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_