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 Post subject: My review of R. Jasiek's Positional Judgement 1: Territory
Post #1 Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:47 am 
Gosei
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Hi all,

I'm here again to entertain you with my review of Robert's Positional Judgement 1: Territory. As for who I am, currently "4k?" in KGS (with a 4k blitz account, so I guess I could remove the question mark if I did actually play XD) and 1176 GoR (9k officially.) In a few days I hope this will get closer to EGF 8k.

You can take a look at my previous review of Fighting Fundamentals to read about shipping, diagramming and get an idea of physical appearance (differences: Positional Judgement 1: Territory has a purplish cover with some lotus-like flowers and yellow spine.)

Who can read the book? My personal opinion is that even a 15k EGF can get the basis to be able to count during the game, easily. For the latter chapters being stronger is important.

TL;DR: I liked the book in itself, but 1: it needs *you* to work and the subject is incredibly dry.

It has taken me far longer to write a review Positional Judgement 1: Territory (from now on PJ) than it took me to review Fighting Fundamentals. I finished PJ just before Christmas, but I've wanted to test what I learnt with a few games.

Knowing whether you are ahead or behind in a game is invaluable. If you could have an invisible djinn telling you the current score once in a game or one who could tell you the status of a group once in a game, you'd be far more likely to win your games with the first than with the second. And as important as it is, it's an almost untouched branch in writing (here I'm referring to English literature, since the topic is also covered in a book Lee Chang'Ho wrote/ghost wrote and J. Fairbairn summarized for us.) It is partially covered in Attack and Defense (where only an approximate, direct comparison is included,) ever so slightly touched in The Endgame and only analysed in depth, as far as I know, in Cho Chikun's High Speed Game Analysis (HSGA from now on). PJ is a relatively refreshing book in this aspect, specially because the writing is very clear in what to do and how to do it. But a thing to bear in mind is that the subject in itself (so, this is not a criticism of this book, but also would easily include Cho's book) is as boring as watching paint dry.

In PJ we are introduced into how to count a game during very late fuseki and middlegame. Of course, the method also works for endgame situations, but in the latter stages of the game direct counting works essentially the same, being faster. The basic building block is made of a method for counting first black and then white, with essentially mild reductions for (and from) both sides (first white reduces *all* black territory to count black's, then reverse to count white's.) There are some technicalities regarding sente, gote, defense and what boils down to "how much to reduce and why." This basic building block is similar to the method introduced in HSGA (which I sadly don't have to compare right now, I have only borrowed it on occasions.) What PJ adds are ways to estimate moyos (with an averaging method) and fighting areas (via quiescence, which is a term borrowed from game theory/AI AFAIK.)

For me, the most useful part was the basic territory estimation. Although I had read HSGA, I had a hard time using the method until reading PJ and working through the examples. Throughout all the book I tried to apply the method to each example (covering the next page if needed to avoid spoiling the fun) and see if I got a similar result. Surprisingly, I was always within 1-2 points of the correct answer, which for me validated the fact that the method was sound and I was relatively good at using it. There's a catch though: it took me up to 1'30 to count a relatively normal position when I started. With practice I got to 45'' for a simple position, but in any case this still feels like too much in a normal KGS game (I usually play 30'+5x30'') even if I'm a fast player.

Once I got to the moyo and quiescence sections my mind started to wander. Evaluating moyos is relatively easy, but quiescence is harder to come by. When you are in a life-or-death situation, unsure about how the fight is going to evolve (will I misread? will the opponent find a wonderful tesuji?) it is hard to find a cool-down sequence, specially if you are busy reading out real, fighting variations.

There are also sections on how to keep the counts updated, as well as a minor strategy guide (like the little brother of Fighting Fundamentals, which is the one I'd recommend for strategy.) As far as layout and diagramming goes, PJ1 is of the same high quality as FF, but in this case diagrams are usually one or two per page (full boards) with explanations by the side, specially when doing reduction counting.

During some games this January I've been trying to count, but the results have been mixed. In one game I counted the game as close, expecting to pull a win in yose. I was wrong (lost sente and the game.) In another game I didn't count and didn't realise I was ahead (by 20, more or less)... Went for the extra 0.5 point in a pointless ko, misread and lost the game. So, it's clear that counting is needed... As well as good judgement. The book will give you the tools, now it's up to you how you use them.

