Archive: 1/2013

Even Games with Stronger Players

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #13

Whenever a player says that they’ve hit a wall in their growth, the first question I would ask every player is: Are you playing any even games with stronger players? That’s right. Are you putting yourself in a precarious situation where defeat is practically guaranteed? And before you go rushing off to write your rebuttal in the comments, here me out in the following Q&A:

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Book Review: Making Good Shape

Overall Rating: 5 / 5 Ponnuki

Basic Information

  • Title: Mastering the Basics, Volume 3 - Making Good Shape
  • Authors: Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich
  • Publisher: Kiseido
  • Publication Date: December 2002
  • Page Length: 206 pages
  • Number of Problems: 245


  • Gives players fantastic exposure to new concepts and ideas regarding shape.
  • High quality content for a subject that has minimal literature compared to other concepts of go (e.g., life and death).
  • Any player who has a desire to get stronger and enter the realm of SDK’s should absolutely get this book.
  • A hybrid of theoretical/conceptual explanations along with problems to illustrate the ideas.
  • Appropriate for 15 kyu and stronger.
  • Recommended for serious players.

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Yuan Zhou Monthly Workshop

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending another one of Yuan Zhou‘s Monthly Workshops!

We started off with a life and death problem that is called “hunting the 6 stone bird.” Apparently it’s a very old problem that has been around for a long time, for those wondering what the shape looks like. For those who would like to try it out for themselves, here it is below:

Black to play.

Afterwards, I got to hear a very captivating review for one of Lee Changho 9p Vs. Park Junghwan 9p games in the most recent Ing Cup World Go Championship. It was one that was full of full of suspense, excitement, and a capturing battle on epic proportions that made Park Junghwan the decisive victor.

As I listened to Yuan Zhou review the game, there were a few things that really struck me:

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Not a Sandbagger

Originally, as you all well know, I had intended on just continuing abstaining from ranked games, but it seems that the time has come for me to return to ranked games. What spurred this sudden change of ideas?

Well, I was talking to Tilwen today, and he said the following, “You’ll have to earn your true rank soon so that you can no longer just say that you won games because you are lucky that stronger players are underestimating you since you have a 6k next to your name.”

As I sat there struck by his comment, other players’ comments about my true rank began to flood into my head.

“Oh man… are people starting to see me as a sandbagger?!”


For those who don’t know what sandbagging is, it’s purposely lowering your rank so that you can easily win. Definitely not my definition of enjoyment.

Starting off my return to ranked games has been rough though: four straight losses. It was so unbelievably frustrating at the time because I had just spent the last month playing against stronger players and actually managing to win in even games. So to lose consecutively to players that are supposedly around my “fake 6k” rank has been rather depressing. Although why I’m losing is not a mystery to me, it is due to one thing and one thing only: my ego.

More on this later…

The Follow-Up Move

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #12

Blue Waterfall

Like the flow of water down a waterfall, every player’s goal is to have their territory pervade into as much of the go board in the most efficient way possible. As kyu players, we often attempt to do this with moves that either look or “feel” right. We are compelled to play these moves for a variety of reasons (i.e., we saw a professional do it, we heard some proverb that we follow without regard to the situation, etc.), yet we often find ourselves grumbling and frustrated when our work is laid to waste or even killed off.

While part of the issue with our plays lies in our lack of understanding behind the purposes of each move, I have often found that we are also just as guilty for an important and often overlooked piece in our in our play: the follow-up move.

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Feeling Like Go Seigen with a Mega-Fail

It’s been awhile since I last posted a kifu on here, and for my first KGS game post for 2013, it is only fitting that I post this one.

To give some background to this game, it’s been about five weeks since my friend Nate and I had the opportunity to play one another. So the anticipation of the game was making me a little bit nervous since I’m quite sure that he’s stronger than his KGS rank. Nonetheless, I was excited at the opportunity to finally get to start the new year properly with a game with him.

This game was a magnificent show of tenacity and fierce fighting spirit from both players (if I may say so). Both of us were unrelenting in trying to stay ahead and find a way to conclude the game in his favor. It took a whopping 1.5 hours, which was more than either of us was probably anticipating; but what an intense and awesome 1.5 hours.

In regards to the blog post title, I felt like Go Seigen at certain points of the game because I was like, “Twenty points? Was that supposed to be mine? No matter! Here! Take it! Let me show you how that will dwarf in comparison to my attack!” On the other hand, this game is a mega-fail for me because of the fact that I lost my tenacity in the final move and failed to realize that the game was actually one move away from victory.

I hope that you enjoy one of my craziest games to date.

Green Eyed Go

Today has been quite an interesting day. In all the games I played today, there seemed to be one consistent theme: When the opponent gives me an opportunity to attack, I am in attack mode the rest of the game.

This is rather reminiscent of my DDK (double digit kyu) days when I would engage in these local battles that just bled onto the rest of the board. The main difference now though is that I am actually aware of the effects my moves have on my other groups and how the progression will affect my territory. Unfortunately, my attacks always fell short by a bit and I’d end up losing by a rather wide margin.

That being said, there were a number of times where I realized I was probably ahead and should’ve played more solid moves and let my opponent live. The rational course of action would be to just win the game without any hiccups, but it seems the green eyed go monster has been haunting me all day. Hopefully for my next set of games, I will be able to maintain a calmer demeanor in my go.

Finally, before I close out tonight’s post, I wanted to give a shout out to Frederic! It was great to meet you and be able to play with you today! Looking forward to playing you more often in the future!

Ranked Games: To Play or Not to Play...

That is the question.

I’ve been fortunate enough to make some incredible friends since my return to go, and I was quite surprised to find that many were curious about when I would finally play a ranked game again.

To start, I’m shocked that I didn’t try to play a ranked game the moment the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve. Yet, more than three days later, I’m sitting here with three free games under my belt and not a ranked game in sight. So the question is, what am I waiting for?

In all honesty, I think part of me is torn between returning to ranked games and continuing my study method for an additional month. On one hand, I’m really curious how much growth I’ve undergone since my ranked game sabbatical in December. On the other hand, I’m thinking that it might be more exciting to continue as I have and see where I am in another month! xD After all, I need to get as strong as I can possibly get before the North American Go Convention!!!

And the other thing that I have to remember is that I am getting thrashed on Tygem and WBaduk at 6k or below, so in actuality, I might not have grown as much as I am hoping I did. So for now, looks I’m going to continue sticking to league games and continuing my training!

Estimating Territory

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #11

Credit to David R. Tribble

Counting (i.e., estimating territory at any point in the game). Although this is a skill that many would say is critical to improving the consistency of your games, this is probably the skill that is most avoided by go players all around. For those who are not aware of the benefits of counting, it boils down to one simple principle: It provides guidance as to how aggressively/defensively you should be playing.

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Officially on Tygem

Happy 2013!!!!

For my first post of 2013, I’m happy to inform you all that I will now be on Tygem as well as KGS! My username is still bengozen, so be sure to request a game if you ever see me on! (If you’re wondering what my thoughts are on the server, be on the lookout for the review in the near future!)

When I asked frozensoul what his thoughts were about me getting on Tygem, he told me that I should set my rank at 18k and then fight my way up. I really liked the idea, except I realized that I had already registered my account as 8-9k (a few months ago) and it seems I cannot change it anymore. So even though I am missing out on the DDK fighting, it’ll still be nice to see if I can climb up to my KGS rank this way.

Thus far, the opponents I have played on have a completely different style from what I’m used to on KGS. Lots and lots of fighting….

Case and point: see my first game record for 2013 below!