Monday, December 14, 2009

NOVA Winter Warmer Tournament

My first 'real life' tournament. Biggest challenge was parking (I should have known to take the Metro into Rosslyn!), but other than that a good time.

I wish I had some game records to review though!

Won 1 of 4 games, which is better than 0 of 4. I entered as 13k, and I think my AGA rank is probably 14-13k in that context.

The games were very intense and exhausting. When starting the first game, I had a hard time 'reading' patterns on a real board -- not only am I sitting at an angle, but those pesky stones are never directly on the intersection! Amazingly, this awkward visual problem vanished by the end of the first game, and I was very comfortable reading the real boards. Generally, they were thin yellow boards with big chunky ING stones (I actually really like those stones and the cool counting bowls that come with them).

One unexpected effect of playing serious IRL (in-real-life) games is that eye movement of each player is a big factor... you can tell where the other player is looking and vica-versa. I even found myself looking away from an area I was thinking of playing just to counter the gaze giveaway...

I will have to try to find time to get out to a club meeting now and again. Of course, atm I'm fighting to find time to even play on KGS...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Still Alive

...this was a triumph...

wait, no, that's not what I meant.

I meant there has been a spectacular gap between posts, augmented by Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, my KGS playing has dropped to nothing, and my DGS playing has ramped spectacularly.

I will mend this soon I think.

But, think on this: considering that I feel time bereft normally, and the thought of watching a movie seems a splurge of enormous proportions: an average KGS game runs as long as your average movie (eh, shorter than average)....

In the downtime, please enjoy drooling over this ripe, juicy pair of round, firm melons:

Sunday, November 15, 2009


A spectacular come from behind victory... for my opponent. Ugh. I was up easily 100 points, and do to one stupid mistake, ended up losing by 8.

My opponent (white) had a big dead group, one eye, but completely surrounded. So he's been increasing the size of the dead group for quite a while, desperately trying to make a second eye.

I've been responding pretty much to every move. But I grow weary of this, and want to punish him for constantly playing in what is clearly MY territory, so I tenuki somewhere else. I did this a few times, then, one time, SPECTACULARLY screw up.

Now, the game is more or less riding on a ko fight (actually, I still could have won with that group alive, but I made some other mistakes too...).

It's tough, because the ko fight is worth EVERYTHING to white, so I really didn't have threats big enough to counter. And when he finally took the ko, I forgot to follow through on my ko threat! That alone lost me the game.

I'm feeling frustrated at the moment, but I will eventually come to value this game as one that teaches me an important lesson. Here is the game and its heartbreaking score graph.


er.... UGH! As I'm preparing the game pic, I realize that at the point I thought I was screwed, I WAS NOT! The eye he threatened to make would have been false! Ugh, I'm even more frustrated now.

 Should have played 245 at G6, instead of F6...

Also, I'd recently creeped into the 12k zone, but since this game have fallen back into 13k.

I'll leave you with this pair of great tits...


Ugh... an even closer game I lost after this one (then I lost another after that... dang)...



I'm having trouble whipping out my nuclear tesuji in online games...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Topics, Boobies

Some topics I'd like to mention here, one day, when I have time to do so:
  • Ability to see Opponents Emotional State Through Play
  • More Early Beginner's (30-25k) Stuff / Go Proselytizing
  • Plateaus (may be reaching slightly above my current level)
  • Handicap Games, strategy for either side
  • Counting
  • Ladder Reading Tips
  • Go Proselytizing: What to say when someone asks "What's that game?"
  • Book Review (just got some neat new ones!)
  • Software Review
  • Technique/Move/Pattern of the Week sorta stuff
  • Blitz versus Tournament Times versus DGS versus No Time Limit
  • Training Regimen
  • Appreciating Pro Games
  • Online Go Clubs
  • Game Memorization
  • Post-Game Analysis
  • Go Server Greeting Rituals
  • McDonald's Dual Drive Through Order Thingies
  • McDonald's Making Hispanics Stand Outside Like The Drive-Thru Order Thingies Are Broken, But They're NOT
Since only Google and I read this blog (Lycos won't return my phone calls): Google, what topics would YOU like?

