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 Post subject: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #1 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:52 am 
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Hey everyone!

Just started learning Go about a month ago. I had gotten fed up with grinding in video games, constantly sinking hours into practicing something that would become obsolete whenever the next big thing came out. I was looking for something deep and competitive I could learn and play that would LAST. I've never liked Chess, but as soon as I found Go I was hooked.

I collected every link I could find on Go and started here: http://www.playgo.to/iwtg/en/ which was a fantastic primer and introduction to a lot of the terminology (Atari, Hane, Keima/Knights Move, Aji, Ko, etc.)

The most difficult concepts for me were Ko and Ko fights (when and where they're good, whether to avoid or pursue), and reading into fights (whether things were alive or dead).

I watched a few pro games and quickly became lost as to why things were good and bad and decided to table those until I had a better basic understanding of the game.

I learned the basic concept of the 3rd and 4th line (territorial vs influential) and started looking at joseki but had difficulty grasping and committing to memory.

I created an account on OGS and started playing 9x9. I often didn't have time to play full on games, but the correspondence feature on OGS allowed me to start playing immediately. I've found that the computers on OGS make for a great on-demand strong opponent, so I've specifically targeted each of the AIs in my goal progression.

Short-term goals:

- Play as many games as I can
- Learn basic openings
- Get better at fights
- Keep learning the terminology
- Keep studying basic concepts
- Use basic joseki in real games
- Do tsumego problems? (I've heard mixed things on their effectiveness in real games.)

Long-term goals:

- Get into SDK's.
- Beat GnuGo
- Build up a knowledge of 'good' and 'bad' shapes.
- Play more live (non-correspondence games)

REALLY long term goals:

- Achieve dan rank (ONE DAY!)
- Beat Fuego and Leela

I'll be posting my games and progress. Any observations or pointers would be greatly appreciated!

You can find me here: https://online-go.com/player/429040 and I'll be creating an account on KGS soon.


Last edited by FuriousGeorge on Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #2 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:17 am 
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My first game played to completion against a human (I had been poking at GnuGo in the meantime).

Result: W+28.5

Lessons learned:

- Reading is important. Don't assume your stones are safe just because you've made a wall.
- Attacking without a plan is foolish.



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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #3 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:15 am 
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Third attempt at a 19x19 with GnuGo.

I'm not sure if it's worth fighting all the way to the end, or to resign when it seems like there's no way out. At what point do you call it? Part of me wants to see it to the end, but the other part feels like its futile to die a slow death like that...

For this game I wanted to:

- Try some new joseki, or even just joseki in general.
- Work on my fighting skills in a full game context (didn't go so well).

Lessons learned:

- Don't just follow joseki, try to understand the result you want out of it.
- Have more of a plan for an invasion rather than just forcing a response.



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Post #4 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:48 am 
Judan
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Hi George, welcome.

Approximately how many games have you completed do far ?

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #5 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:54 am 
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Welcome!
I can recommend getting igowin 9x9 (or similar programs that track your "rank", giving you handicap). I played a few hundred games against it when I started playing and it gave me a good head start on tactics / fighting (can't really learn good strategy on 9x9).
It took me from ~20k to 10k in a month or so.

GoQuest on your phone is even better since you play against real people and it also tracks your progress.

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #6 Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:43 pm 
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Thanks everyone!

EdLee wrote:
Approximately how many games have you completed do far ?


Only about 11 right now :( I'm finding that correspondence games are quite slow. Even though I've been playing for about a month, it's only been a few moves at a time. I'm looking to find a time where I can play uninterrupted games from start to finish. I have yet to find it, but I'm still looking.

coderboy wrote:
I can recommend getting igowin 9x9 (or similar programs that track your "rank", giving you handicap). I played a few hundred games against it when I started playing and it gave me a good head start on tactics / fighting (can't really learn good strategy on 9x9). It took me from ~20k to 10k in a month or so.

GoQuest on your phone is even better since you play against real people and it also tracks your progress.


Thanks, I'll have to work in some more 9x9s to improve my fighting skills. I was worried about spending too much time in 9x9 fights outside of the 19x19 context (having to consider other stones etc), but I'm probably waaaaay to low a level to be worrying about that right now.

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Post #7 Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:50 am 
Judan
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Hi George,

Nice hint:
Quote:
9x9... I played a few hundred games against it when I started playing
Enjoy. :)

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Post #8 Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:19 am 
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EdLee wrote:
Hi George,

Nice hint:
Quote:
9x9... I played a few hundred games against it when I started playing
Enjoy. :)


9x9 lasted a perfect length of time for me to play a game every time I started a recompile of the project I was working on at the time :)

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Post #9 Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:44 am 
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I've taken the advice and focused on crunching out the 9x9's as fast as I can. They're quite fun, and they've revealed some glaring weaknesses in my fighting.

