Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hane? You'll Put Your Eye Out!


I've noticed this for a long time, even around my current 10kyu-ish level, and it needs to stop.

Don't hane (Japanese for 'quick-turn', sorta; pronounced 'hah-nay', not 'hain') on the first line if you're desperately needing an eye! (Well, unless you have enough room)

Here's a generic scenario. You have four stones over the first line, and you only need to form ONE eye. And it's your turn. You'll have no problems!

BUT! If you try to hane, no matter how vulnerable the other side is, you have just killed your group.

Typical Hane on First Line
Normally you'd hane on the first either to:

1. Get a measly point or four in sente if the the other side is vulnerable and cannot directly block.


2. Get a measly point or two in gote in late endgame.


Suicidal Hane on First Line
The typical 'safe' hane on the first line you will do hundreds of times for every time you need to form a second eye on the first line with this little room to maneuver. As such, it's very easy to reflexively hane and kill yourself where you should have lived. This very thing happened last night twice in one game to my 10kyu KGS opponent, so I believe it's worth mentioning.

The Fatal Mistake



Opponent Throws in First (version 1, two parts)


Opponent Throws in First (version 2)



Opponent Hane (two versions)




What Black Should Have Done (two versions)




It's all just the stuff of basic life and death problems, just thought I'd throw in a reminder for this specifically!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Psychic Go

Psychic Go
Psychic Go? Really?

Like, shooting fireballs? Bending spoons? Bending fans?

Not exactly.

It's the term I use to describe a certain type of teaching game that I made up, but may already exist outside of my very limited knowledge.


It's specifically for DGS or other 'at-leisure' loosely timed formats.

The idea is simply this: along with each move, you send a comment that describes your current thought processes.

I would expect something like "I considered moves X, Y and Z because of this and that, and eventually settled on Y for this reason. I expect my opponent to consider A, B, or C, for these reasons, etc."

Good things to include:
  • Moves considered
  • Why the move chosen was chosen
  • Expected opponent followups
  • Do you expect this move to be sente or gote
  • Overall strategy
  • Board state (hot spots, aji, etc)
  • Current mental state
  • Score estimations, including possible deltas per moves considered
You tell your opponent everything you don't want them to know. Likewise, they tell you.

My original intent was as a teaching game between players with sufficiently disparate skill levels. A 'silent' teaching game has some merit, but does not seem as useful to me.

Seeing You Coming

One obvious problem with this approach is that the opponent will see you coming. How are you going to set up a cool 3 move sequence when he knows what you're doing after the first move?

A couple of solutions:
1) Go quiet on some moves, catch them back up after you affect your devious designs. They'll know something's up, which may actually be a good thing from a teaching perspective.
2) Play even, not handicap.

The latter requires explanation. Many teaching games are handicap (albeit not fully) because of a vast discrepancy in rank (e.g.: 3p teaching a 12kyu). To win in any handicap game, especially high handicap games, you have to pull off some pretty crazy moves, usually several move sequences. If they see you coming, this may radically change your ability to overcome the initial odds.

The other reason to play even is because even games are go -- handicap games are neat, but they don't feel like the real game, strategy is too different.

What In The Hell Was I Thinking?! Go
Similar to psychic go, but more of a self-teaching technique. Again, probably only for loosely time constrained games.

Make the exact same commentary (what moves you considered, general reading of board state, overall strategy, expected opponent followups, hot areas, etc), but just to yourself.

On DGS this can be done by recording your comments within  tags. I do not believe the private notes field is useable for this purpose. The h tag is nerve-wracking, because if you screw it up, the opponent sees your notes! So, use with caution.

