Christmas update

Merry Christmas! It’s been incredibly difficult to muster some energy to write here, when I’ve finally been able to simply relax and have a good time with my family and friends. There’s a good number of questions I’ve yet to answer, as well as the game review I promised – however, with the trip to London being such a short time off, I’ll probably reserve this day as well for relaxation.

The plan for close future is as follows: on December 27 (that is, tomorrow) I travel to London, the tournament being held on the four following days after that. If I can get access to internet, I’ll try my best to post some tournament games here with my own comments. Then there’s two days of free time on London, and I arrive back on January 3. I’ll get back to working on the questions and the promised game review then.

I’ve no clear picture of the London Open Go Congress’s organization, but I would guess they are relaying some games on IGS. If that’s the case, please do come and cheer on me, again!

Preparing for the London Open Go Congress

Long time no see, everyone! The past ten days have been increasingly busy for me, what with the Finnish Championship league (where I managed to get a 5/5 result) and the university exam week. Now, however, I’m officially on Christmas holiday!

Next up in my tournament calendar is the London Open Go Congress, where I’ll be fiercely fighting for the first place. Now that I’ve free time, I’ll probably play some games in the internet (KGS or wbaduk) as a preparation, as well as review some more professional games – probably by Nie Weiping. The Finnish Championship final will be held on 15-16 January: a best-of-three match with Javier-Aleksi Savolainen. The games will surely be broadcasted on KGS.

I’ve no real game-related content for this update, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting some more tonight – maybe a review from the Korean Ambassadors’ Cup tournament, or from the Finnish Championship league. Fast readers can make requests here about which game I’ll review, and about what I’ll be focusing on in the review!

The approaching Finnish Championship, 10-12 December

This weekend, starting on Friday, is the Finnish Championship tournament. There are six players who all play each other, and the two best play a best-of-three final at a later date. While I’m also playing in the Championship tournament, next week is an exam week at my university, so I’ll be fairly busy for the next nine days – likely I’ll have no time to write a blog post during this time, unless I get especially motivated.

On Friday I’m against Mikko Siukola 4 dan, who I also played at the Rabbity six tournament two weeks ago. On Saturday I’m up against Namii 5 dan and ErgoProxy 5 dan from KGS, and on Sunday my opponents are Finland’s old foxes Lauri 4 dan and Vesa 5 dan. No game in this tournament will be easy, but as usual, I won’t be playing simply to win, but to learn more instead!

All games are likely shown on KGS, but I have information yet on which accounts shall be used. They’ll be at the top of the active game list, anyway, so getting online on time is enough. Friday’s game is 19:00 GMT +2, while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are 10:30 and 15:00 GMT +2. Please come watch and cheer on me! :)

Questions and answers, part three; the 6-4 point

Hello world! Now I finally found the time to answer to Michi’s query regarding the 6-4 point. Like with normally with the questions and answers series, please write new questions as comments to this blog post!

First off, I compiled an sgf file (updated on 10 November 2011!) with some more normal variations along with my comments. The eidogo plugin in this blog doesn’t show comments for now, so please download the file (the download link is just below the plugin) for the comments.

[sgfPrepared id=”0″]

The following, here, is for whole-board fuseki. Please check the joseki file first!

If black played double 6-4 points, for example like this, I feel that white 8 is a really feasible counter. After white 8, black can practically no longer have a big right side,  which makes black 3 kind of useless. Later, if white gets the chance, he’ll take A. Black can surely make a game out of this, but it shouldn’t be so out of ordinary for white anymore.

If white plays double 6-4 points, black is simple to play as well. There are a few moves I would consider: black A is one, making white 2 rather useless again (black B later, then, given the chance). Black C instead would split the left side, not giving white 4 much to work for. Or, black could also just play his own game with D – there’s really no hurry in making the white stones useless.

As a summary, I do consider the 6-4 point playable, but it is making a player’s intentions painfully obvious (white 2 in the last figure clearly aims for the upper side, and white 4 for the left side). Personally I favor the 4-4, 3-3 and 3-4 points, which give a lot more flexibility to the follow-ups.

Continue reading “Questions and answers, part three; the 6-4 point”

On the philosophy of go

Good evening! It’s time for some philosophy!

Sorry, Michi, I’ll leave answering to your query for a bit later – the 6-4 corner stone is pretty often seen today – I know many people who use it as well – and I’d like to cover it thoroughly once I start covering it at all. Please be patient for a bit more, in other words. :)

TonyTiger wrote a good number of psychology and go related questions and thoughts on the previous questions and answers go blog commentary section:

I would like to hear your thoughts on the psychological side of Go. It’s almost never covered in go books. In poker it’s very important that you play your A-game all the time. For example you are not supposed to play poker when you are angry or when you are hungry because it affects your game too much. Do you pay attention to this when preparing for an important game or for tournaments? Do you have special techniques to relax? Do you have any silly rituals to boost your tournament spirit?

