Archive: undefined/2014

WGW 32: Seeing Results Now Now Now

Credit to Adavita-Vision

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #32

One of the things I’ve been dealing with lately is the narrow sightedness at seeing the fruits of my efforts as soon as possible. And as time has gone on, I felt more and more like my ability to play go deteriorated as each move became more rushed and every failure to gain easily recognizable profit (i.e., a large dead group in your moyo) only resulted in dismay and frustration with the game.

To be honest, I think a lot of this has to do with the culture that we are living in today. Everything is now now now! And in the case of most entertainment, such as video games, the results of what you do can usually be seen within a few minutes or even seconds. For example, in League of Legends, the moment you engage an opponent, there will be a clear outcome of whether your play was a good or bad one (i.e., you kill your opponent, your opponent harasses you more than you anticipated and you have lower health, you overextend and get ganked by the enemy jungler, etc.). However, with go, it’s the complete reverse.

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Archive: undefined/2013

Remember to Breathe

A couple days ago, I was doing some mitt work with my partner at the local boxing gym. About halfway into the round, I was getting visibly tired and close to exhaustion from trying to push beyond my limits. It was then though, that my partner said something that struck me:

Remember to breathe. Control your breathing.
Seems like such an obvious statement no? After all, don’t we all breathe subconsciously? Without breathing, we’d all be dead! What a stupid thing to say!

If you think such crude and rudimentary thoughts though, you are missing the point. The fact is that while I might have been “breathing,” the fact is that I was so caught up in punching and keeping good form that I forgot to breathe half the time. You might exclaim, “How does one forget to breathe Ben? That’s ridiculous!” And you’re right to some extent, but instead of breathing more efficiently through my nose and exhaling through my mouth, I was holding my breath half the time (without even realizing it due to concentrating so hard on punching and maintaing form) and taking short gasps of air with my mouth in between. It’s no wonder that I was winded and at the point of near collapse before the round was even halfway through.

So how does this relate to go?

The reason I went to great lengths to explain breathing in boxing is because it occurred to me that a similar thing was happening to kyu players. Instead of breathing however, I would make the analogy that kyu players often players fail to play moves with the whole board in mind. Similar to breathing, it is a given that every move that is played affects the board in some way shape or form. However, if we just play moves without making a conscious effort to understand or give it a purpose in regard to the entire board, it is just as if we are going through the motions of punching without remembering to breathe properly. And then the next thing you know, you’re out of breath and your opponent cuts off a big group and delivers the knockout punch.

Of course with time and experience, playing moves with respect to the entire board will be second nature; but while we still remain the weak kyu players that we are, we must be sure to make a conscious effort to take the entire board into consideration at all times. So to put my partner’s advice into another context:

Remember to consider the board as a whole before playing your next move.

Trying to Counter Bad Habits

As of late, I have been finding it difficult to really get my head in the game. I’m not sure if it’s due to the busy schedule of having relatives from out of town, or whether my mind is undergoing some new twists and turns that is changing the way I see the game.

For those who have been keeping up with my progress, you probably remember that I mentioned a recently gained ability to estimate territory. Unfortunately though, it seems like my mind is once again becoming adverse to doing it and it’s causing me to just play moves on a local scale (which is turning out terribly might I add). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve gotten into a bad habit of not fully reading moves out before I play. This is ends up causing a vicious cycle of where I end up playing regrettable moves because of laziness as opposed to not seeing a particular sequence. Oy vey…

To counter these bad habits, I’m going back to the basics and doing life and death problems the old fashioned way: Read it till you figure it out. No more exposure to new material. Just a good ol’ fashioned tsumego drills. In addition, I’ve started Cho Chikun’s book on Positional Judgment to hopefully get myself more comfortable with evaluating the whole board. We’ll see how it goes…

Also, for those who enjoy game commentaries, you should definitely check out my long time friend and rival’s new post on a game he played recently at Yuan Zhou‘s Workshop! It is a fun exciting game that shows an excellent command of play by Black and numerous examples of how overplays are supposed to be punished. Definitely worth checking out!

To Resign or Not to Resign

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #18

As most of us are aware, the game of go is rather unique in the sense that it is considered honorable to resign. Unfortunately, when it comes to kyu players (particularly mid-SDK’s and below), I have found that resignation is the bane of their existence. Instead of resignation being a quiet acknowledgment of their opponent’s strength, it becomes a self-imposed obstacle that prevents kyu players from getting stronger. If you don’t believe me, read on.

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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."