Monthly Archives: June 2009

New Toy – Sneak Preview

The new floor goban that I bought from Kuroki Goishi Ten has arrived on Saturday. Surprising as I have only confirmed my order just on Thursday itself, so it took only 2 days to reach me.

A floor goban is actually a long dream come true. The first time I watched Hikaru No Go, I wanted to own a floor goban. Since I started learning and playing Go, I have owned some table goban, which is really very practical and not very expensive. But to really sound like a snob, a floor goban is the ultimate.

Funny thing is I have come into knowledge of really strong players, I think 5dan, who really do not own any equipment at all and play using the computer. It is my caveat here to mention that strength in Go does not correlate to the equipment (and for that matter, the books) you own. However, equipment and books do correlate closely with the enjoyment one can derive from the game, although it is very true that the ultimate enjoyment is to be able to crush each and every player one encounters. ;-) But realistically speaking, I can just derive enjoyment from other Go related things, such as Go equipment, books and especially my Go friends, since I am very weak at Go.

Here is a sneak preview of the floor Goban. This is a very quick picture and more will follow, since my wife the photographer has volunteered to take nice pictures of my goban.

Details of the set:

Goban – Size 60 (17cm) Shinkaya (New Kaya) floor goban. Grain masame.
Gosu (bowl) – Keyaki extra large
Goishi (stones) – Size 33 (9.2mm) moon grade slate and shell stones.

All the above was bought from Kuroki Goishi Ten, the gosu and goishi was bought about a year earlier. The price is very reasonable, the goban at around 70,000 yen and the gosu plus goishi is around 35,000 yen. So the total for the set is around 105,000 yen before shipping.

I will treasure this set and until I get to 5dan, I won’t buy another set (but perhaps will buy another Hyuga Kaya table goban. haha).

More pictures to follow.


Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Tribute to the King

Thanks for the memories. You will be remembered.


Filed under Uncategorized

Something Again About Go – Not yet Transformers

Go is occupying a lot of my time recently and as such many other things, especially movies, is taking a back seat now. So what is happening re my Go now? Well, the following:

1. I am refining my Go study routine to fit my lifestyle. Now I do lots of Tsumego, Lee Changho’s series which I do at least 3-5 problems every night in bed (used to be 10 to 15 but volume 5 is getting so very hard now) and one problem from the Shikatsu Myoki which I lay on the goban in my study room and play over the problem, exploring all possibilities. Then I review games that I have subscribed to the Go Juan audio Go lectures. One thorough game analysis every one or two weeks. I am focusing a lot on Gu Li’s games lately.

2. I have bought a brand new floor Goban from Kuroki Goishi Ten. Will be arriving next week. It is going to be such a beautiful baby and will be such a great set together with my slate and shell stones in the keyaki bowl, also bought from Kuroki Goishi Ten. It is the best place to shop for Go equipment on the planet and the prices are just really reasonable, given its high quality. I will post the photos next week.

3. I am continuing to give weekly lessons at the Japan club to new players. This is really fun, to be able to see new players and give them back what my “seniors” gave me when I first started learning. “Everybody starts playing Go as a Beginner”.

Here are some inspiring quotes I glimpsed from the internet:

From the Kuroki Goishi Website on their Philosophy:

“We have our own philosophy ; Human beings use Go Stones, and human beings and Go Stones can contact each other via the soul, so they must be natural and at the same time, they should be hand made.

Each stone goes through a 3-month, 24-stage process and every craftsman touches it at least once, sees it with their own eyes, talks to it, and turns it into a Go Stone that is capable of expressing the thoughts of the Go player.

Our Go Stone represent player’s strong will for victory.”

From the advice from James Kerwin on getting beyong 1 Dan:

“Kyu games tend to be won by knockouts, such as the death of a group or a catastrophic loss of territory. To advance in the dan ranks you will have to learn to box and not just punch. You must be prepared to go fifteen rounds every game and to win on points, not by knockout. You must win a majority of the rounds, even if only by a little. Each punch must be well directed and solid. You can see the truth of this clearly when you replay pro games.

You must put more importance on details and small advantages. It is not enough to save your groups, you must learn to live gracefully and without struggle. It is not enough to press a group hoping to kill it, you must learn how to extract profits from the groups you attack even as they make life. It is not enough to take or destroy territory, you must learn how to do it in sente. It is not enough to win the battle, you must also leave the battle in good shape to fight the next one. It is not enough to play the right moves, you must make sure you play them in the right order.

In the kyu ranks attitude is important, but not critical. After you become a dan player you won’t make much more progress unless you have the right attitude. The right attitude is not humility exactly, but something like it. You already play good moves, but you can’t let that fact blind you to better moves. Your moves may be successful, or powerful, or clever, but that is irrelevant. There is really only one question, and you must ask it every move. That question is: “Is this move the best move, even if the best move is only a little bit better than this move?” You must be consumed with the search for the best move, the correct move. Any other attitude will slow you down or stop you completely. You can’t afford pride, or fear, or greed, or complacence.”

