Monthly Archives: August 2008

Professional Help

As I have always said when people asks me how is my Go, “My Go is Kindergarten”. This is true especially when I see the numerous mistakes that I make and my utter lack of knowledge and understanding on various aspects of Go, be it on the strategic or the tactical level. And my condition does not seem to be improving much and I love this game too much to just give up and play at my current level. Don’t be mistaken, I am not one of those misguided kids who think that the goal of Go is to achieve a high rank but to me, the process is the other way round. I want to play really good and respectable Go, and I believe that when I achieve this, my rank will naturally follow. We should not be slaves to rankings.

But my Go really isn’t improving much and I have now sought professional help and appointed Alexander Dinerchtein as my sensei (teacher). He is Russian but has a good command of English. Started to play Go at the age of 6, he went to Korea to train as a professional player and is now a 3p professional at the very tough Korean Baduk Association. I hope that his professional help will help me overcome my current barriers and spur me on to further discover the beauty of Go and find greater enjoyment in playing it.

I had my first lesson last night where he reviewed a game and played a 3 stone handicap game with me so that he can assess my level and my weaknesses. He realised that my main obstacle is that my Go is too passive, i.e. I do not play actively and tends to avoid conflict and be too kind. However, he said I am a very solid player and as such must be more active (e.g. attacking) so that I can make use of my solid play to attack the opponents. After more than 1.5 hours, his assessment is that we will continue our lessons by focusing on training me to play more actively, to attack more and don’t let my opponent be too comfortable.

I told him that my objective is to improve to about a 3 dan’s level of skill and after the lesson, he said that it should not be too much of a trouble since based on his assessment, I am already about 1+ dan on the European scale (which, if sensei wiki is to be believed, it is equivalent to 2 dan on KGS and in China). I just need to work on the weakness he mentioned and he will design our future lessons along this line. I hope this effort of mine will help me achieve my objective of playing better Go.

7 Comments

Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

The Two i

Shinogi, Sabaki

These three are Japense terms used in Go. I think they are used elsewhere as well but I know these words from playing Go.

Shinogi is the art of making life inside hostile territory.

Sabaki is a way whereby the player settles his stones in an unfavourable position, often playing lightly and involves the sacrificing of stones.

Cho Chikun is well known as a master of shinogi. He is a very territory oriented player and as such he normally cedes to his opponent a huge moyo which he will invade. Then he makes life for his stones inside his opponent’s moyo and thus destroying it. Shinogi requires deep reading and fighting skillsMoyo is a framework of stones that has potential to turn into a huge territory.

Yoda Norimoto wrote a whole book on Sabaki but sabaki techniques are really important to any Go player. It is like how you can escape from a difficult situation. Sabaki, to me, means not to be stubborn but flexible, finding the best way to get out of a tough situation.

How is it possible to apply shinogi and sabaki into our daily life and work?

Hmmm…. maybe shinogi is like when you go into a new market, say Vietnam or Russia where the environment can be hostile, it is the art of establishing a company deep into that country and fight out for market share. You invest a lot of resources into the market all in the view of getting a firm hold. How would shinogi techniques help? First prerequisite is extraordinary fighting power. You need to send in a tough team, a tough and loyal team. Send anything lesser, you are bound to fail and get eaten up.

In view of the very hostile territories, what about using some sabaki techniques? The first prerequisite to sabaki techniques is to know how to sacrifice and escape lightly but at the same time settle the situation and getting a foothold. While sabaki is not as severe as shinogi, it will successfully allow you to enter into that territory and get a share. Say you want to invest in Russia and knowing how the government there works (think the BP case), you will not want to invest heavily into the country at first but send in a testing force. If the test fail, it won’t cost you a fortune but you get the experience and from this experience, you may make some friends and understand the situation more. You plan to escape lightly.

Hahaha…. maybe I have indulged in too much Go. My head is swimming with Go. Not a very healthy sign…. and thus the gibberish above… :(

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Bak Kut Teh and All

Over the weekend, my geeky friend was in town, back from Hong Kong for a short break and brought me some really wonderful movies, including Lee Chang-dong’s GREEN FISH, his first feature which I somehow did not manage to buy because it is out of print and I craved to watch. Of course, most of the time was spent chatting about movies, politics, movies, food, movies and some. I really missed the movie business.

Anyways, the Bak Kut Teh in Klang is really one of a kind and totally delicious. The rice especially is of top quality and the soup is excellent, not too much herb smell and the taste is well balanced. There are just so many Bak Kut Teh shops in Klang and they are enjoying some amazing business. In fact, there are many nice things to eat in KL if you know where to find them. Before I came to KL many many years ago, I thought KL food is really crap and Ipoh food is the best but I am somehow changing my mind now.

Food programmes like the One Day Five Meal on Astro is really good because they introduce us to the many culinary delights in the Klang Valley and Jason’s Taste With Jason is an excellent all round programme. I have myself been to some wonderful food places and would like to blog about them but I am really too shy to bring a camera and photograph the food :)

Work is really hectic. I think I got conned joining this company ;-) Haha. Anyways, the work is really challenging. I can deal with all the corporate stuffs, the ERPs, business analysis, etc. which is no problems with me but there are some things that I am really not accustomed to and I will not detail them down here for obvious reasons.

