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 Post subject: yakcyll's Study Journal
Post #1 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:48 pm 
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I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

One can argue that this can be said by essentially any Go player; some would say it applies even to professionals. In my case, however, it is a bit of a stronger assertion. Many concepts are still very alien to me or cause trouble during matches. I'm trying to value outside stones more than inside ones, but if someone asked me what influence is and why it's good, I don't think I could produce a coherent answer; good shape eludes me more often than not, although this is probably more due to my 'talent' of ending up in a shinogi situation most of the time; put any time constraint on me and I lose my head very quickly. Most importantly, I have no idea how to win games. Over time I resorted to attempting to imitate good practices until I feel like I understand the game better; admittedly, this approach sort of works (depending on the definition of 'works'), but it feels like wading in a muddy swamp in the dark a lot of the time. This journal is my attempt to get myself to review more games, store them a bit deeper in my memory for reference and get advice on what to work on. I'll highly appreciate every bit of support.

Here's one of the games I played at a tournament last weekend; I'm heading off for a handicap tourney tomorrow. Hopefully I'll find some time soon to analyze and annotate more of my past games too. I'll focus on over-the-board games, as online Go is, well, a very different proposition.


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Post #2 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:57 pm 
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Hi yakcyll,

Welcome. :)
Quote:
I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
Seems the best opener in these journals. :tmbup:
Quote:
what influence is and why it's good, I don't think I could produce a coherent answer
:tmbup: ( Infinitely better than giving a certain answer that turns out to be wrong. )

:b7: maybe AG-teach is not crazy about the Kobayashi. :study:

:w20: Up to here, seems OK ( people with engines more resourceful... )
Engines like o2 in some situations.

:w22: Check with engine choices, e.g. Q18, M17, H17, C3, etc.
But the game is not decided here.

:b23: Local follow-up for :white: : e.g. C4 attach.

:w26: Engines: R8 ?

:w30: Engines ?

:w32: Too much ? Engines ?

:w36: G15/J14 ?

:w38: ( at least 2 ) factors here to consider:
- evaluation: even if B gets all local points, is it very big for B ?
- local tactics/plan/reading.
Curious about engine numbers.

:w40: ( same 2 factors ):
- globally, tenuki ?
- locally, M15 ?
- engines.

:b41: "hane head of 2" ( should've been part of reading before :w38: )


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Post #3 Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:56 am 
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Hi yakcyll,

:w56: You evaluated this as sente; he ignored you.
What was your follow-up ?

:b57: "...but since I interpreted this as him going for shape, I decided the fight is on." Hmm... :scratch: The local fight started at :b37: ...

:w58: Re: :w56: ...

:b63: Perhaps engine numbers can help clarify the global situation.

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Post #4 Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:06 am 
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EdLee wrote:
Hi yakcyll,

:w56: You evaluated this as sente; he ignored you.
What was your follow-up ?

:b57: "...but since I interpreted this as him going for shape, I decided the fight is on." Hmm... :scratch: The local fight started at :b37: ...

:w58: Re: :w56: ...

:b63: Perhaps engine numbers can help clarify the global situation.

Hey Ed, thanks a lot for analysis and suggestions!
My aim with :w38: was to get some stones on the outside, preparing for the sequence I mentioned in the comments (of course, none of that transpired and I was left with what I felt was an inferior resolution of shape in the top right corner). Admittedly, I play a lot by feel - read a couple of stones ahead in the most obvious directions a situation can evolve and decide on that - so when I attached there, I wasn't exactly clear on how the situation would end up. Then again, I had a goal and as long as it works out, I don't mind helping Black's shape there too much. The hane at :b41: eluded me; lots to work on.

:w56: - going into the corner and settling the group. By 'going for shape' with :b57: I meant that I thought he wanted to settle locally, which, if we both got to do so, I figured wouldn't hurt me too badly. I wasn't aware of Black's better potential for points and attacking. However, if I successfully surrounded that group, the situation seemed to me to reverse. I didn't interpret :b37: as a start of a fight - more like pushing that white stone around, considering that there's a connection underneath.

