Monthly Archives: February 2006

Baduk and Blue Ocean Strategy

I am currently reading a book called the “Blue Ocean Strategy”. I have always enjoyed reading books on strategy and about business (recently also acquired and read “The Google Story”, “The Apple Way” and “How Dell Does It”), a habit acquired during my student days, when reading “In Search of Excellence” and “The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China” gave me a lot of kick and motivation. A very fulfilling feeling.

“Blue Ocean Strategy” (BOS) is something quite new and to me, is very refreshing after reading a string of books by say, the Michael E. Porter, Robert Kaplan gang. The book is about “how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.” The idea is that there is no point competing in the existing market space where every company in the market is fighting to death to protect and expand on the limited market. The pie is constant and even if the company wins the fight, the reward is also not very great. Blue Ocean Strategy is about creating a new, uncontested market space, where the reward, if successful, is far greater. The book goes on to provide case studies and tools on how to use this new strategic concepts and with case studies ranging from “Cirque du Soleil” to the movie theatre industry to the manufacturing and services industry, the idea is very convincing.

One part of the book hit me hard and banged the idea into my head. It says, “..Part of the explanation for this [i.e. competiting in existing markets] is that corporate strategy is heavily influenced by its roots in military strategy……. Described in this way, strategy is about confronting an opponent and fighting over a given piece of land that is both limited and constant. Unlike war, however, the history of industry shows us that the market universe has never been constant; rather, blue oceans have continuously been created over time. To focus on the red ocean is therefore to accept the key constraining factors of war – limited terrain and the need to beat an enemy to succeed – and to deny the distinctive strength of the business world: the capacity to create new market space that is uncontested.”

After reading all that, I begin to think about the game of Go. The nature of Go is Blue Ocean. Yes, the board is limited in size, i.e. 19 grids times 19 grids, 361 intersections. It is finite and limited but in the course of the game, the players carve out new territories (“market space”) all the time and as part of the strategy, to sometimes exit a particular section of the board and play at another part of the board, the “uncontested” market. Unlike international chess for example, there is no focus of only one market, but many markets can be created and losing in one market does not mean losing the whole thing (think, for example, the Luo Xihe vs. Choi Cheolhan triple ko game).

Going down into a bit of detail of the strategic implementation as stated in the book, it said:

“Formulation principles:

Reconstruct market boundaries
Focus on the big picture, not the numbers
Reach beyond existing demand
Get the strategic sequence right”

The above is so relevant to playing Baduk!

Let me finish the book and see if I can learn more, and hopefully this also improves my baduk skills along with my management skills.

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Filed under Books, Business, Strategy, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

A Hoshi Jungseok on Beauty’s Game

After looking at Mao Jiajun’s picture (below) for many times, I finally begin to get sick of her face and look at her board position instead. It appears to me that she is considering a joseki position that is quite popular nowadays and I recall having watched a lesson (a 30 minute lesson on this variation of the joseki alone) in one of those Baduk tutorial CDs produced in China and hosted by Wang Yuan, 8p. I have therefore, for the benefit of those interested to know more, transcribed the lesson onto a sgf file. If you have not played this variation of the Hoshi joseki before, learn this and go destroy your rival the next time you play at the club. Heh heh….

Answering White 4 at A is one common joseki and has been used since the olden times. After Black answers at A, White will extend to B.

However, as Go research progresses, it is normal for Black to not play at A immediately and reserve the choices.

In the future, Black has the choice of playing at A if he/she wants later. Black also has a choice to pincer at C and let White play at A and then seal White in at D.

Black can also play at E if he/she needs to develop the center-right.

By not answering White 4 at A immediately, Black has gotten himself/herself the above mentioned options, a valuable flexibility.

Another interesting response Black has is to play at F. This move was first used by Go Seigen and is popular in more recent Go, especially among the Korean professionals. This variation, as seen in Mao’s game below, will be our topic of discussion.

Download the sgf file here. You will need a sgf reader, of course. Drago is good.

Note: Because I use the free version of the hosting service on the web, it disallowed my uploading of a .sgf file. As such, I have to use the Yahoo! Briefcase but it disallows public sharing because I am also using the free service. So you will need to be a Yahoo! member to download the file. If all fails, please let me know and I will e-mail the file to you.

Edit: If you still cannot download via the link above, please try here: http://rapidshare.de/files/13169183/hoshiVariation.sgf.html

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Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Come learn Baduk

When speaking of Baduk/Weiqi/Go with other people, I will sometimes get a weird look from them, as if only nerdy people with no life plays Baduk. Like how people look at accountants, this perception needs some major overhaul, firstly because it affects the development of Baduk as the average age of players becomes older but more pertinently, this perception is false. Accountants are accountants and they are supposed to look like that so that people are afraid to be funny with them but in actual fact, they are the greatest beings on earth because more often than not, they are genuinely honest and has warm personalities (no, definitely not the Enron type).

Anyways, enough of defending of accountants. Hikaru no Go has done a tremendously great job in getting a new generation of young Baduk players but for those guys who still refuse to believe that playing Baduk is cool and is chic and attractive, not to mention sexy, let me share with you guys some pics (hehehehehe):



These two are professional Baduk players

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Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Ain’t the web a wonderful thing?

