snakeeater on Go

Friday, January 20, 2006

Take 4 corners, reduce the center and narrowly win?

I found a pretty handy website that generates kifu out of .sgf files:

For starters, I put in my game today and generated this page:

You can get the sgf here.
In case the kifu link does not work. This is one of those interesting games where I played for territory (instead my normal style of getting big outside thickness and fighting). End up winning by fighting for crumbs during yose. Dan players please help review if you run across it. Give comments!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Third Times the Charm

Well, it finally happened! I got my 3rd replacment board from Yellow Mountain Imports today via Fedex. So a bit of recap. The first board I received in December was damaged during shipping, due to rough handling and poor packaging. The second board was perfect until I put it on the dining table and noticed it was slightly warpped. The third one, well let's open the package:

Looking good.. packaging looks way better than before. Plenty of peanuts to fill the board snugly. Let's clear away the peanuts ...

A tight bubble wrap around the board, still looking good. Let's take it out of the box and set it on the carpet...

Probably the best packaged board I've gotten out of the three. There are some slight intentations on the top of board which at this point I believe are nearly unavoidable given kaya or shin-kaya have essentally the quality of soft pinewood. For example, snapping a stone onto the board will leave an indentation. Nothing you can do there.

Putting it onto the table, nice and level!

Put a couple of stones... nice snapping sounds...

Another view ...

Yet another ...

Putting the board in a dust bag, made by my kind girlfriend. :) Is there a market for handmade Go board dust bags?

Overall I am pretty happy! YMI's customer service sure made up for their lack of quality assurance. They look eager to please their customers so as long as you are patient, you do eventually get what you want. Now I am going to sit and practice some Tsuemgo. I will practice hard and claim that KGS Shodan this year! :D

Monday, January 09, 2006

The 10th Samsung Cup Finals Start Tonight!

Tonight begins the 10th SamSung Cup Finals between the "Stone Buddha" Lee ChangHo of Korea and "Little Pig" Luo XiHe of China. Lee ChangHo is the de facto #1 player in the world, for having held and still holding most of the International Go titles and major titles within South Korea. Luo XiHe is a bit of an unknown outside of China. Nicked named for his chubbiness, he is famous for his extremely rapid play even during tournament games. A rare Go genius amongst go professionals of the day. (One article reports his IQ was once measured around 160 when he was 8.)

( Image taken from

Will the "Little Pig" topple the "Stone Buddha"?

You can watch the game live at The pages are unfortunately in Chinese. I may update the page with a direct link to the java applet that allows you to follow the moves live.

Here's the link:

After the java window is loaded, you should see a Goban and 8 buttons, in two columns on the buttom right of your window. Click on the 4th button in the first column periodically to refresh.

Button Button
Button Button
Button Button
(Refresh button) Button

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Went to an AGA tournament in SF this weekend

I went to the Jiang Zhu Jiu touranment in SF this weekend in JapanTown. I did not compete but was interested in seeing some real people playing face to face on a physical board. Very exciting. The sound of observers lightly shuffling between aisles ... players pressing on clocks after each move ... people gathered around tables discussing games ... brough back a lot of memories of those Chess tournaments I played in high school.

The best player at the tournament was none other than Jiang Ming Ju, Jiang Zhu Jiu's brother. It's a bit funny that he is playing in such local tournamnent given he is a professional 7-dan. Every game he plays in this tournamnent is likely just he giving a lesson to his amateur opponent. (He should be able to give anyone of the top players there 3 stone handicap or more) He was the only professional there and the rest were amateurs. A couple of high Dans, I saw two 4-Dans and a couple of 2-Dans and Shodans (1-Dan). Most of the players were Kyu level. I spent most of my time watching Ming Ju's game, trying to rub off some professional finesse. (Wish I can get his game records, there was one big ko fight in the middle that meant life or death for one large black group. Ming Ju ended up losing the ko but game still looked lost for his oppponent. Professionals are good at making amateur think they are winning locally but actually losing globally.) Also watched a couple of games between 1 and 2-Dans. I have to say the game quality was surprisingly poor! I don't know how AGA rank their Dans but some I saw there had pretty lousy reading skills. Is it nervenousness? Granted a carefree by-stander like me can see better than those deep in the game but surely 1 or 2-Dans should know some of the basic Life and Death shapes! I did not see anything like that in games with 3-Dans or above. Also saw a high school or middle school kid who showed some pretty incredible tactics. Don't know the name, looked like a 4 or 5 Dan?

Overall was a great experience. I plan to join AGA soon so I can play in one of these tournaments. I have to say an AGA Shodan appears quite weak.. perhaps the most watered down Dan rank in the world? :) I played two games against a Shodan, first game I won with a quick resign and second game I resigned after it was apparent I was too behind on territory. My impression: AGA Shodans sure know a lot about josekis and opennings, but their fighting/reading skill is poor. Lots of canned theory without enough tactics to back it up. Since I don't know how to play josekis, my opponent got pretty confused whenever I veered off his expected sequences. :) Looks like the advice I got when I first learned Go rings true: solve tsumego and tesuji problems first, worry about the rest later.

Solution to last month's (year's) problem

B-T18 allows black to live unconditionally. After B-T18,
white can only play R18 to avoid capture and prevent black
from forming any immediate eyes. B then responds with S18!
Now it's pretty clear B will be able to capture the R17 and R18
stones and form an additional eye at T19. W can try to put
up some resistance with Q19 thereafter, but B-P19 cuts W off.

A couple of notes on possible wrong moves. Capture at R18 by
black right away may look like the right move, but W would
immediately jump in at T18. B now can't play T17 after that
as if B did, W would play S18 to force B to fill R18, resulting
with just one eye.

Another possible sequence is: B-R18, W-T18, B-S18, W-T17. Now
B cannot make two eyes because the T19 eye possibility is gone and
B still have to cover Q18 somehow to make it a true eye. (Letting
W take Q18 later would result in a false eye at R17 for B!)

Tough problem, just shows how rich the possibility is at the corner.