Regarding your comment on :b63:, I wasn't fully aware of what's lurking there, still being confident that, even if forced to sacrifice a couple stones, there was no connection between his left side group and the top. Admittedly, I didn't consider that my group on the left could be cut off in the process and forced to live while he escaped, which turned out to pose a problem for me a number of times.

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Post #5 Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:36 am 
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Hi yakcyll,
Quote:
My aim with :w38: was to get some stones on the outside,
But :w38: is on the inside -- B could've hane on top directly, N16.
Quote:
I didn't interpret :b37: as a start of a fight - more like pushing that white stone around, considering that there's a connection underneath.
Connection for whom ?

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Post #6 Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:22 am 
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EdLee wrote:
Quote:
My aim with :w38: was to get some stones on the outside,
But :w38: is on the inside -- B could've hane on top directly, N16.
If the hane at N16 was played, I was expecting to cross-cut and fight locally. My assessment of the whole board is usually all over the place like this.

EdLee wrote:
Quote:
I didn't interpret :b37: as a start of a fight - more like pushing that white stone around, considering that there's a connection underneath.
Connection for whom ?
It only occurred to me as I was typing up a response that the fact that this question was asked bears a striking resemblance to a situation where two players are both happy with a result of a sequence (here I mean more than satisfied, so non-joseki). The usual conclusion is that one of them is wrong in their assessment - and in this case one is obligated by the laws of probability to bet against me. I revisited the position in more detail and realized that attaching at B6 would not be as straightforward for Black as I thought during the game.

All good points, thanks a lot!

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Post #7 Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:40 am 
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When is sente good and when is it bad?

I tend to catch myself on occasion leaving big moves on the board to play them later, sort of believing that, since they are forcing, I should find and play even bigger moves (?) first. The only problem with that - the obvious one - is that as soon as my opponent notices them lying around, they play those moves and those turn out to be forcing for them too, usually in less than obvious ways. I can't quite remember a specific example, but it usually amounts to playing a gote move that feels very slow, but lets you avoid a series of forcing moves, or not playing your own forcing moves immediately, even though they are seemingly free. On the same topic, what does it mean for a move to be free and is it OK to play them out as soon as possible (e.g. trying to force a mostly enclosed group to live inside and resolve the shape)?

On a different note, when I was initially pondering which games to include in the journal, I figured I would avoid showcasing online games. Even the medium time control settings on KGS get me quite stressed and, as a result, I feel like online games aren't very representative and I can't quite give my best when playing them. Then again, they are the best source of practice, so I keep trying to identify the issues with my mentality online and find solutions to them. Nothing had the desired more or less permanent effect on me before, but I did notice that I tend to play a bit more calm these days; nothing that I'd call comfortable yet, but maybe I'll get there. Fortunately, today I got to play a game that represents my current level and style of play (uh-oh) fairly well - taking 'big' points through the fire and the flames. I won by half a point through blunders on both sides, but the game left me feeling I'm about to hit a plateau I won't get past without guidance on what is really important in the game, how to see it and how to achieve it.



Last edited by yakcyll on Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #8 Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:12 am 
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Hi yakcyll,

Good question but very difficult to answer.
( e.g. AlphaGo played a few sente moves much earlier than previously played by pros. )

:w20: , :b21: maybe slow. (*)

:b25: I would L17. (*)

:w26: - :b29: I think it's good for :black: . (*)

:w30: seems slow. (*)

:b31: seems slow; maybe R3 ? (*)

:w32: seems slow. (*)

:b33: seems slow. (C18, C11 miai) (*)

:b35: If you block at C18, locally :white: is dead shape, but not easy to kill. (*)

:w42: maybe the engine doesn't like this hane. (*)

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Post #9 Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:52 am 
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Some top of the head comments. :)

:b21: Looks like a good place to take sente.

:b25: The jump is fine. :)

:b31: Looks small, is small. Don't worry, be happy!

:b33: Small. If you are going to play around here, C-18 secures the corner and threatens to take away White's eye on the top side.

:b35: I think approaching the bottom right corner would be premature. As for saving the 3-3 invasion for later, how about never?

:b37: How about blocking on the other side, taking sente, and then play the keima at J-13?

:b53: Looks good to me. :)

:b57: I think atari at L-17 first, to leave aji, and then play here.

:b59: C-18 may well be sente now. If White responds at E-17, then maybe attack at G-12.

:b61: If White gets to play P-07 he will be building a framework. You need to break the sector lines and attack his reduction stone. Q-08 looks good.

:b87: Give a thought to the keima at O-6, to threaten the White group on the right side.

:b105: C-18 with sente.

:w106: Too late! :(

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Post #10 Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:00 pm 
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Slow looks to be the theme of mine.

@EdLee: About :b33: (C18, C11 miai), solid point actually. There turned out to be a couple points in that area in the end, but considering the entire right side is open at that moment, there was no need to obsess over it. I didn't consider the top left White group as a potential target for attack, which in retrospect looks not alive at all.

@Bill: Lots of good ideas, thanks! Especially the response to the invasion in the top right corner, I have not considered the sente variation at all... gotta keep up with the times. Two questions popped up when I was analyzing your comments.
a) The san-san invasion in the bottom right seems uninteresting to you. Is this because I would need a supporting stone at R-6 for it to be profitable?
b) Regarding the sector lines: I've put this replay through a bot and it did in fact also suggest going in at :b61:, even as far as O-8. Why is that, what are the attributes of those moves that make them interesting? Cutting through White's potential territory? Attacking the white stone at O-10 lightly? It's hard to build in there at all, is it a matter of feeling the balance (i.e. simply counting) and identifying it's more profitable/important to destroy rather than build yourself? Is it all too easy for White to lean on the Black left-side group and take sente to enclose the area from the left too? I was thinking this White stone is all too far from the rest of its allies to be useful as anything other than a shallow reduction; plus, it was quite hard to attack, so I didn't focus much on it.

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Post #11 Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:50 pm 
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yakcyll wrote:
@Bill: Lots of good ideas, thanks! Especially the response to the invasion in the top right corner, I have not considered the sente variation at all... gotta keep up with the times.


To take sente you don't have to play the popular keima, which can lead to complications, you can simply extend instead of playing the hane, so that you have three stones together on the fourth line.

BTW, the keima on the top side not only enlarges your framework, it attacks the White group there. :)

Quote:
Two questions popped up when I was analyzing your comments.
a) The san-san invasion in the bottom right seems uninteresting to you. Is this because I would need a supporting stone at R-6 for it to be profitable?


Jiminy Christmas! White has both a keima and an extension there. The raw 3-3 is not going to be profitable. The R-06 approach is possible, but a submarine approach at S-04 or S-05 is usual. Too early for those, however. :)

Quote:
b) Regarding the sector lines: I've put this replay through a bot and it did in fact also suggest going in at :b61:, even as far as O-8. Why is that, what are the attributes of those moves that make them interesting? Cutting through White's potential territory? Attacking the white stone at O-10 lightly?


Yes to both. At the same time. :) (Look for dual purpose plays.)

Quote:
It's hard to build in there at all, is it a matter of feeling the balance (i.e. simply counting) and identifying it's more profitable/important to destroy rather than build yourself? Is it all too easy for White to lean on the Black left-side group and take sente to enclose the area from the left too? I was thinking this White stone is all too far from the rest of its allies to be useful as anything other than a shallow reduction; plus, it was quite hard to attack, so I didn't focus much on it.


Neither building a framework nor playing an attack is particularly hard.

If you can get your hands on Bruce Wilcox's material, he explains sector lines (a term he invented) quite well. :)

As for it being more important to build or to destroy, consider this. The average go move gains around 7 pts. (komi). But at the end of a game that has been played out, each player has around 120 stones on the board and around 60 pts. of territory., an average of about ½ pt. per stone. Why the big discrepancy? Because most of the gain per move, on average, came from taking away the opponent's potential territory, not from building one's own territory.

Takagawa wrote:
Go is a game of territory. But it is almost impossible to make territory.

;)

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Post #12 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:30 pm 
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Alright, here goes my attempt at rambling about Go. As I'm lying in bed in a near feverish state, I started to ponder on my progress as a Go player. Having begun playing a bit over fourteen months ago, the satisfaction gained from learning the game and meeting new people overshadowed my thirst for federation points. Thanks to this, after reaching a European SDK level by the end of the year, I am looking forward with hope and determination. The next step of the journey was supposed to be attending the side tournament of the European Grand Prix, taking place in Olomouc, CZ this weekend. It just so happened that I had to catch something infectious after taking care of all the preparations, so now the whole trip has been thrown into question.

On the bright side, I now have more time to consider something that's been on my mind for a couple weeks now. I got accustomed to making palpable leaps in understanding of the game every now and then over the last year, but lately I started feeling like I've entered some really swampy territory in that regard, where you can't see where your next ten steps will take you, where there's no exit in sight. I figured I'd drop my thoughts on this onto a phpBB server somewhere in the world for reference. Considering that, a) logically, the chance of there being another like-minded Go player somewhere out there who struggled with similar issues, overcame them and could share some advice on the matter is non-zero, and b) one is expected to help their luck when having ambitious goals to reach, I hope you'll forgive my somewhat self-indulgent stance here. This post got VERY ramble-y, but I tried to keep the whole thing as cohesive as possible. Don't be too bothered if you get too bored to finish it; if you do get there, much thanks already.

What's wrong?

I'm an information hoarder. It's natural for me to try and get acquainted with as much knowledge on the subject I'm invested in as possible, even if it's not internalized properly the first time around. When I'm confused, I'm more interested in finding the question that will free me of doubt in the least complicated manner possible, rather than taking pointers or heuristics for granted (this is not to say that I avoid such things as checklists when refining my decision process - quite the contrary - but if an answer is too specific or leaves just more questions unanswered, I'm more likely to filter it out. This may be the case of confirmation bias too, but I do not know how to tackle it). If this sounds like I was looking for a 42 kind of an answer, it most certainly is like that.

Given how fuzzy some subjects of the Go theory are (board judgement for example), this is a recipe for arrested development. For a rational person, such kind of idea would prompt modifying the approach to better suit the issue at hand. For me, it is not so, and I'm worried that this by itself will be a major road block in months to come. No matter how technically refined my game gets, struggling with making efficient decisions because of the inability to see and accept how one sequence results in a superior position compared to another means that my games will feel more and more random as I play, especially online.

The reason this is such a problem for me is that focusing on solutions to internal (wrong approach) problems as opposed to external (missing a piece) ones is somewhat new to me. There's so much vagueness involved here that I can't help myself but just wave my hands at things hoping something would stick. I used to be pretty introverted and introspection isn't an alien technique to me, but when it comes to personal development, you're asking yourself who you want to be and how you can become that 'better' person; in terms of studying Go, there's a more palpable goal on the horizon - winning games more often in the long run - but the path there does not become proportionally clearer.

Given all this, I concluded that there most likely is some fundamental defect or misconception in my approach to the game and improvement and, as such, I'm trying to shine light on different character flaws that might hinder my development as a player. This is done hoping that laundering my mind in a soup of different arguments and viewpoints will open the next door on the path to understanding what exactly I am doing.


Trust and acceptance

I frequent various technical outlets on the net to stay informed. One of those is Hacker News, an aggregator of user-submitted links and text posts related to anything of interest to a self-proclaimed intellectual. Admittedly, I tend to only skim the headlines posted there, only reading the linked content if it's directly related to my trade. One of such headlines caught my eye however - Students learn from people they love - because it seemed to align with an idea about learning that I subscribe to (namely, that discipline, while much more reliable, is the difficult-to-achieve mean of learning and not the main driver of improvement for most people). In the article, the author asserts that emotions and trust play a major part in sparking commitment from students, no matter how technical or fact-based a subject is. I have no trouble finding a connection between this observation and my own experience. There's a number of quite strong players in our club and they are very eager to observe, analyze the games of weaker players and offer advice. In my mind, some of them are much better at formulating said advice in a way that will stick longer. I believe this is exactly because they are better at understanding the unspoken ideas and goals behind certain moves and adapt their answers so that they better address the feeling behind those moves. This results in their suggestions leaving a longer lasting mark. Rough, situation-specific analysis just doesn't feel useful without being able to apply it on other boards, yet a lot of Go knowledge is hidden in such tidbits and one is expected to acquaint themselves with them just in case they crop up in the future. It's hard to argue the merit of that argument, however the effectiveness of the method is debatable. Personally, I have a hard time internalizing information presented to me in this fashion.


Skepticism and bias

I'm sure everybody has heard such old-time maxims as 'one should approach <subject X> with a mind open like that of a child'. What's a child's mind like however, and how one can reach a similar state, is wholly unclear. I believe the crux of the matter to lie with one's experience of life, how our emotions shape our expectations and so on. A child absorbs topically disjointed information and tries to form a cohesive image of the world based on it. An adult, in contrast, takes a piece of information and first tries to find a way to fit it into their preexisting model. If there's no good place to put it in or it takes effort to create new connections with it, they are more likely to reject it altogether. I think this is why it's good to have an early start in any discipline - the later you begin your development, the harder and slower the process will be, especially if you allow the newly created mind map to become entangled with other unrelated experiences. I have that exact problem - I reject ideas that, instead of refining my current understanding of the game, are seemingly disjointed from it or simply don't fit into my blanks well enough. Case in point - I debated a 'blue move' from a club game I played this week with a 1D friend of mine and for him it's pretty clear that that point is the most urgent one in the situation specified in the linked thread. My only reaction is to get overwhelmed with a lot of "why"s and "what is going on"s; I assume it's because I'm accustomed to a different feeling of 'big'. This however is enough for me to treat it as trivia, instead of trying to understand it deeper.


Fear and stress

The article I mentioned before also touches upon the destructive effect of fear on one's ability to learn. That one has been a key element of my experience since the beginning of the decade. When Starcraft II came around, the automatic match finder included with the multiplayer (if I recall correctly, it was something fairly new in PC games even at that time) made playing games at your level easy. Before, you had to search through a list of servers or open matches and pray that the obscure-sounding name of your opponent didn't mean they were a highly skilled player hiding behind a new alias. The ability to 'queue for a game' changed everything - now within seconds you could be paired with someone who, based on their experience with the system, was likely to play at around your skill level (smurfs could still occasionally be found, although binding the license to a Battle.net account curbed that a bit).

Since the whole selling point of the feature was to match players based on their skill level, players were ascribed ranks, with a numerical matchmaking rating (MMR) hidden behind them. I have absolutely no idea what exactly caused the spawning of the 'ladder anxiety' phenomenon, but SC2 was the game to put it in the limelight. People were figuratively scared for their lives to press the 'Find a match' button, presumably due to fear of losing their rating points, lamenting their condition on various Internet forums. Some took it very seriously, addressing the problem with numerous guides, psychological advice and the like; for others, it was a non-issue, a bogeyman, an excuse from playing (?), and their only answer was to just suck it and play more.

I can personally attest to the latter solution not working out very well. I may have pushed it a bit too far, considering how a simple phantom of confrontation with any degree of seriousness about it, let alone with a stranger on the Internet, still causes me to physically shiver. I quit playing competitive video games two years ago because of it; it drove me to the point of depression. Playing Go on the Internet now is still a mediocre experience (I try to calm myself down a tad by talking to myself throughout the match, but it's not much). I still managed to get something from playing online since most of the value of a match lies in its analysis and review.

This would be somewhat acceptable if the stress didn't cause me to also maniacally avoid complicated situations. If a position requires me to read out some sequences, I just rely on my intuition to form an image of the potentially most dangerous sequence for me and play it out only if the end result, about five moves in, is satisfactory. This is of course a doomed approach, since what use is there in reading a single sequence out? Safe to say I get surprised by subsequent moves more often than not. I have no trust in my ability to read the board; if a sequence doesn't end well, I keep going over it again and again looking for that spark of inspiration that'd lead me down a better branch. Essentially, my reading is very inefficient and so I usually avoid it altogether, sometimes letting my weak groups (almost) die because of not wanting to play locally again. I'm pushing ahead regardless, hoping that, indeed, one day I'll simply reach Zen if I reach out far enough, but I'm close to accepting that if I haven't found a solution in those nine years, then chances are I'll have to get extremely lucky to get over it. Maybe I should just go live in a cauldron...


Confusion

And so, most of the time I spend contemplating Go nowadays, I reach a state where I'm left with a number of "I don't know"s. I'm afraid of getting stuck and that fear, I presume, also contributes to me feeling stuck at my current level. I keep playing, but I don't understand what I'm getting from those games; I keep reading books, but the presented techniques feel abstract and detached from my own games; I keep asking for reviews, but it feels like nothing makes sense when the game becomes complicated. I don't know what to focus on. I don't feel like giving up - it's not as frustrating an experience as some others have been in the past and I'm hopeful that there's not a technically insurmountable challenge ahead of me - but damn, which way to go? A good game of Go for me is one where I can apply myself - but most of the time I don't understand what should be done on the board or am too preoccupied with my leg twitching to focus. So, what to do?

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Post #13 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:49 pm 
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Interesting read. There are several aspects that I recognize only too easily!
Especially your last 2 bits ring very true and I understand what you mean very well. Both on the fear and the confusion text!

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Post #14 Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:50 am 
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Thank you for a fascinating post; I'm not the best to give advice here, but since you sem to struggle with Go's more ambigous aspects and find reading tricky, Life and Death problems may be best to do as normally have clear answers.

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Post #15 Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:06 pm 
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the shift
**

I've gone to Olomouc after all. This was the first time I've gone on a trip abroad to pursue a hobby of my own, which combined with my love for long distance journeys had me super excited to see my fever disappear on Friday morning. After some last-minute preparations (like driving around the city with the taxi driver looking for Czech korunas) and mishaps (the strap in my travel bag has torn off as I was taking a call at the station, forcing me to perform some weird figure skating moves to balance myself without dropping it on the floor) I and a friend had boarded the train to Prague and we were on our way.

It was one of (if not) the best tournaments I've been to so far in many aspects. We played in the building of the Faculty of Science of Palacký University in a couple of rooms on the ground floor, while the Grand Prix took place on the top floor. I haven't been to this large a tourney before either actually - I can only imagine how much it took to prepare everything for almost a hundred players. It was impressive that everything went so smoothly. If you live relatively nearby and/or have another player to join you, I can only highly recommend participating next year.

All this is however only a side story to actual playing. I might fumble with words a bit here, bear with me. Maybe let's get the TL;DRs out of the way first, and there are two:
1. Fear must be actively driven out from one's heart if one is to improve and draw enthusiasm from it.
2. When playing online, outcome dependency turns making mistakes into quite a miserable experience.

