Go

I will occasionally post Go games. I started out with Go in the beginning of 2011 and, after a rapid rise to about 9kyu, I’ve been gaining around 4kyu a year since then. I can really recommend chess players to do this for a number of reasons. First, if you are too tactically inclined a player, then by playing Go you will be forced to think about things like “structure” and “plans”. Secondly, if you work as a coach, reliving the struggle of being a beginner at a difficult game (like Chess – or Go) will definitely improve your understanding of those you are coaching. Thirdly, there are few things that let you appreciate the “nature” of what you have learned as a chess player and learning Go will make it obvious that you know stuff that transcends the chess board. I can go on like this, but let’s call it there. My current Go rating is around 1kyu and therefore it is a bit like a chess player rated around 2000 commenting on chess games, so do not take what I write below too seriously 😉 If you feel like visiting a more serious Go-site then I recommend gogameguru; especially solving the weekly problems is a great source of learning (and joy). If you find my vocabulary somewhat alien it is because I sometimes use the highly specialized Go vocabulary. The majority of these expressions can be found at Sensei’s library.

An amazing go game

Today’s game is a go game that I found on the WorldBaduk Server the Friday before last. When I read my first book on go, “Fundamentals of go” by Kageyama Toshiro, I managed to follow most of what he wrote, but then there was this concept “thickness”, that he describes in rather lyrical words. I came to understand it in theory, but to go from there to actually using it in my own games has been quite difficult. In this game Park Junghwan makes wonderful use of thickness:

Dang Yifei (B) – Park Junghwan (W)

So, I guess I’m officially back to writing more. For some time there was very little info on go in english, apart from at gogameguru and Dwyrin’s stream on youtube. However, in the last few years, things have changed and now there are quite a few new places where one can learn a few things about go. I specially recommend Haylee and the American Go Association on youtube. Also, LongstrideBaduk, Littlelamb Go and Lightvolty are very good. All these are far, far stronger than I am.

I write mostly because it is a good thing, while learning a complex game, to put words on ones thoughts. It maintains focus and makes it possible to go back and check how you have developed. I have told many a young chess player to write about that which they want to learn. So, I’m merely following my own advice.

Posted in go

Saint Petersburg match against Alexander Morozevich, part 2.

…and the match continued. My hopes were slightly higher when it came to the go games, so it didn’t bode well for me to lose the first one like that. Now I had to win the second chess game in order to stay in the match:

Mmmm, however beautiful that was, it didn’t feel too great to be crushed like that and I didn’t look forward to losing the match 0-4. I had to get my stuff together and play my best:

It was a relief to win the last game. In the evening I celebrated with another five games of go.

After my return back to Sweden, Alexander Morozevich continued to play in the open group of the tournament and managed to score an impressive8/9. (The system for go tournaments is completely different from chess tournaments and you mainly play those at or around your own strength) Even more impressive, he managed to beat a 2dan opponent in the last round. In a later mail I got from Alexandre Dinerchtein, who wrote that Morozevich will likely be promoted to 1dan. So, although I still haven’t played a single turnament game in go, I feel it is reasonable to say that I’m close to 1 dan and lately, for the first time in a year, I have experienced an increase in my rating on the servers. Considering what I did in Cellavision Cup last weekend (which I will write about next), it is nice that some things go well.

Saint Petersburg match against Alexander Morozevich, part 1.

When I first arrived at a chess club in 1984, I was already hooked on chess. I had played with my father for a few years and was in the habit of writing down our games in i red notebook. If someone asked me then whether I wanted to swim, play, go for a walk, run a kite, or just about anything, then what I’d really wanted to say was: “I’d rather play some chess”. I usually didn’t say that, but the feeling was there. One of the things that I have loved about learing to play go is that I sometimes get that same feeling (to the annoyance of those close to me), that, no, I’d rather just play a game of go. I write this just to give you a sense of how happy I was when I was invited to the European Go Congress, to play a combined chess- and go-match against Alexander Morozevich in Saint Peterburg. The match took place the 27:th of July and although I lost it 3-1 it was a great experience; one of those that can make a guy like me go humming “je ne regrette rien” for days. The best part was that I managed to play another ten go games in the two days I was there and got to meet some very strong go players.

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My opponent needs no presentation in the chess world, but I knew little about his strength in go. Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p wrote that AM was “close to 3kyu”, but when I heard that he had already played a few tournaments and was to play both weeks at the European Go Congress, I sensed that he would probably improve fast and that anything was possible.

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I arrived on the 26:th and spent the evening going from hall to hall, checking all the side events and eventually I ended up at an outdoor bar where go players where hanging out, playing and analyzing games. I intended to prepare a bit for the chess games, but in the end my preparation came to primarily consist of a few hours of evening go.

The match started at 10 in the morning and we started with chess. The time limit was 15 minutes +5 seconds. I played Black:

I wasn’t unhappy about the game. My level in rapid games is not that good and Alexander is a world class act. After a short break it was time for the first game of go.  Now I would find out how strong he had become… (The comments below are heavily depending on the video with Wu Hao 2p and Vadim Efimenko 1d.)

So, down 0-2 after the first two games and a chess game coming up next. I wasn’t too optimitic about my chances to win the match. (To be continued)

Virtual ascent to 1 dan

After a rather long struggle to get up to 1 dan on KGS I finally managed the other day. It might seem like a rather small step for mankind, but it felt quite big to me and merited a rather bouncy and ungraceful dance around the livingroom. As a chess coach I always recommend my students to annotate their games and I do – of course – follow my own advice as I try to improve my go skills. Here are two examples that I have tried to make less go-diary-like. The first involves a rather simple but effective tesuji that caught a number of my opponents stones. The second game started out very well, but ended with me being in contest for a possible “the … of the year” price. You will get what the “…” stands for.

The “…” was obviously for “failure”. 🙂

Posted in go