Hard mode insei training

The May insei leagues started last weekend. I again scored reasonably well with a 5-1 result, which currently puts me on the shared second place (this time with good promotion prospects, as the two insei sharing the place with me have lower positions in the league). Meanwhile in the D class, Leon from Germany performed a little below average with four wins and six losses. On the plus side for Leon, however, he was the first to score a win against one of April’s new insei, who had gotten something like 44 straight wins last month, and who was winning all of his games in the D class as well. For a quick comparison, two and a half years ago I lost three games in the E class. Because the readers no doubt would find Leon’s game interesting, I’m including it along with the English class teachers’ comments in this blog post. Last weekend, the U20 Globis cup was won by the Japanese Ichiriki Ryō 7 dan, a former participant in the Nihon Ki-in English class, and the second place got taken by Kyo Kagen 2 dan, of Taiwanese origin but playing for Japan. If I remember right, I saw a remark in a Japanese go newspaper or magazine that the last time Japan got a double win in an international professional tournament was over ten years ago. It is no wonder, then, that the Japanese go world is currently in high spirits. Last Monday me and Leon went for a visit to the Ichikawa go dojo, owned by Mimura Tomoyasu 9 dan, who was kind enough to invite both of us in. While Leon is returning to Germany already after June, I’m considering if I should continue my regular training in Ichikawa; not only is the dojo an optimal place for studying and its teacher incredibly nice, but it currently also has two B class insei. The only downside is that it takes me some 40-50 minutes to get there. As for the title of the blog post, that is something that came up recently in a talk with my teacher. As this time my goal is to actually become pro (instead of getting more experience like two years ago), my training is of course to be more rigid than before. Instead of just getting good results, I should strive for the content of my games to be good; after showing a few of my last weekend’s games, though 5-1 could hardly be called a bad result, I got a great deal of criticism for my moves and decisions. Finally, I was warned to not accept any compliments that I might hear from other professionals who see my games, as the Japanese have their culture of not speaking their mind in a direct fashion. It is also interesting to see how many mistakes one can still fit into a game even at this level of play. Below is an example from one of my insei games last weekend, which was a fairly comfortable and uneventful win. As I need to include some variations this time around, for a change I will go back to using move diagrams. I am playing white. Antti-insei_fig1 Up to black 17 we have an opening that at least I haven’t seen before. By the time white gets the cut of 14, he seems to have a comfortable position, but white still needs to be careful with his handling of the two top-left corner stones. White 18, while looking like a tesuji for sabaki, is dangerous. It might well be something that could be found in a bloody Chinese or Korean professional game, but it would have to be backed up by a lot of reading; and still, it would be making things unnecessarily complicated for white. Instead— Antti-insei_dia1 White should probably attach with 1 as in Dia 1, after which the sequence up to 8 could be expected, and white could take sente to for example claim 9 on the right side. The top-side result is in general favourable for white like this, apparent when comparing the white top-right corner with the black top-left corner and the white top-left corner group with the black top-right corner group. Antti-insei_fig2 While black found the most severe way to cut white back in Figure 1, black 23 and 25 in Figure 2 are vulgar. Up to 35, white lives easily on the top side with a good deal of territory. I had thought that cutting with white 36 and 38 then would come as a natural continuation, but it is not an interesting way for white to play at all; white’s top-side group gets confined in, and black can make relatively good shape on the outside with 43. Instead of 36— Antti-insei_dia2 White should move out directly with 1 in Dia 2. This way, white could force black to make bad shape with 4 by playing the atari of white 3, and up to white 13, white would live comfortably on both sides. Antti-insei_fig3 Continuing from Figure 2, white attached at 44 to make sabaki on the left side, similar to white 1 in Dia 2. This time black was forced to go back to capture a white stone with 47, and by the time white gets to extend to 52, he anyway lives comfortably. However, in the process black also got thick shape in the centre, so he wasn’t too badly off. White 64 was a simple reading mistake. Instead— Antti-insei_dia3 It was possible for white to connect with 1; even if black cut with 2 and 4 afterwards, white would keep his shape intact with 3 and 5. This way, white is also bound to get A in sente, which means something of a ten-point advantage over the actual game. Stronger readers might notice that black can prevent white A by forcing black B, white C and black D in sente, but in that case black loses the sente block at E, which is bigger. Back in Figure 3, black played tenuki to 65 too early; he should first block at 66 in sente. Now that white got to exchange 66 for black 67 in sente, white profited by about five points. Antti-insei_fig4 The game continued in a relatively normal fashion, as in Figure 4, up to black 75. Black again went for complications there; when white responded with the sabaki move of 76, black again responded in the most severe way with the cut of 77. Up to 85, white was content to fix his shape in sente, going back to connect at 86. Black then again went to challenge white with the tesuji-ish move of 87, forgetting about the endgame technique mentioned in Dia 3. White then found the time to exchange 88 for black 89, which meant a free profit of three points. Antti-insei_fig5 The rest of the game was fairly straightforward. While white’s play was far from optimal, he was still able to capitalize on black’s problems with timing, and by 142 white had generated a lead of almost 20 points. Upon seeing white 142, black resigned. Below is the Eidogo-plugin version of the game.

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Lastly, below is Leon’s game with the prodigy from the E class, along with comments by English class professionals.

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10 thoughts on “Hard mode insei training”

  1. That’s awesome that Leon beat the prodigy! Definitely an anecdote that will last a lifetime I’m sure.

    I didn’t realize that Japanese culture was not as direct in terms of speaking their mind. Definitely an interesting notion to not take their compliments too much to heart. But no matter, I am wishing you the best of luck on your road to becoming a pro!


  2. I’m not usually commenting but I’ll make an exception.

    The games records you’re uploading are extremely intersting and useful, and you’ve got a great story to tell. I’ll keep on dropping by once in a while. :)

  3. Hi Antti, congratulations for your results.

    I have a question concerning your trip to study in Japan, Do you have a fixed return date? How many months are you hoping to stay there? and Which EGD level do you need to be acepted in the insei training :).

    Thanks for all and i hope you got to the A league this time :).

    1. Hi, thanks!

      I’ve no fixed return date yet, but I will at least stay until December (until at least August next year is increasingly likely, too). You would need to be about EGF 3 dan to get accepted, I suppose, but one’s playing style would be a factor as well.

  4. Nice game commentary as always Antti. When you say you want to become pro, is that in Japan or as one of the new European pros (I know you are missing out the qualification this time, but maybe you aim for a later one)?

  5. Hi Antti,

    Thank you for your posts very useful, even for a small kyu like me.

    You are talking about being professional in your post, but I would like to know why did you choose Japan, and not Korea or China ? With the critical decrease of the go population in Japan and the deficit of the nihonki-in (and not forget the bad financial situation of most of the titles’ sponsors), I would rather think that there are more possibilities in Korea and China. I am quite aware about the situation in Japan, but not about Korea and China, and it would be useful for the others who want to become professional to have more informtion about that.

    My other question is what do you think about the “kenshû kishi” system of the Kansai-kiin, which seems to select professionals especially dedicate for the education of go. As long as I know no one chosen with this system had become professionel (I think they need 20 victories). For me, I think it’s a good try, but the priority should be to build a training system to get players with more guts (or higher level ?), in order to be able to rival with Korea and China. In other words, something more “military” (but not too much).

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