Wednesday, 28 December 2016

On Judgements

Interesting moments from a game I played recently against a strong player. It shows the importance and difficulty in positional judgements, especially when you have to make important judgements one after another.

My black is in trouble and it seems black has to choose between 1 (the game) or A. Since A is inviting white's obvious followup at B, I played 1 in the game. But still black's shapes look so weak...

White peeps at 1. White's plan is: if b answers at 2, white 3 will secure the centre. Black is not strong enough to capture 5 white stones on upper-right, and white has a clear lead.

In the game I answer white's peep at 1 instead. White should still turn at A, and that way it will still be white's winning game. But even strong players will fall trap to the temptation of eating lots of stones. So my opponent plays at 2. Black pushes at 3...

After the net move black 4, black's sacrifice trap/plan is clear as daylight.

This is the scene after the big trade. Quite a view indeed! It is almost an equal trade. But black successfully gets rid of the baggage, in sente.

At this point, an enclosure move in upper-left corner is the biggest. As my opponent points out later, black should either go straight at 5, or after the exchange 1 through 4. Note that even after white A, black can still make a ko in lower-left via B-C-D. This way black is completely back in game.

Regrettably, in the game I thought it is bigger to live in lower-left corner. After the success in previous battle, my confidence is soaring and I have the unrealistic illusion that, if black lives in that corner, white's bottom will become a target So after 1 through 4 exchange, I spend another move in that corner. White gets to invade upper-left corner and resumes the lead.

I find it especially hard to make a calm judgement call right after an exciting battle. Is it just in the game of Go or a human weakness in general, in real life?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A Satisfactory Move

From my personal experience, one of the most rewarding moment playing Go is when you find a satisfying move. Here is a scenario in a game I played earlier this year.

I was white. Black just played the circled move, and now white needs to settle down both the corner and the centre. Note that black's group on right is not strong, something for white to take advantage of.

The normal knight's move will not get white good results. Black can simply answer at 2, and now black is all connected and white has two weak groups. Similarly if white plays A black will also answer at 2.

It took me a few minutes to find this big knight's move which was my choice in the game. It makes a big difference because: 1) it helps the corner 3-3 stone to live without making that the only choice for white. 2) it puts more pressure on black's right group. 3) it demands immediate connection with white stones in the centre.

This is one example if black attempts to separate white. Black has his own weaknesses and it's easy for white to live both groups comfortably. Black risk having his core territory destroyed.


In the game, black tried to separate white from another direction with 1 and 3. White 4 is a move I am proud of! It forces black to give in with black 5. After white 6 block, no matter where black chooses to cut, white's position in upper-right board is very flexible and active.

In retrospect, black 1 could be a better answer, fixing his owning weakness first. White may jump at 2, to put pressure on multiple black groups. It will be a very interesting fight from this position.

It was for sure a beautiful game!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

2016 Ottawa Cup

It's that time of the year again -- the annual Ottawa Cup Go Tournament at the end of April. I was glad to see lots of friends, and happy with both my result (2nd place in Group A) and the contents of my 3 games. Tournament photo credits to Jean-Sebastien Lechasseur.

Game #1 was a tight game against Kevin the rising star.

Game #2 against fast-improving young Dimitri

Game #3 In the final I faced Sarah Yu 6d, a strong and experienced player

I have played a few games with her online and know her strength. People say you would really sense strong players' power when playing them face-to-face, and that is absolutely true. She makes fewer errors especially at game-turning points.

Although I lost, the game was decently played and I might have a couple missed chances.

This was a scenario in our game. I was white. I fixed my dragon with white 1, and black 2 also had to fix the centre. Then I would spend a move in upper-left corner to secure some territory and keep the game balanced. These were all in my plan, steady and peaceful like the ways of some old generation Japanese players.

In fact, white could play the push move as shown above. Due to the shortage of liberty with black's centre stones, and the unnecessary triangle exchange a bit earlier, it's hard for black to block white. That means significant reduction of black's centre territory, and black needs to be mindful of his safety in the lower-left quarter board. In the mean time, white's dragon is safe because black's top and centre are not strong enough to kill white. So white 1 push is an active and efficient play that's appropriate at this exact moment.