Game 5 – The Wall of Time

The Palace’s Call

The space was vast,
And the land was so silent
That all its music could be made
From the most ordinary bell,
Housed in the deepest chamber of the palace.
It calls, in the rhymes of divine calculus,
To the forlorn traveler, lost over the horizon,
With the way toward home and peace.
The deaf scribe, shivering by a candle,
Feels the song in the palace walls,
And translates with his hands
A recreation of its welcome.

I did not want to write about this game. After losing on time from a winning position, I first had to find a way to let go of frustration. The poem above, about the experience of Go through language and writing, is my attempt to do so.

I won’t say much about the game, except that losing on time is an unpleasant reminder that we are mortal and our time here is not infinite. I had five seconds to make a move, reset my clock, and continue playing, but I hesitated. I fell into a delusion that I was not subject to time’s power. My failure to play in those five seconds might look like simple panic, but it actually shows a terrible weakness in my game: that my desire for the psychological comfort of victory can distract me from the most fundamental responsibilities.

Apart from the ending, I felt great in this game. I had a significant time advantage throughout and I felt confident about my plans, but my opponent played very well under pressure, troubling me after I couldn’t make the important psychological shift to playing in byo-yomi, during which one must let go of finding perfect moves. The AI analysis, which shows me leading throughout the game, can be viewed here, though I am looking forward more to hearing In-seong’s thoughts.

The interview series I promised last time will begin in the next post. Thanks for reading.

Game 3 – Falling Early and Often

It is snowy here in Alaska, so I have been able to get out and cross-country ski a few times since returning from Belgium. I love to glide peacefully along on the flats, but I have yet to develop technique strong enough to master steep, panic-inducing downhills. One of my skiing companions gave me the following advice: fall early and often.

My Go is a lot like my skiing. I can do it, and sometimes make it down medium-sized hills, but I’m not quite ready for the racetracks of dan-level competition. So for this entry, I decided to interpret the game through the lens of my friend’s advice, as Go is basically one steep hill, whether you are climbing up or falling down it.

Because I am in Alaska, the weekend game schedule for Yunguseng Group D ended up being quite early: 4:00 am! I could have rescheduled, but I learn much more from the reviews when they are immediately after the game. Anyways, I felt fresh and ready for competition; however, my 10-week-old cat, Ponnuki, always wants to play at this time of day. A strategically placed roll of toilet paper distracted him.

I split my previous two games with my opponent, “hdc,” so I knew that our game this time could go either way. The game was a gradual, peaceful climb to the top of a hill, where we both realized that whoever could get to the bottom first would win. I fell early and often as fast as I could, distracting my more graceful opponent, who missed an opportunity to finish the game.

In the process I discovered that my desire to win overpowered my sense of danger, which worked this time but probably won’t on future occasions. I’m thinking specifically of my jumps out into the center, which hdc could have disconnected with a double-wedge after my misguided peep at F11 (Black 115). I had a strong feeling that such a disconnection was possible, but I ignored it because I knew if I didn’t reduce white with the knight’s move at G6 (Black 125), I would lose. I should have taken time to regroup and play something like H13 and K11, then resume my “descent” into white’s area, even if it meant losing. Because I won, this is a difficult lesson to accept, but my next opponent might find such a weakness in my position.

As usual, In-seong had many great suggestions. My atari at B17 was bad, as it gives white the option of easy life should Black disconnect the group somehow. Black 71 should have cut the two stones on the other side to make the O16 group heavy. Trying to cut White with Black 95 was a bad idea. As In-seong explained, my pushes up to that point were good but I needed to “return home” with a peep at M11 and cut at M13, which I played but only after I lost the two stones on the right. Lastly: I need to review the double approach move I played on the bottom left.

Onward to the next hill!


Game 2 – Treasure Hunt

Go is treasure.
This truth like a mine
Quarried for the rarest finds:
Gems emerging from the sand,
Ornaments adorned with them by hand–
But none so great as the mysterious stones
Of treasures still unknown.

If you’ve been reading this journal so far, you know that one of my goals is to have more intention behind my play. So, for my second game in Yunguseng’s 29th season, I focused on what I enjoy most about playing Go: discovering treasure.

Treasure might be a tesuji, an elegant shape, or the sparkle of gaining sente. But it might also be a new insight from a mistake. No matter the form, I was determined to find a piece of treasure.

I felt confident that I would. I have played my opponent, “nbouscal,” several times in the league. He is a tough opponent for me, and this game was no exception.

Unfortunately I got lost in my search, losing on time (though the game was decided much earlier), and could not find the treasure I wanted – in the game, at least.

In the Yunguseng league, every game gets reviewed by one of several amazing teachers, this one by In-seong Hwang. I made many mistakes, of course, particularly with the lower right two-space high enclosure, which I have studied before. In-seong suggested reviewing his lecture on that topic. In other words: sometimes, treasure is something you already have and need to dust off.

In-seong had many other great suggestions. The tiger’s mouth at S15 was bad, and instead of D12, I should have moved out faster with E12. Also, saving the G12 stones was quite important. Once White separated Black at O15, the game was over.

Thanks for reading. May there be a piece of treasure in your future.