Archive: undefined/2014

Monday Go Meditation: Game 70

For this week's go meditation, I am featuring my game from the Pumpkin Classic that I had the pleasure of visiting for a round. This game was an interesting challenge for me since it had been a while since I had played a game in person, let alone play a handicap game. As this is a handicap game where I play White, I hope that my thoughts throughout the game will help you understand better why players sometimes make the moves they do in handicap games. Enjoy!

Read More

Journal Entry: #08

Thanks to Gurujeet for this photo!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the NOVA Pumpkin Classic Tournament and seeing many friends there. And though I originally planned on playing in the tournament that day, I ended up being on call for work and thus planned on only attending to see friends and show my support.

Upon arrival though, I got convinced to play in the first round since we had even numbers. And while I would have liked to have played for more rounds, it was simply not possible for me to do so with a possible work call coming at any moment.

On the upside, I did get to play a round against an opponent I had played against in the Baduk Open Championship. I had decided to self-promote to 1k this time and was giving her a 2 stone handicap. The following is the game record (which I will be sure to review in a future Monday Go Meditation).

Read More

Monday Go Meditation: Game 60

With this week, we continue on with Game #4 of Maaike's April Challenge, which also happens to be the first round of the 1st Washington Open Baduk Championship that I participated in a month or so ago. Though it ended up being a completely crazy roller coaster of a match, it is an excellent example of how volatile games can be in tournaments. Because of the pressure of competition, players will look for any slack move or advantage they can to reverse the game. With that said, hang on to your seats cause this is going to be a bumpy one!

Read More

Friday Go Forward: Week 60


As many of you know, I spent the past weekend at the 1st Washington Baduk Open Championship and have been therefore swamped with trying to make sure I took the time to write the posts before too much time had passed. It was an eye-opening experience that has given me an opportunity to really change my perspectives on how I’ve been approaching go. Especially after talking with Myung (9p) with some of his thoughts, I definitely am looking to make some changes to my training regimen.

The only other thing that’s worth mentioning is that I am officially making a move away from KGS to either WBaduk or Tygem (depending on whichever I can get running on my Mac). It’s not that I won’t be logged in anymore or will refuse to play on it, but I’ll be reserving KGS for playing with friends and anyone who asks me for a game. Otherwise, my focus on playing “ranked games” will be moving to the Korean servers. More on that to come when I have a well formulated thought as to why I’m doing this. Till next week!

Training Regimen

  • Temporarily On Hold



  • N/A

1st Washington Open Baduk Championship - Part II

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Hikaru No Go, Kuwabara Hon’inbo (Epsiode 29)

When I woke up the next day, I felt like a brand new person. I know that I could have been like a lot of other players who would have recalled the performance from the first day and felt sorry for themselves, but the the experience I had watching Park Sohyun (3p) play the night before had struck me and really opened my eyes.

I was running a little late that morning, and ended up getting there around 9:35am. According to the schedule, I was already late and so I half-expected to find everyone already playing their games and my clock already running. However, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one running late because the pairings hadn’t even been put up when I arrived.

After catching up with some people though, the roster was finally put up. As I scanned the list, I found my opponent: a 5 kyu. He would be taking Black and I was giving him no handicap.

My opponent was 5 kyu and I wasn’t giving him a handicap. Had it been yesterday, I probably would have been frustrated that I was “demoted;” but I was past those stupid egotistical thoughts today.

As I sat down in front of my opponent, I was very clear on what I was going to do: I was going to try and play like Sohyun did the night before. It was going to be strong and interesting go. That’s the go I would play. Below is the kifu. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 63)

It was an exciting game, but one that I felt far more in control of than any of the games previously. When my opponent resigned, I let out a sigh of relief. “Yes.” I thought, “At least I’m now 2-2. And to top it off, I’m feeling a hell of a lot better than yesterday.”

After Round 4, Myung Wan Kim (9p) and I grabbed our bento boxes (unfortunately I didn’t take a photo this time, but I got the galbi one) and I took him back to the hotel so he could rest / work on other things (since there was a few hours gap before he had to be back).

