Exciting and not-so-exciting things!

This is just an update on my personal (go and not go related) life!

My internship in Malaysia is nearing it's end. I have been here for a bit over 4 months now and have had a great time. I got welcomed in the go-community here and met some great people, which is awesome. In that regard, I am a bit sad that I'll be leaving soon. On the other hand there are quite a lot of great things happening soon.

My parents will come over to Malaysia in less than two weeks and we'll travel in Malaysia for two weeks, after which they will return to the Netherlands and I'll be going to Hong Kong for a week of sightseeing.
And, the most awesome next to seeing my parents, after that I am going to study at Blackie's International Baduk Acadamy aka BIBA in South Korea for a week! Which is totally super amazingly awesome, of course!

I'll be in South Korea for two weeks in total, the first week I'll study at BIBA full-time and the second week I will stay at BIBA, but mainly do sightseeing and maybe do some studying if I have time left. I have no idea what to expect, but I am sure it will be a great experience.
Of course, I will let you guys know how it went (but it's still more than a month from now).

And after that I am off to Adelaide, Australia for 5 months of study abroad! Which is also awesome because 1. Australia, 2. summer, 3. Australia, 4. back to studying, 5. I'll get to see kangaroos, 6. summer, and 7. Australia.
Did I mention I like summer? And Australia? Because I do. A lot.

 (Admittedly, I am little scared because, well, it's Australia..)

The only downside is that I don't know how much time I'll have for go. I only have to take 4 courses, but I have no clue how much workload those will be. Also, I had more time for go here because I didn't really have another social life, which was fine, but I'm not planning on doing the same in Adelaide. And as far as I can see online, there isn't much of a go-scene in Adelaide.

Don't worry though, I will still keep playing (even if it won't be that much) and updating this blog. I am determined about not dropping go again, and even if there is only a very small go-scene in Adelaide, I will still look it up.

Regardless, all of this is still far away, and we never know what the future will bring!
For now, I can't wait to see my parents again, to travel and (of course) to study go!


Quote Mania 4

Welcome to 'Quote Mania', the series where I take a random quote completely out of context and forcefully relate it to go!
The 4th quote to be discussed is:

'If you keep running away, it will become a habit.'
Taken from the k-drama Monstar. (Ok, how did this end up in my list? I've never watched Monstar..) 

Although this might not be as relevant for players with different styles, for me this is actually a big problem.
I have been told a few times that my style of play is 'too gentle' and 'not threatening'. Which is true, because I am not a big fan of fighting.
Up until a while ago, I would even actively avoid fights because I didn't feel confident and had no idea on how gain profit from fights. Needless to say, I lost a lot of games because of this.
So, I needed to change that. I have been watching some lectures on attacking, and doing some problems everyday to improve my reading. Most of all, I try to force myself to play more aggressively during games. I made a rule for myself that I have to attack something (unless my opponent is very aggressive) and get into a fight. This might lose me some games I would have otherwise won, but I'm never going to improve if I don't practice. 

But, and this is where today's quote comes into play, it is hard. It happens to me quite often that by the end of the game I realize that I didn't actively attack anything, or that when I got attacked I just ran away, instead facing it head on. I keep running away from a direct confrontation, even when I should be able to get a decent result out of fighting. 
This habit was so 'natural' for me, that I didn't even want to get rid of it, before I realized that it was completely hindering my progress.

Of course, this doesn't only apply to fighting or the lack thereof, but also to other things. (Bad) habits are formed easily, but hard to get rid of. But even then, it is not impossible, and I believe it is important to at least try to get rid of them.

So for now, I will just keep trying to become a more aggressive player and to stop running away. 'Attack and Defense', here I come!



A comment on my previous post (from Nate Eagle) got me thinking about the first games of playing go.
Unless you're some crazy genius, I am pretty sure that everybody who starts playing loses. A lot. There is a reason that we tell beginners to lose their first 100 games as soon as possible.
This got me curious on what other peoples first games were like.

As for me, I could have just gone to the father of my friend and asked him to teach me, but I was too socially incapable and decided to just play online. But not the big servers like KGS or IGS, those were too intimidating. I chose for the small server that (at the time) only had about 20-30 players online at any given time.
For anybody unfamiliar with FlyOrDie, it is an online games website that also has a small go server. Additionally, I would say it might very well be the worst place to play your first games. At that time the only board size available was 15x15 and no komi (not that the komi would've made a difference).
Anyway, those 100 games were lost very, very quickly in quite horrible ways.
They weren't teaching games (honestly, my opponents also had no idea what they were doing, I just knew even less) and there was no review options or anything like that. So I learned by having my mistakes punished over and over again.
I did become stronger after a while, but I accumulated a lot of bad habits that I am still trying to get over.

