In China, part five: Up against an 8 dan professional

Yesterday, on Saturday, was another special occasion in the Experience Go in China trip: the main organizer’s, Peter’s, teacher — an eight-dan professional — came to visit the program, and to play simultaneous games against some of the students. Six students were picked to play, including me, and the rest of the students were following my one-stone handicap game against the 8 dan in the other room, with Ben 3 dan professional commenting the game.

I started the game with my standard opening as of now, the modern sanrensei, and forced the 8 dan to invade. My handling of the invasion group was deemed a bit questionable, though not a complete failure, since I did end up getting a fair amount of territory and outside influence. I however failed to use the outside influence to attack the opponent’s positions, and seemed to fall a bit behind in territory. Later on in the game, I had to depend on two complicated ko fights to even the game. Though white seemed to be better off, he had no easy way to take the win home. Finally, white decided to ignore a big ko threat by black, and the result was pretty much decided for black’s favor. The end result was a black win by 12 points. Kifu is given below, with short comments based on what the teachers told me after the game!

[sgfPrepared id=”0″]

Move 15: Fuseki similar to this have been seen in multiple professional games. Even black 15 is not an out-of-this-world move, though it might look peculiar to some of the readers.

Move 21: The direction is alright, but a move one space further to the centre, at l14, would make better shape for black. If then white plays m14, black is happy to play l13 and get some thickness towards the centre — white would be cut and attackable.

Move 28: White 26 and 28 were commented to be too heavy, and too early. When white plays the approach at white 30, black would do well to simply separate the white right-side stone from the centre stones, capturing one or the other.

Move 31: This makes some problematic shape for black. R10, instead, would be easier for black to handle.

Move 33: This seemed like a must to me, strengthening the corner and attacking the white two stones. White 34, however, is a good response. After white 38, the white group will survive easily one way or the other, and the blame for that should be given to black 31.

Move 45: I saw the white counter coming before I played this move, and saw that this “just about works for black”. Black s12 will be a big move later, that’s the main reason for black 45.

Move 51: White o15 next would look difficult to counter, but black has a fine response at q15 in handy. For now, black’s shape is fine.

Move 63: Up to now, the general feeling among the teachers was that white’s result on the board was slightly better than black’s. With no komi, the game might be about even.

Move 67: A mistake, this should cut white at p2 instead. I was looking out for the weakness at r7, but this doesn’t fix it completely, and now black loses the possibility to attack at h3 later.

Move 78: This is a classic corner sequence, which gives a sente ko life for black. White may start the ko, of course, but will lose quite a bit if he loses the ko.

Move 80: The black corner has some bad potential here, thanks to the weakness at r7. I chose to let white hane at r7 and connect, and instead took the corner territory.

Move 89: This move, even though it destroys the secure white eyes in the corner, is too slow for now. K3 instead would be interesting. If white answers k3 with a hane, black would make a cross-cut.

Move 96: By now, white’s position seems more promising, even with no komi.

Move 101: I decided to try to get hold of the situation by creating a small moyo on the left side, since there was no easy good way to prevent the white double ponnuki on the lower side.

Move 106: I had wanted to play at l17, but white was just a bit faster. I was starting to feel uncomfortable, here.

Move 124: This move doesn’t actually well prepare for the corner ko fight, and instead loses some threats for white.

Move 129: I saw the threat at p3, but that’s not enough to win the ko. I had to find something better in the upper-left corner.

Move 140: This is almost a fatal mistake – white should cut at c12 first, then make life in the corner.

Move 149: Thanks to this two-step ko, the game is again complicated for both.

Move 151: Black could get one threat more if he played f19 before this one.

Move 164: White gave up the ko too early, and now black gets a 25-point compensation in the lower right corner. White could easily have continued the ko, having threats like p11 and g8 in reserve. After black takes the lower right corner with black 165, white has no way to catch up again.

In the end, I got a good training out of the game. As expected, I couldn’t match white’s view of the board in the opening part of the game, but after it started to come down more to reading, my situation got better — it’s difficult to concentrate on details when you have to play six games at the same time. After the game, I got some interesting comment on my game: according to the teachers, my understanding of the opening part (“first part”) of the game is faulty, and, luckily for me, that’s the relatively easier problem to fix. The more difficult-to-improve second part of the game, meaning the middle and endgame, I was told I did very solidly and without big faults.

3 thoughts on “In China, part five: Up against an 8 dan professional”

  1. It’s nice to see that you often take up these challenges to play against stronger opponents. A Guy Ritchie’s movie Revolver had a nice quote:

    “The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent.”

    —Fundamentals of Chess 1883

    If you only play against weaker opponents, you seldom learn anything new. It’s sad that there are so many talented players on kgs, who mostly play with white stones. I would say it’s talent wasted. Of course it’s easier to win or at least easier to feel smarter if you only play against weaker opponents but that only makes you happier – not stronger. No pain no gain.

  2. Games you post are nice, though we are not that interested in list of your mistakes, but in your own thoughts and feelings about the game. Also, you don’t need to feel obliged to hastily post something every two days. I, at least, will like one big article about your life there in general (how you study go, anything about program you participate in, China, people there, city etc.) much more than several game reviews.
    I apologize, if I offended you. Maybe you have your own plan what to write in blog and in which order, but you didn’t say so before. So I guessed that you may be interested in readers’ opinion.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I am indeed interested in what the readers think. I’ve tried so far also to include my own thoughts about the games, but have tried as well to write notes about mistakes and particularly good moves for the game review itself to be useful to the readers. It’s good that you’re interested in hearing about life here in China in general as well, I’ll see what I can do about that in the near future!

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