Archive: 10/2012

Tsumego: Books vs. Software

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #5

Cassette and iPod Talking (Credit to JackTechh)

Although I’m normally a huge fan of technology and its ability to improve our lives, this is definitely one of those times where I warrant caution in its usage.

Unlike a book, tsumego software allows you to try out moves that you think will work without actually reading it out. Let’s not forget, you are doing tsumego to improve your reading ability. If you’re not actually reading it out, how much improvement do you really expect to see? In addition, as if it wasn’t bad enough that you aren’t actually reading it out, you end up reinforcing a terrible habit on two levels:

#1. Mental Reinforcement - Your brain isn’t actually reading it out. Instead, it’s more of a “let’s play here and see how the computer responds.” So your brain is getting lazier since you know that the software will show you what’s wrong anyways. Thus, I would argue that it deteriorates your reading ability.

#2. Physical Reinforcement - Whether you realize it or not, each time you carelessly place a stone on the board, you are creating the muscle memory of the bad move. In other words, you are not only mentally saying, “Yes. I think this should work,” but your body is also saying, “I concur with my brain and will act in conjunction with this idea.”

There will be players who will then argue that it would be impossible to play go because everyone makes bad moves like this at one point or another. While that point may seem valid, the reason that it doesn’t apply to this scenario is that there is a crucial difference between making a bad move in an actual game and making a bad move in a tsumego problem:

There is little to no psychological attachment to solving tsumego incorrectly. It might be a little frustrating at times; but its impact on players is like a drop of water compared to the vast ocean that players feel when faced with the traumatic moment of realizing that their poor move cost them a group or the game.

As a result, players end up learning from their bad moves in their games; but generally fail to do so when making bad moves while solving tsumego.


This does not mean that tsumego software should be banned and never see daylight again. In fact, it would be a travesty if anyone were to take that away as my thesis for this post. Like anything else in life, it has to be used correctly for it to be beneficial to the user.

The following tips will help ensure that you are getting the most out of your tsumego software:

  1. Read out every variation to the best of your ability before you place a single stone.

  2. If you end up choosing the wrong move…

    • Figure out and understand why it doesn’t work.
    • Reset the problem to the beginning.
    • Read it out again without any stones on the board to reinforce the why it doesn’t work.
    • Once you can see the entire sequence, play it through once more before moving on.
  3. Spend more time solving easy to intermediate problems.

Remember, being able to carry tsumego with us wherever we go these days is a luxury that we should all appreciate. Just remember that you use it properly and I assure you that you will thank yourself as your continue down the endless path to becoming one stone stronger.

New Design Grand Opening!!!


As I promised last week, today is the grand opening of the new redesign for BenGoZen! It’s time to change your bookmarks, because BenGoZen now has its own domain name and is hosted on a completely new platform!

For those who haven’t visited in a while, here are some of the new features that will be accessible to you on the new design!

  • Easy Email & RSS Subscription!
  • Embedded Eidogo Kifu so you can view the game right in the post!
  • Updated content layout for easier reading experience and better searching!
  • Translator tool in case you want to read my blog in another language!
  • Easy contact form so you can send me emails at any time!

And in case there is any confusion, there will no longer be any updates here on the Blogger platform. All comments have also been disabled to prevent any confusion as well, so make sure to come on over to the new site! I assure you that it is worth it.

With that in mind, hope to see you over at the new site!

Also, for those of us that are being bombarded by Hurricane Sandy, I hope you are doing alright and have the good fortune of having electricity and internet so that you can be reading this. Take care!

Blog Redesign Announcement!!!

As much as I hate to do this, BenGoZen will be on hiatus for the rest of the month to prepare for a brand new blog redesign. I am currently working really hard to not only implement a brand new look and feel for the blog, but I’m also completely revising and improving the information architecture and content quality to make the entire experience more enjoyable and worthy of your time!

To get you excited for some of the new changes coming in a week, here are some things you can expect to see!

  1. Subscribe via email and RSS with ease!
  2. Eidogo Player back in full functionality so that you no longer have to leave the blog to see my games!
  3. Easy translator widget that will allow you to view my content in many languages! (Although I won’t be able to verify fully the accuracy of the translation, the content will now be available to more people!)
  4. New integrated comment system that will allow you to login from various social media avenues.

Looking forward to seeing you on the grand opening - Halloween, October 31st, 2012!

Five Days Feels Like Forever...

It’s been five days since I last played a game of go, but it has felt like an eternity. Haha. I found myself logging onto KGS multiple times a day to look at game records of my friends or watch other games just to prevent myself from getting entangled in a game. It doesn’t quite measure up to playing, but it helped to satisfy the urge to just play. I’m looking forward to my game with Nate tomorrow, but I’ll probably be avoiding ranked games for a little.

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False Sense of Security

As a game progresses over time, it is very easy to lose track of the connections between your groups. After all, if you’re intently staring at the board for a long time, it’s not so far fetched to start seeing groups being connected when in fact they aren’t. In fact, if you take a quick look at the kifu snapshot above, it would seem that the top black group is doing alright. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Beat a Stronger Player in an Even Game Accomplishment Complete!

For those who have never tried it before, playing an even game against a player that is reportedly two stones stronger than you can be a scary feeling. On one hand, you think “This can’t be too bad.” Yet, on the other hand, the board looks quite naked as you stare at the empty board while knowing that you should have two handicap stones sitting on the board. As someone who’s been through a couple experiences recently, it is quite the daunting feeling…

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Blitz Go: To Play or Not to Play?

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #2

For many players, one of the major obstacles to playing go is time. After all, an average game can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes depending on the level of thinking that goes into each game. So in order to accommodate the faster players and those without much time, the format known as blitz go was born.

For new players who’ve never played blitz go, the general idea is that you have less than a minute to make each move. If you fail to make your move within the allotted time, you lose by default on time.

While there are different perspectives on blitz go, you should seriously consider the following points as to whether or you should be playing blitz go:

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Winning My First Shidougo Game

Today’s shidougo lesson comes from a person that I’ve come to befriend and look up to: frozensoul. If you’d like to help support his efforts in helping out players trying to get stronger, please visit his site for more information!

I guess you could call this my first “shidougo” victory… but I wouldn’t classify this as that due to the fact that frozensoul was actually trying to create a tie. So in reality, congratulations are in order for frozensoul for being only one point away from creating a tie!

Overall, I was really happy with my performance in this game. It honestly has nothing to do with the victory and more on the fact that I played almost every move with confidence. And for those who would remind me that frozensoul wasn’t actually trying to play anything crazy, the confidence I’m speaking of is more of a “I read it out to the best of my ability and I’ll give each move everything I got.”

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