A useful table from the DGS source/forums:
** Viewing of game messages while readed or downloaded (sgf):
 : Game  : Text ::         Viewed by            :: sgf+comments by : sgf only :
 : Ended : Tag  :: Writer : Oppon. : Others     :: Writer : Oppon. : any ones :
 : ----- : ---- :: ------ : ------ : ---------- :: ------ : ------ : -------- :
 : no    : none :: yes    : yes    : no         :: yes    : yes    : no       :
 : no    :   :: yes    : yes    : yes        :: yes    : yes    : yes      :
 : no    :   :: yes    : no     : no         :: yes    : no     : no       :
 : yes   : none :: yes    : yes    : no         :: yes    : yes    : no       :
 : yes   :   :: yes    : yes    : yes        :: yes    : yes    : yes      :
 : yes   :   :: yes    : yes    : yes        :: yes    : yes    : yes      :
 : ----- : ---- :: ------ : ------ : ---------- :: ------ : ------ : -------- :

Then you can go back and really see where you went wrong and why. You can't have better info for a post game review. Actually, the best post game review would be if both players kept this kind of commentary (albeit secret), then shared it at the end. Reminds me a bit of the useful info (albeit (word for the day!) at a higher level) from The Go Consultants.

Example Game
This is the original Psychic Go match between munin and I on DGS. The commentary may be less than rigorous, but it probably makes up for that in amusement value.

Alas, this game did not finish because of the other big problem with this type of commentary -- it takes so long to make it, that you put off making a move in the psychic games because it'll take too much time.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm....
A huge benefit of making this sort of commentary is that (even the non-psychic variation) it makes you think about what you are doing. Yes, you should always be doing this, but it is easy to slack off during a game. Especially when the opponent is playing what seems like an obvious forcing move against you -- always consider the value of not responding predictably and playing elsewhere.

The title of this section makes me want to finish with words of poetic relevance (yes, wrong song, I know):

   



    It's your world and I'm just a squirrel
    Trying to get a nut so move your butt
    Cruise the dance floor, so move your butt up
    Pants in the air






As true today as when it was first preached over two thousand years ago.

Amen, brother, amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Celebrating Rank Milestones


I remember back last August (8 months ago) when I started really studying go that, if I ever made it to SDK (single-digit kyu) status, I'd celebrate, maybe buy a nice go set or something.

There were a couple of things wrong with that idea:
  1. I thought it'd be years, not months.
  2. As I already have a reasonably decent go set (2" hiba table board, glass stones) that is never ever used, it would seem silly to get a more expensive luxury set that will also never ever be used
  3. Unlike, say, a birthday, or passing the bar exam, it's really difficult to say when you've reached a go rank milestone.
The latter is what I'm going to talk about. The basic problems are that
  • There are different rank systems.
  • Your rank can go up and down.
Different Rank Systems

There are all sorts of different rank systems, but there are only three I care about (look, another enumeration!).
As you see, my DGS rank has recently tipped over into SDK territory, which is a big milestone. Actually, it's the second time it's done this (it then dropped back to 10), leading to my next point.

Interestingly, this slice of the rank system differences is from Sensei's Library:

AGA KGS DGS
12k 11k 16k
 8k  8k 12k
 6k  6k  9k

My rankings:
13k 11k  9k


So... this makes no sense! According to the SL chart, DGS is several stones (3!) harder than both AGA and KGS! I'm 2-4 stones weaker on the other ones than DGS, that's about 5 stones off!

Possible reasons:
  • I play a lot more on DGS than I do on KGS, and exponentially more on either than the 4 games every quarter or so in an AGA rated tournament. So, maybe the other ratings are simply lagging behind.
  • Getting tired doesn't apply to DGS, if I'm tired I won't play. I get worn out in live games, and can fall apart (especially in the longer AGA tournament format).

Your Rank Can Go Up and Down

Sure, you'd expect it to go up and down, but with some rank systems (usually the online ones), the fluctuations can be quite rapid. You could be 10 kyu, then 9, then 10, then 9, then 10, all in one day. And this could go on for a while.

When do you 'celebrate' being 9 kyu? When have you made it?