You know I'm  KGS fan, and this months tournament is a McMahon-style tourney with NO HANDICAP division. This means blood will flow through the streets, and I'm on the donor end of things. Still, should be fun... it's hard to get to play in high handicap games.

Although I did play against a 7k last night, with a 6 stone handicap. I was thoroughly intimidated, and it showed. Eventually I settled down, and even after I killed his corner group (total accident!), he kept throwing these wild plays into my well established territory, expecting me to slip up. Oddly enough, I won.

Oh, and in an attempt to obtain more readers, here's:

a nice, healthy looking pair of boobies

Monday, November 2, 2009

KGS Rank Craziness

For the rank graphs of KGS players who've been playing for a while, you'll see these weird sharp drops in rank, like this:

What the heck is this? Are they resetting the ranks every now and again? what's going on?

I only see this with higher ranked players... or with longer players, but that's really the same group, once you remove bots.

What's going on?

Side note:

This a KGS rating histogram from
It shows a couple of things:
  1. Why is it so hard to find low kyu (<12k) games on KGS
  2. Why the upcoming tournament has is split into: <1k, 1k, and >1k
  3. When the steady improvement will start to level off / when it will stop being fun.
Ok, so 'stop being fun' may not be fair, but the leveling off certainly seems certain. That is, unless I'm willing to devote increasingly large amounts of my life to go (which I'm not), and/or if I am willing and able to reverse the ravages of time effects on my mind (willing, but not able).

Cat Disassembly

 Here's an article you should read (via munin).

As fascinated as I am with the richer depths of go that I'm beginning to reach at my level (13kish), I am increasingly fascinated with the difficult problem of teaching go to new players.

This problem seems harder to me now that it ever has. Is this possibly because I'm losing touch with what it is like to be 30k? Is it because I'm so focused on learning what I need to make it to my next level that I only think about tactics and strategy at that level, not the issues of super early beginner play?

I mentioned before my concept of the beginner's hump (heh), the idea that there is this difficult, frustrating hurdle of initial concepts one must struggle through before getting to a more enjoyable, steady incline of learning.

How to get through it?

Dunno. Here's a quote from the article though:

She compared it to a child learning a language. Toddlers do not learn grammar and spelling and memorize words, they imitate and vocalize and learn through immersion and exposure and trial and error. They don't appear to have goals or embarrassment about how well they speak. They simply talk as best they can.
Toddlers really have no idea how talking works. They don't know that there are different languages, or that there are parts of speech, or even that there are words. They don't have any idea but yet they learn!

It does feel like learning a language. It seems much more natural than, say, learning chess. Maybe it's the increased visual element, pattern recognition.

Sometimes when the alarm goes off in the morning, I am not fully awake. Sometimes I am in a strange confusion, where I hold strong beliefs that some nonsense is true. One classic example is when I was spending too much time at work, and in the morning when a cat jumped up on me, I petted him but my brain thought it was disassembling (as in reversing computer machine code to assembly language, not the mechanical disassembling) the cat.

Anyway, this time I had worked too much AND played too much go before bed. So, in the morning, I was convinced that I could not get up until I solved some bizarre abstract problem that seemed (upon later waking reflection) to be composed a bizarre hybrid of program call stacks and go... like, CPU registers spread across two dimensions... it was weird. But I was convinced it was not weird, and was wondering what my wife would have to say about this obvious obstacle to our waking.

But... I digress.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pattern: Tiger's Mouth Snapback

This is a little blurb I stuck on my Senseis's Library home page. (How's that line for too many links :P )

It's reproduced here:

I have seen a lot of problems lately (especially in Graded Go Problems for Beginners, 20-15kyu), where this pattern comes up.

The play at 1 should be considered an atari on marked stones, just as if played at a.

This is because, after this setup, a play at b will kill those marked stones ... they could capture the stone at b, but then be captured via snapback by another play at b.

Black's play at 1 may be more useful than playing at a, and is a good pattern to know. If nothing else, important not to fall into it's trap! (tiger trap? heh).

