a good thing to have an idea of what I am more comfortable with and the ways I can see to better chances at winning. Here is one particular change I have made

Old Pattern  

This is an opening pattern that I chose with some amount of care by researching on gobase and thinking about different aspects and balancing what I thought should be the priorities of the opening. An interesting fact about this is that I have looked this up and apparently this is a regular pattern IF you play the komoku first. For some reason the pro's don't really play the hoshi stone first. I would like to figure this out but haven't yet. (It is possible it is just a quirk of the gobase search algorithm but I thought it would have accounted for such mirroring) The problem I have had with this is that I hate the white approach at 'a'. Perhaps it's unreasonable but I hate having to defend against it or try to extend first when the whole point of the shimari is supposed to be greater influence up the side of the board. I also don't like simply letting white get in there. In response I started playing the keima enclosure at 'b'. To be honest though my upper hoshi stone never seemed anything but a handicap to me. I'm not very good at influence oriented play (a problem for most low ranked players I've read). It seems to me that Black on the other hand should take advantage of the first move by playing more conservatively and that white should play a more rapid development opening like san-ren-sai. Of course I have a player about my strength at my regular Friday night club who disagrees and explains that it all about komi. That without komi I am right but with it the situation is different and white doesn't need to scramble. I've never really broken single digit kyu so what do I know, but anyway it probably has a lot to do with what style you are comfortable with anyway. This idea is probably valid for me and my play anyway. Anyway this same character at the club is someone I used to give 2 stones to but recently bested me in the final game of a small local tournament playing even. He has gotten quite a lot stronger. I have made a little bit of a comeback (I actually beat him with while I had black last night) by playing this which I think makes more sense to me:

New Pattern  

This is an opening pattern that occurs in the game between Shusai and Kitani and is recorded in the book "The Master of Go" for awhile I was playing this game out 1 move a day (didn't get very far with that program either!). I wondered for awhile why it was chosen but I think I can see some of it's advantages now. For one, if you complete both shimari's then it's powerful because the top one gives you power along the side (making an extension there will be quite valuable) and the lower shimari will give you influence along the bottom of the board. I probably won't get to complete both of them but the way I see it, it's likely that I will get to complete one of the two shimari's while white after white takes the last corner. If I complete a shimari above then if white plays at the most logical point for the lower shimari 'a' or 'b' then a pincer on this stone will serve as a beautiful extension from the upper shimari. If on the other hand white tries to form a group in the middle of the side, then it is likely that a large enclosure of the corner will serve as a forcing move as well to make white extend and then I can do as I please either defending the extension or moving somewhere else. This seems to be for right now however a pattern I would like to try for awhile. Hopefully then I can garner more experience gradually! I will need to expand my joseki repertoire substantially but I have been practicing by playing against gnugo and keeping my joseki and fuseki books open. I just look in the books and try to select a joseki to fit with the pattern on the board. I think this memory problem has been part of what has hampered me in this respect. I don't really remember them so I can't really experiment with them in actual play. I think however if I play this way with the computer at home and continue my reading it will help me to develop a limited capacity to handle a the most common opening positions.

5/11/05--Well not so much luck with the study agenda. Working 40 hours for self support is cool (especially at the library) but doesn't leave as much time for go. I also lost internet at home. (i.e.: Neighbors with wireless moved out). As noted I have gotten interested in studying Lee Chang Ho's games. I also am reading Murakami's novel translated as Wild Sheep Chase, which has no go relation I can tell except that the main character keeps reminding me of the picture of Cho Chikun they use at gobase. So I searched for games where the two have played. (Lee and Cho that is). I was pretty surprised gobase only contained one. That might be another error, but I guess I expected a lot. Any way that will give me a game for today.