This month I have a tournament, and I'll gladly use this new ability of "counting" as often as I can. Having 45 minutes in the clock guarantees I'm unlikely to hit byo-yomi, so I expect to count 2-3 times, and being able to decide what to do and why based on it. So, the takeaway should be that this is a book you need to check... Essentially because there are only two books covering the subject and this is the best of the two.

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This post by RBerenguel was liked by 3 people: Bonobo, daal, happysocks
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 Post subject: Re: My review of R. Jasiek's Positional Judgement 1: Territo
Post #2 Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:05 am 
Tengen

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RBerenguel wrote:
it took me up to 1'30 to count a relatively normal position when I started. With practice I got to 45'' for a simple position, but in any case this still feels like too much in a normal KGS game (I usually play 30'+5x30'') even if I'm a fast player.


45 to 90 seconds for a fresh count of the whole position is great for your level. I am not faster (but more accurate and familar also with counting complicated positions).

Of course, a player cannot spend 45 or 90 seconds at every move to count the whole position from scratch. This is where the techniques of the chapter for updating counts come in: during most moves of the game, one should update the count instead of counting the whole board again. Updating is fast: it takes a few seconds or sometimes only fractions of a second. Only occasionally a new whole board count becomes necessary. Learning to update counts takes some time of gaining experience.

KGS games tend to be fast, and such fast games are not so suitable for learning and practicing counting. Nevertheless, your 30 minutes basic time can suffice, if you learn to update counts regularly by recalling which intersections are the territory intersections etc. OTOH, you might try 45 or 60 minutes basic time as long as you still learn counting. When you will have become familiar with performing it using updated counts, you can then go back to shorter thinking times.

Counting in byoyomi-only games is even much tougher, but possible, if one starts updating counts from move 1 of the game. Of course, I do not recommend pure byoyomi games for learning to count well.

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 Post subject: Re: My review of R. Jasiek's Positional Judgement 1: Territo
Post #3 Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:37 pm 
Gosei
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RobertJasiek wrote:
RBerenguel wrote:
it took me up to 1'30 to count a relatively normal position when I started. With practice I got to 45'' for a simple position, but in any case this still feels like too much in a normal KGS game (I usually play 30'+5x30'') even if I'm a fast player.


45 to 90 seconds for a fresh count of the whole position is great for your level. I am not faster (but more accurate and familiar also with counting complicated positions).

Of course, a player cannot spend 45 or 90 seconds at every move to count the whole position from scratch. This is where the techniques of the chapter for updating counts come in: during most moves of the game, one should update the count instead of counting the whole board again. Updating is fast: it takes a few seconds or sometimes only fractions of a second. Only occasionally a new whole board count becomes necessary. Learning to update counts takes some time of gaining experience.

KGS games tend to be fast, and such fast games are not so suitable for learning and practicing counting. Nevertheless, your 30 minutes basic time can suffice, if you learn to update counts regularly by recalling which intersections are the territory intersections etc. OTOH, you might try 45 or 60 minutes basic time as long as you still learn counting. When you will have become familiar with performing it using updated counts, you can then go back to shorter thinking times.

Counting in byoyomi-only games is even much tougher, but possible, if one starts updating counts from move 1 of the game. Of course, I do not recommend pure byoyomi games for learning to count well.


Thanks for chiming in Robert. Indeed, 30 minutes main time is too little time for getting into the counting habit, 45 or 60 will be more like it (I'll be trying in the real life tournament.) My method to train counting had been so far to go through some pro game (I used Iyama's first games from GoGoD) and count in moves 50, 100 and 150. This is how I got increasingly faster.

Incremental counting in games which are not your own is very hard though, but I found that keeping track of how much a region is worth is far easier if you are the one playing. I hope my ability to count "usual" regions at a glance will improve, making me faster (what I mean: visually I have a hard time knowing if it's 5x3 or 6x3, once I can know at a glance my speed will increase easily.)

I'm glad to know my speed is OK: now I have to get more precise, too :)

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 Post subject: Re: My review of R. Jasiek's Positional Judgement 1: Territo
Post #4 Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:41 pm 
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Thanks for the review it was very helpful (and for the Fairbairn link, had not seen this).

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