As I’ve been recounting my experience at Go Congress, I can only chuckle as I look at how different things are in comparison back to then. At the time, not only was I feeling overwhelmed by everything I was facing in life; but I was feeling a bit burnt out by go as well. Perhaps it was as simple as trying to do too much at once, but I believe that it was a result of having unrealistic expectations for myself.
What do I mean by that? Well, as all serious go players are aware, one of the major milestones in a go player’s journey is crossing the threshold of kyu to dan. And while it is true that I may have already crossed that threshold, part of me was always worried that I wasn’t as strong as other people thought I was. Or worse, maybe I was even weaker than even what I thought. As a result, you can see my that my KGS ranked has drifted down to 4k and has little to no ranked games. Because at the end of the day, it was easier for me to have a lower rank on KGS and know internally that I was stronger than the other way around (aka finding out I hit some ceiling in my rank).
I’m sure it sound weird and stupid to some of you, but that’s the truth of it all. Simple self-protection from what reality may hold. Haha. Of course, by doing so, I’ve created a ceiling that might just not exist. So now that I know it, I plan on playing more ranked games in the near future. But since it’ll take some time for me to build up to it, I’ve found a nice intermediary solution thanks to Satoru: GoQuest (Apple / Android ).
On the surface, it looks like your typical 9x9 app; but from what I heard, this app has gotten pretty popular in Japan recently. It has a mix of opponents (i.e., human and bots); but what really takes the cake, is that apparently some professionals even play on it as well. So while I have no way of confirming that rumor, I kind of like the idea that I may have a chance of getting demolished by a pro when I play. Haha. (Here’s my invitation code for those interested who want to try it out: n1ek8du)
And finally, I’m figuring out a way to integrate game commentaries back into my routine now. So if all goes well, be on the lookout for Monday Go Meditation to come back next Monday!
Today was the official rest day for Congress. In other words, this meant that there would be no tournament matches so that people could go and explore New York if they wanted. As you might suspect though, there was a group of people who were here for go and just that alone. So in honor of these dedicated players, they had a “Die Hard Tournament” for these players.
When I arrived at Hotel Pennsylvania, I found Nate and the gang hanging out.
When I woke up, I sat in silence for a while as I thought about what I was going to do. Although some would simply shrug off the forfeit and continue playing in the tournament, I couldn’t stand the idea of continuing in the tournament. And with my brother in town and my girlfriend coming up to visit the second half of the trip, my mind was made up.
When I arrived at Hotel Pennsylvania, I went and officially withdrew myself from the tournament. I know that this decision might not sit well with some of you, but it was really the best decision for me as a whole. While it would have been great to have played in the tournament, withdrawing from the tournament freed up my schedule to spend time with my brother (and girlfriend eventually) while also allowing me the freedom to do whatever I wanted (i.e., spending time with professionals).
Anyhow, I then entered the tournament room to see if anyone was up and around. As I walked around, I found Diego and Gurujeet in the middle of an intense game.
I vaguely remember catching Nate and Michael before the round started and wishing them the best of luck. And before I left, I went ahead and signed up for three simuls that day. After all, I could play in tournaments anytime I wanted back at home, it’s the professionals that made Congress as epic as it is.
I am proud to report that I am starting to hit my stride. Not only have I been keeping up my training regimen with little to no effort, but I even increased the minimum requirement because the prior regimen was getting too easy for me to do. Even now I’m considering upping it again, but I’ll stick with it another week and probably start sprinkling in other books in order to keep my interest perked up.
In addition, as many of you have noticed, I actually started releasing Go Congress posts a lot earlier than what I originally forecasted (i.e., Saturday). And I’ll be continuing to release them one day at a time as the day permits.* And in case anyone is wondering, I do plan on doing commentary on all my games from Congress (including any lessons learned from the pro simuls). So for all those who have been waiting, that means exactly what it sounds like: Monday Go Mediations is back in business.
*I like to restrict my posting to once a day in order to give everyone proper time to read the posts and comment if they wish.
Complete 4 pages of problems (approximately 20 problems) from Jump Level Up daily.
Jump Level Up 1 by Baduktopia
Vital Points and Skillful Finesse for Sabaki by Yoda Norimoto, 9p
The next day I woke up late. Since I knew that my games took a long time, I figured that it would be best for me to grab breakfast before heading off to the match. After all, the worst thing that would happen is that I would have less time. Right?
