Level up


The insei leagues of May concluded last weekend. Before the weekend I was comfortably on the first place in the C class with 13 wins and 5 losses, but as the end of the month drew near, pressure crept in. On Saturday I got two losses, which dropped me to shared second place, but on Sunday I was able to score full three wins, which got me back to the first place. As such, I will now for the first time get to play in the B class next weekend!

The insei play in two different rooms at the Nihon Ki-in, on the seventh floor. Classes from E to C play in a larger room, and classes B and A (each with 10 insei) are separated to a different, smaller room. The large training room tends to get noisy; not only because of the larger number of children, but also because of differing schedules between the classes. E class insei play six games a day, D class insei five games a day and C class insei three games a day, and whenever there’s a break between games, it’s not uncommon for the insei to move slightly away from the playing tables and then start discussing their games. Because of the different schedules between the classes, this means that most of the the day there is some background noise.

B and A class insei both play two games a day, save for the first and third Saturdays, when they play three games. The three-game days seem to be fashioned so that exactly 18 games get played each month, which translates to two games against each opponent. When playing three games a day, the time settings are same as in the C class (40 minutes main time and 40 seconds byo-yomi), and on days with two games, the settings are 1 hour of main time and 1 minute byo-yomi. All in all, next weekend I can expect significantly more thinking time, a more quiet playing room and more serious opponents, all of which sound great!

Lately I have been going to the Ichikawa dojo once a week. Last time, while reviewing some insei games from last weekend with Mimura-sensei, we came up with a few interesting tesuji for sabaki, which I would like to share this time in problem format. If the reader is not familiar with sabaki, I might first recommend them to see the lecture I held on sabaki for the Advanced Study Room on KGS not too long ago, accessible on their webpage.

fig1

The initial position was as above, with white just having played the circle-marked move. To amateur players, pushing towards the centre at the right of white’s circle-marked stone might come as an immediate reaction, but there is another move to consider as well…

noname_var1

…that is, black’s direct attachment at 1. If white responded with 7 to black 1, then black 2 would quickly produce resilient shape for black.

In this case, however, white might poke at black’s shape with 2, after which the sequence up to white 10 follows: black’s stones in the upper right corner area remain floating and a little bit weak.

Problem 1: When black plays the hane of 11, how does white make sabaki?

fig2

In the game, black didn’t attach on the white stone towards the right, but instead pushed up towards the centre. Some moves later, the board looked like above.

var2

For black, the kosumi attachment of 1 would be a simple and efficient way of play. White would have to keep himself connected with 2, after which black could force 3-7 in sente and then return to connect at 9, creating a promising moyo position on the lower side.

noname_var2

In the actual game, however, black attached at 1 here, mistakenly thinking that white would have to respond by cutting at j14. White’s counter-hane of 2 instead made it hard for black to figure out how to make sabaki.

Problem 2: It turns out, however, that after white 2, black has a great tesuji for sabaki available—but where?

Answers to these problems will follow later!

End of April, Golden week, Kamakura

April’s insei games got finished last weekend. My final score was 16 wins to 8 losses (last weekend was five wins and one loss), which just barely wasn’t enough to get promoted to the B class: one of my two competitors losing their last game would have sufficed. As such, I will now start at seat #4 in the C class next month. Meanwhile, Leon was able to keep his place in the D class with about 50% winning ratio. Below is the almost-final results sheet from the C class. Edit 4.5.2014: Apparently showing the results is not allowed, and the sheet is now removed. Right now Japan is celebrating Golden week, a series of national holidays that provides the longest continuous yearly holiday aside from the summer holiday. Consequently we don’t have insei training this week, and many Japanese people take time off to go on holiday trips and sightseeing. Yesterday on Saturday, then, me, Tom from the Nihon Ki-in, Leon and Leon’s German friend Nico went on a day trip to Kamakura, roughly an hour’s train ride away from Tokyo. The day was almost ideal for such a trip, aside for the fact that a huge number of Japanese people had come up with the same idea.

kenchouji
At the Kenchōji temple in Kamakura: Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru played one of their jūbango games in the house barely visible in the photo
crazy-icecream
Sweet potato flavoured gelato: a local speciality, apparently. While it certainly tastes weird, it’s surprisingly edible!
budda
The main focus of the sightseeing trip, the 13-meter-tall world’s second-largest Buddha statue

Other activities of the week included participating in several go meetings organized by my teacher, Kobayashi Chizu-sensei, and participating in a go study meeting at Mitani-sensei’s place, which among others included playing rengo with Leon, Ōba Junya and Matsumoto Takehisa. Finally, below are two of my last weekend’s insei games with professional commentaries.