My first teaching game was when I slipped to my friend that I had been playing every now and then and she told her dad who then invited me for a game. I played two games with him (and he gave me a self-made board he had left, which I still treasure), but then I stopped playing again for quite a while and it just never came up again. Regardless, I learned more in those two games than from any of my games online.

It's not that I think the way I learned how to play is very bad, because you'll have to get through that 'losing phase' anyway, but some guidance can make a big difference.

So those were my first games. What were your first games like?


Quote Mania 3

"Don't just give up. 

Life is about getting knocked down over and over, but still getting up each time. 
If you keep getting up, you win."

Another quote from NANA by Yazawa Ai. 

Maybe you remember me mentioning that I kept quitting go? It was kind of the reason I even started this blog. Maybe you also remember that I said that every time I went back to playing go, my rank kind of jumped. No extreme amounts, but usually I would 'skip'  1 or 2 stones.
So for a while I would then feel that I was getting stronger very fast, and honestly I was. But then after a while I would naturally stagnate. Even though I knew there is more to go than just a rank, frustration would ensue and I would feel that nothing I did would make me stronger and I would give up. And all that in less than 2 weeks.

But go isn't something where you will improve a lot in a very short time. Of course, it depends on the amount of time you put in it, and your initial rank (ddk's will improve a lot faster than dans, usually), but even then you'll have to be patient for the 'results' to kick in.
You will have to do tsumego on an almost daily basis for a while until you notice a difference in your reading skills, you'll have to apply newly learned theory a few times before you'll get it right, etc.

Honestly, you cannot get better at go without losing, because you need those learning moments to get stronger. It might be almost impossible for me not to think about my rank or getting stronger (because I'm competitive like that), but at least I shouldn't let it hold me back from enjoying go.
From now on I will not see losing as a bad thing, but as an essential part of improving.



Just a short update on the Student Go Oza Preliminaries that took place last weekend.
As I mentioned before, I was very, very nervous. I didn't want to make a fool out of myself (which I totally did in the end), or piss people off by being sucky me (which I didn't, so that's nice).
But actually, as soon as the game started, I wasn't even that nervous anymore. I just wanted to play my best and learn as much as I could.

In total there were 8 people participating (for the category European female that is). One was 6 dan (needless to say, she won), most were around 1-2 dan, there was me and a 9 kyu.
I played against a 2 dan, made some pretty big mistakes in the opening and middle game and end game and lost by more than 40 points. The polite thing would've been to resign half-way through, but really, I just wanted to get as much out of the game as possible and played on till the end.
Afterwards I apologized for playing on, but luckily my opponent didn't mind, and was very nice about it.

It was a straight knock-out tournament, so this was also the only game I played.

I have no clue how to add the actual game in the post, but I managed to upload it to Eidogo so if you want to see the bloodbath you can click here.

Even though it ended as I expected, it is nice to play somebody quite a bit stronger than you, because your mistakes become a lot more obvious. Needless to say, I learned a lot from this game, and I don't regret participating!
And who knows, maybe next year I will stand some sort of chance! Probably not, but let a girl dream!


Jump into the deep

I haven't posted anything in quite a while but not to worry! Go is still part of my life, and this is probably the longest it has ever consecutively been in my life. Time for cake!

On a more serious note, some time ago I said that I was doubting on whether or not to sign up for the World Students Go Oza championship preliminaries. And I said I would make that decision the 23rd of November, which was yesterday. 
I was very, very close to just letting it slip. So close that I didn't sign up yesterday, and procrastinated the decision until the very last moment, which was today.
But guess what? This scaredy cat just signed up!
I am not confident at all, and I know that I will be utterly destroyed, but the main reason as to why I decided to sign up is not even with go.
Without getting into too much detail (this would become a very, very long post if I would), my 20th birthday was last week and it kind of made me depressed that I'm not a teenager anymore (not a popular opinion, I know). Anyway, I decided that I need an attitude change and that I will stop procrastinating/never doing anything/being a lazy ass. So singing up is kind of my first step to that.

