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”. 🙂

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39:th Kisei titel match, game 1

There have been so many interesting games at the beginning of the year that it has been hard to decide on a single one that stands out. However, in the end, I felt that the game below impressed me more than all the others. It is the first game of the final series of the 39:th Kisei Title Match. Iyama Yuta plays the Black side against Yamashita Keigo:

Lately I have been watching the televised NHK Go tournament on youtube (the latest game can be watched here) and although I don’t understand more than ten words in japanese, I find it very relaxing. The tempo of the games gives you time to think for yourself before the next move is played and the comments are quite understandable even for someone who doesn’t get the language. This is something that worries me with the new DVD culture in chess. If you only use DVD:s as a source of information, there is a risk that you will become passive and instead of learning how to think, will learn not to think.

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European Team Championship of Go

Sweden vs. Finland, that classical ice hockey match, was lately played on a quite different turf; the go board. I get the feeling that Sweden won the match, but I have not been able to corroborate it. The go media still seems obscure to me. However, yesterday evening I followed this exciting go game between two of the strongest Nordic players Antti Törmänen and Fredrik Blomback (part of the above mentioned match). So, there we are again. I’m trying to make sense of a go game played between two players much stronger than myself. Feel free to either laugh or enjoy:

So, Fredrik Blomback won. I have earlier recommended Antti Törmänen’s excellent homepage “Go of Ten” and now he has posted a very interesting thesis, “Building a Human Master”, dealing with “how expertice is developed” in chess and go. Ought to be interesting stuff.

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