Choking At the Last Second

In my spare time recently, I started play­ing Infin­ity Blade 3 pretty obses­sively. For those who have never played any of the games, it is essen­tially a hack and slash game where play­ers are rewarded for their abil­ity to deter­mine how best to counter their opponent’s attacks. So for exam­ple, the com­puter might spin around and then try to slash at you ver­ti­cally from the ground up. In order to ensure you don’t get hit, you can either dodge or parry the attack with the appro­pri­ate counter attack (which in this case would be a ver­ti­cal strike down towards the ground).

The_Collector

The Col­lec­tor from Infin­ity Blade 3

With that said, there’s one boss (aka The Col­lec­tor) that has been con­sis­tently crush­ing me (and tak­ing my weapons which is demor­al­iz­ing) when I lose. The sad thing is that it’s not because he’s nec­es­sar­ily stronger or bet­ter than me. In fact, there were a num­ber of times where I was just one combo away from a vic­tory, but then I choke at the last sec­ond and die.

Now most peo­ple might chalk it up to nerves or some­thing, but it hit me that this was actu­ally a pat­tern with me. In fact, I can recount numer­ous times where a game of go was within the clutches of my vic­tory and yet it would slip through my grasp at the very end. And like any good inquis­i­tive per­son look­ing to always improve, I started won­der­ing whether I could locate the root of this pattern.

After a lot of thought and los­ing to The Col­lec­tor a few more times, I actu­ally noticed some­thing right as I was about to lose once again: my heart raced at an incred­i­ble speed and I was extremely hyper-active. Yup. You read that right. I was able to notice an actual phys­i­o­log­i­cal change as I approached the line of vic­tory and was about to choke.

Once I noticed this, I thought back to all the times of com­pe­ti­tion or when there was a lot of pres­sure and I choked. Sure enough, a faint mem­ory of that sort of hyper-activity and heart rate speed­ing up was pretty con­sis­tent in each time that I choked. Of course, there were times where I was lucky and still man­aged to suc­ceed, but the major­ity of the evi­dence was against me.

Hyper-activity might sound like a good thing at first; but in my case, I was actual becom­ing overly active and rac­ing too fast for my own good. In other words, my brain raced ahead at 200 mph while the rest of my body was des­per­ately try­ing to catch up at its 100 mph. As you might expect, this leads to a lot of actions that are dis­jointed. The inten­tions are but half-formed and the body’s intent to carry out the actions are more out of nerves than any­thing else.

In fact, upon much self-introspection, I came to the con­clu­sion that my best per­for­mances were always dur­ing times where both my mind and body were one. If I was able to keep my mind and body run­ning in sync, there was a syn­ergy that did not exist before. Moves flowed eas­ier, and I man­aged to be able to avoid chok­ing at the last minute when bat­tling The Col­lec­tor once again. Per­haps with more train­ing, I will be able to avoid ever chok­ing in a game of go (or any­thing else for that mat­ter) again.

Checking In

Sorry for being MIA this past week. As most of you know, the U.S. Go Con­gress 2014 was last week, so I was swamped as you can imag­ine. Like I’ve done before for pre­vi­ous events, you can be sure that I’ll be doing a day by day recount of the Go Con­gress for those who couldn’t make it!

In terms of a short term update though, things are start­ing to look bet­ter. The Go Con­gress helped to pro­vide per­spec­tive for me in terms of where my efforts and energy really need to be invested in order for me to see the results that I want. It’ll be dif­fer­ent from my past approaches (where there was a high risk of burnout), so I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what hap­pens with this new approach.

Hope that every­one is doing well!

Taking It One Day at a Time

With the U.S. Go Con­gress quickly approach­ing, it only seemed appro­pri­ate that it be high time that I returned back to go. And to be hon­est, it couldn’t have hap­pened a moment sooner.

Over the past cou­ple of weeks, I’ve taken some seri­ous time to truly re-evaluate how my time and energy have been spent and whether my efforts were help­ing me move towards a larger goal in life. As a result, I cut back on almost every­thing and spent a lot of time think­ing and test­ing out new approaches to my time, my energy, and my life in general.

For a while, I had a hard time fig­ur­ing out how I was going to work go back into my life. After all, it was a highly time con­sum­ing activ­ity that I had begun to feel frus­trated with since I felt like my game had gone to crap. Nev­er­the­less, I knew that the prob­lem wasn’t the game; but that the prob­lem was me.

I won’t go into great detail about my thought processes and the var­i­ous choices I’ve made along the way since it would end up mak­ing my post sound like some sort of pro­duc­tiv­ity blog. How­ever, the impor­tant thing is that I have found a way to bring go back into my life. It will be a much sim­pler approach than before and not nearly so hap­haz­ard, which I hope will be effec­tive in the long run.

As for the blog, I will take a sim­i­lar approach to my study of the game and approach it with a sim­ple yet effec­tive method instead of try­ing to do ten dif­fer­ent things at once. So if you’ll bear with me for a bit, I’ll be test­ing out dif­fer­ent tac­tics for con­sis­tent blog­ging while slowly reviv­ing pop­u­lar posts like Mon­day Go Med­i­ta­tion once I have a han­dle on things again.