Rank Upgrade
Oh, I may have slipped into 13k finally on KGS. Let's see how long I stay there :P
I need more game time.... 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Iron Man and stuff

I played a 4 out of the 5 minimum tournament games needed (out of 20 total) in the October Iron Man tournament on KGS. The times were 2am, 8am, 2pm, and 8pm every day for five days. I could only make the 8pm, and not even all the time.

I came in 13 of 27, if you discount the fact that I was disqualified. That's slightly better than median, so that's not terrible :P

I can't quite get to 13k, but I have not had much opportunity to play lately.

I've been pummeled the few times I have. Each time I immediately expected that I was destroyed by higher level player whose rank has not settled yet. Sadly, I was destroyed by people at or near my rank, and with ranks well established. Maybe I'm not even 14k? It depends so much on the moment ;P

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are you sure you lost?

I need to learn to count.

So I (14k) played a 16k in a handicap game. It's a tough battle, and we're approaching endgame (or in endgame), when the other player resigns.

I look at the board... I honestly cannot tell who was in the lead. The conversation was thus:

(yaretsu resigns)
antinoun> Are you sure you lost?
yaretsu> yes
antinoun> Then you're a better player than I.

Which, oddly enough, is true.

I had won, but I could not tell, and he could.

I really want computer assisted go....


It's tough to start playing go. I mean beginner-beginners, people who have literally just started playing, like not having played ever.

I can remember how frustrating it was, even after 10 games or so. The problem with go is that you have to know how to play it reasonably well (mid 20k?) to even be able to know when to stop playing.

I recall that, as I finally got to that level, the game became tremendously more interesting. Before that, the only word that describe it is frustrating.

I had a game challenge out the other day, and this new player with no rank at all took it up. I've avoided these people since they are often high level players starting new accounts, and they destroy me. This time is just a new player, and by new, I mean brand new.

Presumably this player new about making two eyes (which isn't a core rule, but an emergent one, resulting from the three core rules), because he/she was intent on making eyes. Just two corners for the first 54 moves.

The game was effectively won for black at move 10 or so, in a way that does not require great reading to know.

Once I realized this was a brand brand brand new player, my first concern was in trying to disuade discouragement. This is difficult.

Once you get a player over the 'beginner's hump',  then they're hooked.

Interesting Side-Note:
The KGS scoring thing was unable to deal with the game when we initially double-passed (I passed like 20 times during the game, in an attempt to demonstrate that it was done). Because territory borders were not firm, if I marked the stray dead pieces as dead, it would mark the live white stones in the corner as dead too.

We had to keep playing just to seal the borders.

Go Problem Problem

"Graded Go Problems For Beginners", vol 3, problem 1

Black to play: "How should Black play so as to completely surround the white stones?"

The solution is given as 1 in the diagram below. BUT, I cannot figure out how that would work, given the white follow up at 2! The single 'incorrect' solution is given as black play at 2, white play out to the left somewhere. But it seems better than their 'correct' solution!

I've tried every variation, B at 1 then W at 2 always results with white breaking out, and smacking B around in the process. What am I missing?


I posted this problem on the go discussions forum, and got a reply pretty quickly. 

I think I understand now -- it required deeper reading (about 8 moves) than I am accustomed to. This is the first problem in a book for 20k-15k, and it's stretching my brain to solve them. Perhaps I've gotten to used to reflex plays and do not bother to read out enough. I need to work on that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yikes! A week without a post!

I'm slacking! Busy week.

Too early to celebrate tipping over 14k on KGS? Probably.

That'll just jinx it. Bad when you're almost afraid to play a game for fear of losing measured rank. That's ridiculous, an inversion of what the rank is for: the rank is for measuring your quality of play -- you don't play to increase your rank. Still...

Alas, no time lately to play. Blogging from a pub next to my hotel... not an ideal playing environment.

I have been looking for a page I saw (I thought on Sensei's, like everything else) about the 'killing game', possibly called something else.

The deal is you surround every other 1st line point with a black stone. The goal is then for the white player to try to make groups that live, black's goal is to kill all his groups. Sounds like really good practice for me, I have a hard time making groups away from the edge live.

I wish there was a program I could use to do this. I will attempt to set up a SmartGo board with this and play against the computer. My concern is that SmartGo will simply attempt to make territory, and not kill my groups.

