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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Evil King Ian
Post #121 Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:03 am 
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Today I resisted the urge to go play online (and probably blitz immediately).
Instead I will do some breathing meditation.

One point for me :D

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Evil King Ian
Post #122 Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:23 am 
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A return to sanity
In some ways, my Go playing has resembled insanity. I think I'm on a good track right now, having thought some things better through. Some influence from Buddhism has helped me do this, along with the fine people on this site.

Basically, Go is a hobby. One should enjoy a hobby most of all. Of course you can expect to grow from it, that it challenge you, but mostly it should be for the reason that it's something making you happy/content.

Playing games (online) has always been a double-edged sword for me. I have now discovered the reason why, and am now working on fixing that. It's working at the moment.

I love Go. So some (or most) days, I feel the urge to play a game. It often happens suddenly but then there it is: I want to play! A lot of time, I used to log on to OGS or KGS and pick out a game. I wanted to play, but maybe I didn't have so much time, or too much energy left to read well, so I'd play a blitz-y game. Because a game is a game, right.
Frustration often followed, because I didn't play as I wanted to play. Because I wasn't playing actual Go. I was playing blitz-blitz-non-thinking-Go.

I have decided to stop that.
At the moment, I've not played a game in about a week, or so (not counting a 9x9 and a teaching game). For a few times during that week, I've felt the urge to play a game. I desperately wanted to. But I realized I was only going to blitz it anyway. So I said: no. Let's not put ourselves through that again. Instead let's replay a Shusaku game. A lot more fun than blitzing.

And it's working. Yes, I'll play less games. Yes, it means slow development because I won't play much. But it also means I won't get caught up in frustrating series of games where I play thoughtlessly, it means I'll have way less games where I find myself unhappy. Because if I lose in a well-thought out game, I accept it easily and I can still be content. That's not the point.

Go activities at the moment
Right now, I'm mostly doing two things:

- Going through Invincible: the Games of Shusaku. I've already replayed 38 Pro Games in 2019. I enjoy it a lot, and it's actually some sort of hobby on its own. I don't do it every day, but some days I do 2-3 or sometimes even 4 games. I mostly read the commentary, but never play out the variations listed in the book. I do it relatively quickly and just try to follow the flow of the game, without too much pause.

- L&D. I've taken about 10 days off from L&D, and now I've returned to it, finding I can do it longer and better than before. So a good break can do a lot of good. Now I easily do 15 minutes a day and mostly I think out the solutions fairly well.
L&D is challenging and fun in its own way, but not as much fun as the Pro Games, of course.

Go activities I've put on hold
Things I'm not doing at the moment, but I'll probably try to pick back up after a while.

- Read Go books. I've stopped for now. I'll eventually pick them back up, but I want to concentrate on novels at the moment, as well as my job. When I return, I'll probably start with Attack & Defense, or Lessons in Fundamentals for a good refresher.

- Play (online) games. For now, I know that the chance is too high I'll blitz it. So I take a small break. It does me good. It means I won't progress, but I don't care. I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now, that's what counts. For all I care, I never grow stronger again. I've come to an understanding of the game that I can greatly enjoy Pro Games. I'm not claiming I understand it all, but I understand enough to follow the game's flow.


And so I think I found a right way to do things again. It's all about balance and now I'm taking some distance to see clearer again. I hope to eventually find a healthy balance of things and allow Go to be part of my life in a natural way, with no resistance whatsoever. I've had to do that with other hobbies as well, so I'm certain I can figure it out.

I only hope I'll be able to play games again more often, without the blitzing or playing thoughtlessly. But I'm sure I'll find the answer some day.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #123 Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:27 pm 
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Note to self: as long as you play to win (which I too often do), you are on the wrong track and are not allowed to play games. Get over your ego first :grumpy:

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #124 Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:40 pm 
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Ian Butler wrote:
Note to self: as long as you play to win (which I too often do), you are on the wrong track and are not allowed to play games. Get over your ego first :grumpy:


While playing with another goal than winning can be a good idea (for example: what happens if I take gote all the time?) eventually the purpose in a game of Go is to win it.

What is wrong here is not "to play to win" but to expect victory, regardless of how you play, and be disappointed with defeat, retroactively scolding yourself for what went wrong (playing too fast, without thinking). It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy (the good prince playing bad so that the evil king can scold him - the "note to self").

You have to allow yourself to play to win, doing all that lies in your power to achieve victory, and then allow yourself - after a brief moment of disappointment - to learn from that game. Not the things that you know, like "don't play too fast", but new things, interesting things.