5/7/05--Well it's summer time again. I have of course planned an ambitious daily regimen of 20 problem, reviewing 1 pro game, reading 5 reviews at GTL, playing 5 of my own, and reading one chapter from one of the go books I have accumulated and not read. I've been doing well in the last few days with the problems( makes that fun), I looked at a Lee Changho game today, I'm getting interested in him from some of the things I have read about his style here and other things I have read about his character. To be honest, though I have talked about the idea of style some here at SL as a concept, I am not very good at perceiving it except in some rudimentary ways. I read today from Ishigure's In the Beginning. As it seems often happens to me, the text seemed elementary and then I did poorly on the problems. I did hit 2 or 3 of the 10 pointers, maybe 1 or 2 of the 8-9 pointers and the rest were 6 and 5's except maybe missing on one occasion all together. (I was selecting multiple answers but choosing one as my primary answer). We'll see, I will try to report how my study plans hold up :-)

4/15/05--I did my third GTL review today.

4/09/05--I won runner up at a small (8 players) go tournament at the Asian Culture Center at my school. The whole thing was very pleasant and good for go here I think. I've been playing against Gnugo a fair bit recently and have started winning a few games (on the easiest setting). I've also been thinking a little more seriously about the idea of go as a model for philosophy. Large groups, or moyos, etc. thought of like a philosophical position, and there being a variety of ways of approaching it. Specific sequences are like specific arguments. I think the analogy with math is basically not an analogy. Tesuji's, for example, are like theorems in their general forms. This is because they are true deductively in the same sense as mathematical theorems. It really is math just a specific set of objects.

3/22/05--Well I have been playing and doing more go type stuff this semester despite not really having the time. On spring break I was in Minneapolis and got a chance to visit the Twin Cities Go Club that meets on Tuesday nights (it also meets several other days) at a coffee shop. I have nothing but good things to say about the club. The location was pleasant and the people were friendly. There were three games going on when I got there around 8 o'clock, and several observers. I was able to get two games and had a great time (1-1).

2/17/05--Thanks unkx80 for the info. At first I was startled by the idea of voluntarily accepting advertising but I guess it makes sense as a way of supporting the online go community etc. I also appreciate that as a registered user I can choose not to view them. Played a couple quick games with a friend of my girlfriend (much stronger than me), and talked about some ideas of balance. One interesting aspect was that I noticed that this person talked more about balance between groups of opposing stones rather than balance on simply motives of moves. I realized that was an important aspect I hadn't been considering enough.

2/14/05--2nd GTL review. Not many chances for go, but have played a couple games with my girlfriend. : ) By the way, thanks to uxs for formatting help. I'm also quite curious about what motivated the introduction of advertising. Please post here to explain. I am sure it probably has to do with server cost or something but would be interested in seeing the debate if there was one or simply hearing the issues.

unkx80: The advertising is a service and is not for profit. Please see Community advertisements on SL.

10/30/04--I am pleased to announce I did my first review for the Go Teaching Ladder this week. It was fun and I was happy to give back as I have gotten several awesome reviews there.

9/03/04--Well looks like the old Journal here might be on hold for a while now that schools started again. It's unfortunate that my university doesn't offer a go program though we do have a couple of classes in chess.

Bad news on the Go Seigen book project. Looks like my computer science friend and I have hit a brick wall with the sgf to latex conversion. If anyone has any great ideas about this either knows where I can get a better free one or would know how to write one, please let me know by posting here.

I've been studying the opening, both fuseki and joseki. If I remember rightly there's a specific word for the two together. Either that or that the fuseki word is commonly misused. Any way that seems to be productive and hopefully will improve my game.

Unfortunately I was unable to get into the Panda Net Amateur Championship tournament. I had to start a new account there 'cause I had lost my passwords but then even though I played over 40 games I wasn't able to get the account rated in time. Maybe it's for the best. I'll probably never be a pro go player but philosopher yes as long as I pay attention in my classes. They definitely offer excitement of their own.

Have a Happy Fall!

