31 October 2005

Technical Difficulties

Sorry about the photo problems. I'm not a computer expert, and I'm not sure what the problem is... I got the tourney picture back up, but the go table picture is displaying funny. For now, if you click on it, you can get a better look at it. I will try to fix it ASAP.

We had a beautiful fall weekend in Rochester, the first in about three weeks. The sun was shining, the fall color was beautiful, and it was about 62 degrees out. We took the kids for a walk on the beach, down along the Genesee River and generally had a great time. Will post pics (when I figure out how it's done).

I played a few more games online and finally won my first game against a real, live person! I am very happy about that. Maybe now my confidence will start to return.

I also finally got to play ChiyoDad. After reading his blog (Which you should do, if you haven't already) I've been trying to catch him online without any luck. Thanks, ChiyoDad!

I will not be posting tomorrow as an article I wrote will be in the American Go E-Journal. If you are not a subscriber, you can check it out at http://www.usgo.org/e-journal.asp.

29 October 2005

My New Go Setup

The table is a trunk, with storage space inside, made in Vietnam. The stools are from India. I got the three of them for about $120 at Target, of all places.

Sory if the picture's a little washed out, my camera battery died. I took this with the cell phone.
It was a lot easier to convince the wife on this one than a $400 table board. I’ll move it to the window later so that the bowls can go on the ledge.

28 October 2005

Choke Artist?

I seem to have a psychological barrier while playing on KGS.

A while back, I had finally got up the nerve to try out NNGS, the No Name Go Server.    NNGS was apparently started by a group of people who were unsatisfied with (or banned from) IGS due to politics.   I downloaded the client and played my first game.   I went up against someone who was totally anonymous and apparently had no interest in the game other than racking up another win.   (I know it is hard to believe there are actually players on the Internet like that).   At the end of the game, I had difficulty figuring out how to terminate the match and run the score.   Perhaps it was a software error (most likely the software between my ears) but I couldn’t get the client to mark dead groups properly.   My opponent got pretty frustrated, and that was it for me on NNGS.

Now, I find that when I play at the Club in real life, or against the bots on KGS, I do great.   (Well, 24k great).   But when I play a real person, It’s like I lose four stones in strength.   I fall apart and make simple mistakes.   (I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of game requests now…)

I guess there’s only one way to overcome this. I’m going to have to lose a lot of games.

27 October 2005

Dan-level game at the Tournament

Greg Lefler Memorial Tournament, Pt. 3

My second round, I played… you guessed it, White with a handicap. 5 stones this time.

I have to say, I have the utmost respect for my opponent in the second round.   He was a thoughtful player who put everything he had into it and fought well.

We got a tutorial on the clock to start off so things went smoother already.   The game was very evenly matched for the first 150 or so moves.   Both us have similar playing styles, concentrating on building frameworks in the opening.   I realized I could never win with that strategy in a handicap game and I wanted to win badly.   We got into a fight in the lower right which spilled all across the board, blowing out all the moyos and creating general chaos.   We were both treading carefully at this point, knowing that one mistake with our groups in the center could mean life or death.

Finally I see a weak spot in one of his large groups.   I started building up and it became apparent I had a chance at killing a 15-point or so group and swinging the game completely around. He saw it, too.

My hands were trembling as I placed each stone.   I had to give up on proper holding of the stone because I was afraid I was going to knock the other stones and mess up the board.

Black was at the end of Basic Time and about to go into Byo-Yomi when I finally found the right move and killed his group.   That was the end of it.   We kept playing for practice but at that point he acknowledged the defeat and the pressure was off.

I had hoped to play a third round but we were running behind schedule at that point.   With the third round scheduled for 3:30 and most of the players leaving for lunch, I reported my win and went home to sign up for the North American Oza in New York City.

26 October 2005

Greg Lefler Memorial Tournament, Pt. 2

The tournament was played in four rounds. I was only able to attend the first two because of family commitments, which was fine because it allowed me to “get my feet wet.”

