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General Note The old entries are in a slightly strange order. I am planning to place the most recent ones first, grouping them by week. Since I am too lazy to change around the old entries, they'll appear (slightly) backward. While the newer week comes first in on the page, I left the entries themselves in their original order. If you're at all confused, just read the date above the entry.
Also, there is a comments section at the bottom of the Blog. If you feel the need to poke at me, go ahead and put stuff there. Just PLEASE don't alter the postings.
Current KGS Rank: 12k
Recently, I've really bought into the idea of learning through osmosis. A good deal has been said on this site about cramming life and death to improve your pattern-matching library. Interestingly enough, some of the same kind of latent knowledge-gain has been happening to me in more subtle areas. To some extent, it happened with my Positional Judgement (I'll eventually post my response to PositionalJudgementProblem4) after reading (but not really working hard on) Cho Chikun's book. Now, having done a little reading of Shusaku, some of the stuff I've been thinking about while trying to get some grip on his games has come out in my play. I've been trying to play slightly more aggressively, since professional play seeks to combine offense and defense into one move. Where previously, I'd try to settle before attacking, I've learned that attacking can help settle weak groups.
Previously, I didn't play moves like this because I was be too afraid of counterattack. To me, Black a is a natural response, but I'd planned to treat lightly. As long as the stone wasn't captured, it still posed a threat to the black group on the right. Of course, if Black responded well, he should be able to get some profit out of his counterattack, but should this invasion survive, it would be much better for me than having let black take the bottom by playing at b or c
This response vindicated my decision. Black panicked and played , which played right into my hands. Sure, the sequence to was probably submissive, but while black ensured the life of his group, I got to play . I had settled my group and spoiled Black's lower side.
It's worth mentioning that the example is excerpted from a 3-stone handicap game, so I probably got away with a bit of bullying. However, I'm not convinced that the original move was unreasonable. I felt that in a low handicap game, staying on the attack was a good path to victory. Since Black has the advantage, White can't compete by surrounding territory. She needs to make it while Black worries about his weaknesses. After the good results I got on the lower side, I figured that if I kept up my attacks, I'd bring the game even.
So, when Black played , it looked like the game had just about drawn even. I realized that I needed to prevent black from creating a moyo by playing near either of the circled points. If I let him, the upper right would get huge, and the game would come down to whether I could invade his framework before he made it into territory. While a move at a or b would have been the safe way to try and resolve the situation, I decided to put the game on the line with . Black blew it and played the contact play of when he probably should have capped at c, but I figured it would be interesting to stake the game on the battle between and . I realized when I played that I'd started to develop kiai. Needless to say, after exchanging for , I was pleased with my decision.
After going on to win the game by more than 40 points, I realized that some kind of change had come over my play style. While I'm sure the violence will punish me if I don't keep my reading skills up, I feel that this is a path to playing a deeper game. I'm excited to see how my play develops from this juncture.
Current KGS Rank: 12k
Finally secured the rank upgrade, but I'm finding it hard to find enough time to play regularly. I'm planning to play more free games in order to get more exposure without the rank obsession. I'm also planning to use these games to try out some 3-3 point openings. If Cho Chikun likes them so much, they must be worth trying out.
I've started to read Invincible. It's like a whole new world. I don't understand a whole lot of it, but it's eye-opening to even try to process this kind of play. These games are played strength on strength. Every, and I mean every move has a threat or extra purpose behind it. Sente? I had no idea what it really meant. Now that I have something to run toward, I really want to get in there and mix it up. This should be an aggressive couple of weeks for my playing style.
Current KGS Rank: 13k
In addition to causing some more trouble on SL (see the RecentChanges site), I finally put some wins together (three ranked games). I'm back to being on the bubble near 12 kyu. By rethinking joseki usage, I've started to regain my feel for territory/influence exchanges in fuseki. By trying to get out of the opening with a lead, it makes sense that I tend to have a better idea whether I will win or lose.
Meanwhile, I have new favorite joseki. After getting burned repeatedly using the 3-4 Low Pincer, I've switched to the high one. I got a chance to use a bastardized version of this continuation in a game recently.
The center-facing power that Black gets from this continuation can be quickly put to use, especially if White tries to resist and attacks the wall. The resulting fight is quite favorable for Black.
Current KGS Rank: 13k
I got up to 12k, only to lose a bit and fall back down to 13k. Whatever. I took a break from internet go for a few days, and now I'm back to try and bootstrap upto a solid 12k. To do this, I need to resume some Joseki study and get through my new book, Positional Judgement: High-Speed Game Analysis. Hopefully, I'll have better (and more interesting news) to post here in a week or so.