For bigger, more official rating systems, it's easier because they are so slow to respond. You'll be 9 kyu for a while, until your next tournament or other ratings event. Even so, you could drop down below the 'milestone' on the next measurement.

For professionals, you get promoted, and it is all very official and nice. I think there may even be cake.

I can only imagine the consternation caused by this when you reach the big milestone, moving from a kyu player to a shodan!

Consistency of Play

I enter AGA tournaments now as 12kyu (although maybe I should do 11? I've still lost 3/4 in each of my tournaments...), despite being a comfortable 10/9kyu on DGS. Part of the reason is rank differences between the systems, but part is playing inconsistency on my part.

The one thing I've noticed in all of my losing games from the last tournament is that I wasn't losing for half to most of the game! Even the one I used the great wall on (which always starts behind because you have no territory), I caught up and was winning.

They all come down to a big mistake. Despite starting strong and commanding a lead (sometimes large ones), I end up doing something stupid. I attribute this to stress and/or mental exhaustion. There is a point in these games (45 minute clocks per side, long by my standard!) I simply give up mentally. I stop reading out moves, I play without thinking.

This inconsistency in my play has screwed up many a game. A lot of this is a performance issue, similar to sports or the like.

Obviously, on DGS, this is not a problem. I used to have a DGS-unique consistency problem where I'd play strong or weak, arbitrarily, every other move or so. This is because I'd both play at home where I can think about it, and play on my phone when I'm in a distracted environment.

I no longer do this (play on the phone), save to respond to simple forcing moves or wrap up simple endgames.


Hooray! I'm SDK!

Or... I'm not. Maybe I am.

Or... maybe not.

Which leads to the final point: does it really matter?



(yes)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yuan Zhou's Go Workshop

 Just got back from an all day go workshop (my first) given by Yuan Zhou (on SL and personal site), and graciously subsidized by the GMU-NOVA go club.

I had just purchased Yuan Zhou's book, How Not To Play Go, a few weeks before. I have already posted a brief review.

Pro Game Review

The first two hours was a review of a professional game, between Go Seigen and the then Honinbo as part of a jubango. I will post info on the specific game once I figure out which it was.

It was very interesting and well done. Usually when I review pro games, it's tough because I have no idea why half of the moves were made. Mr. Zhou carefully explained what the purpose was behind many of the moves, including playing out variations that were presumably in the players' minds as they deliberated on they're next move. I came out of it feeling I had understood the intention behind most of the moves, which is pretty rare for a pro game for me.

update: The game that was reviewed was Hashimoto Utaro v Go Seigen, game 3 of 10, 1946-10-08.

Game Replay and Review

After lunch we played a single 45 minute-per-side game with an equally matched opponent (which was sheer luck, as there were only 4 students available for the afternoon session). I actually managed to not fall apart after the halfway point and win a game.

Then we reconstructed much of the game purely from memory. I would have thought this impossible, but I was shocked at what we could do, albeit with both players helping and occasional assistance from a record keeper.

This was a fantastic exercise for me, I'd never really tried it before. The bad moves were immediately apparent because they were the ones you could not remember. This makes perfect sense! If you had a good reason to play the move, you'd remember it. If you had no good reason, then it's a bad move.

Finally Mr. Zhou reviewed our games with us. I must have spent 10 times the amount of time explaining (well, excusing) moves I had made then I did thinking about them before playing, especially since I'd effectively reviewed/replayed the game twice.

Having to explain or make excuses for your moves really makes you realize how much more care you should have put into them to begin with. Especially when I had to explain the purpose for a move, then shortly thereafter play in a manner contradictory to the original explanation.

I call these waffling moves squirrely moves, as this is the sort of waffling than makes squirrels into pancakes (ironically and confusingly enough).

