Monthly Archives: November 2008

No Way Out

“I AM A SICK MAN…. I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don’t consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors.”

What a wonderful opening from Dostoevsky’s NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND.

“My Go is sick…. My Go is spiteful. My Go is unattractive. I believe my Go sucks. However, I know nothing at all about Go, and do not know for certain why my Go sucks. I don’t consult a professional for it, and never have (except briefly with Alexander Dinnerchstein), though I have respect for Go professionals.”


Ok, back to the topic. Over the past few months, I came to realise just so how important knowledge about joseki is which I have also blogged about. A joseki screw up can immediately screw up the game and this happens just too often now. Maybe a year back, I don’t seem to have this problem and seem to have josekis at the tip of my fingertips, literally, but recently, as I progress, I get stuck when my opponent play different (and often much more interesting) joseki variations. Not that they do it due to fancy but they do it because they think it yields better results and very often, I am at a loss at how to answer the moves.

I am not saying that the joseki variations a very fanciful or are trick plays but just different variations of common joseki. My inability to answer that shows that I really need to study joseki and learn more variations. My current stock of joseki knowledge stalls my progress.

As such, I am embarking on a 3 month study of Ishida Yoshio’s Dictionary of Basic Joseki. Yea, yea, yea. That book was written in the 1970s but what the heck, I don’t even know those stuffs in the book, so when it is written is not really relevant until I know what’s in the book. Besides, I have other references such as Jungsuk in our Time, Korean Style Baduk vol. 1 and most recently, New Openings in the 21st Century.

Also, one huge problem that I face is that I often don’t know how to continue after the joseki, and as such my SmartGo program comes in really useful where I can search a database of 45,000 professional games and check out the joseki played and how the game progressed from there to get ideas on how to play and develop after the joseki.

What a pleasure to have all these stuffs and to learn leisurely. I love Go.

Oh yea, I mentioned about the New Openings in the 21st Century book which I have received just a couple of weeks ago. AMAZING book. So many new ideas inside there and answers some of my questions as I see how high dan players play on kgs and didn’t understand their moves. Now I found answers to some of them and I have been trying out some of these new ideas in my games too. Maybe this is also one reason why I lose so much recently.

New Openings in the 21st Century will be a book anyone 3dan above will greatly appreciate. That is not to say that lower level players cannot appreciate this book but I feel just that players 3dan and above can really milk more ideas out of this book.


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Great “Cartoons”

In a conversation topic today, the topic of good “cartoons” crop up and immediately, Hayao Moyazaki comes to my mind although the word “cartoons” cannot really be linked up to Miyazaki but to Mickey Mouse for example. In stark contrast to Mickey Mouse, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES comes up in my mind (although not a Miyazaki product), thanks to a candy box that my wife bought for me:

Looking at the candy box, a very deep feeling emerged inside me. I suddenly recall the feelings that I felt while watchng the movie. What a great movie that is! One of my most favourite and treasured movies of all time.

If there is one thing that this post can do, I hope it is that you will look for the movie and watch it. This movie is widely available in any Speedy Video shop.

I promise you that you will not regret watching this movie.


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Go Books

Well yes, the big worldwide news nowadays is that Obama is the next American president. Many people were happy, even many people in Malaysia. The feeling is just like our own March 8 election where people saw hope and change for the better. To be really honest, I am not so sure. I really don’t know if any substance is going to come from what is just merely symbolic at this point in time. We shall see how it goes from here. I am always the type of person that is afraid to hear big promises because big promises often fail. I would rather hear small promises, small steps, building a better future brick by brick. Maybe I am just a little bit too conservative or the beancounter in me is just a little too prudent.

That said, as it has been clearly illustrated in the book BLACK SWAN, all the major changes in history is a result of, well, how to say, a fluke at best because it is just so unexpected. Maybe “fluke” is not the right word but unexpected, unplanned and unpromised. What we can do is really to prepare ourselves when a black swan event comes or do as much as we can to expose ourselves for black swan opportunities.

This post actually is about Go Books as one of my new acquaintance, Dennis, is interested to buy some go books and his interests sparks me to maybe write some comments about the go books that I have since I do have quite a number of them. I have written about go books a bit in some of my previous posts, so maybe I can continue to do that.

Recently, I have bought the “100 Tips for Amateur Players Vol 2” and the Yang Yilun Workshop Lectures volumes 3, 4 and 5. This is in addition to the “100 Tips for Amateur Players Vol 1” that I have bought some time back plus the “Think Like A Pro: Haengma” and “Think Like A Pro: Pae” books written by the same author Yoon Youngsun and the Yang Yilun books “Fundamental Principles of Go” and the Workshop Lectures volumes 1 and 2.

Needless to say, I love those previous books and their authors and have learnt a lot from them. On the way to my house now is Kim Sung-Rae’s new book, “21st Century New Openings”. This is a follow up of his very excellent book “Korean Style of Baduk vol 1” where he discusses about the Avalanche joseki and the mini-chinese opening. In his new book totalling 380 pages, he is going to talk about new josekis and fusekis that is happening in the current go world. This ought to be really interesting although the depth may be beyond my current level of understanding.

The “100 Tips for Amateur Players” is made up of questions concerning the joseki, opening, invading, attacking, life and death and some training questions. From my experience, the shapes and positions that the author chose to illustrate the problem is very real and happens all the time, at least in my own games. There are positions that I have just studied and in one of my games with Mr. Tiong, I was able to use the lessons learnt from the book immediately. This happened so often in my real games, I made it a point to always revise the lessons in the book and as such I have now read the first volume over more than two times. I appreciate the author’s efforts to choose positions that is so real in our actual games and not some imagined positions that does not normally happen in games. The positions are quite thoroughly studied and explanations given. Although the books contain some typo mistakes, these are nothing compared to the contents of the book. Players in the range of 5k to 2d should be able to amply appreciate this book.

Yang Yilun’s teaching style is very clear and very principle driven. Instead of asking one to memorise a position and sequences, he tries to explains the play by way of formulating principles of play. I see this first in his book “Fundamental Principles of Go” which I bought about 4 years back and is one of the book that I most appreciate. I have read this book over and over for many times now and even if I go over the book now again, I still learn some things especially in the end chapters on reduction and invasion. This book is followed by by his Workshop Lecture series where the contents of his workshops are transcribed into book form and the style is similar to the “Fundamental Principles of Go”. Again, I love this workshops lectures and benefited a lot from them, especially so the lectures on “Playing Complicated Joseki”, “Choosing the Direction of Attack”, “Punishing Weak Groups Directly”. The details of these books can be found on the Slate and Shell site. Again, I will see that these books will be very much appreciated by single digit kyu players right up to about 2dan although double digit kyu players will surely benefit from reading them too.


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