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).

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