I've gotten absolutely destroyed by some players for having tunnel vision and not which pieces are in danger, or reading out the moves, but I also beat GnuGo for the first time ever. I'm not sure it's really a good test of that AI, as it seems to play fairly passively in a 9x9 where human players brawl like mad.

I've also been able to gather some Tsumego collections with the intent of forming a habit of working through them a little each day. I'm currently working through 'Graded Go Problems for Beginners'. I've got all 4 volumes now.

The general advice I've seen is to try and solve Tsumego problems in your head rather than poking around on a digital board to see what works. Does anyone have any other Tsumego advice or any recommendations on which collections to start with?

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #10 Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:51 am 
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FuriousGeorge wrote:
Does anyone have any other Tsumego advice or any recommendations on which collections to start with?


(Love the handle!)

Glad you decided to do this. Reading your first post, I think this is probably much more valuable for you than studying joseki or fuseki -- but ultimately, you have to do a little bit of everything!

I think you are right that you should be trying to solve them in your head. One of the main purposes of these problems is to improve your reading skills so that you get better at playing out sequences in your head during games.

I find tsumego apps particularly useful because I can work through a couple of problems during short breaks in the day (waiting in line, etc.). In particular, I like GoProblems and EasyGo (both on iOS). I've used GoProblems for a while, but just found EasyGo and like it a lot. EasyGo has a very nice system for re-presenting problems to you at different time intervals so that you can re-work the ones that you found hard or failed to solve. It also has a mechanism for loading in your own problems. I haven't had a chance to do this yet, but my plan is to try load in the problems associated with some of the books that I'm working through.

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #11 Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:55 am 
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Continuing to work through 9x9's and tsumego problems and I've been seeing a definite improvement in my reading and fighting skills.

I've been playing 9x9's on blitz timers, and they're quite thrilling and visceral, but I'm struggling with the slowness of correspondence 19x19's. The extra time for each move actually stresses me out because I start to overthink and over-read movements... and then when I've explored too many options I'll just pick a move because I've overwhelmed myself... and sometimes it doesn't turn out too great. Does this happen to anyone else?

I've also been experiencing a lot of timeouts from opponents on OGS correspondence... my opponents will either timeout right away or we'll play about 50-60 moves in and then they'll timeout over the next week. Perhaps it's something to do with my low level?

I've attached a more recent 9x9 to log some of my improvement, but also to get some clarification. At move 54 and onward White plays in my territory but doesn't seem to be too interested in making life with any stones. It's like they were throwing away stones to get me to fill in my territory, but by the estimates it didn't seem to affect the score at all, in fact it seemed to HURT white by about a point?

Is there ever a situation where playing like this is beneficial? I was under the impression that unless you reduce or or make life, a failed invasion actually hurts you.



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Post #12 Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:45 am 
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White was just screwing with you (or he was too weak to realize his "invasion" is totally fruitless).

Since you were playing by Japanese rules, you were actually losing a point every time you played a move like :b57:. You weren't losing ground overall since White was also losing a point every turn by putting dead stones in your territory, but you would have won by more if you didn't respond every single time. (Of course you have to be confident enough that you don't need to play a stone.)


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Post #13 Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:39 pm 
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13: helping your stone at the top would not be "heavy" but "strong". What's the difference?

- "strong": adding a stone to an existing stone (or group), in disputed area, so that either the connectivity to other (strong) stones is improved, or these stones outnumber the opponent's stones

- "heavy": adding a stone to an existing stone (or group), in an area controlled by the opponent, in a way that the eyeshape or overall connectivity does not increase significantly, while it decreases the flexibility: you either have to save all or lose all stones

A solid connection of two stones (aka "iron pillar") can be either heavy or strong. In the game, you would make a connection to other strong stones and cut white's stones. This would definitely be a 'strong' move.

19: your move is not a double hane, but a cut. It is a good move because you capture the cutting stones.
23: exercise; is this move necessary or not? could you make better use of the stone elsewhere?
30: correct analysis
41: the ko is not the biggest move on the board. Which is?
44: it's bizarre. 44 and 42 should be clearly superfluous at this level. Even 40 was, which is a bit harder to see.
45: find a better place for this move. It's the same move as I recommend at 41
53: you are right, the game is done.

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #14 Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:50 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
13: helping your stone at the top would not be "heavy" but "strong".


I guess I still have my terminology mixed up. I was thinking 'over-concentrated', but looking at it again now I don't think it would have been. Extending below would have almost connected with the other group, and cut off the stone White just played.