All philosophy aside, I still suck quite badly at go and I won't improve much within two weeks, so I am a nervous wreck. I really hope I am not the only sucky player that signed up, and that people won't think I am wasting their time. But the only way to find that out is to play, so from now on:

*Also, I hardly ever play on IGS, and my old account is still a provisional 15 kyu. Now, I'm not strong at all, but that is just not accurate anymore, so I made a random new account for the tournament that is 5 kyu. I have no clue what the rankings at IGS are like, and my own strength is all over the place so this is quite literally a wild guess. 

** Did I mention that this the first ever 'tournament' kind of thing I have entered? Because it is. Hahahaha. I will go cry my nerves out in a corner now.


Quote Mania 2

‘There is no certainty, there is only adventure.’

It’s time for the second quote mania! This was said by Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychiatrist. I honestly have no idea who he was or in what context it was said, this is one of those quotes I just saw floating around on the internet.

Regardless, I think it is quite applicable to go.
You never know where your opponent is going to play. You might have an idea, you might even be 99% sure, there is always a chance that your opponent will play elsewhere.

I think everybody gets surprised by moves now and then, whether they are good or bad.
To me, it’s exciting when that happens. A little frustrating, but exciting. It is what makes go fun, because you’re always learning new things. When you find out that the unexpected move is bad, you have learned that it doesn’t work. When you find out it is good, you have learned a new way of playing.
I think it gets frustrating when you start judging the surprising moves as bad. ‘Nobody has played that before, therefore it is a bad move.’ Admittedly, I have done that too. Some 150 moves later  I realized that maybe, it wasn’t such a bad move after all and I should have thought about it more. Result: I had lost a very frustrating game.

So, I changed my mindset. When I play an opponent who consequently makes surprising moves, I do not get frustrated anymore, but excited. Because I will get to experience something new. Because I can learn from it. Because I can go on an adventure!


Unrealistic goals

The 12th World Students GO OZA Championship

I am seriously considering signing up for the ‘World Student Go Oza’ championship preliminaries.
Technically I meet all of the requirements to participate, so why am I doubting?
Because I obviously don’t stand  a chance.
The thing is, I don’t mind not standing a chance, but wouldn’t I be wasting somebody else’s time?
I am not even a high kyu, so it would be weird for me to participate in something like this, right?
On the other hand, they don’t mention an indication of a minimum strength anywhere, so maybe they don’t mind?
I’m probably just over thinking this.

Anyway, I have given myself time until the 23rd of November to decide whether or not I will sign up, since registration closes the 24th.
Until then, I am going to do some ‘semi-intense’ studying, and if this is effective,  I will sign up. If not, I probably won’t sign up either. No matter what the outcome, at least I'll be motivated to study.

As for my studying, I want to do at least one hour of problems every day, watch one lecture of ‘Becoming 5 kyu’ (GoGameGuru’s Baduk TV English service) every day, play one game (including review) every day, spend about half an hour on go theory.
That should total to about 3 and a half hours of go studying a day.

This does not include things that I do for enjoyment (e.g. watching Baduk TV reviews, replaying pro games, watching high dans play online), because I honestly don’t think that actually helps me improve, but I’ll keep doing it because it is fun J.


Quote Mania 1

I have mentioned this before, but I am a communications student. I chose that study because I'm quite into words, writing and, obviously, communicating. Although I wouldn't call myself a great communicator, I am interested in how others communicate.
Anyway, this whole blog happened because I like writing (and go, obviously). 
While I was thinking about content for this blog, I suddenly thought of a file that I have had on my laptop that I made a few years ago. It contains quotes and phrases that I think are interesting, either because they inspire me, motivate me or just because I liked the way they were written/said.
They come from all over the place.

Even though none of them were written with go in mind, some can easily be related to go. So I will try and connect these quotes about everyday life and motivation to go. Perhaps they can even be useful, but I doubt that. 
The quote for this week will be:

 'People are only what they think of themselves.'
The source is NANA (either the manga or the anime or both, I don't remember) by Yazawa Ai.


'All go players are family'

I've mentioned this in my last post, but I recently got to enjoy the great thing that is playing go in person. This week I went to the meeting again, and it was great fun. There were even more people this time, as most of the members were in Japan last week.
I also got a bit more of a general introduction, and it turns out that all the regular members have a dan rank (the strongest being around 6 dan I think), aside from one person who is around 1 kyu. And lucky me, they said they are happy to play with me and teach me.