UPDATE: Yeah, it doesn't work. SmartGo ignores me, trying to make territory (the normal goal)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Recovery Day, and Move-Of-The-Day

Monday was recovery day, and I was able to squeeze in two quick games, including my closest game to date (that I recall, meaning closest that I won).



Also, what's going on with my KGS rank graph?

There are weird gaps at the end... server auto-adjusting?

Move Of The Day
Today's move is 'the slide', where you extend territory by sliding in under enemy territory (usually on 4th line) with a one space gap in between (so, usually you play on second line).

This move occurred in spectacular and amusing fashion in the posted game, moves 150-156. Technically, what I did was not what is described at the link, and probably could have been countered (but wasn't).


A Go-Free Weekend

Saturday was paintball, and by the time I got home I was too exhausted and sore to play go.

Sunday, I'd play, after doing all my chores I missed Saturday.

Alas, twas not to be. Sunday was stomach flu day! I didn't accept it as stomach flu for the first four hours or so, but after the fourth... er... I'll spare you the details. Needless to say, no go, no chores, nothing but bed rest and trips to the bathroom carrying a trashcan for the infamous double-ender.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

To Dominate and Be Dominated

I'm not talking weird S&M stuff. At least, I don't think so.

 Finally got opportunity to play two real games.

My goal was to force myself to:
1) Play conservatively, try to keep groups strong and stable.
2) Focus on territory, and not get distracted by the fighting.
3) Take time to think out moves, and not play reactively.

I kept this up ok for a little while, but then got back into old habits. I think. I honestly wasn't focused enough to even tell, so I clearly did not do well. I did better with this on the first game.

The first was against a 16k guy, and we seemed fairly evenly matched at first. I was focusing on making territory, and doing a fairly good job. We finally got into some fighting and I lost the upper right corner! On one of the same bonehead unsecured tail thingies that I lost the last few games with. So I'm feeling like I'm losing, although even with that corner gone I had plenty of territory.

Then something amazing happens. I start killing large groups. Not once, not twice, but THREE times. Killed a big center group, then two separate corners. Not due to my tactical brilliance, but due to blunders on the opponents part and my maintaining at least enough competence to take advantage of them.

A couple of really fun kills too -- why is that so fun? Dunno. Oh, and half of my decimated corner ended up making tiny life. So, fun.


I got cocky and decided to try to up my rank and play someone higher (besides, no one my rank had an open game). I played a 9k guy and got a 6 stone handicap.


I felt like I had already won.

How could I lose?

All I had to do is play conservative and safe, and victory should be assured.

I'm not sure what happened, but something definitely went 'tits up'. I'll have to go back and analyze this game when I have time (you always learn the most from losing to stronger players!).


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Iron Man Tournament!

October's KGS tourney is an Iron Man format.

That means, 20 games in 5 days, at guarantee-to-be-awkward times (EDT): 8am, 2pm, 8pm, and 2am.


Luckily, only 5 of 20 games are necessary. So I signed up (handicap division, of course!) and will try to hit the 8pm games, maybe 2pm game on Sunday or something just in case.

Not much time lately...

Really. Not much time lately, won't have any until the weekend.
Played two quick losing games the other day (harasue and Rzepa), no time to review yet.

Plan is to to review, identify and discuss some common screwups I make. Off the top of my head, I'd like to see some analysis of the two-line unconnected territory getting cut-off and shanked. Maybe put it on Sensei's and link from here. I may start snapping rank graph shots, since it is impossible to go back in time and get where it was at the time of a game, and I think that info is useful.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Finally a game to submit to the Go Teaching Ladder!

I played three games tonight (yay!), which was only possible because the first two were short and I won via resignation.

The first two were players a good bit below me (I'm currently around 15k, I played an 18k and a 19k?, who may be several stones lower than that). On one hand, I'm being nice by playing lower levels (since they really can only hurt my rank, not help). On the other hand, I feel bad because I can easily beat them.

It is quite fun to win against handicap game though -- the feeling of knowing that you can just invade all over the place and win because of tactical advantages is neat. I've more often been on the other side -- it's quite discouraging to have a 7 stone handicap and still lose!