With that said, I’m happy to be back and look for­ward to what the future holds!

Must Tenuki For a While

As some of you might have noticed, I’ve been pretty MIA for a while. One of the major events that hap­pened last week was I moved out to a new apart­ment. And for those who know what it’s like to move, you know how much of a mon­stros­ity that can be when it comes to sort­ing, pack­ing, and cleaning.

The move came at a rather funny time in my life as it hap­pened to be a per­fect rep­re­sen­ta­tion of how I’ve been decon­struct­ing my own life lately as well. Reassess­ing what I’m try­ing to do and where all my time and energy is being placed. On one hand, every­thing is a gigan­tic mess and it’s dif­fi­cult at times to fig­ure out what I’m try­ing to do in all this chaos. How­ever, I have con­fi­dence that it will work out for the best.

As I’m reassess­ing my strat­egy for my life, it should come as no sur­prise that I’ve had to reassess how I’ve been approach­ing my study of go as well. I’ll be hon­est in that I have not been happy at all with my numer­ous train­ing reg­i­mens and have felt like I’ve lost focus. In fact, my Yun­guseng match which was resched­uled for today was the first time I even looked at any­thing go related at all in the past few days. It was quite a weird feeling.

So while I would love to con­tinue the momen­tum I had going with the blog, I’m putting a hold on all the weekly arti­cles and game com­men­tary in order to give myself time to really sort through things. So I hope you’ll for­give me as I must tenuki for a while as I try and fig­ure out what my whole board strat­egy for my life is.

I’ll be sure to drop in and update you on my thoughts and progress, so no need to worry that I’m sim­ply drop­ping off the face of the planet. I’ll still be around.

Hope that all is well with everyone.

Monday Go Meditation: Game 64

Intro­duc­tion

Con­trary to what I said last week, this week’s Mon­day Go Med­i­ta­tion fea­tures my Yun­guseng Dojang game from last week. The rea­son for this is two-fold: (1) I didn’t play any other games over the past two weeks and (2) I’m still try­ing to keep MGM as cur­rent as possible.

As I men­tioned before, I was feel­ing rather iffy before this game. My oppo­nent was around 4–5k in strenghth, and with my ups and downs lately, I wasn’t so sure that I could even beat him. But before I could wal­low too much in my own inse­cu­ri­ties, the game started.

Note: Sim­i­lar to the other YSD match I posted last week, any spe­cific things I learned from the review will be omit­ted in this game to respect other mem­bers’ paid membership.

Down­load Kifu

One Point Lesson

When play­ing a moyo vs moyo game, don’t get caught up in small gains (like tak­ing a cor­ner) when big points like an opponent’s cor­ner enclo­sure on a dou­ble winged for­ma­tion are avail­able on the board.

Con­tinue read­ing

Friday Go Forward: Week 70

Overview

This week has been very sparse in terms of study and play­ing, but extremely heavy in regards to writ­ing (if you didn’t notice with the Weekly Go Wednes­day arti­cle). And though my time has been a bit more biased towards writ­ing, I don’t think any of you are com­plain­ing. Haha.

It’s taken some time to break into my pro­duc­tiv­ity sys­tem, but the cogs and wheels are start­ing to mesh together bet­ter now. I’m much more aware of where my time is going along with how I’m pro­gress­ing as a whole in life now. Whole board think­ing. See that?

I’m look­ing for­ward to when my entire sys­tem works effort­lessly and I can really amp up my go train­ing. No mat­ter though. Slow and steady wins the race.

Train­ing Regimen

  • Work on go for at least 10–15 min­utes a day.

Games

  • KGS —  1 game
  • DGS — 6 ongo­ing games
  • OGS —  7 ongo­ing games

Books

Lessons Learned

  • It doesn’t mat­ter if you make mis­takes dur­ing your game because your oppo­nent is just as likely to make mis­takes if not big­ger ones. So don’t be too hard on your­self dur­ing a game because you’ll only be mak­ing your­self more vul­ner­a­ble than necessary.

Trying to Put the Pieces Back Together

I played the sec­ond round of my Yun­guseng match tonight. To be hon­est, it was a game of mixed feel­ings. Though I hate to admit it, I’m not quite out of my slump yet. I could def­i­nitely feel it as I started get­ting antsy when the game began. I started being neg­a­tive and wor­ried that I would lose again. Yet on the other hand, there were moments where I man­aged to give my game some life as I surged forth with a desire to attack and try to harass my opponent’s group with as much vigor as I could muster up.

Down­load Kifu

It was a bit weird being in this bi-polar/gray area of feel­ing like my go was rather aim­less, hav­ing it spring back to life, mak­ing bad moves where I was com­pletely off with my read­ing, and then hav­ing lively energy again. Then again I guess this is all part of try­ing to put the pieces together again. They don’t quite fit together at the moment, but I’m opti­mistic that they will become whole once again.

