Game 4 – Mr. H—

I started playing Go in high school. Like many, I was influenced by the manga Hikaru no Go, and the game became my part-time escape from the rigors of school and the mad dash to get into the “best” university. At the time, Anchorage had a fairly active Go club that met at a local bookstore once a week. There I met Mr. H—, who guided me through the basic principles of the game patiently and kindly. I cannot understate his influence on my life. Whenever I’m home in Alaska, he has always been there, willing to play a game and teach me something. He represents the kind of personal and intellectual strength I would like to see in myself. Every game with Mr. H— is very special to me, as I know there is something valuable to be learned, and I know he cares about my progress and success on and off the board.

When the bookstore could no longer host the club, we started going to Mr. H—’s house to play. Mr. H— also repairs electronics, and his house is filled with an array of devices, parts, and tools I don’t recognize. He is also an exceptional classical guitarist, and has many guitars and their cases on display—and I haven’t even mentioned his Go board collection. Imagine playing Go in such a powerful space! To honor Mr. H—, I wrote a poem some time ago:

Mr. H—’s Go Salon

Room of connections,
Circuits, fine instruments,
Wooden spaceships
Made with many seasons. 
Two eyes make life:
The depthwish 
Guiding hands above
The earthly plane
In starry talk 
Of new realms,
At the threshold
Of an open door.
Design, fortify, negotiate
How eternity will cease,
Take its measure
And begin again.

Below is a recent game I played with Mr. H—. According to AI we both made some pretty serious mistakes, but I learned many lessons from this game. Two seem to jump out: first, a game can be decided by very small misunderstandings. I am thinking of Mr. H—’s separation of my top left group from my center stones. I thought I saw a sequence that would keep them connected, but clearly I did not understand the situation properly, and played too hubristically. According to AI, my biggest mistakes were Black 141-159, around the time I got separated (and shortly after that resigned). The other lesson is one that Lukas has also shared with me: just because you can read and play a sequence, that doesn’t mean that it’s good. I’m thinking about my cut at J13, which in itself wasn’t a bad idea but I mishandled the follow-up. Mr. H— had many great suggestions during the review. You can see the AI-analysis here.

Stick around for my next two posts, which will include interviews with some interesting Go players.

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