Archive: 10/2010

Weekend Overview

So this weekend has been pretty good so far. I’ve been trying to study Go as often as possible. I’ve diverted my attention slightly to two more theory books: Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go along with Basic Techniques of Go. No worries though, I’m still doing lots of problems!

I also visited the Congress of Gamers in Rockville yesterday. John and Todd both had a table for Go. Two new players showed up in the time I was there (for approximately an hour or so). So I’m glad we managed to attract some attention. I also got to play a game against Todd who is roughly 4 kyu? We played a 9 stone handicap game and I managed to win by 8.5 points with 0.5 komi. And apparently I could have killed a group that I thought was already alive, so I could have won by more.

Time to get back to work. The fruits of my training may have begun to yield, but the journey is far from over.

Two Months

So today marks my two month milestone. Let’s overview my original goal shall we?

  1. Finish the following books:

    • Opening Theory Made Easy by Otake Hideo 9 dan
    • Whole Board Thinking in Joseki - Volume One by Yi-Lun Yang
    • One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems by Richard Bozulich
    • Understanding Dan Level Play by Yuan Zhou
    • Tesuji by James Davies
  2. Replay 25 moves of a professional game (that has commentary) everyday.

  3. Play one serious game (not a bot) everyday where I don’t rush and try my hardest.

A lot has changed since I originally set those goals. Here’s what I have accomplished.

#1. Finished the following books:

  • Opening Theory Made Easy
  • Fundamental Principles of Go
  • The Second Book of Go
  • Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs
  • Understanding Dan Level Play
  • The Workshop Lectures: Vol. 1

I did not manage to refocus myself onto problems in time for it to be worth mentioning at this point. For those whose eyes may be slightly wide open at the number of books, again I must reiterate that I have simply READ them once. Comprehension and integration are still far, far away.

There’s a scene in Hikaru no Go, which I can’t seem to find, where Sai comments on how everything that Hikaru had been observing and replaying up to that point began to crystallize in him. I’m hoping to have a similar effect by achieving a broad range of theory first instead of just memorizing everything by rote. The second month goal may have failed, but like the stones we place on the board, let us simply move forward.

Daily Overview

So for those keeping track, I’m sorry that I skipped over a Daily Overview. Ever since that game of infinite cutting points and unprecedented misreads, I haven’t played a game since. Now this doesn’t mean that I’m like taking a sabbatical from the game or anything. I guess I want to see where my one-week training will take me. I’ll be returning to KGS next Wednesday.

In terms of what I’ve been doing since then, I’ve mostly been focusing on problem. A little bit of theory here and there, but we’ll see where the training goes. This will be the last overview until next week. Until then, I’ll be posting up more content on for the blog. See you all in a week!

How to Oil Your Yunzi Stones

So you’ve decided to find out what responsibilities come with purchasing Yunzi stones, well don’t fear! Here is an easy to follow guide. Enjoy!

Why Take the Extra Time to Oil the Stones?

It’s true. You don’t HAVE to oil the stones. Yunzi stones will naturally become glossier and smoother the more you play with them since you hands naturally produces oil. I don’t know about you however, but I’d be an old man by the time it would take the stones to be pleasant to the touch with the oil my hand produces. Not to mention that most of us don’t get to play as often in person as we’d like. If you’re not interested in waiting 50 years for them to achieve the effect that oiling can get in an hour or two, then you’ll want to read the entire guide. For those who don’t care, then all you need is up till Phase 1.


Depends on whether you want to oil the stones simultaneously, but the you will generally require:

  • Yunzi stones
  • Dishwashing Soap
  • ~15 or ~30 drops of Light machine oil (e.g. sewing machine oil)
    • Note: Do NOT use oils such as vegetable (oil/canola) because they will go RANCID over time.
  • 1 or 2 One-gallon freezer bag(s) (depending if you want to oil them at the same time)
  • 2 Towels (Large enough to wrap around all of one color at once, otherwise you need more)
  • Non-metal strain (something to drain water but it CANNOT be metallic)
    • Metallic strainers can cause a lot of scratches on your stones. So avoid it on the safe side.