When I arrived, I found everyone sitting and playing their matches. As I looked down the pairings list, I noticed that my name was already marked with results. F? My opponent’s name circled? What the heck? Does that mean what I think it means?
As I scanned the list, I saw there were quite a few others as well. So I rushed off to find the tournament director, and sure enough, it was what I feared: forfeit.
The first official day of Go Congress! Woot! Needless to say, I was up bright and early and on my way to the hotel.
The tournament was supposed to start around 9:00am, so I stopped by the hotel cafe to grab a quick breakfast (which ended up being a croissant and an orange juice) since I wanted to make sure I got there on time.
When I arrived, the simuls and events were mostly filled; so I made a mental note to myself to aim to arrive earlier in the future if I wanted to get in a simul game.
As everyone shuffled in, we all waited for the tournament pairings to be put up. And while we were all trying to relax and enjoy simply being at Go Congress, there was definitely a bit of anxiety throughout the air as this was our first match of the tournament. After all, everyone was hoping to start off the tournament with a win.
Before we knew it though, we all went off on our separate ways to find our opponents. My opponent was an Asian girl named Kelly who was probably around fourth or fifth grade. After sitting down and setting up my iPad (for recording the game) and getting my headphones ready, we fiddled around with the clock for a bit to make sure we had the right time settings.
Prelude — Day 1 — Day 2 — Day 3 — Day 4 — Day 5 — Day 6 — Day 7 — Conclusion
When I woke up that Saturday morning, I was excited that the day had finally come. My first Go Congress ever! Woot!
I had the pleasure of having my little brother come up with me for the first half of the trip. And while packing was more of a hassle than I anticipated, we were on our way before we knew it.
When we arrived in NY, the first thing we did was check-in to our hotel. Though pretty much everyone was staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania, I was staying at a Marriott about two to three blocks away since I had guests coming up to visit. In addition, since I was going to be living there for over a week, I wanted to get a nicer place anyhow since the price wasn’t that much more expensive.
After checking in and unloading my backpack, we went to a nearby Japanese curry shop that was highly rated on Yelp called GoGoCurry.
My brother got the pork katsu while I tried the grand slam (which was everything they had: sausage, chicken, pork, tempura shrimp). And while everything was delicious, I think I’ll opt for one of the regular plates next time since the grand slam was a lot more food than I was bargaining for. (Don’t get me wrong though, it was a fantastic value for the price!)
With our stomachs full of good food, we headed off to check-in at the Go Congress.
As I have been working through the various obstacles in order to make progress on go, one of the issues I’ve continually run into is the spurts of motivation followed by a trench of inactivity. To simply write it off as laziness would be the easy thing to do, but I had been unable to put my finger on what it was that I was lacking. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what I was missing: relentless commitment to my goals.
Recently, my girlfriend told me about a book that she was reading: Lone Survivor. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a story about Operation Redwing (which resulted in “the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history” that is told from the perspective of the only survivor: Marcus Luttrell. And though I’m not even close to finishing it, it already is starting to leave a lasting impact on me.
As I listened to Luttrell talk about his training and what he went through to become a SEAL, I couldn’t help but feel rather pathetic as he described the brutal trials that he had to endure. And we’re not talking about just physical trials, but especially the mental ones as well. And as I reflected on my own life and pursuit of my goals, it dawned on me that my so-called “drive” was pathetic. And I don’t mean this in some sort of self-pitying way, but in a self-enlightened sense where suddenly it was clear where my problem was: I quit too easily.
In the U.S. Navy SEAL’s code, there is an excerpt that particularly resounded with me:
“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish the mission. I am never out of the fight.”
While my pursuits are not militaristic, there is a lot that I can learn from this mentality. Too often have I resigned games due to feeling overwhelmed against the odds (even though it was not the case). And too many times have I let myself quit or procrastinate because there was no one to tell me not to or encourage me to keep going.
Well screw all of that. I refuse to let a minute go by where I don’t give anything less than my all. And so with that, I’ll commit to the fact that I will have my Go Congress posts finished by this Saturday. No more waiting, it’s getting finished.
This week is the mark of something new, yet old at the same time. I am going to do my best to draw on all my experiments in the past and forge another road for myself once again. I’m not sure what lies ahead of me, but I’m ready for whatever life has to throw at me. Let’s do this!
Solve 12 problems from Jump Level Up every day.
Jump Level Up 1 by Baduktopia
Vital Points and Skillful Finesse for Sabaki by Yoda Norimoto, 9p