Now I live pretty far outside of the city, which means that I am travelling about 1 hour by public transport because public transport over here sucks. I really don't mind though, because it's still a lot better than sitting at home on my own.
When I told them this, they immediately started discussing something in Chinese (or well, a mix of Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Malay) and then told me that from now on I can call two people to give me a ride. Everyone has a car and they said there were some people living nearby who don't mind making a little detour. Super nice.
After we finished playing we went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and one guy had an iPad with tsumego. He kept choosing really hard ones, and then showed them to the strongest player for him to solve. After a while they turned to me and gave me some quite easy ones. Only I am horrible at tsumego. But who am I not to even try. After solving one, he showed me the next one. If I didn't solve it I would have to pay for dinner for everyone, which was quite a good motivator. I did solve it, and the next one too. In the end dinner was paid for me. Once again, super nice.
At the end of the evening I got a lift back, and when I thanked him, for well, everything, he said something that touched me a bit.

'All go players are family.'

This might sound super cheesy, but I'm in a foreign country on my own. I don't really know anybody very well and my family is on the other side of the world. Even though this is my own choice, and I am definitely not regretting it, I have felt a little lonely the past few weeks. So this made me feel a little emotional (in a good way). I mean, I have met these people once or twice, and they're so amazingly nice.

TLDR; I am going to get strong, Malaysians are awesome, go players are even more awesome and I'm emotional.

Sorry for the boring post but:

Also, apparently they have put my rank on +/- 3 kyu for now. Which, in relation to my last post, doesn't really make sense. Maybe they're wrong, or I play a lot worse on the internet. Whichever it is, it can't be bad thing :).


The ultimate way to get stronger

As you may have noticed, it happened again.
While I was busy moving half-way across the world, I kind of forgot about go.
It's a shame, but I am back, and stronger than ever! Quite literally, but I'll get back on that.

I have mentioned this before, but I am an internet player. I learned how to play on the internet, and I have always played on the internet. But I saw my relocation as a way to change that.
So, I looked online for places where people play go in Malaysia. And that was a lot harder than I expected. In the end I managed to find something, and with nothing to lose, I decided to check it out.

I had some trouble finding the place, and then almost turned around because I am socially incapable, but the Japanese men that were playing were super friendly. I played 3 handicap games (as black, obviously. Also something I had never done before), and even won one! Afterwards they took me to a Japanese restaurant with great food.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I'll be going again next week for sure. Probably there will be more people playing then as well.

This was also the first time I have played again (aside from 1 or 2 stray games) in a few months. So after I got back home I was still in the playing mood and decided to try my luck on KGS.
Now, when I stopped playing my account was around 10kyu (weak me :D), and because I stopped playing, it was '6k?' now. Of course I knew that I was weaker than that, but I just started playing.
Guess what? My rank now got solid at 7k, and I'm not losing drastically against other 7k's.
Of course, I am still weak, but this is just weird, and it's not the first time.

Whenever I stop playing for a while, I always seem to jump a few ranks after I start again. Even though I did nothing with go in between.
Maybe it's because my view on the game changes or something. It makes me wonder how strong/weak I would be if I kept playing and studying without breaks? I should be a lot stronger I think, but maybe I would have stagnated somewhere?

Anyway, here is my tip if you want to get stronger:
Do absolutely nothing

That must be the worst advise ever. 

Time for me to get back to work!


Keep your head in the game

Accidents can happen anywhere, and any time.
For example, when you’re  biking and don’t look ahead. And then bike into a (parked) van and have to spend half of your day at the hospital because your thumb is dislocated.
But that just sounds crazy right? I mean, who is so stupid?


Anyway, this incident (that absolutely didn’t happen), reminded me that you have to keep paying attention.
Just because you CAN bike the way from university to home with your eyes closed, doesn’t mean you should.
The same goes for go actually. Did you ever lose a (almost) won game because of a careless mistake? I have. Too often really.
It’s a quite frustrating and makes you look silly. After such a thing happens I will just repeat to myself how stupid the mistake was, and forget to look at the rest of the game, even though reviewing the whole game would be much more effective.
The same goes when my opponent does that. Sometimes the game is pretty close (or I think it is) and then my opponent makes a big mistake. I will feel stupid if I ignore it, but I also won’t be happy when I win because of that.
The frustration!!!

Moral of the story: don’t lose your concentration, just because you THINK you don’t need it. Because you do. My thumb is the (painful) living proof.

