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! :)

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?

Aftermath of Rabbity six; preparing for KAC, part one

Rabbity six is now happily over! The whole tournament trip’s length was three days for me: on Friday I arrived at Tampere, helped organize the playing area, and participated in the Finnish Go Association board meeting. Saturday and Sunday were full of go and fun, and a bit void of sleeping – a normal tournament weekend, in other words! Some tournament games were relayed on KGS with the accounts KaniKuusi, KaniKuusi2 and KaniKuusi3.

The registration for the tournament ended 10 AM on Saturday, after which there was a 50-minute-or-so break, during which the first pairing was made. Pretty close to 11 AM, then, was the opening ceremony, and the games started soon after. There were a good 60 people present. As a funny side event, just before the games started, thanks to a faulty table, a player dropped a full but opened can of energy drink on the floor. We then spent about five minutes getting rid of the sugary pool.

My first game was against Mikko Siukola 4 dan, who put up a really good fight; I had trouble playing the kind of game that I’m good at playing, likely thanks to his efforts. In the end however, the fighting started going in my favor, and Mikko resigned.

After the first round came the lunch break: many players ate meatballs and rice at the university restaurant, which was advertised in the opening ceremony. The chance for this was nice, people not having to go outside to endure the -15 or so Celsius degrees to get their meal.

My second game was against an even more familiar player, Ville Ainali 3 dan of Oulu. This was an exciting game as well, I spent a lot of effort in trying to create a decisive fight. In the end, I couldn’t capture anything big, but I had the point lead anyway.

On the third round on Saturday evening, then, came the likely-decisive game: me against Jeff! As we know each other’s styles really well, the game was almost more metagame than real game; many observers commented they didn’t understand the game at all, while to us it was fairly simple. Jeff did well in preventing my moyoplans, and so the game shifted to close combat. One questionable move by me made the situation extremely complex, but to my luck Jeff misread a capturing race. According to his words he was just looking for a place to resign after that – I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop fighting. This eventually led to my demise, when I tried too hard to kill a group that wasn’t easily killable. Once I resigned, Jeff seemed extremely surprised, seeming as if he’d just woken suddenly up.

Thanks to Pyry Pakkanen for these two pictures!

Our aftermath of the game was rather high-flown. We’ve already established our own concepts to go, “angel” and devil”. Here angel style means creative and fun play, while devil style is less creative and fun, and more winning-oriented. With these terms, I’ll have to study the devil style in order to increase my winning percentage in games in which I have a leading position. Could be a suitable time to start studying Kobayashi Koichi, for example. Humoristic readers who are familiar with some anime series could make an allusion between “devil mode”, “sage mode”, “super Saiyan” and “bankai”. It’s supposed to make me one stone stronger!

After the third round, the sauna and game evening came around. The sauna was located in the middle of a dark dark forest, near a lake – a very nice setting, in other words. Having to walk two kilometres in -15 °C to the sauna was no problem in these terms. The sauna building was nicely full of go players, and a local pizza company had the privilege of transporting close to 20 pizzas to the middle of a forest. The sauna was excellent as well, I remember nearly burning my skin there!

On Sunday morning, then, I was up against Juri Kuronen 5 dan, one of my main opponents of the tournament as well. This game was very eventful, and ended up really close, too. In the end, I made use of Juri’s lack of time – he had to play 6 stones in 21 seconds – and won thanks to that. Expect to find a more detailed commentary about this game later!

The game with Juri took a lot of time, and the lunch break ended up quite short for me. I came ten minutes late for the fifth round, which was bad enough on its own. I then proceeded to play a moyo vs. territory game against Andrey Gomenyuk 5 dan of Russia, but alas he had to leave for his train in the middle of a fight – the game was still completely open, the winner not decided at all. I then ended up on the second place in the tournament, Jeff winning the tournament and Janne Määttä coming in on the third place. In other words, OGP (the go club of Oulu) claimed all the three main prizes! Not a bad tournament at all. :)

After the prizegiving ceremony was over, the goodbyes said, a random new go club created, and the playing hall cleaned up, we went to the downtown of Tampere to the local go players’ haunt of restaurant Konttori. Some more go playing ensued (yes, I have trouble getting enough of it). Later in the evening, around 11 PM, I went to the train station – and got home only after 2 AM, thanks to the national railway service failing once again. Luckily I had no appointments on Monday, so the time of arrival at home didn’t really matter in the end.

Some more studying is in order, and the next tournament up ahead is the Finnish Korean Ambassador’s Cup just next weekend!

Preparing for Rabbity six, part three: learning from past mistakes

Long time no write! The past week has been a bit busy for me, hence the small amount of posts here. Right now I’m in Tampere, ready to play in the Rabbity six tournament which begins tomorrow. I decided to share with you readers what I reviewed with Jeff concerning the game I played with smartrobot on KGS last week. I had black in the game.

Generally, I thought the game was very good, the number of noticeable mistakes being rather small for both. Apart from this game, I’ve played several other games as a preparing for the tournament – also in the European Team Championship tournament on IGS. My general feeling is that I’m pretty much in top shape now!

Continue reading “Preparing for Rabbity six, part three: learning from past mistakes”