 

Download SGF

 

[sgfPrepared id=”0″]

 

38th Kisei prize-giving ceremony

On last week’s Friday, me and Leon got to attend the 38th Kisei prize-giving ceremony, which was held at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel in Ginza. As seems customary for these events, the organizers weren’t stingy about money when it came to the venue or the catering.

The winner of the 38th Kisei tournament was no other than Iyama Yūta, who successfully defended his title (of which he currently holds six of the seven available). Me and Leon were lucky to have gotten the chance to take a photo with him, as below:

iyama-photo

…One might indeed get the idea that the people in the photo were football players getting ready for a free kick by the opposing team, as somebody remarked on Facebook.

I’d prepared for the ceremony by avoiding eating too much earlier in the day, because by my experience I knew that there’d be plenty of good food available. To my dismay, this time, I hardly had any chance to eat at all, as for some reason the ceremony hall was full of old acquaintances with whom to speak, including for example Takemiya-sensei, two insei girls who used to go to Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan’s dojo at the same time as I did, and Igo-shougi channel’s reporter, who of course had to ask me for a quick interview on what I think of Iyama.

antti-interview

…Like so.

Saturday’s insei games continued in usual fashion with a 2-1 result, but on Sunday I suddenly got sick of what seems to be a common cold. I considered not going to the training because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to play normally, but decided to go anyway knowing that scoring even one win might be big, and that I might as well rest on the following week. As such, I did score one win on Sunday, and have now gotten rest for four straight days. Because the quality of my games from last weekend wasn’t very commendable, and because I passed up on getting the English class pros’ comments on them, I don’t have any games to post today.

In exchange, to make it easier for the blog readers to speculate about April’s results, here is the results sheet after last Saturday’s games:

results-april

 

First return insei post

One week has now passed since my return to Japan. So far, among other things, I have:

  • gotten settled down in my own small apartment,
  • met up with Leon Stauder, currently a D class insei from Germany,
  • met up with familiar English class teachers,
  • bumped (not physically) into Chō U at the Nihon Ki-in lobby and gotten a nod, and
  • finished my first insei weekend with a 4-2 score.

To my luck, I arrived in Tokyo just in time for the flower-viewing period, of which I can share the below photo.

IMG_1677

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March league final results

Last weekend marked the end of the March insei league, and my second-to-last insei month. My return date is approaching at a frightening pace, especially looking at how fun Japan has lately been for me. The other day, I got to see a strict Takemiya-sensei at the English go class, and the commentary that he gave on my games turned out very valuable indeed. One of the more hilarious comments I got from him was to the extent of “What’s this, you’re playing like a go bot — first you do something really silly, and then you play this strongly!”

The next weekend will be a break from insei training — Japan’s school year starts from April 1, so I imagine around this time of the year the children (and probably most other people as well) have a small break from everything. The same applies to the Ichikawa go dojo, which is having a break from today until next Monday. It’s definitely spring here now; the temperature will be about 15° C on average during the day, and in about one week it’ll be time for the cherry to blossom. Right now it looks approximately like this outside:

The stairs that go down here lead to the metro station of Roppongi Itchōme; it's a five-minute walk to here from the apartment I'm staying at, and an eight-minute ride from here to Ichigaya, where the Nihon Ki-in is.

Last weekend’s result was four wins and two losses for me, summing up to 14 wins and 10 losses for the whole of March. That got me the fifth place in the C league. And actually, since three people get promoted and two insei from B class quit, right now there is a “possibility” that I will get to play in B class next month. Nothing is sure yet, as the insei instructors are likely currently figuring out what to do. If I do get to play in B class next month, it’ll be like getting in from the back door, but I’ll take any opportunity I can to get to play in the A-B class room.