The third game was remarkable -- I won by 10.5 points, and 6.5 of that was komi. Easily the closest game I've ever played! I thought I had lost before the final count. Very fun! This is why I want to get better at go, so I can have more close games. They are much more exciting!

Because this game was 1) close, and 2) played seriously (30 min main time, I was trying my fullest, etc), it's a perfect candidate for me to submit to the go teaching ladder. But first I'll have to analyze and comment it myself, which will have to wait for tomorrow night.

Slow Weekend

Not as much time to play this weekend as I had hoped. I played two KGS games last night, both to 16k (as a 15k), lost both. Not sure what happened. Rank took a tumble, but at least I won't have a squiggly :)

Found my old Janice Kim books, what I first used to learn go. I don't think I ever read that far through them (and vol 3 is mysteriously missing). They actually seem more useful than I was thinking they were, I'll have to look through them.

And hane is NOT like cane but like monet. I guess I should have figured!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Sensei's Library Sections

I'm gradually adding sections of beginner-oriented move analysis and stuff to my home page on Sensei's Library. I added a page on one space jumps from two stone blocks tonight. There may be something similar on Sensei's Library already, but if so, I can't find it.

Some sample images, but go to the site to get the details or the SGFs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Killing Than Normal

Latest game against a 14k?. Yes, another '?'. He was 16k? after the game... he'd played a bunch of games, I'm wondering why the question mark is still there? No handicap, but I got to play black.

This game was all fighting. I really have a hard time pulling away from the contact fighting when the other guy doesn't, but luckily I was able to do so at a few key times.

I won a corner, and then lost two corners by losing several two-stone-on-third-line groups. At the times my thoughts were "wow, I should be able to learn some new techniques from analyzing my mistakes in this game." Having analyzed it, I'm not sure what I learned...

So, this guy wanted to fight, and fight all the time. Eventually I was able to use this a bit by chasing groups to build walls in center, which I desperately needed.

The unique thing about this game, was that I was able to kill two big groups by surrounding then poking out the eye (little bent 3s). The first one was exciting, because I needed two moves to kill it (meaning that it was 'alive' according to any other reference -- the trick is, they all assume proper play on both sides).

So, 137 was the hane to keep it from making an eye on the line, then the moment of truth -- will he play in the center of the big three and make his group alive? Tenuki! Yay, so I poked out the eye, and there was a big pause. If I had done that first, I guarantee he would have played the first-line point to make a second eye. The hane wasn't obviously a death threat, but a play in the eye always is.

Then later I did the same with a group right as it build it's eye wall.

Lots of blunders, growing dead things, atari-for-the-sake-of-atari.... all in the day of a DDK!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Almost lost it to a 22k...

I took a break from go Sunday, although I still awoke with visions of plum bowls shapes dancing in my head.

I find it hard to get motivated to play a KGS game sometimes, but I always have fun once I do. It just does not sound interesting at first, especially at night when I'm tired.

Anyway, I did play a match, 6 stone handicap against a 22k. That's probably the highest handicap I've ever given to another player, but certainly not the highest I've taken.

We start fighting right away (and continued fighting almost the entire game -- I had a hard time playing out strategic moves). I kept making terrible blunders and errors, and lost many groups.

Finally I was able to sit up and actually tried to force myself to concentrate. Although I was still making blunders, I made far fewer and was able to opponents blunders.

Score turned in my favor about 247/339 (yes, 339 -- I had lost 32 prisoners and captured 27).

Bloody and brutal. I forget how different it is to be below 20k, although I played like it for a while tonight.

New player, admittedly confused about the game. I remember the initial confusion. I hope he keeps playing long enough for it to start to get really interesting (around 18-17k for me I think?)

Just shows, you rank is just an indicator of your average performance... I must have been several stones below my average tonight! Need rest.

links and pics will follow, maybe

UPDATE: ugh, it wasn't ranked! How did that happen? I don't know why it matters, but I really hate playing free games.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Uh... I meant to kill that!



I played a handicap KGS game tonight against a 12k, and I lost by 42 or so. I thought I lost by a lot more. At the end, we're marking dead stones.

