Saturday, May 29, 2010

KS Beginner's League I

Let's kick off this experiment!

The first and possibly last Killing Shapes Beginner's League.

(btw, registration is still open for a little bit, if anyone else wants to join as student (<15kyu) or teacher (>10kyu))

Interest seems split between KGS and turn-based, but average time commitment seems relatively low, so we will do what we can.

The general league period is 4 months, this being due to the main tournament being turn-based.

Let's look at what we have:

OGS Tournament

This represents the turn-based element. Timing is Fischer timing, 7 days initial and 1 day extra per move. This means that you can have 7 days you can skip in total, but you generally need to play about once a day. If you play only once a day, it can still drag out for four months. Most people seem to be in the same general time zones, so hopefully between this and conditional moves mean it won't take quite so long.

The tournament is double round robin, meaning you will have to play each opponent twice. It is also even and not handicap -- this should be much more beneficial to learning as you will have actual openings. Because it it even (and because I'm in there too -- this is unavoidable on OGS from what I can tell), it is unrated.

So, expect between 10 and 16 ongoing games on OGS just from this. If you do not want to participate in so many games, you certainly do not have to, but it's just one move a day, it shouldn't be that bad.

2-4 of those OGS games will be even against a stronger player (myself or another SDK teacher), the rest will be sub 15kyus.

This tournament will probably run 4 months, but you may be out of it sooner if you play frequently. It is semi-competitive, meaning you should try to win, where winner is highest ranking student in tournament room. First place gets a free coffee, reclaimable within any place 15 minutes from my house ;)

The tournament is open now and is invite only. Please go and join it. If you have any trouble, just let me know.

KGS Matches

I recommend you play between 2 and 4 KGS matches against other league member in the next 4 weeks. After that, we will decide if we continue this or not.

I will help coordinate these for you, possibly just putting you in contact with the other player. Each game may be rated if both players agree, or unrated. In any case, these should be even games.

Hey, it's an excuse/opportunity to play KGS, take it!

Time controls will be 30 minutes per side with 5 30-second byoyomi periods.

You will also be able to play 1-2 games against a stronger (SDK) player, either myself or another teacher. These will be unrated even games. There may or may not be a simul game between a teacher and students, we will see what time/will/technology provides. 

Game Reviews

You will get at least two games reviews. These should be games from league play, either KGS or OGS. Because your opponents are also submitting games for review, you will likely receive reviews from games your opponents submitted. If two opponents submit the same game, their commentary will be merged (you can coordinate together to achieve or avoid this outcome).

Steps to receive a game review:
  • The game should be in SGF format, including date, opponents, time etc. There are many free SGF editors, I believe Drago is a good one. SmartGo is by far the best (in my limited opinion), but it is not free (oh look, the price just dropped!).
  • You must put commentary in the file. Ideally, I would like you to explain your reasoning behind every move that you make. You must defend each move as the best move available to you at the time as you understand it. It would not hurt to put commentary about opponent's moves too. I would recommend you comment the file immediately after the game, if possible. If you want maximum results, review and edit your commentary again a day later. 
  • Feel free to ask questions in the commentary.
  • E-mail the SGF file to, please include your name.
  • If you want the review to be private, please let me know. It would be best to at least allow it to be shared with your opponent, better the league, best to let it be posted. Much like Facebook, it'll be public unless you opt out. :)
  • Speaking of which, no one who registered requested privacy for e-mail addresses, I will take it to mean I can share then with other league members. This will ease KGS game coordination.
  • You should receive your review within a week, hopefully sooner.

What This Does For You

" Hey, wait a minute! I can play people on OGS and KGS (arguably!) now for free! And I can get reviews any time I want from the go teaching ladder! Screw you, I want my money back!"

  • This is free so, no, you cannot have your money back. 
  • This gives you an excuse to play these games on OGS and KGS, and sometimes that is really what we need.
  • Getting games on KGS is actually pretty difficult for anyone under 9 kyu, as you may have discovered. This is an excuse and a way to play people around the same skill level on KGS. You'll also get to play stronger players on KGS, which is even harder. (Sorry folks, I don't play KGS enough myself... not technically SDK on there yet ;) )
  • The game reviews will be turned around faster than you probably would get on TGTL, and they may have more focus on your specific needs. Maybe. Also, how many games have you submitted for review on TGTL? None? Ok then, now you have an excuse to get a review.
  • This blog will feature some more tutorials and lessons tailored around problems encountered in these games. This should help you improve.
I would wager that most of you have not spent much time reviewing games. Although it is true that it is good to lose your first 50 (or 100, depending on the proverb) games as quickly as possible (e.g.: there is nothing that replaces experience), this is not enough.

Worse, spending your time exclusively on playing can ingrain bad habits into your mind! The most efficient study methods balance play time, own game analysis, professional game review, proverb/general go reading, and doing go problems. You will improve fastest this way, and this is what we aim to achieve with the league, although I'm still not quite sure how.

Details pending! ;)

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