The biggest things I learned from the review:
  • What I think is territory is only territory because other players at my skill level (myself included) do not know how to invade.  Moving up is going to require understanding what is invadable and what is not, and how to attack/defend this would-be territory.
  • Cuts and shapes I think are safe are not really safe, only safe because I'm playing those at my skill level. I was shown several cuts in my stones that would have been disastrous if made, but remained there uncut and unprotected the entire game because neither of us bothered to read it out. Also, I suck at reading third line atari's, I really need to work on it.
  • I can probably jump a few stones very quickly if I think and read more during games, and if I play / review some games someone my level versus someone 4-6 stones higher. I have a long way to go, but it may not be that difficult if done properly.
The other players were 2 dan level, and although they definitely made moves that were cryptic to me, they also made lots of errors (detectable to themselves after the game) that sounded similar in principle to the errors I make now.

The workshop was fun and useful, I'd do it again, but I think I would benefit mostly from simply spending some time studying and/or playing. I have not had time to do this lately, and my rank graphs really show it (I'm sure they show some natural plateauing as well).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Killing Shapes and Seki

Turns out, the killing shapes are not just for killing, also good at producing seki situations.

Seki
In case you've forgotten, seki is the mexican standoff (you know, like in Hong Kong movies... Mexican) of go.

Sorta.

What I mean is first-person-to-move dies, so no one moves, no one dies. A mexican standoff is more like mutually assured destruction. But, if you factor in this study then maybe I make sense.

Maybe.

Well, if they were cowboys at twenty yards and not Chinese at point blank doing something allegedly Mexican.

But I digress.

When a surrounded group has only one eye space, and it is almost filled (only one liberty remaining) with a killing shape, that group is dead. This is because when the group is completely surrounded, it is forced to take the killing shape by filling the last liberty. At that point, a nakade is played on the vital point, and the group will never enjoy a 3D Pixar film again (for at least one reason).

Killing Shapes and Seki

Turns out, a lot of times having a killing shape with two unfilled liberties surrounding it is enough to, if not kill the surrounding stones, at least make a seki.

To be more precise, if the intruding shape can me made to almost fill the eye space and still be a killing shape, it's dead. If the intruding shape is already a killing shape, does not almost fill the eye space (2 or more liberties remaining), but cannot almost fill the eye-space and retain a killing shape, then it's seki.

Not Seki
Black cannot directly capture the shape without entering into a killing-shape-almost-filled-eye-space scenario.

White can kill by playing a at any time (to create a killing-shape-almost-filled-eye-space). Black is dead.



Seki
Black cannot directly capture the white stones, because it forms a killing shape.

BUT, even when black's outer liberties are taken, white cannot capture black (ko threats aside) because extending to either a or b forms a non-killing shape. Black could directly capture and white could not prevent  his forming two eyes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

IRL

Am I abusing the IRL (Indy Racing League...er...in-real-life) acronynm?

Maybe.

Some may use OTB (over the board) instead, but I've never met one.

But it's rare enough for me that I treat it as a special thing. Online go is very convenient, and without it I'd be 28kyu (well, I'd be not playing). These days, for me, online go means drag-on go server. I love playing KGS, but I hardly ever have the solid chunk of time. Super rare is IRL play, not many people geographically convenient to me to play.

There are things that are very specific to IRL play: gobans, stones, how to place stones, time keeping, the viewing angle of the board, the irregular placement of the stones on the board, ability to track opponent's gaze, scoring, recording, ability to kill the other player with a Chronos, possibility of passing airborne diseases, et cetera.

Following the recent tournament posts, let's talk some IRL issues.

Holding a Stone

Holding a stone appropriately is, to me, much like using chopsticks.

Actually, I'm better at using chopsticks than I am at holding a stone appropriately. In fact, I regularly use my thumb and index finger to hold it, and have no regrets.

I'm considering using my middle finger and pinky finger, just to make it more difficult and to intimidate the opponent with the unnecessary difficulty of my grasp.

Actually, it's not that difficult to do, but in the heat of an intense IRL game, I sometimes revert to my simple monkey grip.