I click done.

I wait.

Suddenly, a huge section of white (opponent's) stones at the bottom is marked dead. I had been trying to kill this group, and had failed when it made two eyes. So I hit undo and say (not recorded in SGF for some reason): "hey, that white group at the bottom is alive".

"No, it's dead"


Slurm [6k]: is dead
Abarca22 [12k]: yep o8
Abarca22 [12k]: then k2
antinoun [15k]: oh wow
Abarca22 [12k]: :P
antinoun [15k]: I never even saw that
Abarca22 [12k]: jeje :)
antinoun [15k]: I mean, uh... I meant to kill that!
Abarca22 [12k]: thanks
antinoun [15k]: thanks, good game

Totally had no idea. False eye. Sumbitch.

I still lost, but not by the massive landslide I'd imagined. But it was hardly a match where I had to think about what the komi was at the end...

A more exciting score graph than normal, yes?

There was a lot more life and death than is typical for my games. Lots of scrambling for eyes and sudden surprise group losses. Neat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Into The Unknown...

So I FINALLY got to play another game on KGS. As usual, I saw no open games around my rank (all SDKs or lower (level wise, not k wise) than 20k) . So I set up a ranked game in the beginner room and wait.

Not a long wait. Somebody with a '?' rank joins. Not a rank with a question mark, but just the question mark, no idea what skill level. Now, I've heard jests that nothing will make a dan player on KGS more nervous than playing a '?' player. Most '?' players are raw beginners, but some, SOME are high level players that have started a new account for whatever reason.

Seeing as I'm only around 15k, it doesn't take much of a strong player to thrash me. But, I figure it might be some poor guy trying to get his rank, and I remember how difficult it was for me to get games when I had the '?'.

Turns out  it was probably someone 20k or weaker. Could not read ladders, did not realize when basic two stone groups on the third line were toast, etc.

Of course, whenever I trap stones in a ladder and the opponent starts to play out the ladder, I get nervous.
Did I misread? The last time this happened (a DGS game), I misread and ended up with an escaped ladder, and a ton of cutting points... embarassing.

But playing out the dead stones on the third line was proof that it was a weaker beginner. When I think I'm playing someone weaker, I tend to get sloppy, and this was no exception -- made a bunch of stupid mistakes, lost some groups I shouldn't have.

Most of it was from playing too fast. I had a 30 minute main time, so there was no reason to be making <10s moves, but I did. Finally, I forced myself to remove my hand from the mouse and placed it in my lap. I have to do this sometimes, or I end up in trouble.

Fun game, he ended up with a 16k? after the game, if he gets a rank soon and I remember, I'll go look it up and update the post.

He had a small group in the lower portion of the board with a 6x2 eye. Again, something I would never do with a stronger player, I played inside of it to see if he could make two eyes. He either did well, or I did poorly, or both, cause he easily made a second eye.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Signed up for the Go Teaching Ladder

I'm going to submit a game for review when I get a chance. I signed up, which means I'm willing to do a review.

This also means the person has to be a raw beginner for someone at my level to be able to give anything productive ("see here, on this move, you should have placed the stone on an intersection, and not in the middle of a square... please don't eat the stones..."). Oh well, I doubt someone at that level would have heard of, much less be using, something like the go teaching ladder, but who knows.

It's a pretty cool idea though!

They should reverse it, and have some sort of kibitzing ladder, where people review games of players of a much higher rank...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some Random Beginner Page at Sensei's

I have a train-wreck of beginner go pages linked off my homepage at Sensei's Library. May be interesting to check out, if nothing other than observing weird humor.

It's kind of tiring and time-consuming to do those pages, so I may not do much more... we'll see.

It frustrates me that it is so hard to be Go++, even on 2nd easiest level. And it's irritating to play it or any other computer go programs. It's just not fun -- they never make tactical errors, and they play... weird.

I wish someone would make a Go program that simply played 'human-like'. Chessmaster does this well, where there is a large selection of 'virtual people' with different settings (blundering, aggression, will not sacrifice favorite pieces, etc). This would be wonderful for Go software.

