September Challenge

In this month's challenge it's all about playing games because it is....

Tournament time!

My go has been neglected quite a bit in the past few weeks/months, so it's time for me to jump back in, and 'force' myself to get some games. And what better way to do that than play some tournaments!

I came up with this challenge after seeing that this September the KGS Iron Man tournament will take place, and after finding the "European Tournament Group" on OGS.
So, my plan for this month is to participate in the European Weekly Tournament on OGS that will take place this Sunday, and to participate in the Iron Man tournament that will start the 20th.

Quite honestly, I am still very unfamiliar with OGS. I have played maybe 1 or 2 games, so my rank is still provisional. I can't enter the tournament with a provisional rank, so I will have to play a few games in the coming days. I'll just figure that out as I go I guess.

For the Iron Man tournament I'm quite excited. For anybody who doesn't know what it is, basically you will play a game every 6 hours, for 5 days, so 20 games in total. Both players have 45 minutes main time, so they're pretty serious games as well.
Originally I wanted to play all of the rounds, but I have to work on the Saturday it starts, so I'll have to miss two rounds then. I also have classes from uni, so that means I'll miss one more round. Aside from that, I should be able to at least play the remaining 17 rounds.
I'm sure that during/after the tournament I will be tired, cranky and probably hate go, but somehow it still seems like a lot of fun to me. I'm crazy. I know.

Of course, I want to challenge you to do this as well!
As much as I would like everyone to participate in the Iron Man tournament (let's suffer together!), it will probably take too much time for most of you. But OGS has quite a lot of tournaments, so I want to challenge you to at least play one tournament this month if you can!


I'm back (sort of)!

I have returned to the land of the living!
Or, well, not quite.

Last Tuesday I arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport after a very, very long journey from Australia. The past months have been amazing, but very tiring. For 6 weeks I have only slept in hostels (8 people in one room) and haven't been in the same place for longer than a few nights. Now that I'm back, I am not only jetlagged, but also quite sick.
But, the travelling has not kept me from go. Not entirely, anyway, as I visited the Sydney and the Brisbane go club, which was awesome. Aside from that I didn't really have the time and energy to do anything go related, so I'm pretty sure I have lost a few stones (and I'm not talking about my weight, unfortunately).

Regardless, I have my pretty go board back (I used a cardboard one all the way through last year), and some time on my hands before my last year of uni starts. Although I won't be able to spend an entire 2 weeks on go (how I wish I could), I can at least go back to a few problems and maybe a game a day. I hope my strength is back where it once was before I move back to Arnhem and visit the go club there! Apparently there is one, but I hope it's still active. But more on that in a few weeks.

As I start picking up go again, you can also expect new blog posts, although (obviously) no August challenge, but I'll try to prepare a challenge for September!

And with that, I am OUT.
Literally. I need some sleep.


End of May challenge and 'hiatus'

Hello world.
Unlike what some of you might think, I have not fallen off of the face of the earth.

First things first; May has ended and therefore so has the May challenge!
I am pretty sad to say that I have not entirely completed the May challenge, which was to review all of my games, at least 10, shortly, and at least an additional 5 in detail.
I have shortly gone over every single game I played, which were 11 in total, so in that sense I sort of completed it! I have, however, had no time at all to review an additional 5 games in detail. As you may have noticed, I also haven't really had time to write any posts. Which brings me to my next point:

The challenges are going on a hiatus.
I know, I have done one and a half challenge and I'm already stopping them now. But here's the thing, I really don't have much time right now, and that is not going to improve any time soon.
Let me explain:
The semester at uni is ending in a month. A MONTH!
This doesn't just mean that I have to hand in assignments every week from now on and study for exams, but it also means that I am leaving Adelaide in a month. Aside from uni work, I have to arrange everything to return to the Netherlands. Honestly, I really don't want to have to stress about completing a June challenge as well.
And then in July and part of August I will be travelling in Australia, which is awesome, but won't leave much time for go, obviously.

After this I will be back in the Netherlands and, provided I survive the immense cold that once used to be normal for me, things will go back to normal.

Don't get me wrong, the entire blog is not going on a hiatus, as I will still play/study go and probably feel the need to write things about it. There just won't be any monthly challenges for while.
I'm also thinking of starting a bit of a study-journal to track what I CAN do during these months (go problems, playing games, etc.), but I'm not sure if anybody would even be interested in that.

Now that this little pity-party is over:
I do hope that others were able to complete their May challenge, even though I failed! So let me know!