Placing a Stone


This is where it gets interesting. Many people (especially those who learned about go via Hikaru No Go) believe that you place the stone down with authority onto the board.

SLAM!

If you are the sort to do so, you could even get caught up in the sound of playing a stone, the tonal quality of the wood, that mysterious pyramid carved (why can't I find a link?) into the bottom of traditional floor gobans and how it affects this tonal quality.

And do you slide the stone into position, or place it directly on its grid point? Do you whack it down or simply place it?

I've played people who will sometimes WHACK it down as to make a statement. If this is meant to intimidate, it seems to have the opposite effect on me. I believe this is because I've only ever seen an opponent really WHACK it onto the board when they are in dire straits (as when I played Mark Knopfler to a draw with a double ko and a ham sandwich).

I never do this.

I'm not sure why.

Possibly because I'm extremely passive aggressive (e.g.: "I'll burn the whole building down").

Possibly because I'm lazy.

Mostly because I figure go is a very rational game, and the idea of emotion entering into it can only be a bad thing. Don't get me wrong, there are all sorts of emotional and dramatic elements to go, one of the reasons why it's great. But, ideally, you should never let it affect you while playing.

When I play IRL, I usually place the stone very quietly and peacefully onto its position, possibly adjusting surrounding stones (obsessive compulsive too?) if necessary. The Chronos GX Touch really helps me with this, I place the stone quietly and then lightly touch the sensor, (then maybe record the last two moves on the EeePc) and that's it. Maybe fold my hands in my lap and stare at the board, contemplating the one-ness of the absolute value of i squared.

To me, a dramatic playing of the stone only seems to signal weakness and/or fear. Like when a cat arches its back and hisses.

Nothing is quite as unnerving as a cool lack of emotional response, e.g.: Gnu Go.

As long as they can't see me sweating buckets...



Angle of Viewing and Stone Placement


This totally screwed me up first time I played IRL tournament after doing nothing but online for a month or so.

Both the viewing angle of the board and the not-quite-orthogonal placement of the stones made it very hard for me to read it for a game or so.

IRL gobans are not actually square -- they are rectangular. This is supposedly so that the effect of viewing angle is not quite as severe.

There is an OSX app (Sen:te) that shows stones as slightly offset. I'm not sure if this is good or bad...



Swallowing Stones


The technique here is to avoid it altogether.

My 2-year old can't play go at all, but even he can meet this one requirement.

Although... I don't trust him on that, I will not leave him with go stones unattended.

Still... they do look like Mentos, especially the ING stones...

Hmm...never seen a black Mento... chocolate? Licorice? Only one way to find out. This leads to next section.



Passing Stones


Haven't had much experience with this yet, but I will refer those interested to the appropriate Seinfeld episode.

There are two forms of this, one can be avoided by not Swallowing Stones, the other form of which can apparently be caused by global warming.

I can't make this stuff up. Luckily there are others to do this for me.





Adjusting Stones


Scrotal humor aside (although... I could write about doing this during tournaments as well), this means to adjust the stones on the board to a more orthogonal form.

This is a problem mostly for 1) online players and 2) obsessive compulsives. If you are both (possibly myself), then you are constantly fiddling with the stones.



Timekeeping


Is timekeeping necessary?

No, of course not.

Not until you play someone who will spend FOUR OR MORE HOURS on one game.

Then... yes. This is why game timekeeping was applied to go.

At the recent NOVA tournament, the amusing/enlightening advice given at the beginning was: "If you are young take twice as long as you are used to to make a move, if you are older take half as long".

I frequently fall into the trap of playing at the speed of my opponent. This means if they start playing fast, I do too.

That's one nice thing about recording IRL games, it keeps you from playing too fast.