Although the internet contains a huge amount of junk, e.g. blogs that proclaim that the internet contains a huge amount of junk, there are many great sites and information that can still be found if you look harder and has a greater sense of curiosity and open-mindedness. *ahem*

Haruki Murakami, again one of my favourite authors of fiction who resides in my study room among the greats in the order of Rabindranath Tagore, Earnest Hemmingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lin Yutang, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Lu Xun, Balzac, Kenzaburo Oe, Jack Kerouac, Kafka and gang, has again exceeded my expectations in being so popular, someone again actually managed to publish his short story “Tony Takitani” on the web. This story was adapted into film in 2004 (official website here) under the direction of Jun Ichikawa.

As usual, films like this will escape the eyes of film distributors in Malaysia and we shall again have to wait for the DVD release to be able to catch the film. Words of mouth has it that the film is a great one. The DVD has just been released last month and is now finding it’s way to my house after my pre-ordering of the DVD together with the recent Criterion releases, Bresson’s “Pickpocket” and Mizoguchi’s “Ugetsu”. Here’s a link to the Amazon.com page for the Tony DVD.

On another note, here’s a site you would want to go to get updated with news from China. Great place to be if you are the political type. Great place to go even if you are not the very political type because there is a section on culture there as well. Read, for example, the transcription of Li Ao’s speeches (here and here) and the various comments that are related to movies, such as the Zhang Ziyi debacle (anyone who watches the Phoenix channel on Astro would know Li Ao – go and subscribe to Astro. Yes, Astro is ultimate most superb and everyone should subscribe to it. Life is never the same without Astro. Astro: Enriches your life. Call +603-95436688 for subscription information [end of commercial plug]).

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Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Tu A Lang and Hot Hot Days

Without fail, every year during the Chinese New Year, the weather is extremely hot. I was back in Ipoh for the Chinese New Year celebrations for a week and had eaten so much, I can hardly walk now. Besides the superb home cooked food by all the aunties and my mom, we had gotten away from Ipoh itself to savour delicious super duper food in Tanjung Tualang (famous for it’s absolutely tasty fresh water prawns), Taiping (super duper mee soup) and Penang (super duper for everything).

“Tanjung Tualang, Perak is a town well known for its fresh water prawns and its seafood offerings. Order sweet and sour crab, teochew steamed cat fish, oyster omelettes, some fried rice and the most irresistible steamed fresh water prawns this side of town! The best of course, is the steamed fresh water prawns that are locally bred in the Tanjung Tualang area. The prawn is steamed and egg white added to the sauce to give it a creamy taste. The flesh tastes very sweet and the prawn has ‘kou’ (Cantonese) at the head of the prawn. ‘Kou’ is that yellowish and greenish stuff on the head of the prawn. Taste a little bitter but good.” source .

The price is very reasonable as well. For 10 of us, it only cost us merely RM290 (about USD77), for a plate of extra large steamed fresh water prawns, a plate of medium sized prawns fried in soysauce, a generous plate of soft shell crab and a few other dishes. Perhaps the good deal was due to the fact that my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s uncle owned that place.

Most people know Ipoh for it’s white coffee, it’s “Sar Hor Fun” noodle, it’s Beansprout Chicken but I would also like to strongly recommend the fresh prawn dishes in Tanjung Tualang. It is only about 45 minutes away from Ipoh City. Map.


Some of the dishes that have arrived. Steamed big prawns, soft shell crabs and frog legs (we call them “field chicken” in Chinese).

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Filed under Food, Places

Movie awards and How Could They??

The nominees for the 2006 Oscar is out. Perhaps just for fun, I will do an Oscar thing, i.e. to watch all the nominated films for Best Picture over a weekend. In fact, it will be sort of a waste of time as if I have nothing better to do since I have already watched 4 out of 5 of the movies but just for fun maybe. It is always great to watch great movies again, especially the line up for this year’s Oscar. None of them were released in the cinemas here in Malaysia and none of them gave me the sickening feeling I get everytime I see a bombastic marketing campaign for such-and-such movie from the “great” Hollywood. You can only watch these nominated films here in Malaysia due our trusted DVD distributors, a bunch of extremely knowledgeable, up-to-date and efficient people.

I have not watched “Munich”, so I cannot really tell which one is my favourite to win in this category but all of them are really good movies. I will probably come back and state a choice after the said movie marathon.

On another note, although this is a bit old, I must still say it. What is wrong with the people at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society? Look at this list of winners for 2005 and tell me what is wrong.

Best film: Election

Best director: Johnny To, Election

Best actor: Tony Leung Ka-fai, Everlasting Regret

Best actress: Zhou Xun, Perhaps Love

Best scriptwriter: Wong Jing, Color of the Loyalty

Recommended films: Seven Swords, Color of the Loyalty, Crazy and the City, Initial D, Sha Po Lang, Home Sweet Home, Perhaps Love, Everlasting Regret

Tony Leung Ka-fai as best actor in “Everlasting Regret” has already gotten me on the edge but Wong Jing winning the Best Scriptwriter award for “Color of the Loyalty”, hello???????

Why do these people like “Color of the Loyalty” so much? In my very humble opinion, the script sucks! The movie mediocre. Haiya!

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Filed under Movie Awards, Movies