And though I would nor­mally be con­cerned with how fast it would take or when it would hap­pen, I’ve real­ized that doing so will not do me any good. I’ll just keep work­ing on my weak­nesses and play to the best of my abil­ity. Every­thing will fall into place in due time.

PS. There won’t be any detailed com­men­tary for this game, but I just wanted to men­tion that there are quite a num­ber of mis­takes and over­plays in this game. So in case any­one wants to point out things like my lower left cor­ner was sup­posed to die and so forth, no wor­ries, got it all in the review.

How to “Teach” Go

Weekly Go Wednes­day, Issue #45

Intro­duc­tion

Intro­duc­ing go to new peo­ple is a topic that I’m very pas­sion­ate about and it’s some­thing that I think a lot of peo­ple mess up. To be fair, it’s not their fault and they are not inten­tion­ally doing so. It’s just that peo­ple don’t real­ize how the lack or pres­ence of cer­tain teach­ing prin­ci­ples can have pro­foundly dif­fer­ent results.

I come from the belief that one day go will be known by the masses and played by all kinds of peo­ple. I don’t believe that it is a game for “smart” peo­ple and have no inten­tion of see­ing it get shelved as a niche of a game that only “intel­lec­tu­als” play. Every­thing you’re about to read comes from per­sonal expe­ri­ence and/or things that I have actu­ally wit­nessed in real life, so there’s noth­ing the­o­ret­i­cal about it. In addi­tion, I have to empha­size that this “man­i­festo” focuses on peo­ple brand new to go. More estab­lished play­ers are not con­sid­ered below.

With that said, let’s dive right into it shall we?

Con­tinue read­ing

Finding Happiness and Fun in Go Again

Dur­ing my game review for the first match of the month, I had a dis­turb­ing rev­e­la­tion. As Inseong was talk­ing about my mis­takes, he then com­mented on how attack­ing was one of the most plea­sur­able aspects of go. Sud­denly, a light­bulb went off in my head as I real­ized what had been miss­ing from my games all this time: I had for­got­ten how to attack.

As I sat there, I thought, “Me? Not attack­ing prop­erly? Not enjoy­ing the attack? How far have I fallen?”

Need­less to say, it got me won­der­ing if this was what was wrong with me over these past cou­ple of weeks; but what’s funny is that life had some­thing else in store for me as well. Though I didn’t know it at the time, some­thing that I had vol­un­teered to help out at was hap­pen­ing the same week­end: the Smith­son­ian Folk­life Fes­ti­val was about to give me the wake-up call that I needed.

chinafestival

At first, with me being down lately, I have to admit that I was a bit reluc­tant to go as the day crept up. Before I knew it though, Sat­ur­day was upon me and I was sit­ting down and teach­ing per­son after per­son. And with each per­son that sat down, see­ing their eyes light up as they learned the rules and enjoyed their time was really heart-warming for me. Out of all the ones I taught though, there was one in par­tic­u­lar that I want to men­tion here.

A young girl (prob­a­bly around 6–8 years old) and her mother decided to stop by to learn the game. As I taught the rules to the girl and pro­ceeded through my own cur­ricu­lum of how I believe go should be taught, she picked it up with rel­a­tive ease. And with each new mile­stone in learn­ing the game, her eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face that I can only describe as absolutely adorable.

Fast for­ward a bit, and I decide that she’s ready to try an actual game of go. I had com­man­deered the big 9x9 mag­netic board (with huge pieces) that is used for demon­stra­tion at the time. So as one can expect, there was a bit of a crowd around us by the time our game started. I gave her 7 stones as a hand­i­cap and we started playing.

To my utter sur­prise, she ignored most of my over­plays and played such calm and beau­ti­ful moves! If I tried to hane on one stone, she would ignore me and just con­nect her stones together only to leave me in dis­may. And before I knew it, she killed my entire group and owned the entire board.

Now, while another per­son might have found it to be embar­rass­ing, I thought it was the per­fect oppor­tu­nity to demon­strate to the crowd what it looked like to get demol­ished and to explain that resign­ing was an hon­or­able thing to do in this game. This got quite a big laugh of course. And as I turned to the girl and her mom to tell her how she did an incred­i­ble job crush­ing me, she beamed with hap­pi­ness and pride that made the entire spec­ta­cle entirely worth it.

The rea­son I’m writ­ing this is because it’s really easy to get caught up in the com­pet­i­tive aspects of go. After all, most play­ers who end up play­ing this game long term are usu­ally play­ing to become the strongest player they can pos­si­bly be. But after my expe­ri­ences these last few days, I’m reminded of the fact that there is far more to go than sim­ply gain­ing that next stone.

Though it’s easy to for­get, find­ing hap­pi­ness and fun in go is just as impor­tant (if not the most) when tak­ing that next step in your jour­ney as a go player. I’m not quite out of the woods yet in regards to my own slump, but I can tell you that this week­end was the ray of light that I needed as I start to make my way toward the end of the tunnel.