Wednesday, September 28, 2005

War Legacy In a Little White To-Go Container

There is no doubt that Go has been changed by the mange, Hikaru No Go. The mass of players flocking to internet Go servers because of the manga has renewed popularity of the game in Japan, and created new market overseas. You can expect that when a large group of people begin to play a game based on a comic book that there will be plenty of bad with good. I am not really interested in debating the pro's and con's of the manga's influence, but I have heard one thing more than once: You mean Honinbo Shusaku was a real person? History twists it's legacies in strange ways and I fear Go's greatest player will one day only be known as a puppet-body of a fictional character, Fujiwara-No-Sai. It reminded me of another strange twist of history.

General Zuo Zongtang was a brilliant Qing dynasty leader who helped put down both the Taiping and Nian Rebellions in China. While in China he is still known for his wise leadership and battlefield skills, in the West, his name has somehow found a home with a dish of fried chicken parts, spicy sauce, and rice. History cannot tell us for sure how one famous General became stuck with America's favorite Chinese food. No doubt a Chinese restaurant owner used the name to add "spice" to one of his dishes. And so the West is left with the legacy of General Zuo Zongtang, that General with that Chinese fried thing-chicken dish that you always order when we go out. History........ Masters of Go and General Tso's Chicken dance to a strange tune.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Matter of Life and Death I

I thought it would be interesting to post a Life or Death problem from one of my games into my blog. From the looks of things, White is in bad shape, starting off with a 6-stone handicap. Don't you worry. This White is much stronger than me... and has ME! as an opponent. In the meantime, I played a tenuki and ignored White's move toward my upper left group, just so that I could get into this situation, and find a way out. This game is taking place of the Dragon Go Server. For those not familiar with Dragon, it is not real-time, and each player has about a 3-month time limit. That's right folks: 3 months. [plus sleep and vacation time!]
I have decided to let White have the top while I try to secure the other corners and sides, and hope that I can read Go books fast enough to be able to fight him by the time it gets ugly.
This is probably easy for a lower kyu, but for us 30k's, these positions end up dead. So here is the problem: How can you save the marked Black stones. I don't just mean save them and then get even more stones killed down the sideline. Save!
It's best if you can show move numbers for both Black and White, and keep in mind that White gets to make good moves too.
The problem is posted below in JPG form for viewing, or you can download the SGF file by [RIGHT CLICK] [SAVE TARGET AS] on the SGF <--- I left in the moves so those who would like to see how the situation developed may do so. To go to the problem, skip to the last move. Please email the responses to me, either as a JPG with move numbers, or as an SGF file, and in about a week (once I receive enough responses), I will add the move I chose, how it ended up and the choices other people made.
This one is easy, but has many moves. I will start looking in future games for more suitable Life and Death problems.
-ed note- I have already chosen my move. Don't think I am cheating! :)
-email to

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hwarang of Dashn

Those of you who began playing Go on KGS, and enjoyed the relaxing, teaching atmosphere, were most likely shocked during their first game on Dashn. These players take aggressive to the extreme. It is 'all-out attack'. Brazilian soccer players play less aggressive than these Hwarang of Korean Computer Go.
Aggressive moves in warefare typically leave large openings, and as my skill increases, I hope to use Dashn as a testing ground in thwarting the onslaught. Teamed with knowledge and a lifelong passion for Sun-Tzu, I hope to change from "The attack are coming!!!" to "Let them come."
In the meantime, here is my very horrible drawing of a Hwarang of Dashn:
P.S. Anyone who has seen the nicely done CG on Chiyodad's blog should avert their eyes to the following. (i missed art class for music class)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

In The Opening

I was shocked... SHOCKED... to find that In The Beginning: by Ikuro Ishigure had already arrived in the mail today. What a great way to start the weekend. That FREE shipping was worth every penny! I was a little surprised to see how tiny the book was. Though I understand that a Go book isn't going to be as thick as the 500 pages of torture that most Bestsellers are, I was taken aback by the fact that it could fit in my wallet. (Nothing could actually fit in my wallet. It is the messiest clump of stuff known to man)
It still looks worth the money-don't get me wrong-but don't be expecting a TOME!