When I dropped him off, he asked me to pick him up around 3:10pm. So when I arrived back at the tournament, I looked at the time.

“1:00pm is when Round 5 starts,” I thought, “And assuming my game takes even just the main time alone, I would be over time and late picking up Myung.”

With my record at 2-2, I seriously debated not playing in the 5th round and taking a buy. After all, 2-2 isn’t a bad record to end the tournament with right?

A good part of this was my insecurity at the prospects of possibly ending the tournament with a record of 2-3 and losing the final round, but I realized quickly that it was stupid. I decided to simply play in the 5th Round, and if push came to shove, I would resign the game if it took too long because I wanted to make sure I would pick up Myung on time.

Before I knew it, the fifth round pairings were up. My opponent was a 4 kyu that I knew from the area. There would be no handicap and I was taking white. Below are the results of the my final game for the tournament. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 64)

When the game was coming close to the end, time was also drawing near as well. It was around 2:30pm when I had begun my final hunt to kill the group on the top; but my opponent still had plenty of time left on his clock, so I couldn’t fault him for trying to take the time to make sure he was really dead. However, with time drawing close, I began mentally preparing myself to resign and simply be satisfied with the game that I had played.

As you might imagine, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my lucky stars when he resigned. “Hoorah!” I thought, “ I still can go pickup Myung with time to spare!” And with that, I went to report my results and went off to pick him up.

When we got back, there was still some time to spare before the remaining festivities began (i.e., lecture and simul games). This was perfect however, because I was able to spend some time talking with Sohyun (since she had been running in and out and busy with other obligations). We went over my game in Round 5, and I even got her to sign a book that she had given me the night before.

It's a Korean book on haengma (i.e., stone movement). Best souvenir from the event!

As we wrapped up one of our conversations, a fellow Korean player had come by; so she had the idea to give both of us a simul game while we were waiting for everything to start (which was incredibly kind of her). I decided to play an even game with her since I wanted to feel the full power of her skills.

Unfortunately we were only able to play about 20 or so moves before she was summoned to play the official simul games scheduled for the event. However, what I will say about the game was that even in that series of short exchanges, it was quite an experience to watch her start dismantling what I thought was a good position.

With all the games finished, they had the following activities going on simultaneously:

(1) Myung Wan Kim (9p) reviewing one of Andy Liu’s (1p) game from the tournament.

Myung and Andy prepare to review his game.

Myung watching as Andy replayed his game and talked about what his thoughts were at the time.

Myung discussing the variations and explaining to the audience.

As you can see, it was quite a crowd listening attentively to Myung's commentary.

(2) Park Sohyun (3p) playing simultaneous games with eight different dan level players.

They setup the table to have four boards on each side so she could easily navigate back and forth.

Here you can see a group of Korean players analyzing the board at the far end.

Here you can see Sohyun smiling as she analyzes the board position.

(3) Michael Chen (8d) playing simultaneous games with 5 players that were around SDK players (i.e., 1k to 9k).

Michael is deep in thought...

(4) Allan Abramson (previous AGA President) giving simultaneous games to DDK players (i.e., 30k to 10k).

An overview of all the various activities going on. So many people participating!

After a couple of hours, the time finally came for the awards ceremony.

The tournament was broken up into seven sections:

  1. Open Section (7d+)
  2. Dan A (4-6d)
  3. Dan B (1-3d)
  4. Kyu A (1-5k)
  5. Kyu B (6-10k)
  6. Kyu C (11-15k)
  7. Kyu D (16k+)

When they announced the first place prize for the Kyu D division, “… 1st Place, trophy and $100” echoed over the microphone. As I heard the cash prize amount, I’d be lying if I said that part of me didn’t feel just a twinge of jealously as I heard the cash prize amount. After all, it wasn’t chump change by any stretch of the means!

As I sat there listening to them announce the winners, I recalled the time that I had won first place in the Pumpkin Classic. I smiled as I remembered that momentous feeling. And a small part of me wished that I had done better in the tournament; but then I reminded myself that I had nothing to be ashamed of for this tournament. After all, on top managing to bring my record up to 3-2, the experiences and the lessons that I had learned through this tournament were priceless and I would not have traded it in for a better record or any trophy or prize money.