Knotwilg wrote:
23: exercise; is this move necessary or not? could you make better use of the stone elsewhere?


I guess not, if white had tried to squeeze out a diagonal would still be sufficient, and the three black stones give it no where to run on the other side.

Knotwilg wrote:
41: the ko is not the biggest move on the board. Which is?
45: find a better place for this move. It's the same move as I recommend at 41


Looking at it, I'm not entirely sure. On move 41, I could possibly force that single white stone on the right side to the edge of the board and prevent capture of those four stones, but your hint at move 45 makes me think that's not what you're talking about...

...that single black stone on the right side looks like it wouldn't have much luck making life... maybe a more aggressive approach to the opening at the top? Like one space over (attach under White)? If White tries to swallow that stone I might be able to press a little further in than I did?

Thanks for your comments and clarifications!

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #15 Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:16 pm 
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The move I was talking about was the 3-3 at the top right.

In fact, the 2-2 point in the top right is even better, but it requires quite a bit of reading and understanding of life & death, probably out of reach for now.

The major point is that the stone you played at 45 is easily captured, while the 3-3 would be safe. It matters a few points.

Off to the next game!


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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #16 Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:02 am 
Judan

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One comment:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bcm7 Looks strong, but
$$ -------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . X . O . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . X . O . . |
$$ | . . . . 1 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . W X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ -------------------[/go]


:b7: looks strong, taking away a liberty of :wc:, but. . . .

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bcm7 Leaves weakness behind
$$ -------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . X . O . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . X . O . . |
$$ | . . . . 1 a . . . |
$$ | . . . 2 W X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ -------------------[/go]


:w8: strengthens the :wc: stone, and now Black has a cutting point at "a".

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bcm7 Simple and strong
$$ -------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . X . O . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . B . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . . . W B . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ -------------------[/go]


:b7: here strengthens Black, connecting the :bc: stones, and weakens the :wc: stone, as well.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bcm7 Simple and strong
$$ -------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . X . O . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 3 . B . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . 2 . W B . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . |
$$ -------------------[/go]


:w8: can strengthen the :wc: stone and stake out the bottom left corner, but Black can continue with, for instance, :b9: with no worries about his stones. :)

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Last edited by Bill Spight on Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #17 Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:18 pm 
Judan
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Hi George,

Supplement to post 16: Elephant's Eye.

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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #18 Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:24 am 
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Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.

I've been continuing with my correspondence games. They remain fairly slow, but they do give me time to really THINK about my moves.

I signed up on KGS as FuriousGrg but did not find many people on my level. I didn't have a tremendous amount of time so I played some beginner bots. It took a second for me to understand how it works, but I liked the room system. A lot easier to promote chatting while looking for games, seemed like people had known each other for a long time in there. I'll probably go back to KGS when I'm stronger.

I also bought a super-duper cheap set of (korean, I think?) glass stones from a local international grocery store. The stones are smaller than normal (about 18mm) but are more than sufficient... for now. A coworker and I have started playing correspondence 9x9 games at work. We don't have a real goban, so I made a 9x9 and printed it out on paper. We've gotten a lot of questions and interest, but no new Go players ... yet!

I finished 'Graded Go Problems for Beginners vol. 1' and I've started volume 2. I've really been enjoying the problems and I can tell it's really helping with my visualization. I found that I really prefer the paper format instead of the online tsumegos — it really forces me to do it all in my head — I can't fiddle with it until I find the answer.

I also downloaded the Leela engine and attached it to Sabaki. I've been poking at it and getting destroyed, but it's at least SEEMINGLY correctly punishing bad play -- whereas some of the other engines like GnuGo produce some weird looking moves. I don't intend for this to be my primary type of play, but Leela makes for a good on-demand strong opponent that I can suspend at any time. I'm mostly looking to it as a way of quickly practicing the opening.

I've attached a recent correspondence game. It wound up being close, but I made several mistakes and failed to keep the whole board in mind. My opponent started at 25K, but wound up as a 17K by the end (game took about 3 months, gah).

I struggle with where the big moves are and direction of play. There are several points where I think my moves were too small, or in the wrong direction.

I also think I mishandled the ko's. There weren't really any ko FIGHTS like I usually see referred to, they just kinda hung out for awhile. Especially that ko in the upper right, I lost several points there that could have tied up the game.

Takeaways:

- Keep thinking globally, not just locally.
- You need to have SOME sort of influence, not just territory.
- Think before you cut.



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 Post subject: Re: FuriousGeorge's Study Journal
Post #19 Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:51 am 
Judan

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You need to have some sort of territory, not just influence. :cool:

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Post #20 Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:20 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
You need to have some sort of territory, not just influence. :cool:


Well played.

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