For example, recently I played a really good game, taking an erly advantage, but my (weaker) opponent got back into the game after I "took advantage of his bad shape" by playing a dame from my strong group, rather than reinforcing my weak stone at the other side of the shape. The "gluttony" of shape took over from the purpose of the move. This is something I have known for some time but it's the first time I see it so plainly: I play neutral points close to thickness, because I'm blinded by the opponent's bad shape. So next time, when my opponent has bad shape, I will try to remember "purpose!" and not "punish!".


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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #125 Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:57 am 
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Interesting point.
Always re-learning things like 'don't play too fast' doesn't hold up much in the end indeed :)

I guess it's sort of true, you have to play to win. But I should've written it down more clearly what I meant. It shouldn't matter much whether you win or lose, rather how you played. Often that is the case for me, but when I play against bots, that somehow goes out the window and suddenly I just "want to win". So that's why I wrote the 'note to self' :)


New Life & Death method
I discovered a great new method for doing L&D, I'll probably be doing it a lot, especially come Spring.
There's this series on tsumego books, pocket format. Perfect size.

I take a book, and go for a walk in the parc nearby. I walk there every week so I know it by heart. I do tsumego while walking. I did it first time today and it was a great experience. You're out, you're walking (in the sun!), doing tsumego but not sitting down in a stuffy room doing it.

I highly recommend it!

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #126 Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:03 pm 
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To work on oneself...

Most of my "problems" with Go come up from time and time and are always traced back to the same foundations. What they are, I know and I have no need to share them here specifically.

In order to correct them, to actually learn and lead my life better, I have finally taken the step to not try to solve them with Go, but solve them directly. Some frustrations in Go are a result of personal issues, so even if I could fix the Go so I become as strong as AlphaGo, these personal problems would simply manifest them in another part of my life. So it's time to address the cause.

Go can no longer be an escape from certain reality for me.
Instead, I will face reality, become a better man. And keep Go where it belongs.
Your Go can only be as strong as you are. Maybe by working on myself, my Go can prosper. Of course, that's a minor point, but seeing this is a Go Study Journal on a Go website, I should at least talk about Go somewhat :lol:

How will I do this? I've already taken small steps in the past few months, but now I'm jumping in, I feel I have to. I'm reading up (heavily) on certain texts on Buddhism. It speaks to me and I think that walking the Eightfold path with meditation etc is the right way for me to find strength and to lead the best life I can.
If not, it's a worthy try at the least.


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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #127 Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:45 am 
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Another update on both life and Go.

While my discovery of the teachings of the Buddha are going great, my Go is faring worse. I'd rather have it like this than the other way around, but mostly I'd like both to go well, of course :)

Basically the process of detachment of Buddhism is working, and in a small time span, I've already managed to let a big part of my Go go. Meaning I've been able - or rather have started - to let go of my desire to be a strong player, to climb the ranks, to prove how good I am by growing rapidly... These are positive evolutions.

However I still want to keep Go in my life. It's fun, it's mysterious and it can be good for someone (yet it can also lead to small forms of self-destructive behaviour), keeping the mind sharp, coping with losing...

So by taking big steps into the teachings of the Buddha, combined with the first Spring sun, life is actually pretty good. I feel good and I'm doing good things.

My Go is going to opposite direction. I don't play often and when I do play, I am but a shadow of the player I was only a few weeks ago, or a few months. I notice that I almost immediately go from the Opening into the Endgame, having no inspiration whatsoever for Middle Game stuff. Mostly my middle game consists of:

- attacking a group without gaining, without killing, without a good plan.
- one point jumps to make sure there isn't a lot of points in the middle.
- shoulder hits for the same reason.
- sector line plays for the same reason.

I feel very uninspired when I play and in the middle game I often wonder: where should I play?
Then I end up playing a (too early) endgame move on 2nd line or so, or just jump up or whatever.

For a confidence boost, I actually played a few DDKs last week. It didn't work out well. Even though I won, I didn't feel better about my game, on the contrary. So I won't do that again.

So a little Go 'crisis'. I hope that's normal and that it sometimes happens, instead of it meaning I'm actually getting worse and having reached my peak.
It probably goes together with me paying less attention to Go atm.

For now, I don't care too much. I'll leave it like so for now, and look forward to the Go training camp in Germany in 2 months, where hopefully the teachers there might pinpoint how I can grow stronger and get rid of my uninspiring play.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #128 Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:08 am 
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Ian Butler wrote:
I almost immediately go from the Opening into the Endgame, having no inspiration whatsoever for Middle Game stuff. Mostly my middle game consists of:

- attacking a group without gaining, without killing, without a good plan.
- one point jumps to make sure there isn't a lot of points in the middle.
- shoulder hits for the same reason.
- sector line plays for the same reason.


If your strategy is to take the game to the endgame, because that's where you are stronger, then the above tactics perfectly fit that strategy. Sounds like a success!