As you can see from my many images... I do not have Photoshop... but use an ancient form of picture editing which is difficult to understand given my lack of familiarity with Maya characters, and so the interface is hard to work with. Photoshop donations are always welcome.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Unplayed Game

My mom Im’d me during a game last night to say hi (given that I still live in the dark ages, have a dial-up connection, and thus, had a busy phone. I sent back a message and told her I would talk to her after the game. When I called her, we talked for a minute about Go. A realization hit me. I first read about Go as a small child, in books from Japan and China, saw it played in Ukiyoe and other paintings, and knew that many of my heroes, such as Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu played the game and loved it. I found a Go set for sale in a book store when I was about 10 –12 years old. I bought it and couldn’t wait to get home to play. Unfortunately, the rules covered nothing but the basics, showed no examples, and left me clueless. My father was a highly intelligent man, loved math, and enjoyed chess. We were both excited about learning, but could find no outside resources. Yes, this was the age before the internet, close to the time when man lived in caves. Heartbroken, I had to abandon my hopes at learning the game. For many years, from move to move, city to city, high school to college, somehow that Go board and stones (plastic) stayed with me. Most things from my childhood got stuffed into the bottom of boxes or were discarded. With me in every apartment, in every new town, somehow that Go board has always been there. Back to the phone, my mom asked what happened with the Go board, and was shocked to find out that not only did I have it, but it was on the couch right in front of me.
I really wish my Dad could be around now to play a few games. When I wanted to explore an idea about the universe, about quantum mechanics, or any wonder of the world, he was always there to listen or challenge any theory I had. He was always quick to shoot holes in any theory I had, and helped me learn to think things through before opening my mouth. He did all of this with kindness. I guess in a way, I carried around the Go board all these years waiting to play the game that will never happen. I feel blessed to be able to play this game and am moved beyond words to be able to have access to so much information about this game, interact with pro and amateur players, and finally challenge my brain again. And as for that game that will never be, I will always keep the Go board around just in case.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chasing The Rated Game

I have witnessed the obsession that many Go players on online servers have with their rating score and the inevitable results: escapers, etc. When you have a (?) next to your name on KGS, getting a rated game against a true rated player (no ?) is like some guy with a mouth sore trying to get a kiss. Many don't see the point in playing a game solely to play. It is madness, in fact, to play a game which will not affect your rating! And so for a few days I have had a hard time getting a rated game. The few that I did were against players far too strong for a handicap to even be effective, and the handicaps that they offered were too small.
It seems that I will have this dreaded (?) next to my name until I can finally get a few games against players near my own strength. With much luck, I found one of those tonight. Yop (27k)was kind enough to accept a game with me. I reduced the handicap by 1 stone to strengthen my chances at the game. During the middle game, I saw that there was territory to be gained in the lower middle. Drawing off a comment made by Chiyodad (27k), I used a series of keima to help push my way into that space. This ended up a much better approach than my usual method of placing stones madly, in almost random places. I was able to win our game and was quick to ask if he would like a rematch in a few days without a handicap. I doubt I will win that one.

Win 105 to 79.5 (but with 2 stone handicap)
This game does bring about an oddity in the rating system for us (?'s). At the start of the game I was ranked (30k?) and beat a (27k) player with a 2 stone handicap, meaning that played as if I were (29k). After the win, KGS adjusted my provisional ranking to (27k?). I would think, given the 2 stone handicap, that my rating would be (29k?). Not to worry. This rating will find itself back down in no time. note: good news for Yop. After our game, he beat a (25k) player and rose to (26), of course, with no (?). It doesn't take a meteorologist to forecast the outcome of our coming game.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Her First Win

White Has 5 Black Prisoners
Win by 11.5 moku
My wife played her first 2 games on KGS tonight. In her first 9 x 9 game, she chose to play down the middle, not securing territory, and was forced to resign. In only her second, she won by 11.5 moku. She has always been good at games, bad at attention, but if she continues to improve, I will make sure to hide my Go books.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tribute to My First Escaper

After a few days without a game of Go, I was ready to return and have a weekend full of games. I started around 2:00 am on friday night, and it didn't go well. My first opponent resigned after only 5 moves, which then, didn't count. My second found himself in a tough spot, made a big mistake, and then, at that moment, extreme sleepiness overcame him and he wanted to retire for the night. What he did not want to do was Resign the game. I have never had an escaper before, given that I am always behind, and nobody would escape a won game. So here is my tribute to Josemanuel , de Chile, my first escaper:

Artwork from Charles Keegan gallery, which I have altered to suit my purpose, given the depth and meaning of the painting. The Brazilian and Chilean flags, along with the title, were added by me. To appreciate the true work and his others, please click his name for the gallery.

Friday, September 02, 2005

With One Stone set in motion.........

All was within. Within all was emptiness.
"Tao gave birth to the One
The One gave birth to Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang gave birth to the myriad things
The myriad things uphold Yin and embrace Yang"
-Lao Tzu