Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brillance of Go Seigen

After a long and spectacular life, Mr. Go Seigen (吴清源) passed away at the grand age of 100.

When I first read about his Ju-Bang-Go stories, I did not play Go yet. I couldn't help but wonder: what are these players spending 10+ hours a day, staring at the 19x19 board thinking about?

In the late 90's, I watched a Chinese TV documentary about 80+ years old Wu visiting his family house in Fujian, which he had left in childhood. It is very touchy to see Wu introducing himself gently to occupants of the house who were all strangers.

There are too many brilliant moments in Go Seigen's games. I remember two in particular.

Go Seigen taking white against Rin Haiho in Meijin league in 1963. There are more black stones than white stones on the right side. White's 1-3-5 moves seem random walking, to me anyways.

Continued from previous diagram. White's random walk continues, and it's still very hard to understand. What white achieves in the game is astonishing: even though white has fewer stones, through global correlation, white is able to pressure 4 black groups: two in the bottom, right and upper right corner! Any mistake by black is the result of great pressures from white's "global attacks". It is hard to imagine how much white has read and planned, from a peaceful and simple state in the game.

Go Seigen taking white against Sakata Eio in game 7 of their Ju-Bang-Go. Most people would feel upset when black triangle move gets the vital point and limits white's moyo. White 1/3 moves are pure stroke of genius. You may have exercised all the problems in Igo Hatsuyoron, but do you have such imagination?

Most would agree that Go's dedication to the game and his pure mind contributed to his longevity. If there is only one Saint out of Go players of all times, it has to be him. RIP Go Sensei!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Won the fight but lost the game

I often have the experience that I did well in a local fight, but lost the game. Here is yet another good example. It's a recent online tournament game. I was black.

As shown, black's left group is not settled down yet. Black 1-3-5 are probing moves. To answer black 5, white is not willing to play ko at A, because of black's local threats at B and C. Furthermore, white thinks black 5 is a mistake, and he has gotten black 5 with the white 6 descent. If this was a face to face game, I wonder if I could keep a poker face after playing black 5 -- it is tricky.

Black 1 push is good timing. If black plays this push later, white likely will not block at 2. Black 3 is planned, and it works because of the black 9 tesuji!

White has no choice but give up 3 white stones. At the end of this local fight, black's weak group lives in sente with points, and reduces white's bottom. It's a very good result for black, for sure.

However, the game is far from over. Black's opening is not that good, and even black gains in this local fight, the lead is actually not that big. In the game my judgement was overly optimistic. I played some questionable end game moves, end ended up losing by 1.5 points.

It's as if the 20 moves or so of reading in this local fight had taken all my energy and concentration. I feel that to turn this leading game into a won game, it takes not only good control and end game skills, but also great patience and a professional attitude. That is a bit too much to ask of me, so I don't blame myself too much!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Ultimate Winning Style

Again due to life priorities, no blogging for me in a while, and I find it hard to put mind in Go.

Until this weekend morning, I stumbled upon this brilliant game between Andy Liu and Zi-yang Hu in 2014 US Go congress. I am not really at a level to pick on their games, but this game simply touched me.

I am one of those admirers of Andy's speedy, highly-efficient and powerful style. However in this game, he was completely controlled by black's natural and reasonable play. The flow of the game overall is simple and without much complicated stuff, maybe except the final blow in upper left corner.

To me this is a good example of the ultimate winning style in tournaments.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Old player's bragging right

This is a 5x10sec blitz game I played recently with a KGS friend, who is decades younger.

One of my weaknesses is the obsession to kill stones -- when it works out it's really fun. Pros
often say the power to fight/kill should be used as a threat, and at more advanced levels players
tend to sacrifice as opposed to kill.  I agree with that totally, however for now I'll enjoy another
big kill as a bragging right.

The kill starts at move 73, and I did not even waste one 10 sec period until the end. White may 
have been able to escape but overall it is difficult for him. The moves for black are not that hard.
Considering it's a blitz game, my focus and determination are worth some shameless self promotion.  If I can put heart on things like this, I may be able to achieve more.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Which move is more advanced?

Long time no post and and happy new year!
I finally have the time and mood to write another technical post.

I'd like to show our readers two game scenarios, in which two
best moves are presented. I'll let you decide which move is
more advanced.

Scenario A

As shown above, black 1 is a strong move, aiming to deprive of 
white bottom's base, and attack white bottom as a whole. Note 
that black has lots of ko threats in upper-left. Depending on the 
situation, black can either net at C, or play A/B in sente during 
the attack. Black 1 is a good-feeling move; it's not easy for white
to counter attack because of the burden in upper-left.

Scenario B

As shown above. Black just jumped; although it's early
in the game, the battle is already fierce and complex. What
should white do?

White 1 push is a no brainer and impulsive "sente" move.
However, the white 1 black 2 exchange hurts white centre
group, which in turn gives black less pressure on his left group.
On the other hand, if sealed inside, white's group on top is still
quite uncomfortable. After black 4, there is a sense that black has
one weak group while white has two.

White 1 is the move in real game. The idea is to strengthen
white's centre group first (without the push/extend exchange),
and let black decide which side he wants. In the real game,
because white's centre group is stronger, black's group on left
feels the pressure, so he chooses to strengthen the group through
moves 2-6. In return white 7 captures two black stones and
a compromise is reached in this local battle. I slightly prefer

This is what black is concerned if he chooses to move
two stones.


As you may have guessed, both scenarios are from my
own games, and both best moves are relative to my level
and knowledge.

I am trying to make a point. One of the hard aspect of Go
is to find a balance and compromise in complex and subtle
situations. In that sense, the black 1 move in Scenario A is
simple, since it's a one-sided attack. The white 1 kosumi
in Scenario B is not sharp but gentle and balanced. I spent
quite some time on it during the game, and both the game and
the move are memorable.