Current Rank: 13k KGS (4 more stones until SDK)
I watched Bagdis and Pence play a game the other night. It was interesting. They played games that reminded me of Kate and My earliest forays--without fuseki. They placed some stones at the corners and then got distracted by a large fight in the center. Neither of them (Bagdis and Pence) knew what he wanted to get out of it besides keeping his stones alive. I realized by watching them that I'd definitely learned only to pick fights that I can get something out of it, not for the sake of fighting. I tried to interrupt and help them understand their positions and some variations. The problem with commenting on a game like this is that I would likely have not arrived at many of the positions myself.
Pence is trying too hard. He misses atari sometimes. Which is bad on the surface, but ignoring atari can have benefits. The problem is that I'm spending a lot of time making sure that he pays attention to when his stones will be captured. I'm afraid that once he gets over this hurdle, he'll have trouble letting go of useless stones. He also focuses too much on local positions. But this will pass when he starts to understand the game better.
Bagdis is on a better course of development. He seems to have an inkling of understanding about territory and profit. But he likes the center a bit much. Profit in the center comes through indirection. he moves right for it. It's a little easy to counter this strategy since it's so one-track and doesn't create threats against the opponent.
Meanwhile, I beat Qualx again in a four-stone game. He claimed to have learned the majority of his skills through atari go. It showed. He had a reasonably good tactical sense in contact fights, but little full-board vision. This can be fixed. You just have to open your eyes. He'll get much stronger faster as a result. He seemed to confirm to me that I am the sum of my knowledge at the moment. That's fine. I've been studying. I'll get better. Playing against weaker players has actually lead me to understand which parts of my game need to be emphasized.
Finally, I got my analysis back from GTL. The reviewer was very helpful. My new lesson is to try to be on the lookout for large gote plays that would have a value greater than sente. Makes sense. I tend to be moyo-focused playing black. These gote plays usually help establish moyos and prevent disastrous reductions.
Well, the tournament went OK. So far, I'm 2-1. Oddly enough, that places me in 35th place out of 152. Strange, eh? I don't quite understand the scoring system completely; players who sat out the entire weekend are ranked 66th. Anyone with a losing record is ranked 103rd or lower. Sadly, my opponents are all ranked lower than me (including the one I beat), so there will be little help there toward my tie-breakers. Here are my results:
Meanwhile, one of the players who I had an unfinished game with returned to finish the game. After about 10 moves, he resigned. It had been weeks since the game was started, so the result meant little. It was nice to finally place it in the win column nonetheless. I've been really trying to slow down my play in the tournament games since we get 45 minutes plus byoyomi. I've had mixed success. The game against KapCeR went the slowest, and I lost (it was also the hardest game) using about 18 of the 45 minutes. Calvados took 11 minutes, and Koala took 15. I think that's mostly because the games were simpler. The opening against KapCeR was a little more violent which caused me to think harder. We'll see what's to come in the next rounds. I imagine my winning record will send me stronger opponents. I hope I'm up to it.
Jeff's gotten better. Of course me playing sloppily doesn't help. He's good enough to punish me when I play against the handicap and don't pay attention. Oddly enough, his disengagement strategy works rater well since he can out-read me occasionally. Luckily for me, he still misses basic patterns. He's keeps trying to win by holding the center. Ambitious, but difficult. Pressing down on your opponent is fairly easy, but it's pretty easy shrink center profit into nearly nothing with the clever use of extensions and snakes.
Now, for some diagrams. I played another game gearing up for the online tourney. This one went better than the last. It was close, but characterized by some interesting exchanges. I wonder if I made the right trades overall (I won, but I think it's because my opponent made an incorrect trade himself).
Why can't I see moves like ? This is what kikashi should be about. initially appeared to me as a threat to connect out to the white stones on the left--a simple reduction. I responded at , only to realize after that the first move was also a ladder-breaker. The following sequence had me sacrificing the marked black stones to protect the corner. White had bitten a large chunk out of my moyo in the process. It was bad, but not game-ending. The stones to the left of would prove difficult to kill, so White's attack hadn't secured more territory on the left.
The loss of territory in the upper right forced me to make an inspired counter-attack. I am surprised that this worked. While exchanging for was reasonable, I think the sequence from - was poor for white. More perplexing, white didn't cut at a and played instead. While White may have been making the same exchanged that I earlier--emphasizing the sanctity of the corner over some suddenly poorly-positioned stones, I think this trade wasn't as good as could she anticipated. Before killing the trapped white stones, the Black group on the right was quite heavy and couldn't expect much development and was possibly open to attack. Once this attack finished, however, that group had lived and secured some profit.
