Archive: undefined/2016

Being Happy and Content with Your Progress

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #47

While many would probably agree that perhaps the most difficult aspect of go is the seemingly endless variations that arise throughout a game, the one aspect that I have found to be the most obstructive to people’s enjoyment of the game is a lack of “progress.”

Before we dive into this though, I want to present to you a simple question:

In a tournament where the top four contenders have been determined, excluding 1st place, which of the three places is the happiest and most content?

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Archive: undefined/2014

WGW 35: Stop Overthinking

Weekly Go Wednesday: Issue #35

Lately I’ve been piling up topics that I want to write about, but I found myself constantly pushing them off as I wanted to write the perfect article for each and every topic. Similarly, I’ve also realized that when it comes to playing games, I often find myself sitting there thinking about the multiple factors that go into whether or not I’m “ready” to play a game (i.e., how much time do I have, what if my opponent takes forever in byoyomi, what if I have to resign early, what if I’m not actually ready to play and make silly mistakes, etc. etc. etc.).

Today’s topic is kind of counter-intuitive since after all, go is a thinking game. However, I think that especially when it comes to amateur players, it’s actually really important not to overthink things. Because even though we make plenty of stupid moves from the lack of thinking, I think there are a large number of occurrences where players end up making bad moves or not enjoying the game as much as they should due to overthinking.

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WGW 34: The Value of Repetition

Weekly Go Wednesday: Issue #34

As most of you know, I own a majority of the English go literature that exists out in the market. And in conjunction with that notion, I’ve also reviewed quite a few books as I’ve progressed throughout my journey. What some of you may not realize however, is that one of the downsides to me trying to review books in quick succession means that I am unable to spend a lot of time absorbing the material. As a result, my growth as a player is not necessarily correlated with the number of books I’ve read.

Lately I’ve been really starting to see the detrimental effect of my poor reading abilities. I have found myself in numerous positions where I may have made strategically sound decisions and had aims that should have worked in actuality, but due to my weak reading skills I was unable to follow through or execute my plan properly. So after numerous frustrating games and irritation with my own growth, I’ve decided to take a step back in my studies.

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Archive: undefined/2013

Stop Being a Worry Wart

A couple of nights ago, frozensoul mentioned something to me that really struck me.

My mind is my greatest opponent.

Yup. You read that right. Instead of being trounced by opponents better than me or making dumb mistakes, I often end up out-reading myself.

What do I mean by this? I’m talking about being fearful of potential aji in X area and adding unnecessary moves “just in case.” Now this might sound reasonable, but let’s think about this one moment. If you are adding a move to an area that doesn’t require it, are you not essentially passing your turn?

To further illustrate my point, take the following problem:

Black to play.

Is there anyone out there who would suggest that Black capture the White stones “just to in case?” Absolutely not. Because any player above 12 kyu would know that it would be completely absurd to do anything but tenuki.

“But wait Ben! Not all positions are as clear cut as the problem you presented! What happens if you’re wrong and then you lose because you think you can tenuki when in fact you really can’t?!”

Well, to that I have only one question: Are you trying to get stronger or simply keep winning against opponents of the same strength?

Yes. It would suck if you tenuki when you actually needed a move and then lost a game; but guess what, that is part of growing and learning so that we can get stronger. We make mistakes. We fall. We get back up. We learn. We grow. We get stronger. And the cycle goes on and on…

So the next time you feel like you’re in a questionable position, do your best with the reading ability you have and then have faith in your moves. You will make quite a few mistakes along the road, but I assure you that it will be a heck of a lot better than defending against imaginary aji.

Archive: undefined/2012

Things You Should Know Before Going to a Tournament

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #8

After my experience with the NOVA Pumpkin Classic Tournament, it occurred to me was that there were quite a few things that I wish I knew before going to the tournament. As a result, I wanted to pass on some of my lessons learned to you in hopes that you’ll find it useful in winning your next tournament.

  1. Don’t expect your opponents to resign. This may be more so in amateur tournaments than the professional circuit, but you have to remember that people are there for the long haul. These are not like the internet games you play where killing off a single group will cause a good portion of players to go running to the resign button.

  2. Be as familiar as possible with the format of the tournament. If at all possible, try and practice a few games online in the format you will be playing in just to make sure you have the hang of it. (I played Canadian byoyomi for the first time and it nearly cost me the game in the third round.)

  3. Keep an eye on the clock as much as much as possible. This is particularly true for people who are used to playing online since the clock is normally right in front of you and you might even have an alert to let you know if you’re running low on time (which would be useless in Canadian byoyomi). In my opinion, losing on time is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a player; so avoid it at all cost because it will eat you alive for the following rounds and possibly cause you to panic and rush instead of playing your normal game.

  4. Take a break after every round. At the bare minimum, I recommend walking out of the room and clearing your head for a few seconds so you are starting fresh every time. I didn’t do this for the first two rounds, but afterwards I washed my face each time to freshen up and it did wonders for me.

  5. Don’t expect to have a long and relaxing lunch. Unless you and your opponent are rushing to finish on time or happen to play quickly, the odds are pretty good that your game will eat into your lunch break.

  6. Expect the tournament to take all day and consume most of your energy. I was naive in thinking that the tournament would take half a day at most. In regards to my energy level, let’s just say I was ready for an activity that required low amounts of energy.

  7. Don’t forget that you’re there to have fun, socialize, and learn something as well. Although the victory and accomplishment were some of the high points that day, the opportunity to meet and talk with so many other Go enthusiasts is right up there as well.

As always, if you have any advice or tips from your own experience, please be sure to share below and I’ll add them into the list as they come!