Most of us have most of the materials above except the sewing machine oil, and let me tell you that sewing machine oil is NOT expensive. I got mine (pictured above) at a Jo-Ann’s Fabric for only $2.95 + tax. Not to mention you only need like 20 drops or so of it (a little bit more if you oiling the stones simultaneously). So if someone is willing to let you borrow theirs, no worries about using up their oil.

Advice Prior to Starting

  1. Although most of the steps are relatively simple, drying the oil off the stones at the end will be particularly time consuming. This guide assumes that you will be doing both colors in the same sitting and by your little lonesome (as I did), so estimate at least an hour and a half for the whole process. (Two if you want to be extra attentive to your stones).

    Note: I’ve broken the guide into three phases in case you are short on time. And of course, if you want to break it up further. Just do the colors on separate days.

  2. I would advise to keep the colors separated throughout the process in order to easily keep track of your work. I suggest doing the white stones first since they take more effort and are not as fun to do as the black ones.

  3. Just to reiterate, DO NOT use vegetable oils. They will go RANCID.


Phase 1

  1. So here’s what my stones looked like when I first got them. The stones all come with a white powdery substance in order to minimize scratching and chipping during shipping. As you’ll see, the black stones show the powder really well while the white ones… not so much.

    See? Very apparent.

    Not so apparent.
  2. You essentially need a sink (or bowl) filled with enough water to easily submerge all of one color at once.

  3. Then you’ll add a moderate amount of dishwashing soap to get it nice and bubbly. This was about how much I had. Don’t put too much, since it’ll make washing off a pain later.

  4. To wash your stones, submerge them in the soapy water and hand wash them. You don’t need to be particularly detailed with this part, but try and make sure you wash off any obvious white powder since it’ll get in the way of oiling later. Once you finish with the soap, rinse them off with water. Dump them out onto the towel, and dry them off well before oiling.

    My black stones before they are washed.

    White stones after the wash.  The water makes them look glossy.

    All of the stones after the wash

Phase 2

  1. To oil your stones, take your gallon bag and put 12 drops of oil in there. Now most guides out there recommend 12, but others want to put a few more in just to make sure they are extra oil. It won’t hurt as far as I can tell, but you will want to pay a bit more attention to drying your stones afterwards so no excess oils stay on. Then throw whichever color (I recommend white), and then gently move the stones around making sure to spread the oil around to all of the stones.

  2. If you are short on time, this is where you take your second one-gallon freezer bag and oil that up as well with ~12 drops of oil and throw in the other color. Mix that bag up just like you did the first one, and then you can let both bags sit. (In case you are wondering if it is bad to do that, my dad let his sit for about 48 hours and they’re just fine.)

    Note: If you are only going to use one freezer bag, then you have two choices: dry off the color which is oiled first, and then oil the other one… OR… if your stones are not too large for the bag, put both in at once.

Phase 3

  1. This is the most tedious and time consuming phase. You’ll begin by emptying out your stones in small groups at a time. This will help you keep track of which ones are done and this will also permit you the proper towel space to dry your oiled stones without them falling everywhere. Again, I recommend starting with white since black is very pleasant to do since you’ll see a very obvious change in them.

  2. Then you’ll go ahead and dry them off. It is important that you don’t leave any excess oil on them because it will cause your stones/bowls to smell and the excess oil will most likely damage your board over time. If you pick a properly dried off stones with your hand, and then pick up one with excess oil, you’ll know the difference. So just be disciplined about this phase. The white stones will need more individual attention since it is harder to tell whether there is still excess oil on them.

    Tip: As you dry them, try to keep drying the stones with the same area of towel so that it will increase the oiling effect.

    Tip: Also, if you can get a friend to help. This will speed the process a LOT. Just make sure they are attentive about the excess oils on the stones, otherwise you might as well do it yourself.


  1. An voila. Here is the finished product! You have no idea how good it felt to take these pictures. I felt so proud.

    Look how beautiful those look....

Well, I hope this was helpful. If you have any further advice or modification you think I should make to the guide, please feel free to comment or e-mail me. Thanks!