Edit 29 March 13:39: I checked today at the Ki-in, and it turns out I’m not getting to B class — instead of promoting 5 C class insei, they only demoted one B class insei. Too bad, but cannot be helped!

The results table of the last two weeks looked like this:

Weekly updates

Well, I’m still busy as usual — it might be for the better, however! My friend Tom from the Nihon Ki-in thought up an idea to go see the Kisei final being played. I was instantly excited by the idea, and so in a few hours today, we’ll ride the train to Kofu, quite near to mount Fuji. Expect some photos from there in the near future! Other than that, I’ve been the target of NHK recently;  you can see here what last Sunday was like for me. That wasn’t even everything, as the NHK reporters also came to Mimura-sensei’s dojo on Monday to do some more coverage. The result, supposed to last for about 10 minutes after heavy editing, will be shown on April 15 in the Japanese television.

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Out-of-ordinary insei training and a go party

Today marked a slightly more special insei training day. Out of the blue during the day, the insei instructors came up with the idea of switching the classroom to the sixth floor from the normal seventh. That means that today, I played two of my three games in a traditional tatami room, which the professionals normally use for their games! Of course, it wasn’t my first time in a tatami room, as I’d participated in two kenkyuukai before. Still, it was a welcome change.

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C class third week update

As some of you may already have read from my Twitter page, I got three wins and three losses last weekend. It’s easiest if I just show the photo of the results sheet now that I managed to take one:

The photo’s quality is again a little bit bad: I lost to insei 11 by half a point, and to insei 2 by 2.5 points. Yesterday, at the Mimura dojo, I played a dojo league game against Mimura junior and lost by 1.5 points — all of these losses seem to be caused by my donating away free points in the endgame! Some endgame training is definitely in order. I did also play a 10-second game against Mimura-sensei yesterday, and the game stayed quite interesting until early endgame, when I finally messed up and lost any hope of a close game. Also, as I wrote just a bit ago, I also got a nice tsumego collection to work out from Mimura-sensei.

Seeing from the results so far, it now seems impossible for me to rise to B class next month, as I’ve way too many losses. I’ll be working my hardest not to drop to D class instead!

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C class kicks off

Like I already mentioned both on Twitter and Facebook, I got a two-wins-one-loss result today, on my first C class day. The loss was against insei number 12, and the wins were against 8 and 9. Of these, only insei number 9 was in C class in the last month as well. Number 12, Fujiwara (actually a girl!), is turning into an antagonist at a fair pace.

As the more careful readers might have noticed, there’s something mysterious with the way the classes are organized this month: insei number 9 was in C class last month, and insei number 8 was in D class. I’m at place number seven. There seems to have been some reorganizing as this month, there is a female-only tournament named 女流特別合同予選. I’m sorry, I have no idea how that is supposed to be read, and even the meaning escapes me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a female-only professional exam, or something similar. As female insei from several classes are taking the tournament, there has apparently been some rigorous reorganizing in the normal insei classes. A funny side effect is that this month, three insei from C class get promoted, while four get demoted. I don’t feel up to answer the myriad additional questions the new setup brings on, so here we have both the pairing table of C class, and the whole insei setup. Sorry for the poor quality!

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Finally, getting interesting

Long time no write!

Well, it’s actually been only a little more than one week, but what with all the activities I’ve had recently, it relatively feels like a longer time. As I wrote last week, I did two interviews and visited in total three different go schools in addition to that of Nihon Ki-in’s. Actually, I still haven’t got too much time to formulate a long blog post, so for now I’m only writing this as a status update. In less than two hours, I’m meeting with an acquaintance at the Nihon Ki-in, in order to play a few games and study together before the weekly English class. The acquaintance is not a professional, but is still close to professional level.

Some of you may have noticed that I also have a Twitter account. Since writing longer blog posts takes its own time, it might be handy if I wrote quicker status updates mostly by Twitter. I’ll look into whether I can implement a feature on this page’s right-side bar to show my latest few Twitter posts. Up until then, feel free to have a look at my Twitter page. I haven’t written too much there so far, but that’s likely change soon!

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