Game 1 – Plans and Intentions

In my previous lesson with Lukas, I discovered that I don’t always have clear intentions behind my moves. I often play on spots that look interesting to me but not in the context of a larger plan (and certainly not with thorough, accurate reading). According to Lukas, a bad plan is much better than no plan at all. It also occurred to me that I rarely have a plan before I start playing. And if I have no plan, then growth will never happen.

So, for the inaugural game played for this journal, I made a plan. In casual online games I often play lazy, instinctual moves – just clicking around without truly thinking – so I decided to use as much of my available game time as comfortably possible, and to always consider each move as part of a bigger plan, even if that plan turned out to be a bad one.

Results were mixed. Predictably, focusing on trying to change my habits disrupted the thought patterns that keep me at a 3 kyu level but stifle further progress. As a result, I made many unusually catastrophic errors that should have ended the game. On the other hand, I believe I had a solid, articulable intention and plan behind every move, which is what I wanted to achieve.

The game was played on IGS-Pandanet. I was white, and my opponent, “norman,” was black. White won by +22.5 points.


I decided to review the game with AI-Sensei, though I believe at my level it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand the intentions behind AI moves. Nevertheless, I was able to gather some useful information about my play. Although I had an intention behind each move, I discovered that in many cases I was guided by overambitious thinking. I believed that far more was possible than what was really on the board in front of me. I am beginning to detect a layer in my psychology that aims far too high when more reasonable, steady progress should be the plan. Moreover, this overambitious thinking seems more like a defense mechanism than an authentic desire for achievement. In other words, if I made a mistake, I overcompensated and tried to cover it up with an even bigger, grander, but ultimately delusional plan.

I think this can be seen most clearly in how I handled my center group after black’s attack. There were many mistakes before this, of course, but the goal of this journal isn’t to point out every mistake and explain the better position. Rather, I want to explore the thought patterns governing my play. In the diagram below, White 88 is perfect evidence that I was desperate to preserve the extremely illusory possibility of killing black’s large center group – or if not kill, get some profit. Even though it was not a significant mistake according to AI, all I could think about in this moment was preventing the capture, thus preserving my delusion. It was better to stabilize my group in another way, moving into black’s framework on the left – or even to play elsewhere (such as C8 or J17)!

Of course I should have resigned after White 110 ensured the death of my center group. However, based on my opponent’s play early on, I thought an opportunity might come. Eventually my opponent also made some catastrophic errors, so I was able to reverse the game and win. I’m not really interested in the result, because I think I succeeded in changing my habits ever so slightly. I would have felt successful even if I had lost.

That’s all for now. In the next post, I will be discussing my second game of the season in Yunguseng, to be played on Thursday. I hope there will be more intention behind my moves, and that my plans are a little more reasonable.

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