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Good Prince Ian
Post #129 Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:00 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Ian Butler wrote:
I almost immediately go from the Opening into the Endgame, having no inspiration whatsoever for Middle Game stuff. Mostly my middle game consists of:

- attacking a group without gaining, without killing, without a good plan.
- one point jumps to make sure there isn't a lot of points in the middle.
- shoulder hits for the same reason.
- sector line plays for the same reason.


If your strategy is to take the game to the endgame, because that's where you are stronger, then the above tactics perfectly fit that strategy. Sounds like a success!


It's one thing if that's a deliberate strategy. In my case, obviously, it's not.

You know, I really love Go. It's such a beautiful game.
I only wish I'd half a clue of how to play it :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - No Middle Game
Post #130 Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:23 am 
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I'm a couple days late with this, but close enough.

One Year aGo!
About one year ago, I started my journey in Go. I had been introduced to the game a year before and had played a little, but only a year ago I picked it up again and started playing properly, started to learn.
There's been a lot of joy in the past year, a lot of doubt, a fair share of frustration, a lot of great games, some terrible games, a lot of learning both on and off the board, a lot of money spend on beautiful equipment and interesting books, a lot of new people I've met, a lot that's happened.

To "celebrate" my One Year of Go, here are two games.
In one, I am black, just over a year ago.
In the other, I am black (with reverse komi), playing just yesterday.

That is my progress in one year.
I'm not saying there'll be as much progress over the next year, but I certainly hope to be able to make a similar post in 12 months!

Ian Butler one year ago


Ian Butler now


Big thanks to anyone on this site who's helped me develop in the past year!
:salute:


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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #131 Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:38 pm 
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A remarkable observation I've made:

A friend of mine, who I've learned to play months ago, almost beat me on 13x13 today.
I am not very good at 9x9 and 13x13. I give him 5 stones on a 19x19 board and am never in the danger of losing (yet, he's growing stronger). Yet on a 13x13 board, I came close to losing today.
Someone who's actually close to my strength, gave him 4 handicap stones on 13x13 and completely destroyed him.

That goes to show where my strengths and especially my weaknesses are. My local play, tesuji and my fighting is probably not on the level. I play a lot of Aji keshi and need to develop some good tesuji, see opportunities.

Anyway, just an observation that's funny to make.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #132 Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:27 am 
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In my club, there is a 15k who beats a 4k on a 9x9 board.


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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #133 Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:15 am 
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jlt wrote:
In my club, there is a 15k who beats a 4k on a 9x9 board.


I'm pretty confident I will win 10/10 19x19 games against a 4k but I may lose up to half (1 to 4) of 10 9x9 games.
And against someone who has just been introduced to the rules, I wouldn't bet a dime on a 5x5 with them taking black.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #134 Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:26 am 
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Few things have been happening in my professional life that have quite an impact to my person.
So I've been putting Go aside for a while, and I'll continue to do so for a few weeks, I think. I've some things to sort out and I couldn't put my mind to competitive games right now.
I'll simply continue to replay Pro games, as I've been doing. It's fun, interesting and relaxing, unlike playing (online). I'm also not reading any Go books right now and not even doing tsumego daily.

So a small break, again.

My plan is to pick it up again one or two weeks before the Go training camp in Germany. There I'll spend 2 weeks studying hard. I think it'll be enjoyable and less stress-y because they are all live games.

After the Go training camp in Germany, I will think about how big a part of my time I still want Go to have in the future. I've been studying it rather hard for about a year and it's been fun, but I don't want to stick with one hobby for the rest of my life. I want to keep involved in Go, but I'm not sure yet how large a portion of my time.

Either way, Invincible has been a blast so far. I'm almost 250 pages into the book, replaying every single game. I've also started in Invisible, the games of AlphaGo. They are a whole other thing. Also interesting and great games, maybe a bit less fun because I am a nerd for historic Go, less so for computer Go.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #135 Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:22 am 
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Got some more treats today! I mean books :)

9-Dan Showdown, which is way bigger than I had expected it to be. It contains 30 games from Go Seigen vs. Fujisawa. Haven't played Go Seigen games much, so got that to look forward to. And given the timing of these matches, I think it's Go Seigen in his prime. Spanning from 1942 to 1953, that's still before his motorcycle accident.

New Fuseki vs. Old Fuseki is the Go Seigen game against Shusai, Game of the Century. I'm very familiar with that one. It's also the game I've memorised most (up to 150 moves). It'll be good to read it with commentary this time around.

The Meijin's Retirement Game is another one featuring Shusai, this time against Kitani. For some reason I haven't really done a lot of Kitani games, so I might get that game going quickly!

1992 Tournament Go which has all the Japanese title matches in them, plus some international ones, meaning there are matches by Cho Cikun, Takemiya, Rin Kaiho, even Lee Chang-Ho's first World Title match.

