Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hurricane Wilma

I had decided to take a few weeks off from playing on KGS and just study on my go board. Each night I would sit down, study from one of the few Go books I have, and then replay a professional game. It was nice.

I made an unwise and badly scheduled decision to start playing again over the weekend. When Wilma first touched us, our power went out, and being on the 14th floor, the winds were so strong, the entire building was shaking. The walls felt like two kids jumping up and down on a mattress. After it was over, we had no electricity or water (being that it takes a pump to get the water to floor 14). The hurricane had pushed enough water through the cracks in the window to give us a small flood and drips from the ceiling told that the upstairs neighbor had fared worse.

We were the lucky ones. Many apartments in our building had both walls and ceiling fall in, with shattered windows thrown in as a bonus. The street was littered with uprooted trees, broken windshield glass, roofing tile, and an assortment of personal items. Though most cars on our parking platform had shattered windows, our car was fine. Our truck was parked on the street, where many cars had more significant damage. Our truck was fine. We were very lucky.

Florida Power and Light told us it would be three weeks until we received power, which for us, meant no power, ac, light, running water, toilet, or shower for three weeks.

During the downtime, I sat by candlelight and read, studied some Go, meditated, and trained a little. Without the distractions of the modern world, which even though I fight against, I fall victim to, I found myself reorienting to the shugyosha path. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

We used what little gas we had to find a store running on a generator to get a little food to get us by. We passed the long lines waiting for water and ice and decided to do without.

Two sleepy faces looked up yesterday as the lights in the apartment popped on, and air began to chill in the heat, and the printer cartridge began to dance back and forth, as if happy to be alive again. Power? What happened to the three weeks? We were happy. Both of us were a little sad though, thinking of all we could have accomplished by candlelight, away from this crazy floating world. We sort of missed the power outage. I said something to that effect just before the power flicked off for just a second, and I said, "OK, I TAKE IT BACK!"

I am sure I will have plenty of time for reading and study this weekend, however, given that neither car has gas, and the lines for gas wrap the blocks, with most being turned away after 4 to 5 hours, with nothing to show for their time, but less gas than before. The neighbors across the intercoastal waterway still have no power, and I feel sad to look out at their houses and think of them looking at our building, as if the lights in each home taunt them. We keep our lights off whenever possible, to remind us of what we have and what they don't. We were the lucky ones and our minor struggles, past and to come, during Hurricane Wilma are tiny.

I have lived my life with one fundamental premise: that if you live in harmony with nature and embrace the universe and take refuge in it's laws of action, it will craddle you. Sometimes it dishes out bitter medicine, but in the end, it all ends up sweet.

My photos of Wilma

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Give Me Sente Or Give Me Death!

Any beginner kyu knows the feeling of being led around the goban like a dog on a leash. The advantage of going first as Black can be lost within only a few moves while playing a higher kyu. Not only does this make it hard to win a game, it also makes for a less enjoyable game. The question is: How do you take back the initiative? The first answer would be to wait until your opponent plays a move you don't have to respond to. That usually doesn't happen. For me, as a beginner, I decided to make a small sacrifice and ignore my opponents good move and attempt to gain sente elsewhere on the board. This helped me very much in my 5 handicap game against
JohnBrian (25k) [5 stones making it an even game]. Rather than respond to many of his moves, I chose instead to build moyo and ignore any move that I could. If I had to respond, I made every attempt to make it a dual-purpose move. By the middle game I had a large moyo and knew an attack inside my territory was imminent. At move 123, White jumped inside my upper left group at the 3-3 point. I have not spent much time with Life and Death problems, and had no desire no lose the game over a lost corner. Instead I played only to contain him. Thinking me a coward, he jumped inside my upper right corner. That changed my mind. I fed him a stone, causing White to become heavy, and after a short exchange, killed his attacking group, and a few moves later, killed off the straglers that tried to crawl further down. I am certain that I owe this victory to taking off the leash and playing my game, and not responding to my opponents' moves. [I hope very much that JohnBrian doesn't speak English because he did not respond to my greeting or thanks at the end of the game. Go has a long heritage of tradition and respect, and the greeting is very important. --I don't know many people named John Brian who don't speak English, but we will give him the benefit of the doubt-- For further reading on the greeting, please stop by and read Chiyodad's blog entry about Greetings. Very well done.