8/26/04--Another poker term I've been thinking about: "On Tilt" To me this means that if something goes wrong or I lose a game getting upset so that it affects my play in the rest of the game or the next game or even the next many games. Any one whose read a couple of entries here can see this is one of what I consider my biggest weaknesses as a go player (not to mention just plain lack of knowledge). I've been on kind of a winning streak lately. It seems to go that way for me. When I win I feel positive and little setbacks don't affect me as much. I believe I can find a good move etc.

I remember reading a book about chess by I.A. Horowitz. He talked about playing the person not the board. This seems like kind of a controversial idea as you will also hear people say the opposite. He wrote about his club where person A will almost always beat person B, and person B will almost always beat person C, but person C will almost always beat person A. It's not about some absolute scale of power. Especially in a game as big as go where two players of equal strength don't necessarily overlap in all or even most of their knowledge though of course there are fundamentals.

I guess the hope is that by recognizing the fact it will help me to even out my performance.

8/11/04--I have just picked up a copy of The Protracted Game from my library and started reading it. One interesting thing I have noted is that this goes along with something Arthur Smith wrote in his book published in 1908. In comparing chess and go he makes the observation that chess resembles ancient warfare more with specific individuals who can make a big difference to the whole battle and the goal of capturing the king, whereas go is much more like modern warfare with lines of supply, and overall strategic maneuvering.

New page for Metaphorical Names for the Game of Go as kind of an offshoot of the Mathematical vs Metaphorical Understanding page.

Took the Hikaru No Go personality test and it showed that I am most similar to the character Akira Toya, which I thought was cool.

8/07/04-- Well basically it looks like it would probably be easier to just try to incorporate the cultural links into the timeline page so I have turned the history page into an alias and moved the few links that weren't already listed over to the timeline page and turned that page into a path. I have tried to keep the new links in the misc. category at the bottom until they can be worked in more appropriately.

Inaugurated Mathematical vs Metaphorical Understanding page in order to discuss issues involved in trying to understand this game.

By the way, you can just call me Dragon Slayer from now on as I killed two huge dragons to win two separate games at my club last night.

8/06/04-- Investigating Murase Shuho at go base I decided to search the history of the Honinbo's here. Found a good page but starting to expand my investigation found that there is no general History path. So I hereby invent a new path. I have decided I will make that my next big Senseis project. Hope it doesn't become as turbulent as the last project I took on here.

8/06/04--P2- Just Downloaded ZeroKun's game package from [ext] thegoban for use with Kombilo.

8/06/04-- Joy! I finally got a copy of the English translation of Hikaru No Go! I felt like a kid at the comic shop with a feeling of real joy that it was in. I sat and read it all in one fell swoop and now I can't wait till September when vol. 2 is supposed to come out. I really enjoyed it and am glad I finally caught up with this one. The only small point of dissatisfaction was the phrase "move of God". I think they are referring to what I have seen translated here as "hand of God" which strikes me as a more apt and poetic translation. I really liked how seriously they treat the game and actually have real game set ups in the art work etc.

In other news. I've been playing more games on IGS trying to get my account up to snuff for the tournament I registered for. Competition is much tougher there. Winning games is more satisfying in some ways because I feel like I have to fight harder and stay more focused.

I have been feeling good about winning some games at the 25k level there. It's probably time I moved up and started playing higher ranked players. It's just the last time I was seriously playing at IGS it seemed like I could never win. My rank was plunging toward this level (22k and falling). I may have been taking a little undo pleasure at winning some games here against players that weren't fairly compensated though I have lost 3 of the 10 or so games I've played. Oh well, we'll see how it goes. I don't want to be sandbagging but winning once in a while feels good too.

8/03/04-- I think I am beginning to understand how joseki lead to middle game positions. I have started to pick up enough joseki ideas that every once in a while I actually play one. It seems like the position I obtain as result is much better than before and I am beginning to see how you would actually be able to make a purposeful position that involved the whole board if you made the right sort of choices.


This is my favorite joseki right now. I like to play the white side.