At 9:30 am, I presented my AGA card and paid my fee, and then we had bagels and coffee while the pairings were set up. Finally, the pairings list was posted for the first round. The pairings list gives you your name and rank, your opponent’s and a table number. If you are playing your first tournament game, you guess your rank and give it the Director, just like you would online. The Tournament Director was the Empty Sky Go Club President; He had played me before and seen my record against the lower kyus, so we put me in as 21k.

My first tournament game was against another player who had estimated his rank, too. But he had signed up as a 30k. To my horror and astonishment, I was to play White and give him nine stones.

To track time, digital Ing timers are placed by each board. Obviously neither of us had any clue how to work the thing. After about five minutes of messing with it, we finally called over a rep who helped us. (FYI: BT is Basic Time, not Byo-Yomi Time). We still messed up the clock because of the handicap and had to reverse it.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, my opponent wasn’t 30k, he was probably about 26k. I fought hard but I just couldn’t overcome the 9-stone handicap and lost by resignation.

As we went back over the game, the timer for Black set off a warning, loudly announcing to the whole tournament “BLACK HAS FIVE MINUTES REMAINING!” That got a few laughs. We found the volume control after that. It could’ve been worse; we could’ve had it set to yell in Chinese.

I met up with a few friends from club to find out their results, and then we got ready for the second round.

25 October 2005

Greg Lefler Memorial Tournament, Pt. 1

Wow, if you’ve never been to a tournament, you’re missing out on a great experience in playing Go.

I definitely prefer playing in person over playing on the Internet.   On KGS, the only communication between you and your opponent is the moves you make and the chat screen.  In person, there is so much more going on.  

There is a great deal of satisfaction when you play a carefully thought out move and watch your opponent’s reaction.   If you’ve only played online, but you’ve seen Hikaru no Go, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about.  On the Internet,  you never know if that long pause is because she’s freaking out over your masterful tesuji or if she went to get a beer to celebrate the pending victory.

I also think people play differently when their opponent is sitting in front of them.   It pushes you to perform even harder.

All of this goes to another level when you’re in a tournament.   First of all, you have an AGA rating, just like a KGS rating.   (AGA seems about 4 stones higher than KGS; I’m 21k AGA).   You start off with a rank and a computer program is used to pair you with an evenly matched opponent, and your wins and losses are recorded and posted on the Internet at the AGA site.   Add to this having AGA representatives observing you as well as an official photographer taking pictures and the pressure is really on.    

24 October 2005

The Axis of Heaven

The center point of the Go board is called Tengen in Japanese. According to Janice Kim, the English translation would be “The Axis of Heaven.” Go Seigen, the famous Go player, was said to visualize the board as a pyramid, with Tengen as the peak.

If you could sit at the “peak” of the Go board, you would have the ultimate vantage point, able to clearly see every move of the board from a higher level. Also, think about the word “Axis.” Imagine if you could spin a Go board. Everything on the edge would be just holding on for dear life. But if you stood at the center, on the axis itself, it’s calm like the eye of a hurricane.

I guess it’s my version of Kami no itte, the Divine Move. I strive to reach Tengen, the Axis of Heaven, where the fighting and chaos of the game swirl around me but I can calmly see the perfect move.

Hey, I started a Blog

Well, here I am starting a Blog of my own. I have read other Go Blogs since getting serious about the game, but I was finally inspired to start my own after playing in an AGA ratings tournament this last weekend.

I play as Woodard on KGS and I am currently hovering around 23-24k. I also am a member of the Empty Sky Go Club in Rochester, New York. I have posted a brief history of how I got into Go on Sensei’s Library, and I’ll probably build on it here over time.

My goal right now is to make KGS 19k by January 15th, 2006. If I can do that, I have a chance at hitting AGA 15k by the North American Oza tournament. After that, I’m aiming towards Shodan.