Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Gooften! Exactly one year ago, the first text was posted, and although I didn't end up changing the look of the page as I said back then, I can still say that we've come a long way. In the beginning, Go of Ten had something like 50-150 visitors per day, depending on when the last post was written. Now, on a blog post day the number is something like 500-1000, and on a non-post day it's still 250-500. The average number of visitors for this November is 474 so far. This is my 51st blog post so far, giving pretty much a pace of one blog post per week. Let's hope that the numbers keep on going up in the future!
Last weekend's insei games ended up with six wins out of seven games. On Sunday, on the first round, I ended up losing against insei number nine; I made my first big blunder in an insei game so far, and ended up losing some 50 points just for that. That was in the middle game, and by the endgame I counted I was about 10 points behind and resigned. The two other games on Sunday were pretty much easy wins. Summing up, so far my record in D class is 18 wins and 2 losses, for a winning percent of 90%. Unfortunately I didn't find a good opportunity to take a picture of the results sheet, so we'll have to do without for now.
This week will be pretty hectic for me. Today I went to my first kenkyuukai ever, kenkyuukai (研究会) meaning something like "research meeting". I was invited in by Yu Ho sensei, 6 dan professional, who participates in the English lessons every Tuesday. All other participants were professionals, and the meeting consisted of games and game reviews. This afternoon I did an interview for a journal named Josei no Hiroba (女性の広場), meaning something like "Women's forum". Apparently they're doing a coverage of the Nihon Ki-in in their next edition, and Kobayashi Chizu sensei deferred them to also interview me among others. Tomorrow I'll go to the Nihon Ki-in to train with an acquaintance, a Japanese amateur player who is studying with the Kansai Ki-in (an institution similar to Nihon Ki-in, but situated in Osaka), and tomorrow evening as usual we have the English lesson. This Wednesday I'll go to a go school in Chiba to which many other insei also go, led by Mimura Tomoyasu 9 dan professional. On Thursday I'm having an interview with Helsingin sanomat, Finland's biggest newspaper, and on Friday I've been invited by another acquaintance from the English lessons to a go salon in Yokohama.
I'm sure that out of all this, the biggest point of interest for my readers is the kenkyuukai. It seems that on given weekdays, the sixth floor of the Nihon Ki-in is reserved for such meetings. The sixth floor has several rooms with tatami mats, and apparently different rooms are used by different kenkyuukai. The one I went to was named 棋心会, kishinkai, which translates to something like "chess heart meeting". The Japanese character for chess may also refer to go; igo (囲碁) practically means surrounding-chess.
As we were in a tatami mat room, we were also playing on legged go boards. Right off the bat I was to face Aoki Shinichi, a 9 dan professional. We had 30 minutes of basic time and sixty seconds a move after that. I'm proud to say that I was able to sit in seiza for the whole of the first game, which translates to about 75 minutes! Given, after that my feet were of course completely dead. As for the game, I got completely slaughtered. It felt completely different to play against professionals this time around, as if all my games with professionals so far had been shidougo. Aoki sensei didn't bother to play too simple, and the game quickly got into a complicated middle game fight. The game is featured further below. After the game, we reviewed it in Japanese, Aoki sensei asked for my contact information, and then I faced another high dan professional, Kaku Kyushin 6 dan. I did quite well against Kaku sensei in the opening and in the early middle game, but a reading error transformed this game as well into a slaughter. In the end, I feel I ended up learning a lot about fuseki and shape from the two games. After the second review, I went to observe Yu Ho sensei's and his opponent's game, and their review after that. The kenkyuukai concluded after having run for about three hours.
Here's part of the game with Aoki sensei. I had black with white having no komi.
White 8 initiates a not-very-simple joseki in the upper right corner. The result up to black 25 shows one way to play the corner out, but it could be said that the result is more interesting for white than for black in this game. The reasoning to that is that white is able to play a good approach to the lower right corner, which expands the right side nicely. If the black stone in the lower right corner were at r4 instead of q3, black would be well off.
Aoki sensei preferred the variation shown here to that of the game (starting from black 19). Up to white 6 in the variation diagram, the position in the upper right corner is settled, and black 7 makes the upper side look quite promising for black. I actually considered this joseki in the game, but picked the other way around just for some training. As of lately, I've been practicing my defensive skills, usually by letting the opponent form a large framework in the opening, and then invading it later on. Variation 1 wouldn't let me do that.
Move 33 is an outright mistake in the game. It's seen often in professional games, but the difference to professional games is the presence of the white stone at d3. With d3 there, the lower side will never get big, as white will be able to live there anytime he wants. Instead, black should play like this:
Black 1 is almost like a textbook reduction. Something similar to the sequence of up to 7, shown here, could follow, and after that it cannot be said that black is badly off.
With white 38, the game plunges into a complicated fight. Black 51 is picking for some unnecessary trouble; the ordinary move of f9 would have been just fine.
Black 59 may require some explaining. Practically, it's a solid defensive move which also prepares for a follow-up at c8. Also, if black didn't play it, white would have a severe follow-up, shown here:
White could play the sequence from 1 to 6, shown here, in sente, getting an incredibly strong wall while surrounding the black corner. Sure enough, black is missing one stone at the moment, but I couldn't find a good enough location for that one stone in exchange for white walling the corner off.
By white 60, black's position is incredibly uncomfortable. I didn't find an easy way to strengthen the black centre group, so I increased the odds by playing black 61, aiming to shrink the right-side white moyo, and to attack the white upper-right group if white cuts. In a sense, black 61 is walking on a tightrope: it can possibly be a good move, but one mistake will end the game.
For this game, the mistake is in missing white 74, which cuts and kills off a part of the black group. I did continue the game until a while more, but my memory gets selective at the exact follow-up at around here. Black's attack at the upper right white group fails, and most of the right side becomes white territory. The black leftover groups in the centre survive, and black also ends up getting a good deal of territory on the left side. Finally, white is leading by 10 points, and black resigns. Needless to say, it was a very exciting game!