Shaydwyrm: This might have been a typo, but normally B7 is played one point below or one point to the right. This is one of my favorite joseki too, btw, though I like to be on the black side!

Thanks for the correction Shayd. Good thing too otherwise I might have ended up trying to punish the genuine version as an overplay :)

I also found a cool free joseki dictionary on the web. [ext] Kogo's Joseki Dictionary

Big break on the computer frontier for Go Seigen book. Looks like I should be chugging along quite shortly. The start of fall semester will probably slow this project up but I am excited to be working on it and am looking forward to the time I will spend on it.

8/02/04--Registered today for the [ext] IGS Amateur Championship in the handicap division. Got another great review on the game with Carcer through the Go teaching ladder. Slowly progressing towards beginning work on the Go Seigen book project. Having difficulty sorting out some of the computer aspects of the project but gradually finding solutions with the help of a friend.

The goban is shaped roughly like a square and that is why it has four corners.

7/29/04--Welcome to teaching of the sweet and salty hand!

I discovered this teaching in an "ancient" American Go Journal (1976!! Sept/Oct-Vol 11, No.5 p 18 by Masubuchi to be exact :) I found in a local sages office. I felt it must be shared with this society.

19x19 diagram  

B8 shows a salty hand. This is the severest attack open to Black. It is a fight in his sphere of influence and separates Whites two stones.

K17 labeled here as 'a' though not a bad move shows a sweet hand. One not committed to fighting when it favors Black.

O14 labeled here as 'b' is 'super sweet'. Masubuchi referred to the koan like comment of a master on this move 'An arrow is shot, but there is no enemy.'

7/26/04--I think I am finally beginning to comprehend that there are four sides to a goban. And that it is symmetric in each of those directions.

7/25/04--Redid my homepage here and am feeling quite satisfied with the results. I think this is probably my best version. Otherwise I am still floundering in the low double digit kyu range. I know, I have promised not to worry about rank so much but it is hard not to sometimes. Looking at my first entry here doesn't seem very helpful. Perhaps plateaus are a natural part of the learning curve and one shouldn't invest too much energy in trying to "beat" them.

Played a game against Carcer recently which I also lost. Have sent this in to the GTL also after getting a great review on my game with Blake from Scartol.

Also got a neat icon of the Japanese charachter for Go from Scartol's [ext] Go Art website. So my KGS account finally has a picture to go with it which I have longed for for quite awhile.

Also got Sakata Eio's Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go again through interlibrary loan. It had a great explanation of relationship between suji, tesuji, and shape. I look forward to looking at it more in depth.

7/16/04--Awesome news in the contact from PatrickB. Also, I joined the Sabaki Go Club last night and had the most incredible welcome. I am now member #169. I have been assigned to House Hayashi. I also played a great game against Blake. I ended up losing but it looks like it would be a good one to send to the Go Teaching Ladder to renew my membership there.

7/15/04 Part II--Further reading/studying experience. I have been trying to read more pages here at SL particularly fellow bloggers pages. Have come across some interesting reading. I also seem to be catching the recent changes bug I read about some people getting when I first came here.

Also have been working through some of Go Seigen's games. I found a free e-book at the Wings Across Calm Waters website that had some of his games commented by him, with some additional material. Neat book. Only problem is that most of the variation diagrams have serious errors, lines displaced left, missing stones that most of the time are noted at the head of the variation, errors in words 'black' or 'white'.

Interestingly enough this seems to have in a way been a good thing. It's almost like working in a workbook or something. I really have to pay attention and read through the variations so I can get them right. (I am entering them into the CGoban SGF editor.) That work seems to pay off in terms of understanding.

I have also been downloading some from the Collected games of Go Seigen collection at gobase. This is cool too though I tend to gloss over these games more, looking more for oddities like big kills, unusual corner plays, big ko fights etc. I can't hope in some ways to get as much out of these as the commented games but hopefully they will help me with my analysis skills because I will be looking at games that are good examples.