I'm not sure exchanging for was good. It seems to me that playing at a and letting letting White play at would have been worse. White's low position could have easily reduced that corner to nearly nothing. While giving up those four black stones hurt, I think the corner was worth more points.
I've played one game online since coming back. I "lost" by 2.5 points against three stones. As it turns out, I forgot to click a single stone as dead. This click would have resulted in a win by 0.5 points. It was slightly upsetting, but at least it wasn't a thirty point loss. I also probably lost the game by misusing a monkey jump, but that's how you learn, right?
Other than that, I played a number of games with Kate on Wednesday. She got better without much practice. She beat me taking eight stones. Not surprising. Kate doesn't make a good deal of mistakes and plays solidly. She can press an advantage well in a handicap game because slow moves work well when you already have stones all over the board. I also taught Charles Pence to play. More people to learn. He's a little more obsessed than Jeff.
My book still hasn't come in. ANGER! No matter. Tourney on Saturday! Either way, I should get a few 'net games out today. That'll be nice.
Being sick is no fun. I played a single game at Go Club yesterday, but wasn't really concentrating at all. It's like my head is wrapped in cotton. On the other hand, my performance at club last Wednesday indicated to me that my time away from KGS helped some. During a teaching game with the 2-dan club member (I'm going to remember his name one of these days), I managed to read the implication in a few of his moves. That was nice. On the other hand, I still play a little scared against him. While it worked reasonably well during the early part of the game, it caused some problems when I didn't really make an attack on one of his weaker groups. I also second-guess a lot of move choices against him, being afraid of continuations that I can't see. On the upside, I only lost one group at the end of the game because of carelessness. That's an improvement for me.
The second game I played left me a little disappointed. It was an even game against one of the club's newer members. The first time we played, he won by about 20 points after I failed to kill a last-ditch invasion (I attacked a little too aggressively). Our second game ended with no result, since he had to leave. This one I won by 20 points, but mostly because he made some minor mistakes in reading and direction. It was a pretty textbook side-territory vs. central moyo game, but I failed to invade well. I just took compensation along the sides and coasted to a win. Not very inspired. More upsetting is that this game seemed to be different from the style of play that's been appearing in my handicap games. Against White, I've been focusing on building large, connected dragons to minimize the territory available to her. While I did manage to make a large group along the side in my even game, it didn't feel like there was much real conflict. Those wins generally leave me unfulfilled.
In light of this other style of play, I really need to learn how to make invasions and reductions more profitable for me. I usually balk at these tactics because I feel that the opponent usually gets more out of the counterattack. The solution probably lies in direction. That should be the thought for this week.
really can't go unanswered. White can and must play at a, especially if black has an enclosure on the right. After , Black has immense potential for development along the top. In my even game last Wednesday, this took a large chunk out of White's potential central territory. Worst comes to worst, I think should have been at . Black at wouldn't have been as big as blocking Black's development along the bottom. Due to White's configuration, a ponnuki there wouldn't have been as bad a result as the one in the diagram.
I went on a massive losing streak on KGS to end my fall break. Bummer. When I reflected on what happened to my strength, I realized it was a motivational issue. I was just randomly clicking the stones, playing very fast, not really thinking hard about my moves. Especially in the opening. I decided that I was "lack of discipline". As a result, I've sworn off KGS for the week (all the better for my homework), but have been playing some on real boards and doing a lot of problems at www.goproblems.com. What I found in doing the problems is that I still have reasonable reading strength. I hit the vital point in nearly all problems instantly (pattern recognition), and if I actually apply myself, I can read through most of the problems. My version of reading is strange, though. I still don't picture the board necessarily at every step. Instead, I kind of construct the shape a few moves down the road in my head. The problem with this method, is that I need to be able to predict my opponent's move in order to do this. In life and death situations, this is pretty easy. Interestingly enough, I've only just started to really look for shapes I want to make when approaching life and death. It's amazing I got as far as I have without it. I can also recognize the squeeze instantly as well as most throw-ins and under-the-stones tesujis as well. I am getting some of my confidence back. I need to play some teaching games tonight at the club in order to practice slowing down my opening game to level of thought I put into midgame. I think my weakness is in not being flexible with my plan until the game is well underway. I need to learn to take up positions in the early game and how to change strategies quickly. Hopefully, I'll be back on my feet come tourney time in a week.
1-3 today. Yuck. There is some silver lining to this cloud. I can definitely tell that my fighting strength has increased. While I'm not as strong at the opening as I have been in the past, I've been making up for it with a powerful midgame counterattack. That's kinda nice. The problem is that I can't seem to keep my focus into the endgame. The two KGS games that I lost yesterday came from small oversights that resulted in my opponent capturing relatively large groups. On handicap-front, I've managed to nail some live and death problems in game situations. That was nice. I have this sense that when I break through this slump, I'll gain at least two stones--that's the hope anyway.