Quote Mania 7

"Before I fall, I’ll look up to the sky with a smile." 
 From a song from the Prince of Tennis Musical

I am writing this right after I lost a pretty interesting game. I was white and my opponent played a cross-fuseki (well, I accidentally let him). Cross-fuseki's are my mortal enemy. I don't know why, but whenever one is played, either by me or my opponent, I start playing badly. That is not the topic, but I just wanted to throw my frustration out there.

Anyway, I felt like I was on the losing end the entire time, made some not-so-smart decisions (as if I ever make smart decisions) and he/she ended up with a big moyo that I had to invade. I almost lived, but almost isn't good enough so I lost. To get to the point, the game was frustrating, but fun.

In Quote Mania 3 I said that losing games is important to get stronger (which also happens to be general knowledge). But that's not the only thing. For most people, it would get boring to always win their games. Where is the fun if there is no challenge?
Sure, the best would be a game that is a challenge but you still win (for me anyway), but should I let that stop me from enjoying a game where I lose?

Not only did I learn something, I had fun playing and got motivated to do some more studying. Losing can, and should, be fun as well!


May Challenge

Yes, this is way overdue and I apologize! But, even though May already started a few days ago, there is still time to start this months' challenge!

This months' challenge will focus on something that I have been systematically forgetting and avoiding.
Reviewing my own games:

Learn from your mistakes
Game count: 10+5 

 For some, this will be no challenge at all, as reviewing their games is second nature. After you played it, you go over it to see what could have gone better, where you went wrong/where your opponent went wrong, what went well, etc.
For me though, well, I just don't do it. There is always this idea in my head that I can't find my own mistakes anyway. So, it's time for change!

For this month, I will go over all of the games I play (at least 10, but more is always better) and find at least one 'learning point' that I should work on. This doesn't have to take very long, just a quick look is enough. But, I have to review at least 5 more games in depth, and find 3 'learning points' per game.

Of course, if you don't already do it, I challenge you to do the same!

Do you accept the challenge?

You can change the game count to fit your playing schedule, so let me know if you join me!


April Challenge: Complete!

April has come to an end, and so has the April challenge!

Of course, the big question is, did everybody complete it?

As for me, well, I barely completed it. Between university assignments, travelling and training, I didn't have as much time as I would've wanted for go. The biggest issue being that I was gone for 2 weeks to travel (which, by the way, was amazing) and I got a bit sick before that. So I had to play 4 of my 5 games in 3 days, with a deadline for an assignment looming over me.
On the other hand, it's not a challenge if it's easy, right?

So, without further ado, here are my results for this challenge:

Losses: 3
Wins: 2

Actually, that is not too bad! I think I learned quite a bit during this challenge. The 3 losses all happened in the same way. My mindset was focused on one goal: 'Be aggressive!' I cut and invaded anywhere I could and ended up scrambling around, trying to take care of all of my own weak groups. Oops.
Then I changed my mindset. Sure, I had to be aggressive, but that doesn't mean I should be stupid about it. So I stopped cutting and invading everywhere, and tried to think about what I should attack, and how in order to get profit. Although I of course didn't get it right all the time, it proved to be a much better strategy than forcing myself into a blind rage.
I also noticed that my small, but (almost) daily go problem sessions are paying off. In one game, I saw that I could use a squeezing tesuji and killed a big group!

For now, I am quite happy that I can allow myself to go back to playing calmer games, but I also feel that I am less afraid to attack when I see the chance. I really hope that will benefit my go!

So, even though I hardly completed the challenge, I do consider it a success!!

Now, how did your challenges go?
So far, I know from the awesome bengozen that he completed his challenge, at a tournament even!!
I look forward to hearing how you all did and if you consider the challenge a success or not!

PS. May has already started, and there will be a may challenge, but it won't be up until tomorrow or the day after (because, uni..)! Of course, if you have ideas for challenges, they are still very welcome!


April Challenge update

As promised, here is an update for the April Challenge!

Actually, this update will be quite short. I got a bit sick last week and I had to hand in a few assignments, so I only had time/energy for one game.
And I lost. But the real question is, did I play aggressively/out of my comfort zone? Seeing how the game ended up; me with 2 weak groups, one dead and not much territory, I guess I did. Sort off.
Some moves I would not really think about, almost as if I'm playing a fast game (which, in case you didn't know, I NEVER EVER do), and suddenly I would realize that I was supposed to be aggressive. Then I would plop down a stone somewhere in his territory and be satisfied.
Short story, it still needs work. Good thing that I still have 4 games left to 'complete' the challenge! What I need to work on most, is to actually think about every move, and make sure my play is consistent.