It's extremely amazing to me to look at all the variations in the commented games. It's almost as if most of the game were here. Both in the ones the players did see and the ones they didn't. The cliche of the iceberg (used in Davies Tesuji for example) springs to mind.

  • PatrickB: Note that this book was semi-automatically generated (by me) from .MGT/.SGF files that Jim Z. Yu put together, and the LaTeX and SGF source files are available if you'd like to take up the task of fixing up the various problems in the book. The main thing that is needed on that front is editing of the SGF files to use more standard ways of placing variations, and break lists and boundaries for diagrams to make the book and variations more compact. I unfortunately don't have the time right now or likely any time soon. :( Anyway, leave me a message on KGS (or my home page here) if you're interested and I'll get you what you need and give some basic guidance about how to get started. -Patrick

7/15/04--Thanks Bill for the reference. I checked it out. In my opinion taiji seems a little overly concerned with his rank but he also seems quite attached to the account name and feels it's misrepresented. People there seemed reasonable in their responses.

Ok. Regardless, looking at his home page here he seems to be pretty balanced and able to discern constructive criticism from comments of a less constructive nature. On that page it seems that a trend he has encountered on servers holds somewhat true. That people feel very inclined to argue his rank or ambition to rank. Considering that he seems reasonable in handling comment here I am inclined to believe that some of the comments he receives are less than constructive. Especially when someone saying he sucks admits it even with the caveat that they think every kyu player sucks including themselves.

For the rest I am going on my own experience of people. My only point is that it seems that people often take someone elses ambition as personally threatening and seek to prove the absurdity of the ambition. I think the idea of turning pro even at the lowest level is exciting and someone setting out to that task from the level of 1kyu seems particularly interesting to me because 1kyu seems like a level I can imagine myself rising to. Maybe perhaps...

I don't mean to attack or defend anybody only to voice a little support. I just wanted to point out that someones ambition isn't really relevant to anyone else unless that ambition were to cause that person to do things that were harmful in the name of it or if that person is to serve as some sort of model.

7/13/04--I've been reading taiji's page here at SL. I just want to write in support of his project. I have not reviewed his games. I have no idea how likely it is whether he will turn pro someday or not but I think it's a cool project.

I think go is like sports in that there is that question as to how much of what makes a pro a pro is due to physical/genetic factors and how much of it is due to hard work.

I like to think about the idea of turning pro. I tend to class my own thinking about it as fantasy but who knows if there were a web page out there to tell me how someone else did it maybe I would gain the hope to do it myself.

I think taiji also has a point about people trying to tear him down. If taiji thinks he may be able to make the leap that has nothing to do with anyone else. Why should it be a matter of concern.

Bill: Writing as Fu Ren-Li on, taiji has put some people off with claims about his go ability and problems with ratings systems that do not do it justice, in his view. Some people may be trying to tear him down, some may think that he needs a reality check.

If you are interested, I think that the relevant history starts with his note,


which I located on Google.

7/06/04--Resigned as an assistant on KGS. Didn't feel very comfortable with the authority especially in light of ambiguities in policy. WMS was very nice about it.

7/04/04--Happy Times! I won my first eight stone game against one of the 1kyu's at my Friday night club.

I have been studying a little bit through some books that I checked out via inter library loan. This is a very useful resource particularly for players who like me are too poor to be able to buy books or just those who are too poor to buy books without knowing what they are getting. Another advantage is that you can find things that way sometimes that are out of print.

I got Otake Hideo's Opening Theory Made Easy, James Davies Tesuji, Nagahara's Strategic Concepts of Go, and Ishida's Joseki Dictionary. I will write notes on the review pages for these books.

Also been trying to relax more and enjoy the game for it's own sake rather than worrying so much about ratings and winning and losing. I feel like it's going pretty well.

I wish you enjoyable games.

5/28/04--Well I suppose it's time to compensate for some of the negative strain this journal has had. Today I want to write a little bit about the big wins. Again I like to classify things so I will do so here.