That title is not from high school musical. At all.

I was 14, don’t judge me!


The time issue


The moment that I have to start paying attention to the amount of time I spent while playing, I become anxious and my play becomes worse than it already is. This is why I always play slow games.
I know, time management is a part of go and that’s fine with me. I just don’t like it.

Firstly (is that a word?), fast games scare the crap out of me. I don’t play them, but here’s what would happen if I would: 1. I would stop reading, 2. My moves would become close to random, 3. Terrible things would happen, 4. All of my stones would die an awfully slow and painful death.

Secondly, I play go because it makes me think and I like that. In my daily live I’m more of a ‘do first think later’ kind of person and in go I try not to do that. Playing fast would only encourage me to stop thinking at all.

The down side of not playing fast games is that it takes a long time to play (I know, such weird logic). This way I can only play when I know I have a lot of time and won’t get interrupted, which is not too often.

And it annoys people. But I’m not sure if that’s a downside, because it actually amuses me.
See, on the server I usually play on, you can’t change the time limits. I think the time is around 40 min each, absolute. At the end of the game, I usually have not too much left (although I never lost on time there, which is odd). My opponents however, like to play fast. And it wouldn’t be the first time somebody gets angry at me for playing too slow (usually when they’re losing).
But when I have the time, I will use it. Too bad :).


Adrenaline rush

At the start of almost every game, I can hear my heartbeat go louder and faster. I get quite excited and scared at the same time. Playing gives me an adrenaline rush.

I have read that many people actually become calmer from playing Go, which is weird to me. If I want to become calm, I read a book, or maybe watch a game. Playing would probably never calm me down. Not that I mind. I love the excitement I get when I play.
I go through this awesome whirlwind of emotions.
First I’m scared, because what will happen if the opponent will crush me, or, even worse, I play horribly? Then either happy, angry, sad, as the game goes on. When I make a mistake I get angry at myself, when I find a good move I get excited. The outcome of the game does not have much to do with how I feel about it. If I played well, I’m satisfied.

After the game I am usually as hyperactive as if I just drank 4 coffee’s, 3 red bulls and ate a bowl of sugar. But this effect  only lasts for a few games.
If I play a lot in a short amount of time, say, a few games per day, this effect wears off. Playing then becomes like a routine and I don’t care for the game as much as I did before.

 Maybe this is also why I have dropped Go so often. I just get bored with it.
I guess it would be better if I play, let’s say, 2-3 games a week instead of 3 games a day.

I wonder if other people have this as well? Let me know if you do!



Hello and welcome to my blog!

Allow me to introduce the writer of this blog shortly: She is a 2nd year communications student, who is in her last year as a teenager. She is a born and raised Dutch and happens to be very curious. She also likes to take on challenges.
Unfortunately, 70% of those challenges end up  discontinued.  The reason is simple, she finds something new, or simply forgets about it.

There is, however, one thing that keeps coming back into her life, quite persistently. This happens to be the game of Go. Also known as Baduk or Weiqi.
Our writer found out about this game 5 years ago, when she was still a 14 year old brat.
Although she taught herself the rules and started playing online, there was nobody around her who could motivate her to keep playing and to keep learning. Quickly, her passion died down and Go was not played anymore.
Until a few months later. By accident she stumbled upon it again, and decided to get back on track. But once again, after a few weeks of intense playing, she moved on.
This kept going for 5 years. Playing intensely for a few weeks, being completely engrossed with the game, just to let it slip away and pick it up a few months later.

This was, until the last time she picked the game up again. She realised that there was nothing that had stayed in her life so persistently . That had to mean something.
Determined to not give up on the game again, she decided to take up the challenge to keep playing and to keep studying this amazing game.
She was also realistic. As a full time student, who still wanted to keep a social life, she knew that it would be impossible to play very often and to study a lot. Go, unfortunately, takes up time.
But, even though she almost never played in real-life, she did have things to say about the game.
Short stories about rivals. About losing and winning. About getting stronger and weaker.
This is why she started a blog.
This blog.

Here she will keep track of her progress, and force herself to stay connected to the game, even if she can’t play. She will combine her love for writing and her passion for Go.
She might not be a strong player and she might not be able to teach, but she can tell about her experiences and her reasons for loving the game.

Thank you very much for reading this far (unless you skipped most of it, in that case: Boo!), and I hope to see you back soon!