Free time is really scarce and whenever I have them, I spend them studying Go, either going online but most often replaying Pro games and studying some joseki and opening patterns. I need to really hone my komoku joseki, especially the pincer version. Am really weak at that. Of course, I still do many Life and Death and Tesuji problems every night just before I sleep. They relaxes me.

I need more sleep…..

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Weiqi/Go Syllabus

There seems to be more and more new and young players coming to the Japan Club recently. All of them started playing online on KGS and have been influenced by the manga and anime Hikaru no Go. This is very encouraging and there are more and more new and young blood coming up, so there is s future for Malaysian Go. I have promised one of the new players to teach and as I have done when I first started, I have devised something like a syllabus to cover some basics and fundamentals. This syllabus is for people that are not really total beginners since the would have known how to capture stones and have played some 50-100 or so full board games already.

Here is what the “syllabus” will look like, which is based on the many books that I have and based on my own experience:

A. Basic Tactics
1. Ladders and Nets
2. Cutting and Connecting
3. Basic shapes
4. Basic Life and Death

B. The Opening
1. The first move and special properties of the corner
2. Basic opening theory (value of moves, urgent vs big moves, flexibility of play, extensions, moving to the center, moyo)
3. Some popular opening (San Ren Sei, Chinese Fuseki, Mini Chinese, Kobayashi)
4. To pincer or not to pincer

C. Basic Joseki
1. How to study joseki
2. 3-4 joseki
3. 4-4 joseki
4. 3-3 joseki
5. 3-5 joseki
6. 4-5 joseki

D. The Direction of Play
1. Direction of play in the Opening
2. Direction of play in joseki
3. Direction of play in attack and defense

E. Attack and Defense
1. Territory and Power
2. How to attack
3. How to defend
4. Ko fights

F. Invasion and Reduction
1. How and when to invade
2. How and when to reduce
3. Invasion and reduction of some standard shapes and patterns

G. Some Strategic Concepts
1. Miai
2. Sabaki
3. Aji
4. Forcing moves
5. Probing moves
6. Light and heavy stones
7. Key stones (Important & Unimportant stones)
8. Furikawari (Exchange)
9. Positional judgment
10. Sente vs. Gote
11. Thickness and Influence
12. Efficiency of stones

H. Basic Tesuji
1. Placement
2. Snap back
3. Cross cut
4. Attachment
5. Wedge
6. Taking away base
7. Clamp

I. The Endgame
1. Basic Endgame counting
2. Basic Endgame tesuji (e.g. the Monkey jump, hane, one space jump, etc.)

J. Some Go Proverbs
1. Your opponent’s good move is your good move
2. Play on the point of symmetry
3. Hane at the Head of Two Stones
4. Crosscut then extend
5. Strike at the waist of the keima
6. Urgent points before big points
7. Play away from thickness
8. Don’t use thickness to make territory
9. Don’t try to enclose when you have an open skirt
10. Make a feint to the east while attacking in the west
11. Invade a moyo one move before it becomes territory
12. Reduce a large moyo lightly
13. Don’t touch weak stones
14. Family fueds waste resources
15. Don’t cling to stones that have served their purpose

These are aimed at the basics and fundamentals. Without strong fundamentals, it is hard to progress to the higher level. My aim is to devise the plan so that a diligent student following this plan should be able to reach at least 5kyu within 6 to 12 months depending on intensity.

However, never forget the following:
1. Play lots of quality games (i.e. games where you actually think and try to apply what you learn as opposed to playing blitz games).
2. Review the games with your opponent and stronger players
3. Do lots of life and death problems
4. Study per lesson plan above
5. Do more life and death problems

That should do it. It is very easy to do, and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the friendship and companion of other Go players. So don’t torment yourself too much and don’t worry too much about winning or losing or about your rank. It is the process of learning and of having fun that is important and the improvements in rank will naturally follow.

5 Comments

Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

What a Hectic Week!

First of all, apologies for not updating this blog for more than a week now. That’s because I have started my new job and was bogged down by so much work and learning. This new company is a lot more dynamic than I first thought and and also a lot more to do at the back end that I first imagined.

To start off with, there are three strategic alliances happening in three different countries, all of them are still in the negotiation stage and all the financial and business analysis required that goes with it, two acquisition deals that are in discussion, a group restructuring exercise and a funding scheme in talks with a couple of venture capitalists.

Then the back end is still in a huge mess. First is to put in place a business performance management system that is almost non existent or in a rather bad shape, such as a budgetary control system, a performance management system via KPIs, etc. And an upgrade to a new ERP system is due and I have met with some solution partners, yet still unable to decide at this stage which solution that will best fit our operations. Next week, there are two more SAP solution providers coming for a pitch. Add to that an investment in a multi-million Ringgit piece of machinery, the things to do seem endless.

And we are seriously lacking in human resources. In one week, I felt that I have worked for probably one month. So tiring but sometimes is quite satisfying. I have never been so busy and preoccupied in a very long time.

I hope for the best and hope that everything turns out well.

Movies? Really no time for that… unfortunately. Maybe later when everything is set in pace like a well-oiled machine first. But I really need to hire people fast.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized