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 Post subject: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #1 Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:04 pm 
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Hey lads.

I've just registered for the London Open, which starts on the 28th of December. I'd like to win most of my games, or -- failing that -- at least put up a respectable performance~

The background: I've been playing since the start of 2016, and I've been about 5k since around the start of 2018, probably. I've got about 2,000 19x19 games under my belt, but minimal irl game experience.

I have pretty much no financial budget (£25-50 if I'm lucky). However, I have a very large amount of free time.

My resources:

* A board and stones (slate & shell) ^^

* Several books, including Attack and Defense. I don't have Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go.

* The regular suite of free websites

* various bits and pieces of experience in odd jobs, like Sensei's Library article creation, GoKibitz reviewing, OGS group management etc.

The plan:

1. Tsumego. I've always been a slacker in this department.

My thought is that the main part of this front should be Cho Chikun's Elementary Encyclopedia of Life and Death (see https://senseis.xmp.net/?SpeedrunningChomego). My intention is to try to complete it over the course of a week at most, and if I can finish it in a shorter time then all the better. Having finished it, I'll restart, and so on and so on.

I'll probably also try the Intermediate, and run through the easier sets on TsumegoHero.

2. Games. I don't play every day. I'd like to average at least two games a day, with review. I'm sure I could bring it up to three or even four on some days, but I don't want to drop below a daily game.

3. Less timewasting. Things like Sensei's RandomPage surfing and watching hours of DDK streamers don't help me improve, much as I love them.

This post is as much a statement of intent as it is a real plan. Some of the activity is probably going to fall into the vague sphere of "falling back on online resources", which I've been compiling over the months.

Is anyone else thinking of training for the London Open? It's nice to have a medium-term goal, right?

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #2 Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:30 pm 
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bugcat wrote:
I've just registered for the London Open, which starts on the 28th of December. I'd like to win most of my games, or -- failing that -- at least put up a respectable performance~


I like how your plan is basically to study and prepare! I am probably not going but I am sure it will be fun.

Some recommendations or comments regarding your plan.

bugcat wrote:
1. Tsumego. I've always been a slacker in this department.

I don't know your life and death skills but I think there are a few aspects to tsumego:

1. practice reading quickly enough
2. practice reading precisely enough
3. learn the usual shapes

If you are 5k then I am not sure if you will have more benefit from #3 or #1, in the end it is all about #2 but if you were stating a few stones stronger EGF kyu rank I'd definitely say that it could be time for #3. Basically, you need to make a note of what life and death mistakes and what other confusion you encounter when playing and make your own plan on how to address that. If your tsumego plan is the result of your own review of what problems you encounter when playing then that is pretty good, but if not maybe you should think more about this?

bugcat wrote:
2. Games. I don't play every day. I'd like to average at least two games a day, with review. I'm sure I could bring it up to three or even four on some days, but I don't want to drop below a daily game.

I'd recommend that you make sure to play at least one SERIOUS game every week as a minimum. It is about making sure that you are in the right mindset at least once a week to play more seriously, it is probably unrealistic to play 2+ games seriously every day for months. There are risks of burning out or actually just pretending to be very serious when in reality you are just exhausting yourself. Playing lot of games is good to earn experience and for practice but it is not same as playing serious games with enough time and focus. The importance of this is in bringing all of the other things that you learn and practice together in a setting when you are focused enough to use it.

So I'd suggest that if you are going to play 20+ games every week that you try to make 1-2 of those the only ones you play on that day, play them with as long time control as you can and preferably against someone who is taking it as seriously as you are. Then just try to have fun in the other 18 games, try new things and so on.

bugcat wrote:
3. Less timewasting. Things like Sensei's RandomPage surfing and watching hours of DDK streamers don't help me improve, much as I love them.

I'd recommend watching games by players who are 2-3 stones stronger than you when you feel like doing Go related activity but don't want to play. This is close enough so that you can understand what they are doing and spot actual mistakes, this can both give you confidence that you actually know stuff and the opportunity to exercise your understanding. It is also a lot less effort then playing a game so you can do it after or before playing a game, when you don't have time to play a whole game, or if you are tired from all the studying. The good thing about being in the SDK range is that it is really easy to find decent games like that to watch.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #3 Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2021 12:00 am 
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Hi bugcat,

the website says: time limit 50 minutes with 20s Fischer time.

I won't participate in the London Open, but if you would like to play 1-10 games with the same time controls against someone with a similar level, feel free to PM me.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #4 Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:22 am 
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Thanks both of you!

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #5 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:07 am 
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A respectable goal. As the tournament is not far off, you will probably fare better by concentrating on gamesmanship than trying to increase your go knowledge in that timeframe.

https://senseis.xmp.net/?DieterVerhofst ... mesmanship

Make sure you arrive at the tournament in good physical shape. In case you travel, book a good hotel so that you can rest, eat and take a walk outside. Be sure about your goal: is it maximizing performance, or is it the social life around the tournament, including after parties? The two don't go together well.

In preparation, play matches in similar conditions: real life, same time limits. (If you can only play online, put a board next to you - btw I can be a sparring partner in that sense too, although I'm not a realistic body double for a 5k opponent)

In those practice games, practice the stuff you'll need to win:

1. don't resign and develop fighting spirit
2. develop a time management strategy and discipline based on the time settings the tournament holds
3. keep full awareness of basic things like liberties so that your results are not spoiled by a basic error
4. review your games in light of these goals and for any pattern in your playing that you can improve in this timeframe

(Tsumego is long term improvement. SL is not doing anything for your improvement - trust me on that one after 20 years of editing)

At the tournament, focus on the proces, not on the result. That is: don't resign (too soon), manage your time and remain aware of liberties, while playing to the best of your abilities. You don't control the result, only the process.

Good luck


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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #6 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:18 am 
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Quote:
you will probably fare better by concentrating on gamesmanship


Telling someone to behave in an unsportsmanlike way, especially in the home of fair play at a time of celebration, seems highly questionable.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gamesmanship is a better guide than SL.

Or are you hoping to play bugcat in London and you are getting your retaliation in first?

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #7 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:33 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
you will probably fare better by concentrating on gamesmanship


Telling someone to behave in an unsportsmanlike way, especially in the home of fair play at a time of celebration, seems highly questionable.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gamesmanship is a better guide than SL.

Or are you hoping to play bugcat in London and you are getting your retaliation in first?


I'm advising him to develop fighting spirit by not resigning (too early) in practice games.

It's a very gratuitous remark to make, focusing on one out four points and taking the most negative interpretation of it, nothing unexpected though.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #8 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:42 am 
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Gamesmanship is an unfortunate word, perhaps you should rather use the phrase "game management" since that's mostly what you're talking about.

I recently played in the South African championships (a closed tournament to the top 8 players), and won one of my games against someone making their debut. It was a very early resignation - they were certainly on the back foot at that point, but it was really early in the game (<100 moves), and the advantage was only moderate, with plenty of aji to exploit later on. I could say I was happy to get the cheap win, but that isn't true - when I'm playing in a real over the board tournament, I want to be pushed and I want my games to be tough battles, even if as is sometimes the case, it's about winning a won game (not as easy as it sounds). So to echo Knotwilg, resist the temptation to resign early, even if you've made a blunder, or think you're behind.


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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #9 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:27 am 
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Thanks, Dieter. Those are things that I have been bearing in mind over the last few months, especially work on my time management, following GoDave's noble efforts ^w^

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #10 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 1:34 pm 
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So we played a game: https://online-go.com/game/37941497
The game was quite balanced and interesting. I won, but Black missed many opportunities between moves 153 and 169, then lost many points by trying too hard to kill.

50 minutes + 20s Fischer feels pretty long, we were far from using all our time, so time management shouldn't be a problem. The difficulty is rather to stay concentrated over a long period and make calm decisions with a clear mind when under pressure. Knotwilg calls that gamesmanship, maybe the original meaning was lost in translation, I would rather talk about working on the competitive aspect of the game.

@bugcat: if you want to play other games, you can drop me a PM by the end of the week or later. I don't have time for more than 1 long game/week but I'd be happy to play again, some time next week or later.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #11 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:22 pm 
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I checked the Myriam-Webster reference and realize the term indeed badly conveys what I'm talking about. So I guess John's reply was more tongue in cheek than I realized, poking fun at my clumsy use of the language rather than making a criticism on the content. It's hard to tell. Let me take back my (own) snarl in any case.

And yet the first recommendation is indeed a kind of actual "gamesmanship" but not to steal a victory by pushing the opponent's nerves, abusing the rule of ending the game and testing their patience. Rather an antidote to complacency and early resigning, which is a trivial cause for a bad win/loss ratio. Practicing that can be done in all transparency.

Would a(nother) native speaker be so kind to offer a better word for "aspects of the game that help you win, other than a good understanding of it"? In tennis for example, those are "using your side switching breaks well to reset physically and mentally; develop serve routines to concentrate; not being put off by environmental sounds or the opponent's grunting ..."

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #12 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:59 pm 
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At professional level, the most usual term seems to be sports psychology. Several universities offer that as a discipline. There are also books on chess psychology.

There may also be books on recognising TICs, but I haven't been to an airport bookstall for a couple of years.

Lang may yer lum reek.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #13 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:12 pm 
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Knotwilg wrote:
a better word for "aspects of the game that help you win, other than a good understanding of it"?
Maybe not exactly what you were going for, but playing the "meta-game" (or "metagaming") would include that. The metagame being information about or parameters to the game that are not defined within the game itself. For some games, it might describe just knowing what the pool of opponents might tend to do and being prepared for that. In other games, some information might not be public, but there can be a way to figure it out. In some games, you might have played several times and know which strategies work best and use that to your advantage. It could be something as simple as "I always sit in that corner of the tournament room because its furthest from the door (noise)" or because the heater/AC actually works. For Go, metagaming includes steering the game towards complications when losing so that mistakes are more likely. Or not resigning when you should know that the opponent might make a mistake. Or, when you can tell that the opponent has researched a variation, playing a weird move to get out of it. Or even more meta, playing slowly so that your opponent doesn't realize that you researched this variation.

Others mentioned things along the line of "conditioning", which is helpful for most sports and activities and has nothing to do with the activity itself.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #14 Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:19 pm 
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bugcat wrote:
I've just registered for the London Open, which starts on the 28th of December. I'd like to win most of my games, or -- failing that -- at least put up a respectable performance~


Have you played in (many) tournaments before? Maybe everyone else knows the answer, but I think it is relevant when people start talking about match preparation (is this a better term than gamesmanship, metagaming and game management?).

I feel the match preparation that has been mentioned already is mostly things that could be addressed reactively, as in do something about it when it becomes a problem but otherwise don't worry about it.

If it is your first tournament (first in another country or one of first tournaments) then that is somewhat different.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #15 Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 6:54 am 
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I've played a few tournaments, but not many. Somewhere between five and ten, I think.

And none since lockdown.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #16 Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2021 5:31 pm 
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I won my second training game, this time against a Twitch friend.

I've been focusing on my time usage, and trying to achieve this system:

* 10m for the first 75 moves
* 15m for the next 50 moves, ie. up to 125
* 15m for the 50 moves after that, ie. up to 175
* 10m for the rest of the game

This includes the 20s / move Fischer, which is treated as a pleasant extra. How I actually like to phrase it is:

(50 main time)

* (at least) 40m remaining after 75 moves
* (at least) 25m remaining after 125 moves
* (at least) 10m remaining after 175 moves

I'll be playing against jlt again in a few days, I think, if we arrange something.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #17 Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 2:48 am 
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I think the second way, as managing the reserve, is a much better to phrase it.

Given Fischer 50/20, in a 300 move game, you have 150×20 s from the bonus time, that is 50 min, i. e. half of your whole game time. That's more than a »pleasant extra«.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #18 Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 6:04 am 
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Yeah, I agree. I understated a little too much ^^

Here's a table of comparison, including the Fischer.

(50m main time, 20s / move Fischer)

* 1st Stage: 75 moves by 40m remaining ("75 moves in 10m") = 37 or 38 moves in ~23m = [~35s / move]

* 2nd Stage: 125 moves by 25 mins remaining ("50 moves in 15 mins") = 25 moves in ~23 m = [~55s / move]

* 3rd Stage: 175 moves by 10 mins remaining ("50 moves in 15 mins") = 25 moves in ~23 m = [~55s / move]

* 4th Stage: I'll be playing this by ear, probably trying not to go below at least 3m left in case an emergency appears. If we propose that the game lasts to 250 moves, and that I finish with 3m on the clock, that's "75 moves in 7 mins" = 37 or 38 moves in ~20m = [~30s / move].

If I've done my maths right, that is.

Supposing that I can accustom myself to this speed, I should at no time be in a situation where I'm forced to play an important move in less than the equivalent of one, or more likely two, 30s byo-yomi periods, even though the Fischer is only 20s.

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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #19 Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 6:34 am 
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Here's the breakdown in tabulated form.

All I'll be using to actually measure in my training games, though, will be [Moves made (total)] and [Clock left remaining].


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 Post subject: Re: An improvement plan for the London Open
Post #20 Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:15 am 
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Well, having played tournament games with Fischer time, I mostly appreciated that I did not have to think about the clock. I just kept a little eye on the reserve, but never consciously calculated anything like a move number. Also, 50/20 is quite slow (soft max of about 3:20 h for a game). My advice would be not to think about the clock but the game.

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