Archive: 1/2013

Stopping While You're Ahead

I’ve been on a losing streak these last couple of days. I could blame it on any number of things, but I know that one of my immediate problems is not knowing when to stop while I’m ahead.

In my quest to maintain zen state throughout the entire game, it seems that the red eyed goblin still creeps up as the game goes on. My killing instinct is subdued to the point where I’m generally attacking without a thought of killing, but then it starts to move towards the end of the game and then I realize that capturing an entire group is possible. All of a sudden, the hunt is on and next thing I know I’m clicking the resign button since one of my groups dies in the battle.

It seems I am still unable to step back and just ask myself, “What is the estimated score? Should I continue being so aggressive? Is it time to wrap up the game?” It’s something that dan players are telling me time and time again, but I keep getting caught up in the moment and being too focused on determining tactical strategies instead of figuring out if my global strategy needs to change.

I do feel an urge to go play another game so I can (in my mind) beat my opponent and feel better about myself, but it is not as strong as it normally is. Hopefully this is a sign of growth on my part. I am happy with the game that I played (for the most part). I just wish I didn’t give it away due to being careless due to my blood lust. To keep myself from falling back into a reckless go state though, I will play it safe and just stop for now.


Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #15

Credit to ptblank

I recently had the pleasure of discussing a game with frozensoul and DeepSnow, when DeepSnow said something that made me laugh:

“I count on kyu players to outread themselves.” - DeepSnow

While it was funny at the moment, it didn’t take long before the truth of the statement dawned on me.

For those wondering what he is talking about, DeepSnow is referring to the tendency of kyu players to automatically play conservative moves in anticipation of some crazy tesuji (even though it doesn’t exist).

There are two primary reasons for why players do this:

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An Introspective Weekend

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. Amidst the thinking and introspection, one of the things that I realized was that I had a really inconsistent approach to my games. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I often found myself trying to play a game for the heck of it or to try and fit in a quick win before I needed to do something else. Then, on the complete opposite end, there were times when I played games where time was not a factor and I could completely immerse myself in my games. As one might expect, this made a significant impact on the results of my games.

While time is clearly one of the aspects that impacted my games, I realized that more blame can be attributed to my attitude toward the games. After all, a number of my ranked games were played with the idea that, “I can beat stronger players in even games, so this game should take only a fraction of the time and energy.” Unbelievably cocky no? Way to completely overrate myself and not respect my opponents for the strength they possessed.

I’m sure I’ll write more on this in the future, but I think it’s important that you give every opponent the respect they deserve. Trying to complicate a game in order to utilize your strong reading abilities to win is very different from underestimating your opponent and expecting them to make poor decisions. After all, I think a lot of us can agree that losing a game because you underestimate your opponent feels pretty crappy.

So while I’ve been a little quiet in terms of playing games, it’s not because I’m taking a break from go; but I’ve decided that I want to give every game I play the attention that it deserves. I’ve been rather busy as of late, but I’m trying my best not to play a game just to satisfy an itch. After all, I want every game I play to be a game I am proud to call my own, regardless of whether I win or lose.

Preparing for the Next Hurdle

I’m happy to report that my ranked game today went very well. Each move was calculated and had an intended purpose. There were a few mistakes in my reading here and there, but overall it was a success when you consider some of my previous ranked games from a little while ago. So here’s to hoping that the tweak I’ve made to the ranked games I play will allow me to begin to achieve my actual rank (whatever it is).

As I continue to work towards achieving solid dan status, I have noticed that it is definitely becoming more difficult to improve. It’s not so much that it is “hard,” but the difficult lies in the fact that the proper steps to get stronger become hazy as you climb the ladder. It’s no longer as simple as improving your reading and having a better grasp of life and death. The more I have my games reviewed, the more I realize that I need to begin grasping and utilizing ideas like aji in order to reach the next level.

Like anything else though, first thing first: Achieve solid 4k status before March.

Reviewing Your Games

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #14

Proofreading - Credit to TitanWebMarketingSolutoins

While nothing can replace the experience of playing games, one of the greatest mistakes that players make is to play games endlessly without any mind as to why they are winning or losing. There is nothing wrong with this approach as a whole, but it is contrary to the whole notion of getting stronger. After all, how can anyone learn from their mistake if they never knew it existed?