I played the best Go so far in Olomouc. I'm gonna undersell this point for sure, but it is super important that this doesn't mean that I played some demigodly moves or had so many strikes of genius that my play drew sighs of astonishment from high dan players. I finished with a 3-2 score and none of my games was a spectacle of any special sort. However, the sheer amount of whatever units I expended to apply myself to those games and the fire that was pushing me to obliterate any competition all the way made me realize that, like, who even should give a sh** about rank in general. Who should care about winning or losing in general? The race for sente was real in my games; the journey towards better technique had begun; the path to mastery became that much clearer.

I remember the first game on the second day against a guy who had a niken tobi protruding into my moyo when I ended finishing an opposite wall in gote. We had some points elsewhere on the board already, so the game seemed like it was going to be decided by his ability to reduce the center. The formation here was thin for both of us; he already had slid into my territory on the side underneath and I had some support around that jump of his, but if I misplayed, he could potentially force me into bad shape everywhere. He was thinking for a longer while about his next move and finally played a jump deeper from that exposed stone. I knew he would, they always do. The moment he reached out to place that stone on the board, before the click even sounded out, my hand was already flying into the bowl, grabbing one of my own and smashing it right beneath the initial jump, cutting it off from the rest of his group, while almost destroying the stone formations around it in the process. Of course I missed initially, my hand was trembling too hard. But I was ready and he was about to feel my wrath. I got to kill the two stones, drive my group into his remaining potential and win with something like seventeen points of advantage.

I wanted to play my own game this tournament and for the most part it worked. I applied myself, I enjoyed every single bit of the experience. The twist came in the last game and it made me realize how much we tend to dig holes underneath ourselves. I played a guy who had a higher rank than me. That is no big deal for me as I know how inconsistent people are around my level. I had white and had to, from the get-go, deal with some unorthodox formations of his. I immediately felt out of my element, responding more reactively and worrying about falling behind like fifteen moves in. Near the beginning I approached his hoshi stone, he backed off low; there shortly came a moment when he pincered the approaching stone. My immediate instinct was to pull it out, but a lightbulb has lit up: this was my lucky break. I enclosed another corner, he played a kick there again and I got another stone elsewhere. Suddenly I had the tempo, the kakari stone wasn't dead yet and I got to turn the game around. However, I was already a bit shaken up and couldn't quite get back on both feet. The rest of the game revolved around my fierce attack to kill an invasion of his, during which I started hallucinating threats and how behind I was if I didn't get to take those stones of his. I played that match the same way I played through most of my beginner ranks, attacking relentlessly until two eyes were formed. Eventually I lost by nine points - I'll put it up for review later - but this one actually has shown me, in proper contrast, what havoc an ill state of mind can cause on the goban. If one loses sight of what's important - the strength of one's own groups and the big points - the results are bound to become more lopsided with time.

The ride home was great. We had some unaccounted for technical delays, but that got us more time to talk about the games and the future. The entire experience got me pumped to play more, to study and analyse games more, to invest more time and effort into improving. It had an outstanding impact on my approach towards playing online: I just want to do it. It's no longer about what my rank on KGS is or whether I win or lose, it's mostly about playing my own, calm game and learning from my own mistakes, which, luckily, I have now a much easier time identifying, thanks to Leela. Admittedly, I win more than lose lately, so it's still an unanswered question whether I'll keep going once I stall again, but I'm having great fun regardless. One thing I noticed is that I'm still emotionally invested in win rate swings attached to moves I wouldn't have expected to have a great impact on the game. I think focusing too much on the numbers doesn't lead me in any useful direction, so I'll try to mostly analyse games on my own and then just verify my findings with Leela instead of the other way around; I think it's easier to avoid confirmation bias this way too.

Play tournaments mates, it's good for you. The 42nd Warsaw Go Tournament is in the pipeline for May, more details later.


This post by yakcyll was liked by 3 people: Bill Spight, dfan, Umsturz
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