I also went back to doing daily problems, because trying to fight without reading won't get me anywhere. It's not much though, maybe 10 to 20 minutes a day. But still better than nothing!

Since the coming two weeks are a mid-term break, and I will be travelling through Australia, there won't be an update until the end of April, unfortunately. That also means that I will have to play the remaining 4 games in 3 days, but that should be no problem :)!

More importantly, how are your challenges going?? I am really excited to hear how many games you have played so far (if any) and how they went, so let me know!


Quote Mania 6

Welcome to Quote Mania, where random quotes are forcefully related to go!

'The second you think you are doing well is the second you are finished.'

This is so relevant I shouldn't be giving an explanation. I will give one, because I want to, but I shouldn't have to.

Hands up if you have ever lost a game you (thought) you had won. If your hand isn't up right now, I think you might not be human.
We've all had that game where everything just goes right. You're in a good mood, your opponent is challenging, but not better than you, and you are winning. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Right?

Usually this is where I lose focus on the game and lose. Either I was really winning and made a (stupid) mistake, or I wasn't winning at all, I was just being delusional. One way or the other, I get overconfident and lose.

It's not a bad thing to know if you are ahead or not in the game. You should count during the game! But when you then find out you are winning, getting overconfident is pretty much the worst that could happen. It makes you greedy, unfocused and generally not a nice person.

Overconfidence = bad. Stop it.

Which is a lot easier said than done.


April Challenge

I know I said that a small challenge for March would still happen, but uni got in the way of that, so my apologies. Moving on...

It's time for the first monthly challenge!

The challenge will be:

Get out of your comfort zone!
Game count: 5 

This was one of the first things I came up with (and so did Eyecatcher). It is actually pretty simple. Think about your style of play. Is it aggressive? Passive? Influential? Territorial? Anything else?

For this month, it's time to change things up. Come up with an idea that is out of your comfort zone, or the opposite of what your normally play. Think about it before you start the game. What style will you play (if the situation allows it)? Which opening will you use if you're black? Of course, you'll have to try and stick to this for the rest of the game.

The goal is not to win more games, but to find new things. Maybe you will enjoy playing in a different way than normally. Maybe you won't, but you might find ways to counter it when others play that style against you. Heck, maybe you won't get anything out of it. But does it hurt to try it out?

Of course, I will participate as well!
As some of you might know, my style is generally (too) passive. I've been trying to work on it, but it hasn't gone very well for me so far.
So it's probably no surprise that I will try to play more aggressive. Before I play a move, I should remind myself of this. Is this move passive? Am I avoiding a fight here? If the answer yes, I will change my move, even if I am not entirely comfortable with it. If I lose, I'll have something to review. If I win, I'll also have something to review.
I will try to do this for at least 5 games in the month of April, and I challenge you to do the same! Of course, you should find your own comfort zone, and what is outside of that.

Do you accept this challenge?

If you do, leave a comment with your area of comfort, and how you will get out of it!

My plan is to give weekly updates on my own progress, and of course, you can let me (and everybody else) know your progress too. If you complete the challenge you will get an honorable mention on the future wall of fame! (Which is worth absolutely nothing, but it's the idea that counts.) Of course, you can make this more challenging by adding more games, or the other way around!

One thing though, this month my uni has a 2-week teaching break, in which I will be travelling, so those weeks have no weekly updates. Which defies the point of weekly updates. Next month will be better. I promise.

In unrelated news: 9x9 go has been solved!!


Putting the challenge back

Hello everybody!

It has been a while, but I am back!
The past few weeks have been hectic, but great. It involved a lot of moving, beach and meeting new people. It didn't involve much go, but not much is better than none at all, since I managed to squeeze a game in here and there.
Now that things are settling down, I have a bit more time for go. Luckily my study load doesn't seem to be too much (then again, this is only the second week), so that gives more time for go and this blog :)!

Regarding the blog, I mentioned before that I want to give it some new direction. That basically includes putting the challenge back in the Go Challenge!

I want to not only challenge myself, but also you, the reader.
The idea is pretty simple. Every month I will try to come up with a different challenge. These challenges won't  really be focused on increasing your strength or rank, but more on enjoying the game, and they do not have to take up extra time (unless you want them to).

Aside from that I will try to throw some random, fun and short challenges in every now and then. Of course I will do all of these challenges myself, and give updates, but I would love it if you would do the challenges with me, so let me know if you like the idea! And let me know if you have an idea for a challenge, because I only have few, hahaha.

Since March is already well underway, I will start with a monthly challenge in April, but stay tuned for a smaller challenge this week or the next.