“Kyu A Division (1-5k),” echoed over the microphone.

My attention returned to the present as I thought. “Oo… I wonder who won my division.”

– let’s pause and let’s rewind the clock for a sec –

Earlier when I had been walking around, I had heard the tournament directors talking about how the kyu divisions did not have any people who won 4 games except for one person. (I later found out it was Bob Crites who had been performing well in tournaments recently.)

A part of me became hopeful at that thought that maybe I was still in the running for something, but then I brushed the notion aside as I recalled that I had not exactly played my best consistently in the tournament.

– return to present moment –

“3rd Place - Weixin Wang, 4k - $50 and a trophy”

applause and multiple cameras taking photos going off

“Huh,” I thought, “That’s the guy I lost to in the 3rd round. If he got third place, then I’m most definitely out of the running now.”

“2nd Place - John Zhao, 3k - $100 and a trophy”

“Wait,” I thought, “That’s the guy I beat in the 1st round. Maybe I still have a shot?”

As I’m sitting there bewildered and trying to make sense of how the tiebreakers might actually work, the microphone echoes again:

“1st Place - Benjamin Hong…”

Wait... What?! *turns around to confirm that I'm not the only one who heard that*

I honestly wish someone had taken a picture of my face, because I can tell you that I was completely and utterly surprised. But yeah, I wasn’t hallucinating or imaging things. I really did get 1st place.

There's my first prize envelope. The cash prize was $200!

Here's the trophy I got as well. Looks pretty sweet!

The thing about tournaments is that you never know what’s going to happen. I went the first day with a 1-2 record and completely thought I was out of the running. In fact, I even thought about dropping out the last round because of stupid insecurities. Imagine if I had done that? Imagine if I had just given up? The story would not have been nearly as exciting would it?

Though I am very grateful that I got 1st place, I really believe that this tournament will forever go down as one of the pinnacle moments in my journey as a go player. The experiences and things that I learned about myself through the trials and tribulations are ones that I will forever remember fondly and I look forward to continue building on them.

Many thanks also goes out to Keith, Gary, Andy, Todd, Alan, the Korean Baduk Association and many others for making this tournament a huge success. And of course, special thanks goes out to SmartGo for its awesome iPad app that serves as my trusty sidekick for recording my games.

Finally, a huge thanks goes out to Myung Wan Kim (9p) and Park Sohyun (3p) for making this tournament an unforgettable experience and providing guidance when I really needed it!

WGW 38: I Want to Play Go Like That...

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #38

Though some of you may hate me for delaying Part II of my 1st Washington Open Baduk Championship series, the funny thing is that the Weekly Go Wednesday series actually fits in perfectly with the story. So hold your horses for one more day, and let’s dive right into this shall we?

So where were we? Ah yes. I had finished off the first day of the tournament with the second to worst record you can have: 1 win with 2 loss. To compound on that embarrassment, I won one and then proceeded to lose each game afterwards with each being a more epic failure than the last. After all, it would have been way better if I had lost the first two games and then won the last one. Then at least I could feel like I improved over the day instead of the epic plummet that actually happened.

Usually when I undergo a shocking disappointment like I did that day, my first reaction is to try and figure out what went wrong. After all, it wasn’t as if some freak accident happened where I hallucinated and put the stones in the wrong place. No, especially with go, there are no such things. So for the rest of the day, I kept thinking about what went wrong. Many things crossed my mind…

Read More

1st Washington Open Baduk Championship - Part I

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Hey everyone! Welcome to Part I of my awesome experience at the 1st Washington Open Baduk Championship this past weekend! Though many of you already know the results of the tournament, I’ll start by asking you all to refrain from commenting on the actual result till Part II since some don’t know yet.

In addition, I’m sure that many of you are eager to see what kind of games I played, so I have gone ahead and uploaded the kifu for your enjoyment. Commentary will come in future Monday Go Meditations (which I will note for each game); but hopefully you will forgive me for not being to add commentary within such a short time.