Then there's all the issues about byoyomi and such. Canadian byoyomi (x moves over y time) seems to be most practical when you only have either a crappy egg timer, a sand hourglass, a wind-up chess clock, or a menstrual cycle for timing. Japanese byoyomi is more practical when you have either a digital clock or a dedicated time keeper.



Recording


So, this has only really come up recently, with more IRL stuff. As mentioned in recent posts, I tried recording some IRL games for the first time. Although I had kifu with me, I had SmartGo on the netbook, which worked surprisingly well.



Scoring


Scoring is much different IRL. Estimating the score during the game is an important skill that is valid in both for online and IRL playing environments formats (except, possibly, 'turn-based' (e.g.: DGS) where there is time to download and SGF and use a score estimator -- the ethical issues of which are worthy of a standalone post).

Score estimation, in general, is also worthy of a standalone post.

I'm talking simply of determining the score once the game is over.

Interesting digression: my first IRL tournament game, I was beaten down by a 15 year old girl.

I'd been playing so much online / computer go, that I didn't really think about the real purpose of scoring in a IRL tournament game: who won?

The exact score there doesn't matter. Not knowing this, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to determine the exact degree of my pummeling, even though all we needed to report was the winner, which was perfectly obvious.

More recently, in an IRL tournament, I lost by 0.5 points (I had been given a 1 stone handicap, so komi was 0.5 -- the board was dead even). This was according to the recorded game in SmartGo. According to the board though, I lost by 1.5 points. We spent some time trying to figure out how we go it wrong (not that we could, we'd already rearranged all the stones, and some edges contained both black and white stones), even though it did not affect the only part that mattered: who won.

Another future post: winning by a little versus a lot, and why size of victory margin cannot be used in ranking.

The trick with scoring IRL, is you end up rearranging the stones. Or, for ING scoring, filling the board with stones. If you didn't record the game, it's very very easy to mis-arrange (less so in ING scoring) the stones so as to change the score. In small-margin games, this could mean the win.



Gaze


One huge difference between online go and IRL go is gaze. You can tell where on the board the opponent is looking and vica-versa. Despite my lack of experience IRL-wise, (is my overuse of the acronym bugging you yet? It sure bugs me) I can already count several times where I purposefully looked at a different area of the board than what I cared about. 

I've even played in an area I wouldn't have otherwise (looked settled to me) because the opponent kept staring at it.

Very much like visually checking out a woman discreetly -- glance fleetingly, but make sure your attention seems focused elsewhere, while you process the visual information like a swimmer processes gulps of air.

I suppose you could lump visible emotional response into this too, but I won't. Wait, I think I just did.



Invalid States


More of a problem with raw beginners, but one big problem that can occur in an IRL game that can't (well, some rare exceptions aside) in computer refereed games is that the board can get into an invalid state.

I recall at least twice, as a raw beginner, I'd play a game then realize later that a group was not just dead, but completely surrounded (e.g.: no liberties) and still on the board. Possibly even having killed another group :)

What can you do at that point? Neither player saw it, you clearly both suck, start again.

I suppose ko could be a problem too.

The invalid state problem is not much of a problem after, say, 20 kyu (?) or so.



Nuclear Tesuji 


The nuclear tesuji is a skillful maneuver that, if performed correctly, can transform a losing game into a stunning victory.

No direct equivalent in online play (barring some sort of remote buffer overflow, perhaps).

There are escapers in online play, but I suppose you could do that in IRL too. This would be particularly amusing actually. Well, unless it was "I've got to go use the bathroom, can we stop the clock? I'll be right back...".

I could talk about sandbagging now too, but it's not really an IRL issue, and it'd make a good future post.



Sexual Bartering


This does not occur in go.

If it did, it may be more effective IRL, but that's hard to say.

I suppose it could make ko fights even more complicated though.

Stip go? Ewww.



Running Out Of Stones


I've never had it come up in go, but I have in other games.