I would also like to hear your philosophical thoughts on winning a game of go. For example, do you think that the winner wins because he plays better moves or because he plays less worse moves? Or what do you think about the concept of Kami no itte? Do you play the moves that have the best outcome for you when your opponent plays the best response or do you often play moves that gives you advantage only when your opponent fails to “punish” you? What do you think about trick moves in serious games? If you are obviously behind in a tournament game, should you overplay to force your opponent to make mistakes or try to play kami-no-itte-like moves with a risk to lose by a few points? Is winning the most important or is developing your skills more important?

The preparing part of today will be completely philosophical. I have reviewed some pro games, and played a bit as well, but not in the extent that I normally do before tournaments. I do have this way of preparing, as well, as you shall read!

Interlude: I personally kind of have two different playing modes: short-term optimizing and long-term optimizing versions. The short-term mode is used in tournaments, or whenever there’s an important game: then I’m concentrating on winning the single game, and am especially wary of simple mistakes. The long-term mode I use otherwise: in this mode I simply play what seems interesting, and seems to be the best move to me. I also feel a lot less pressured about the game.

As far as I’m concerned, my playing condition has a really big impact on my short-term optimizing mode. A headache, hunger, or similar condition can make it really difficult to concentrate on the game, and to find the winning moves. In the long-term optimizing mode these conditions have a far smaller effect on me – somehow, “finding the best move” is a lot easier than “finding the winning move”. You could even ask if the short-term mode is useful at all for me; my reasoning, right now, is that it is not. As a matter of fact, for the past few months I’ve been training on this, learning to be able to forget the concept “winning” during a game. The results as of now seem pretty good: I can still concentrate on the game and think clearly – on the other hand, if I don’t win, I somehow still feel like I won the game. You can learn a lot from a single game, after all, and learning new aspects about the game helps you improve, which to me is the main goal. In the Rabbity six tournament last weekend I kind of lost my head in my game against Jeff, and became indifferent about the game. This would imply that I have yet not mastered “not winning the game”.

Thus, with my tournament game philosophy now, the way I’m mentally preparing, or relaxing for a tournament, is to get in the mindset of finding the best moves, and forgetting the world outside of the go board. For this, rationalizing the advantages for such action usually is enough for me. In the long term, I believe this should be the most fruitful course of action.

With all this said, I guess the readers can get a general idea of my attitude towards winning the game. With no big mistakes in the game, the winner is the one whose general plan for the game was superior – think of an allusion to war, for example. A bad move in a war can lead to the whole defense of a country crumbling – on the other hand, a good feint at the right moment could positively turn the tide of a battle.

My approach to the game, as to life in general, is positive: I like to count good moves instead of bad moves, and thus, I think the winner is the one that happened to plan better in the single game. Also, as a partial product of this optimism of mine, I tend to play moves that I think are the best, and that according to my knowledge cannot be refuted as “mistakes” or “trick moves”. During a game, I don’t have thoughts like “I’ll do this, since he won’t know how to punish anyway” at all. This way of generalization is a bit obscure, of course, for I do need to try “harder” in handicap games, or if I’m clearly losing an even game. In those cases, I try to make the game as difficult as possible, so that the opponent cannot easily finish it – this means difficult on the whole-board scale. Usually this means so difficult that I cannot keep the game completely under control myself, either. If it’s a single fight, for example in the corner, opponents strong enough would be able to manage quite easily. I resign only once I’m completely sure I cannot win the game.

I’m not quite used to the idea of “kami no itte” (ie. “move of God”). Here’s my thought process now: since the term sounds really flamboyant and cool, I would like to attach it to “playing a perfect game”, which is a concept on its own right. I suppose we will get to the perfect game, eventually, when we have computers good enough to calculate the best moves for each reasonable-appearing game (maybe in 10, or 20, or 50, or 100, or 1000 years). After this course of thought, however, I lose interest in naming something only a computer can do the “move of God”. Also, it says “move” in the name, doesn’t it? Then it should be a single move that gets the name. Now it feels like we’re coming to really obscure meanings, which will definitely vary depending on the person – a matter of opinion, in other words. And now that I’ve come this far in my chain of thoughts, I think I’ll name the “move of God” for myself as a move that deeply inspires a given player – be it a really cool tesuji, possibly a myoushu, or perhaps a move that adds the last nail to the coffin of a struggling opponent and thus wins a game. Remember not to use the term too often, however – otherwise it’ll lose its meaning, and turn to describe a normal “good move”! Maybe one “move of God” per one lifetime per person?