With that said, let’s get started!

Read More

Friday Go Forward: Week 59


After trying to go through my training regimen from last week, I realized I was getting bored of practicing the same problems over and over again. And while my intentions were good (since my goal was to make all the problems instinctive), interest and motivation trumps that so I’ve moved on to more interesting topics to change it up for now. And especially after giving thought to the notion that tesuji is more important than life and death, I really wanted to start studying tesuji once again.

On another note, in case anyone missed it, the Washington Open is happening this weekend. Yours truly will be attending and competing/participating in whatever I can do. So you can definitely look forward to a series of posts on the event. I’m a little nervous because I haven’t really been playing as much as I should have, but I’ll have to brush that aside and just go to have as much fun as I can. If I can play really interesting games, then I will consider this event to be a success. See you all next week!

PS. In case you didn’t know, fellow go player Risingstar just started his own blog, so be sure to check it out and support him as we try and bolster go’s presence online!

Training Regimen

  • Life and Death Problems

    *   Book: Jump Level Up 5
    *   Frequency: Daily
    *   Task: 10 minutes working through problems
  • Tesuji Problems

    *   <span style="line-height: 1.5em;"> Book: Graded Go Problems for Dan Players (Vol. 2) - 300 Tesuji Problems</span>
    *   Frequency: Daily
    *   Task: 10 minutes working through problems


  • KGS - 3 games
  • IGS - 2 games
  • DGS - 5 ongoing games
  • OGS - 2 ongoing games


  • Jump Level Up 5
  • Graded Go Problems for Dan Players (Vol. 2) - 300 Tesuji Problems

Go Tournament: 41st Maryland Open

It’s that time of year again! The 41st Maryland Open Go Tournament is upon us once again! So if you live in the DC Metro Area or simply don’t mind making the trip down to Baltimore, Maryland, be sure to check out the flier below for more information.

41st Maryland Go Open Official Site

And as always, let me know if you plan on going so we can meet up! I should be going unless something serious comes up. Hope to see you some of you at the tournament!

Archive: undefined/2013

Go Seigen, Freedom and an AGA Online Tournament

I recently finished Master Play: The Style of Go Seigen (Review coming soon!), and it has really given me a lot to think about in regards to the way I play go.

For starters, though I’ve been familiar with the concept of professionals ignoring an area when there just aren’t any good moves to play, it wasn’t until I saw Go Seigen’s games till I realized how true this really was. In fact, not only did Go Seigen constantly resist giving in to his opponents; but he would also not hesitate to trade large sections of the board! And what made it even more mind-blowing, was that these areas he would sacrifice were places that were only a few moves away from solid territory!

With that vivid illustration in mind, I couldn’t help but start to notice how stubborn kyu players get about hanging onto stones or territory. It’s as if once they’ve made a decision (i.e., I have declared the right side to be mine!), they will defend it to the end regardless of the fact that they are losing. Another example of this is I’ve noticed is: “Oh look, I’ve spent the time to play three stones here, even though they are now strategically useless, I must save it at all cost even though I will let my opponent walk right into my territory!” Granted, I realize that you must understand strategy and such to be able to walk away from some groups, but this seems to be a general trend that I’ve noticed.

In addition, I think I may have started to internalize the idea of, “If you can’t find a good move, play somewhere else.” In other words, seeing Go Seigen’s game for the first time has really shocked me into realizing how much freedom there really is on the go board. Although a sequence might be considered sente or an area might seem large, it may not actually be from a whole board perspective or from another player’s strategy.

I keep trying to bring this post to a nice closing statement, but it seems that this post is destined for random ramblings. It’s still a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that I’m sorting through, but I guess that’s one of the benefits of having a blog right? A way for me to dump my thoughts and attempt to sort it out in the process. xD

On an entirely different note, in case you haven’t heard about it, the American Go Association (AGA) has taken a big step towards establishing a presence online. Starting in October, there will be an AGA Online Tournament that will be used to help gather information and help them figure out the right way to proceed with online games in the future. And yes, I have already signed up! For more information, check out their post here.