I don't need a strong go program -- I'm not that strong. I want one that is interesting, and has enough play variety to not make me build bad habits (like not recognizing tactical errors of opponent).

Snuck in a game, now 15k on KGS

Yeah, it's just a rank. But it's fun to see it go up :P

Unfortunately, this little 'break' put me behind on work that I will now need to make up. Oh well, at least it reset my brain.

It was a fun game ! There is value in any game, assuming you are playing with all your faculties. But for fun, nothing beats an evenly matched game.

For this particular game, I really focused on sacrificing when necessary. I ended up losing a giant group (like 20 stones and maybe 10 points of territory) in the center that I failed to secure eye space for and failed to connect out. Once I accepted doom, I used the turns to lock down my large outside moyos and to steal corners. Luckily white was busy ensuring the massive kill, and I was able to steal a lot -- this time (several turns) probably won me the game. I'm not sure that the early abandonment of a large failed group counts as a 'sacrifice', but realizing it's doom early really helped me. I think I did throw in a few death thrashes in the form of stones (doesn't cost me anything if the opponent must play a stone in answer) thrown occasionally into the dying group. Helps keep the other player's blood thirst up, keeps them focused on killing the abandoned group while I take care of other matters.

Lots of one and two stone sacrifices later where I abandoned weak single containment stones in order to build a strong wall one or two spaces further out. That worked QUITE well.

A couple of worthless ko's were in there too, but nothing of interest.

The end of the game was crowned with an exciting fight to the death in the upper left corner, with a white invasion desperately trying to make a second eye, and a black 'finger of doom' desperately trying to stop it. Very hairy, always one move away from disaster. And with me playing things that feel maybe like a vital point, somehow. The last move was an atari white was hoping I did not see, but I had my eyes glued to the last liberty, hoping no white moves came up that would atari that finger-of-doom while threatening something else.

In the end white resigned, but, honestly, I was not sure who was winning. I think maybe after that corner I was winning, and I had massive territory at the bottom. Then again, I took massive losses in the center.

I can't score for crap. I really need to work on that. Especially since final score was something like B+137...

I credit the win to my having recently looked through the first chapter or so of attack and defense. I'm not saying it's a good book (hard to tell yet), but it got me thinking about sacrifice and prioritizing whole-board, and not getting obsessed with battles and killing.

Some of the final chat:

desba [15k]: :p
antinoun [16k]: don't forget your time (you are in byoyomi)
desba [15k]: thank's for tha game
antinoun [16k]: thanks
antinoun [15k]: you think I was in lead?
desba [15k]: off curse
antinoun [15k]: hard to tell with all the stones you took in center
antinoun [15k]: I'm really bad at judging score
antinoun [15k]: fun fight in upper left
antinoun [15k]: I didn't know how it would end
desba [15k]: you  take lot of stone in north-west
antinoun [15k]: it was a struggle
desba [15k]: i'try to trap you but you dont'
antinoun [15k]: I was counting those liberties :P
desba [15k]: if you don't have play in G17 it will be another end
antinoun [15k]: yeah, I was nervous that you would do something to make me miss playing g17
desba [15k]: :)
antinoun [15k]: thanks again for game, it was fun
desba [15k]: it was a good game,
desba [15k]: very fun

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Approach To Improving At Go

So, this is a hobby, perhaps temporary. Part of the draw is to the objectively measurable improvement (via rankings), part of it the rich depth of new game understanding that improvement brings.

I can just barely see the remarkable gameplay aspects that ko fights and threats bring to the game, and I want to know more. I can watch pro games and be bewildered by some of the moves, then even more bewildered when someone resigns and I can't even tell who won.

My problem is that my leisure time is quite limited. Games, especially the 1-1.5 hour uninterrupted online games, are hard to squeeze into my schedule. I can much more easily fit in books and reading than I can games. I can fit in a solo game review (1-2 hours) easier than I can another game. It's the 'uninterrupted' part that is hard to deal with. And playing against computers? Dull and uninteresting, but can do in a pinch.

So my approach? Who the hell knows? A little of this, a little of that, and a lot of little.