If you have the official full complement of 181 black and 180 white stones, you are unlikely to run out (although that adds up to 361, the number of points on the board, this does not mean that you couldn't run out of them, in theory (because of capturing and removing from the board, to say nothing of ko fights)).

My guess would be, if you run out of stones, then you're doing it wrong. Possibly could occur if you are Swallowing Stones.



Drinking and Go


Unlike, say, video game murder or auto racing, go does not benefit from drinking (alcohol). Drinking and go are not good allies, although I suppose it could lead to an alternate form of handicapping.

In either case, not really an IRL-specific issue. Although, if you are at a restaurant playing go IRL and drinking you're being social. If you are playing go online and drinking then you are a filthy drunkard (and hopefully playing unranked games or a special account you reserved for such elicit purposes).

As for, non-alcoholic drinking and go, water is ideal. I drink coffee sometimes during tournaments, and it's arguable as to whether this is good or bad. I suppose it would be good if you planned on attempting IRL escaping, and wanted it to look convincing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chess


I used to be quite smitten with chess. Well, kinda interested in 90s, interested in go, say, 2003, but not really (just taking a board to Maui on my honeymoon, nothing big (no opponents, didn't break 20kyu)), then very interested in chess, say 2008-2009. then very interested in go, like, now (from Aug 2009 to present).

I went back and played some chess (Chessmaster 10) tonight after obsessing over go for the last 7-8 months and not having played chess since.

It seemed... foreign to me (irony not lost).

Chess seems all tactical, no strategy.

I keep thinking of the pseudo-proverb: "chess was invented, go was discovered".

Seems true.

So many elements of chess rules are arbitrary and weird.

Go's rules seem simple and pure. Granted, weird arbitrary things like joseki and patterns emerge, but they were not placed there, they are results of the simple, mathematical game rules.

I've heard of many people who've gone from chess to go and never looked back, I wonder if it ever happens the other way?

I suppose if you were raised playing go and suddenly discovered chess, it may seem novel.

Then again, I'm intrigued by all sorts of 'game' systems, from the classical good like go and chess and the classical bad like murdering and lawyering, to less-classical like Axis and Allies and Ticket To Ride.

Still, only go can boast things like the simplest core rules , the longest history, the hardest-to-solve (presumably) problem set.

Go is, truly, 'the grand game'.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brief Book Review of Brief Book: "How Not to Play Go"


 I'd figured I'd post this since I just wrote it: How Not to Play Go brief review.

-----

This is a very short book. It consists almost exclusively of game reviews, three in total.

Both it's brevity and it's content (just game reviews?) made it a little disappointing for me, at least at first. Such a cool title, I expected something different I guess.

The good news is, the game reviews are excellent, some of the best I've seen. By best, I mean it's quite readable and understandable to me, a 10 kyu (maybe 12 kyu AGA?).

So, if you go into it knowing what to expect, it can be a good book.

In total it's only 32 numbered pages. Again, brief book. Check TOC below to see you how short the non-game review stuff is -- it's literally a few paragraphs.

But, if you are a kyu player and want some good, understandable game reviews, I highly recommend it!

Table of Contents

  • Introduction (1)
  • Chapter One: Common Misunderstandings (3)
  • Chapter Two: An 8 kyu game (5)
  • Chapter Three: A 4 kyu game (18)
  • Chapter Four: A 1 kyu vs, 2 kyu game (25) 
----
The weird thing is, at the recent tournament they announced that a half-price workshop ($50 instead of $100, I believe) will be given by Yuan Zhou in the near future.

The name sounded really familiar, and the reason is that I just read his book.

I'm continually shocked how this exotic game has so much representation in my immediate area: this guy lives here, the NOVA group is full of AGA board members, and Slate and Shell is in Richmond, my hometown.

I would just assume all US go stuff was in CA or NY. Kinda cool that a lot of it is not.

I definitely am bummed about missing the last Go Congress in D.C. -- a month or two before I got back into go. Oh well, it'll be back int 20 years, maybe!