Firstly there are the crushing victories when you simply outlclass your opponent. Today I had one. I won by over a hundred points playing white with .5 komi against someone ranked one kyu lower than me. It in some sense is not the greatest form of big win as it is clearly in some sense an uneven match. Partly in this game I just separated a large group of stones. These are good to atleast remind me I have improved and I am not the lowest creature on the food chain.

Secondly come my favorites. The hard fought .5 or 1 point wins. I have had several of these on KGS or IGS. I am not good at estimating the score so it is always something of a surprise when a game is counted up. There is something very satisfying in knowing that if you had given up even one more minor endgame point you would have lost. Knowing that basically I was stretched to my maximum and every move counted.

Lastly are the fighting spirit games. Back and forth contests where you are both up and behind by a lot at various points. It is a lot of fun to come back after a big local loss and make it up somewhere else, not giving into the temptation to break down. I had a league game this last winter like this. These are the ones that truly feel deserved.

Such are the ups and downs of go!

5/28/04--Well so much for my protestations and self doubt. I continue to play the game regardless and yes enjoy it. Tonight I was watching the Soprano's on DVD. Going along with the idea of American go player. I remember reading in Lessons in the Fundamentals... how he talked about watching samurai movies and taking inspiration as a go player from that (never mind he denigrates "ganster go"). Well I guess I feel some of that watching Tony Soprano. At least I want to play sometimes after watching that.

Makes me think of a couple of things. Maybe go is a healthy way to vent anger. You can be as ruthless and destructive as you want on the board and as long as you can be civil in actual conversation there are no consequences.

But I am also reminded in watching this show of an important fact about go. It is much more like business then it is like war. For example chess is very much like war. You try to kill the other player's pieces, you try to checkmate the king, but mostly defeat is complete. In the end there is one victor one loser.

This isn't really true in go. Winner loser yes. But I think the most progress I have made in the game has come from not letting the small defeats in games prevent me from keeping on. You cannot prevent the opponent from scoring something. The way to victory is to score more.

5/17/04--Thanks to Anonymous for the suggestion to insert blank lines to break up the text and hopefully make it more readable.

I'm thinking tonight more about the idea of what it takes to win. I think as I said in the last entry a lot of times I don't seem to want to win. Tonight I sat there looked at a move that was clearly a bad move, no subtlety involved and played it anyway. It wasn't a mouse mistake or clicko either.

I have been reading a book about Erwin Rommel. Something that sticks out especially from his first world war career was his sheer determination. He would pull these incredible feats of repeatedly without sleeping or eating for days subjecting himself to extremes of temparature. He just had something inside determination or whatever, I see it in the friend I wrote about last week. That patience care and effort. I wonder if that is something that can be gained with effort or whether it's some sort of psychological issue or whether you just have to be born with it.

I wonder if there should be something you are fighting for. Not in any literal sense maybe, or maybe so. Maybe just pride.

Perhaps I should give up the game of go.

5/10/04--The subject today is bad beats. You know what I'm talking about. The losses that make you angry. The ones that hurt bad enough to make you want to cry. Having spent hours playing a game tonight that I started quite well only to have a blunder in the middle game fighting allow my opponent to win by about 30 points I feel I am well prepared to talk about this a little bit. I tell you I honestly felt like telling him I never wanted to play go with him again. Especialy because he was pissed because I narrowly avoided him taking a huge group of mine.

...It seems to me there are a variety of such losses. First there's the ones where I make a mistake in the very very endgame but it's one that costs me a group or something. Secondly there are the ones where I fight my heart out only to realize it wasn't good enough and no matter how hard I search my memory I can't figure out how I could have played it better and there seems no hope for improvement. Thirdly there are ones like this one where it is very back and forth and yet in the end I believe I am winning only to find out it wasn't as good as it looked. Lastly there are the humiliating ones where from the beginning my opponent has sente and the game rapidly becomes so lopsided I begin to make bad mistakes just out of dejection.