Game of the Day: Slaughtered

So I think I’ll start summarizing my games with one word synopsis to describe the what I believe to be the ultimate aura and ambiance of the game. Today’s choice of word: slaughtered. In other words, like a lamb being led to the slaughter, I let a 12 kyu draw me into fighting situations where my (already poor) reading ability ruined any chance I had of beating him in the game. Let me run a few off my hand…. misreading capturing races, missing shortage of liberties, blatantly trying to save a group that was in atari which missed my reading. I do think I should have won. My strategy was far more solid overall, but I got drawn back into focusing on the fighting. There’s a little guy in my head right now yelling, “TERRITORY YOU IDIOT! THIS IS NOT FIRST CAPTURE!” Sigh… Enjoy the following horrific game that I am so ashamed to call my own.

Read More

Daily Overview

So today was productive. Two solid games under my belt. Finished Nihon Ki-in’s Handbook of Proverbs and working my way towards the finish line for Fundamental Principles of Go. Worked solidly on Get Strong at Life and Death.

Outside of trying to create the regimen, I’m seriously looking into programs in China/Taiwan that would allow Westerners to study Go hardcore for 3 months. Been reading blogs about the program for Guo Juan Intensive Go Study in China. Very interesting stuff. Will be sure to post more on my thoughts about that when I read more.

  1. Problems - 30 solid minutes.
  2. Theory - Exemplary.
  3. 1 Solid Game - Completed.

Also, it’s going to sound and look like I’ve read a ton of Go books. In theory, that means I should be growing exponentially! One little detail though, I’ve READ them. Comprehension is an ENTIRELY different matter. Once I work through all the ones I want to work through, re-reading and re-reviewing will be occurring. But that seems very far away.

Website Review: Tel's Go Notes


Tel’s Go Notes is an excellent website that serves as an amazing companion to the interactive Go tutorials that exist out there on the web. It’s purpose is to provide a one stop solution to clarify a lot of mental misconceptions. A very simple example of this is: What is the object of the game? Many of you will scoff at this question and say “Territory… duh,” but when we look over your games you’ll find that you actually spend significantly more time trying to kill your opponent’s stones than build territory. (This is not a terrible thing, but it’s something you’ll need to eventually grow out of).

Tel does an excellent job of taking a lot of basic concepts and explaining them in a simple and straightforward manner. This is one of the best websites to quickly get a great overview of topics such as life and death, elementary territory building, and what makes a “good” connection. To be honest, even a number of the beginner books I purchased don’t cover such topics nearly as well (in terms of clarity and just the right amount of explanation).

In terms of criticisms, I only have two (and they are just slight nuances). First, the diagrams (particularly on the home page) are kind of small for my liking. They get the job done, but I think they can definitely be larger. For sections such as “what is a ladder,” an embedded sgf file would remove the necessity for all those diagrams. Second, I think the navigability of the site is a little tough. My suggestion would be to have navigation bars on the top and bottom of the site in order to ease maneuvering around the website. Again these are but slight nuances in light of a great website.


Although we have plenty of sites trying to teach Go, this one is a one-stop website for beginners that will provide what you need without filtering through a bunch of advanced concepts. Top notch.

Game of the Day

So for now I guess I’ll be posting my games on a regular basis since I think it’ll be helpful to see some of my mistakes (which I’m sure many other DDKs are making). I’ll be including my own review of my game to show you what I see through my eyes so that hopefully you can gain something from it too.

Read More

Daily Overview

So here ends my Monday. Overall, there was a lot of progression in terms of how I saw the game and what I know I need to do now. I just played a free game with a weaker player who, for some reason, only wanted a two stone handicap. It was definitely different to see such a difference in reading ability. I mean I know he (or she) is only a 23k and I’m a 15k, but still… it wasn’t till I was playing him that I was like… Oh… that’s how stupid I must look to all the stronger players I’ve been playing.

Overall.. here are my ratings for the day.

  1. Problems - Minimal
  2. Theory - Minimal
  3. Games - Satisfactory

Hopefully I’ll be able to at least to satisfactory on all three on a more consistent basis.