Of course, I will also continue the Quote Mania's!

So that's the update for now! I'm looking forward to hear what you think, so leave a comment :)!


BIBA day 4 & 5

I promise I will never promise daily updates ever again.

On Thursday I was off to BIBA around noon, but somehow ended up with Blackie and Thomas in an indoor golf course. Only it's not a course. Quite honestly, it kind of made me think of an advanced Wii. I'm pretty sure I just insulted somebody, but really, it was a room with a computer and on a (non-breakable, flexible) screen was a virtual golf course. They were using real balls and sticks (I don't know the name of those things.They look like hockey sticks, so I call them golf sticks) to hit the balls to the screen. It was interesting.

After that we went out for lunch (Dia had joined by then) and that was also the last lunch with Blackie and Dia, because they were leaving that night for Hawaii, for the BIBA winter camp. Yup, a wintercamp in Hawaii. Poor them.
Anyway, we went back to BIBA after the awesome Korean food, and Blackie helped me out with some of my problems. Then he reviewed a game with us again (no chocolates this time).
I worked on some more problems, and that was actually about it for the day.

Friday wasn't too eventful either, as Blackie and Dia had already left. I replayed a professional game, worked some on my problems and watched the others review their game, and well, that was about it.

Also Friday was my 'official' last day at BIBA, as I was only studying there for one week. I am still staying at Blackie's house for the coming week, but I will mainly be sightseeing, although I might pop by BIBA sometimes.
My overall experience was quite nice. But really, a week is very, very short, and that's a shame. Although I did learn many things, I believe that I am too weak to really profit from it right now. But that's ok. I am having a good time, and I do know that if (when!) I get stronger and if I ever get the opportunity to do something like this for a longer time, I would grab the chance!
And the most important thing of this trip for me is to experience the culture. I did that, and will do it in the coming week too.

So that was it. My week at BIBA. It was a nice and good experience, although not completely over yet. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences :).

As for the blog, next week I am moving to Australia, and I have no idea how things will be then. I have some ideas in mind to give the blog some real direction (because face it, right now it's just me blabbering on (which is fine, but gets a bit boring after a while)), but I am not sure when I will have time. Regardless, I promise not to abandon this blog (unlike my 'daily updates', this promise I will keep).

See you soon and thank you for reading :)!


BIBA day 2 & 3

I am sorry, I suck at this daily update thing.

It's time for an update on the second and third day at BIBA :).

On Tuesday I went to the Baduk school a bit before noon, and spend quite some time working on problems. During the afternoon we got a sort of lecture from Blackie. He replayed some pro games and asked  everybody's opinions, gave comments, etc. Actually, most if it was a little hard to understand for weak little me, but it was still very interesting! He also made us guess moves (or changed the situation and then made us guess the best move), and there happened to be chocolate on the table, so whenever somebody got the right answer, they got chocolate. I got some easier questions, and won the great number of 1 chocolate in total. But hey, at least I got some :).
Afterwards I went back to my problems for a bit, and then played another game with Blackie's father. The game was a little more even this time around, although I was still losing, and then I made a few very stupid mistakes in a row, and one pretty big group died a horrible death. I resigned, but then Blackie walked by, took a 2 second glance at the board and said there was still a chance for ko. So we continued, and after an eternity of staring at the board I finally found it. My group came back alive, and miraculously I managed to self-atari it during end-game. No kidding. It was no problem to take it back and just go to counting, and I still lost by quite a few points. So basically I lost this game 3 times. Isn't that just wonderful?
Next time I play him I get two stones, so maybe I'll stand a chance. It was still a very fun game though.

Wednesday both Blackie and Dia had to play in a tournament at the Hanguk Kiwon (Korean baduk association). I really wanted to visit the Kiwon and Jon still had to buy some books there, so we went with them.
Actually, the visit was very short and I don't have too much to write about, since we were a bit late.
The bookshop in the Kiwon is actually hilariously small, but there are a whole lot of books there, it is so full that the lady had to climb over a wall of books the get the ones Jon wanted.
We also walked past the Baduk TV studio, but I didn't really see anything because nobody was there and the lights were turned off. We quickly went for lunch at a nearby restaurant (FYI, Korean food is awesome), where some of the other pro's playing that day were also eating. By that time the games were almost starting already, so we basically ran back to the Kiwon, and were just in time for the games to start.
Me and Jon were then standing in the hallway, where I was very casually (not) staring into the room where the pro's were playing. A girl got out from another room, and looked as us utterly confused. She stared at us for half a minute, turned around to go the playing room, turned back around to look at us, got ready to ask something, shook her head and then left. We're not sure what happened there. Maybe she just thought we were not supposed to be there or thought she knew one of us, but I just arrived two days ago and Jon didn't know her either. Anyway, the situation was very funny and extremely awkward.
We then went back to BIBA, where nothing very special happened.
At night Blackie reviewed some pro games with us again  and gave me some impromptu problems. He also showed us a very funny, infinite problem. I don't exactly remember it, but it involved an under the stones tesuji and some other things, creating an infinite loop of capturing and re-capturing.