I like Sensei's Library. I enjoy problems from the Graded Go Problems for Beginners series and those that come with SmartGo, but oddly not so much from

I like to analyze and annotate my completed games in SmartGo, probably spending more time doing this than actually playing. I like SmartGo, but think the price is a little steep. I also want the mobile version for Android, and not just the damned iPhone. I find hugoban for Android mildly useful, if only for replaying pro games while on the crapper at work.

I read and re-read the Nihon Ki-In Proverbs book. It lives on the back of my toilet, but sometimes travels around. 80% of the proverbs made no sense to me when I first read it, not it's more like 40%.

Occasionally I try looking at my basic joseki dictionary, but it makes my head hurt. I've had better luck goofing around with SmartGo's joseki display on blank boards or old games. Part of me still doesn't believe in joseki, but I'm beginning to play standard joseki for a few moves on instinct (I see it on replay) -- 'course, it doesn't help if you can't follow it up.

So, I'm missing actual games. Especially games on a physical board (no nearby players!).

Today's definition (source):
Aji - n. 1. Dead stones you meant to leave there for later use. No...Really you did

First Tournament

Ok, so it's an online tournament, but still a tournament. I signed up last minute for the September KGS tournament Saturday. Originally I thought it was at 2am, and was seriously considering staying up for it. Luckily it turns out that I was looking at the Asian timezone division.

For the American daytime divisions, I had two choices: open and handicap. Given that I'm maybe a 16k on KGS, there really was no choice -- handicap division it was! I had to throw in $15 for KGS Plus for 3 months...

It was a Swiss tournament, and only about 17 people were in the division I was in. I was by far the lowest rank at 16k (next lowest 13k, 11k, etc). Looks like I'd be playing with a large handicap for all rounds.

I couldn't play the first round (had guests), so I took a bye. I was a little nervous before the round began, although I don't know why -- there really wasn't anything at stake beyond a normal ranked game. But still...

My first round (second tournament round... stay with me) went well, I was paired with a 13k and given a 3 stone handicap. I was actually alert and did well, winning the game. It was an exhausting hour and a half though.

That left 3 rounds on Sunday, back-to-back. Sounded intimidating. I could have taken another bye (preferably between two games) and not have knocked myself out TOO much. Would have improved my score if I had. But hey, that's not fighting spirit, eh?

I got brutalized in the other three games, losing by 107.5, 237.5 (!) , and 104.5, respectively. Brutal. I wasn't in good thinking shape during these, certainly not for the last two. The 237.5 blow out was with a 7 stone handicap playing the eventual division winner. It was almost worse than that, originally he marked my one remaining group (in center) as dead, but they in fact had several eyes.

Still, it was fun. I hope I didn't screw the results of too much for the better players!

I will attempt next month's KGS tournament if possible...

Here's my 237.5 point loss to Verda and score graph:

That was from a 5 stone handicap :P

Note, with that score, I might as well played the landslide fuseki for a 244.5 point loss!


Reminds me that I need to make a 'beginners guide to ko fights'...

Update: I found the original source: Tipping The Spherical Cow

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Post!

Welcome to Killing Shapes!

This is a blog I'm setting up to document my progress as a beginning Go players.

It still amazes me how many people don't know what Go is. I blame the bad western name for 95% of this problem. If you don't know what Go is, how did you get to this page?

I started playing around 2004 (I think I discovered go either 1) through computer science courses or 2) through movies (either Pi and/or A Beautiful Mind). I bought bunch of go books, some gear, even a decent 2" hiba table board, some decent bowls, and some thick glass stones. I even took a travel go board (and a bunch of books!) on my honeymoon in Maui (which is why I can remember I started in 2004). Then, like so many of my hobbies, I completely stopped. Recently I started playing again (I blame munin and dhogarty), and have taken it up with gusto.

I've found KGS to be quite enjoyable, but am still figuring out good ways to play in person with people.

I just waxed my goban! Heh.

Since the only reason you would choose NOT to lay your stones on my freshly polished wood (heh) would be insurmountable physical obstacles, you can find me on KGS (most likely), DGS, IGS, senseis library, or go discussions as 'antinoun'. It's a terrible pun, I've learned to live with it. You can also email me at antinoun _a_t_