As you can see, all game record books. My interest in Go is slowly shifting from playing to going over Game Records and diving into Go history. I'm not sure how far that'll go. I only know that I don't play very well and that playing (online) often makes me anxious, while game records by the greats make me joyous and I've come to appreciate Go way more by going over these pro games.
You'd think that doing that helps your own Go, but I don't find that to be true. I understand a lot more now, true. But playing also requires different skills, that I most certainly lack. Staying calm, assessing the situation, playing patiently. These things all matter while playing. While going over Game Records, you are stress-free and find yourself able to read way deeper, asses the situation way better and understand the game more than if you are playing yourself.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - One year of go!
Post #136 Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:26 am 
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So one of the teachers at JIGS will be at the In-Seong's Dojo Spring Camp. It may very well be possible that I will go to the Spring Camp before heading out to JIGS in Jena.
I think that'd be an amazing experience!

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Spring Camp
Post #137 Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:55 am 
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In-seong is an amazing teacher online, and even better in person. At the US Go Congress last year he conducted impromptu game review sessions for his Yunguseng Dojang students, and it was a very enriching and motivational experience. If you went to a weekend camp I have no doubt that you would come back more energized and motivated than ever. If you have the time, money, and energy, I would highly recommend it.

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Spring Camp
Post #138 Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:59 am 
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A three-fold post today!

1. Go Training
My decision for a smaller break might have turned out to be a very good call. I am slowly coming into a new peak of Go playing, and that 2 weeks before the 2-week training camp in Germany. The hunger for go is returning stronger every day and now I'll take the upcoming 14 days to warm-up for the actual camp.
I think it'll be perfectly timed and I'll go to the camp with nothing but Go on my mind.

To prepare for the camp, I'll be:

- getting back into daily L&D, it's been a few weeks
- re-read Lessons on Fundamentals of Go, one chapter a day.
- continuing my Pro Games study (already at 83 games since January 1st)
- Picking up Jump Level Up 4 again.

14 days of that, and I'll be perfectly ready for the camp.

2. The Power of Miai
I've gone through a large portion of Invincible, a part of Invisible, but now I've starting going over 9-Dan Showdown, games of Go Seigen against Fujisawa.
In the first game, I've already re-discovered the power of miai. It's probably something that people pick up from DDK to SDK, but is often forgotten again. Or at least by me.
Especially concerning groups that need life, miai is a very powerful tool. If you read it out correctly, it can give you sente without a fear of your group dying. You never need to rush to make that group live, until your opponent plays the other point.

It's an old lesson, but one that felt good to see in a Pro game and that got me thinking again, a good refreshment.

3. Losing is nothing, Fighting is everything
And lastly, one thing I've discovered on my work. (I work as a teacher).
Last few weeks, I've organised quite some football matches with the kids. One such games was with my class: the girls against the boys, and I joined the girls.
We were behind 7-0 at one point. The boys kept asking for a re-arrangement of the teams. But we (me and the girls) refused. We had fighting spirit and lots of it.
We then went on to score 4 consecutive goals, only to lose in the end by 11-10.

Another match yesterday, with 4 great football players against 6 of us, not so great football players. We were losing pretty hard and again the question arose to change teams, but again I said: I wouldn't want any other team.
We doubled our efforts, and kept losing, but every time we did score, we celebrated wildly.

I've discovered an amazing strength in losing. And I think it might also apply in Go.

Recently I played a game against my (former) sensei, Dieter. I started the game okay-ish, but when I didn't connect against a peep, rather made a counter-peep, we marked it as the losing move. After that, the game fell apart for me.
Yet, I do not regret that move. I'd probably play it again under similar circumstances.
Because losing a game while being pushed around by a better player is painful.
Losing a game against a better player while continuing to fight, fight, fight, feels different.

And so, maybe losing can be virtuous, too. Maybe losing and winning is not the point. Rather, it is finding your strength, fighting for everything you can, that matters.
Sometimes it'll bring you down, other times it'll keep your head above the water. But never will you be shamed by your playing.

That might be my new philosophy to Go.
Of course, I'll have to see if I can keep that in my head the next time I'm failing :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Strength in Losing
Post #139 Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:27 am 
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I think your last point is what's currently missing in your go (looking at your games). A lack of "fighting spirit", i.e. you're too passive and soft against opposition.

When you're poked at with sharp blades, you don't usually retaliate by trying to smash the head of the presoumptuous who dare challenge you with a war hammer, but you retreat behind your shield.

And while retreating is sometime the best strategy, there's many nails for you to smash on the board with your Maslow's Hammer :lol: :lol: :lol:


PS : This is a war hammer, while this is not :study:

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 Post subject: Re: Ian Butler's Journal - Strength in Losing
Post #140 Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:10 am 
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Haha thank you Tryss!
Next time I play, I'll bring the Hammer of Thor to my game!

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