Still kind of on a losing streak. I finally managed to win an even game. Which was nice. My winning percentage is still much better as white than as black. I'm 12-5 over all as white, but 7-10 as black. I tend to be strong against handicaps. A very nice player, o6u7, confirmed my suspicion that poor endgame is really hurting me. I got completely mauled in a handicap game against him. He showed me how to press the attack with smaller handicaps, which is helpful. I'd figured that resisting too hard with so few stones on the board would result in bad news for black. But he pointed out that I need to get territory where I can. The final game of the afternoon demonstrated how maintaining focus can go a long way toward helping to win games. While I lost an eight stone group near the end, it wasn't crucial to my victory shape. Tomorrow is Sunday club. I'm looking forward to talking with the 2-dan again, but I'd prefer to play Al or Z. Even games are more useful to me these days. Especially, since most of my handicap games end quickly.
I removed a book from my wishlist. As a present to myself for getting through midterms, I bought Positional Judgement. It ships Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it. I realized today (Monday) that I can still really use what that book has to offer. For awhile, I was on the fence about whether to get this book or a general problem reference. Luckily, the games I played today confirmed my choice. On KGS, I eked out a 0.5 point victory in a game I should have won handily. While I lost none of my groups, when I reviewed the game, I definitely felt I suffered from myopia--failing to take the whole board into account when choosing my moves. I submitted the game to the Go Teaching Ladder. We'll see what they have to say about it.
On the plus side, I won my first two high-handicap games today. I played both against Jeff Bagdis. First I played at 7 stones, then at 9 stones. Ironically, I won the 9 stone game by about 20 more points than my margin in the 7 stone game. I think this was mostly because I snagged a really big corner in the 9 stone game. 3-0 for the day is a pretty good day. On the other hand, Jeff is probably only 28 kyu at the moment, so there is no surprise that I pounded him with a 9 stone handicap. I can now see why people say that handicap go hurts your playing. It really encourages (and even rewards) wishful thinking, as Black generally can't understand the real purpose of White's moves (this is especially true when playing against players above 20 kyu). The margins of victory lead me to realize I still need work on my positional judgement, while the games themselves helped me work on sabaki--if it can be called that against a weaker player. The hard part is the teaching itself. Because of the way my brain works, I have trouble condensing a game down into small tidbits of information, especially after the fact. Note to self: The point of chasing White in a handicap game is not to kill her, but to build thickness on the other parts of the board. So long as White must continue trying to save her group, Black can get profit elsewhere. Moreover, White can not tenuki if the pressure is sufficient (see the part on /MyJoseki dealing with the attack on handicap stones).
I played a few more games last night, after I wrote the entry. One on KGS. I resigned. I just wasn't paying attention, which is disrespectful--I resigned because I knew that I wasn't going to improve my play at all before the game ended. Sad, really. The other games were once again against Jeff. It was interesting to watch him try different strategies at 9-stones as I tried all of those strategies at one time or another. The only way to beat a stronger player is to press your advantage and play solidly. Even with the advantage of 9 stones, White can still do damage if you try to avoid conflict. It points to the difference between keeping things simple and being submissive.
Today proper, I played inducted Kate into KGS. We tried to play an 'even' teaching game. It didn't go so well. We were both trying to multitask, but it wasn't the best teaching environment. We had a long talk later about things she should think about. It reminded me how much my game has changed. Not long ago, I struggled against Kate--our fighting strengths were similar, and our games negated my fuseki and shape skill. While I felt bad about abusing Kate (we were similar strength for so long that I feel bad about the difference in our skill). Later, I played a two-stone handicap game against a new opponent on KGS. I made some dumb plays, but managed to hold on for a nearly 40 point victory. Surprising. Once again, I am reminded of how badly I need to work on my counting. There wasn't really much territory handed out until the very end of the game. Luckily, it was all in my favor. I took very big advantage of a ko-fight, converting an entire side into my territory. Not bad considering how iffy my victory had seemed from time to time.
I was surprised at how much value I got out of the for exchange. Extending up the side killed the the marked black stones and would eventually get me most of the right side. Maybe Black assumed that he could save the stones trapped by and .
In the end, reading and patience won the day. I also checked my stats page. I'm about 50-50 on games played as each color. Good thing, I felt like I was playing as black too much. I suppose that I could have spent more time talking with my opponent about the game, but I'm not even really sure how I won it. Although, had I killed his large dragon, it would have resulted in an even bigger victory (possibly a resignation).