So that is what I did the past few days. I apologize for the big amount of boring text and the horrible writing, but I'm tired, so please don't judge me :(.
Anyway, I hope you still enjoy reading about my experiences here.


BIBA day 1.5

Hi everybody!
As I said before, the past few weeks I have been travelling, and pretty much ignored go for a while. While I was in Hong Kong I went to the go association a few times, but not much, because I obviously wanted to see the city. And the two weeks with my parents before that I was too busy relaxing to do some very serious studying aside from a problem here and there. Regardless, Sunday I arrived in Seoul, where I will spent one week at Blackie's Internatiobal Baduk Academy (from henceforth mentioned as BIBA), and one week sightseeing.
I will try to update on what I do everyday, so if you're interested, keep reading :).

Sunday I got picked up at the airport by Blackie (Kim Seungjun 9p) and Diana Koszegi 1p. I was extremely tired, because I my flight was very early and I didn't sleep the night before, nor can I sleep on an airplane. So I was very happy they came all the way to pick me up.
I am staying at Blackie's appartment, together with his family (obviously) and the three other students, Thomas, Jon and Richard. They're all around 4/5 dan (official ranks).

On Sunday itself nothing much happened because I may or may not have fallen asleep after a while. We did have awesome homemade korean food, and I played Catan against Blackie and Diana.

Yesterday we went to the Baduk school, basically a school for kids, and BIBA has a room there. Most of the kids weren't there yet though, because they had school. There was one kid who was playing on the pc in BIBA's room, and they told me he is a Korean insei. I just happened to see that he is 9 dan on Tygem (actually I was kind of staring in awe, but that's irrelevant) (also, he's an insei so I probably shouldn't be surprised about that).

Anyway, on the first day I played 3 games. One against Thomas with 6 stones, which I won by 9 points (which is really not impressive since I started with a sea of my own stones).
One against a very young girl (I'm horrible at guessing ages, so I won't even try), with a 2 stone handicap as black. I also won, by quite a bit this time.
Then I played a game with Blackie's first and last teacher, his father. He is about 1 dan EGF. I played as black, no komi. I resigned, because I was losing by about 20+ points and we were going to eat.
After dinner I got a pretty big set of problems, all basic shapes I should know (but I don't), so I did a few of those. According to the others they're one-second problems, but they take me soooooo long, it's a bit sad, haha.

Anyway, that was my first day. Aside from the horrible freezing cold I really like it so far and we'll see what the rest of the week brings!

(Also, I'm not really a picture person, so I'll try to take some, but it won't be a lot, haha)

(And I wrote this on my phone, so the post might be a little messy, sorry about that.)


Quote Mania 5

Welcome to 'Quote Mania', the series where I take a random quote completely out of context and forcefully relate it to go!
The 5th quote to be discussed is:

'People die if they are killed.'
 It's from the anime Fate/Stay Night. (but I just saw it floating around the internet)

Alright, this is not a serious quote, but it can actually be related to go quite simply. At least, if you replace 'people' with 'stones'. Unless you want to go all nuclear tesuji on people and smash their heads in with a go board, but that is a different story all together.

You see, I know that it's very important to not leave any weak groups on the board. There are like a million (ok, two) proverbs about it, and it's mentioned pretty much everywhere.
Actually, my style of play is quite safe, but sometimes I get a little over confident. Basically I take a big point, believing that my group will life anyway. In the process I leave the group looking like this:

And usually, I am right. The group CAN live. But while I make petty moves doing that, my opponent takes control of the entire board.

Trying to lessen my 'safe-play' is all nice and well, but I shouldn't be taking the wrong approach to it and stop defending. I should defend and then attack, not attack and then defend.

The quote is true, my group will die if it's killed. The issue is that it won't get killed. It will get kicked around, tortured and left near-death. And all in vain, because the game will be lost.

PS. There probably won't be any updates for at least 3 weeks. After that I will go to BIBA and see if I can update from there, and otherwise I'll be back in 5 weeks :).