...It seems these are all times when I have to learn to toughen up. I feel I have gotten a lot better at not letting a hard turn make me give up on a game. The same thing needs to be true for go. I play go because I enjoy the strategy. I like the game itself. I think it is important to remember that if all I like is winning then this is probably not the game for me. It's also a lesson in endurance and focus. I think I lose to this guy a lot because in some ways he just wants it more. He sits there and thinks things through. I am good at the overall strategy of the game. Using different parts of the board to achieve an effect in a local situation and setting up an intitial position which is good. Tonight was a case in point. I had him running a whole lot from the begginning on. I was forcing him a lot and keeping him small. Then in the process of chasing a group out into the center I got careless. I don't know whether it is arrogance or laziness though I know I am guilty of both. I notice that I eyeball situations a lot without actually reading them out. It's kind of a cycle. I don't read because I'm not good at it and I don't get any better because I don't practice. That's laziness I guess. If I want to get better I have to build up the skills it takes to be better. Interestingly enough it seems that these are valuable skills in and of themselves. Focus, patience, thoroughness, determination.

This is part of why I believe this game has spiritual value. I was thinking today though of a woman I like. I have just started talking to her a little in a personal sense. The idea of sabaki came to mind. You have to play light, especially to begin with. Many other metaphors are possible to express the same idea. I have been working in a restaurant the last couple of days and I realized the same idea can be expressed in terms of a meal. In a meal you start with light flavors and work up to heavier things. You don't come right out with a chicken in thick cream sauce. Anyway maybe I am straying from the point a little. Basically I am taking this opportunity to renew my determination to get better at the game of go but also to relax and enjoy it as much as possible.

4/09/04--I'm not quite sure what it is about this game that inspires the creation of journals. I have seen several people here at SL create these types of pages to record their progress or lives as Go players. I myself started a journal (at home) last year when in desperation about my future I set out to become a professional. Let me tell you a couple chapters into James Davies "Life and Death" and I had serious doubts about my prospects. Anyway, glancing at Holigor/log today inspired me to think about putting up a page here under the same title I gave to my home journal.

.... I think the topic of blocks, or bottle necks at various kyu strengths is a topic that it is interesting for kyu players to read about. This is something I have some experience with. Last year I experienced a block at about 15k KGS. It was not a very long lasting one. I would say that it was due to internal forces. By that I just mean by some lack of understanding on my part. I say this because I spent some time researching openings and I came up with a sequence for my first three moves as black. First a star point and then an ikken tobi shimari on one of the other adjacent corners oriented so the line of the stones points toward a third corner and the height of the stones toward my hoshi stone. I went on a winning streak. I was playing and studying a lot at that time. My focus particularly into the first few weeks of this new year was great.

.... This idea of focus seems to be another important aspect of the situation but also seems to have to do with external forces. I am at a wall now around 11k KGS. It seems to have more to do with the fact that I returned to school this January. I don't have nearly the time or energy to devote to the game that I did last year. When I play it's not nearly at the same intensity it was earlier in quantity or quality. There are definitely some conceptual points about the game I could understand better and the lack of which holds me back but I feel as if I can make some good progress when school lets out for the summer.

.... So this is my recomendation for those who are experiencing these sorts of blocks. Look at external factors. You may just have to accept that you have higher priorities than Go right now and that as a result you are going to have to accept a certain amount of stagnation in your game. Also look at things like sugar, caffeine, or for smokers nicotine consumption. Do these things affect your ability to concentrate effectively? When you have done all you can about that I would recommend looking at some key area of the game you just don't understand as well as you would like. Pick something that seems interesting. I often seem to get more out of following up on my interests than by studying what someone else tells me I need to even if they are dead on in their criticism or advice. Study that thing until you can say you have a substantially different understanding of that topic and how it relates to the game as a whole.

Journal of an American Go Player last edited by PJTraill on September 13, 2018 - 00:13
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