The one thing we have to remember as kyu players is that we often fall victim to being ignorant to fundamental go principles. It’s not so much that we’re not aware of them, but applying them in our game is a completely different story. Often times in the middle of a game, we will think one way and will not realize our mistake till later on. As a result, an extremely important aspect of getting stronger is to review your games.

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The 6k Screwup

When I decided to return to ranked games, I will have to be honest in that I expected my graph to just shoot up. In fact, I’ve even developed a reputation in the ASR League for being a “3k Killer.” So it should obviously follow that any even games with 6 and 7 kyus should be something I can win in my sleep right? WRONG!

For those who don’t follow me on KGS, you’ll notice that my rank graph is well… a bit different from what I imagined it would be. xD

Notice how it drops at the end? Twice?!

Like anyone else, I was really frustrated by my progress. I mean, why was I having such a difficult time beating 6-7ks when I actually managed to beat stronger players in even games from time to time? I tried to make all kinds of excuses: the stronger players were underestimating me, my opponents were just lucky I made mistakes, I was in an off mood, etc. But after I realized how those were all just external attributions for things I had control over, I decided to look inward for the answer.

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The Style Gap

For anyone in the go world, it should not come as a surprise to you when I say that a majority of go books that I own are from the Japanese school of go (e.g., Kiseido). After all, a lot of new players come to know of the game through Hikaru no Go, which would explain why there is generally a large focus on Japanese go terminology, literature, KGS, and so forth. As a result, I would not be surprised if a large number of go players are unaware that the go they’ve been exposed to all this time is just one style of the major countries.

Now, for those players who are immersed in the professional world, I’m sure you would agree with me when I say that Korean and Chinese styles of go tend to go unnoticed by these players. It is by no means their fault for not knowing this, but realizing this has made me aware of a fantastic learning opportunity for players interested in truly getting stronger.

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Ranked Games = Bloodlust?

I have no idea what’s going on. It’s like whenever I play a ranked game, my personality changes and I become hell-bent on destroying groups. Any notion of growth or progress that I’ve made seems to be thrown out the window. How frustrating!

I think part of my problem is that I stop reading when I play people around my rank. I just play moves that feel okay and then try and repair the damage later on. In addition, I have no notion of giving any leeway to my opponent. It’s quite mind boggling…

A game of go is a game of go… It should make absolutely no difference if it is ranked or free. The problem now is to figure out how to hit my zen state when playing ranked games…

Divide and Conquer

In case it hasn’t been obvious, lately my style has been a moyo style that emphasizes attacking and capturing groups to win. For today’s game, I am proud to announce my first deliberate attempt at playing a territorial style.

In terms how I feel about territorial style, I have to say that it is a very draining method of playing for me. Ultimately, in my mind, territorial style boils down to cutting up your opponent’s territory and making pockets of live groups around the board to win.

While this sounds like a rather straight-forward approach, it requires a lot of patience and calm reading in order to make sure that your opponent doesn’t succeed in capturing one of your groups (which would ultimately end in your loss). In addition, you have to try and make sure that you are maintaining a lead and not falling behind.

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Thou Shalt Not Kill...

Lately, I have noticed that my games have become quite violent. =D And by that, I mean that the theme of my games are: threaten to make a huge moyo, and then kill whatever comes inside of it.

While it lets me know that I will win with absolute certainty if I manage to kill the group, we all know that this strategy is extremely flawed and is extremely risky. And as if the fact that you will lose most of your games trying to do this wasn’t bad enough, I just get more discouraged and frustrated as time goes on. So I know that if I continue along this path, I will end up getting fed up and dropping go for no good reason.

So the goal now is to train myself to steer away from that style of play. It’s not that I will be meek and never fight back, but I will focus on giving my attacks an edge that sends my opponents running while I gain the necessary points to win. For now, I will focus on a profit oriented style instead of the killing style that I am so habituated to. So in terms of the criteria for my games for a while:

  1. I will practice attacking while gaining profit.
  2. I shall not kill any group unless they are forced into a shape where I am absolutely sure of its demise (e.g., bent in three).
    And to continue a new tradition that frozensoul recommended to me, I will start a repetition exercise of writing any new go lesson I am trying to learn fifty times. By doing so, I’m hoping that it will sink it better than simply reading once and trying to remember amidst a game.

"Focus on profit, not killing."