Kami No Itte!!!

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Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Kamakura – The Book

Once in a while, a really good book will appear. In Go, the book that I am talking about now is KAMAKURA by John Fairbairn. The book is about the 10 Game (Jubango) between the two legendary Go players of our time, Kitani Minoru (featured in Kawabata’s novel “The Master of Go”) and Go Seigen (featured in Tian Zhuangzhuang’s film “The Go Master”). This jubango at Kamakura is also a legendary event. Besides the historical and cultural significance that it implies, it is also a contest between two of the top players in the world (at that time) and between two good friends.

The book by John Fairbairn not only gave a superb introduction to each of the players as well as a superb write up to the events and history leading to the Kamakura games (trust me, it is really excellent), what he did in the game commentary is simply amazing. We have all read and seen game commentaries where good moves and alternative moves etc. are discussed, with various diagrams. What John added was not only the surrounding background and sometimes the time the players took to think (so that we know that a move was thought over by a player for 30 minutes, for example), he also recorded the conversation between Go Seigen and Kitani. You you actually know what they are thinking and talking to each other.

This is just like our normal games that we play with friends, i.e. we play a move and then chat about it. Despite the enormous impact of the Kamakura games, the two players still chat like friends, talking about the game openly while the game is in progress, revealing their thoughts and strategy, not after the game ended! This shows how great these two guys really are.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Go Seigen and Kitani, especially so the historical background in the their times leading to and including the Kamakura games. Also of course, you will learn about the games, get an in-depth look at the moves, sometimes blow-by-blow. But above all, it is a story about these two go geniuses.

However, if you are just interested purely in go techniques, new openings, new josekis, etc. the Korean books such as “21st Century New Openings” by Kim Sung-Rae will be very much suitable and good.

For me, I think I can read Kamakura over and over again but I still have trouble getting through the first 20 pages of Kim Sung-Rae’s book. That probably explains why I am still so weak at go ;-)

Please accept my highest recommendation for KAMAKURA by John Fairbairn. It will be a classic in the league of John Power’s INVINCIBLE, the games of Shusaku.


Filed under Books, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Shikatsu Myoki. Not Katsu Don. Dong!

Seems like the first question from the Shikatsu Myoki is quite easy :) Indeed it is. If you have heard of the proverb “There is death in the 1-2 point”, you will be able to solve the problem immediately. In fact, there are only perhaps 5 or 6 things to remember when solving tsumego. These are the few things that I often think about:

1. Hane (so as to reduce eye shape. also other ways to reduce eye-space is always good)
2. Placement (to kill eyes, or make false eye)
3. Look at the 1-2 point because the corner is one little eye)
4. Play in a way that result in the opponent do not have enough liberties, especially when the opponent cannot block you because of lack of liberty. This normally has something to do with the triangle shape).
5. Sente, sente all the way. If opponent does not answer, it is death immediately.
6. Create miai situations for eyes, i.e. opponent can only make one eye and cannot make both eyes at the same time because each player can only play one stone at a time.

So, the answer to the previous problem is to first start at the 1-2 point, then use the atari so that it facilitates the hane which then result in the lack of liberty. Here is the sequence:

To be able to find the 1-2 point i.e. S19 is not too hard, is it? But to be able to visualise the R17 atari first and understand that white is immediately dead is a sign that you are quite good, perhaps at least 5-6kyu and above. Because if you see that, you know that if white answer at Q17, you can next play at T18 and white cannot block at T17 because of lack of liberty and thus leaving S19 a false eye. And you also understand that if white does not answer our atari at Q17 and capture your S19 stones instead you will capture the R16 and Q16 stones and after that make the point T17 and R18 miai, and white is left dead. If you can see R17 and understand all that, you are quite okay :)

Now, the next few questions is also actually not very hard but I found myself having problems with this one, the 8th problems in the Shikatsu Myoki and my mind became muddled and I cannot see all the variations clearly although I have a feeling inside that black is in a dangerous situation. But how EXACTLY, can white kill black? What are black’s strongest refutations?

White to play and kill black. What do you think? Will the normal tsumego techniques help?


Filed under Tsumego, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Persevere Like A Dog And You Will Get The Dogfood

It has been a few months now that I have embarked on the study program as mentioned in a blog post earlier. I have set a Go study routine and after a few weeks, that fell apart as expected. It is just not really a practical routine for someone who has a job that can be very demanding and has other hobbies and priorities, not to mention married as well. So such an intense Go study routine is not viable and I am bound to be frustrated. Perhaps I can do that, or even more severe when I have a chance to enroll into a Go school like the International Baduk Academy or the Kings International Baduk Center where I will devote whole day, day after day, to the study of Go and come back and be the strongest Malaysian player ever.

Until that happens, I have somehow started another Go routine which worked well for some time now. I have been solving the Lee Changho series of Tesuji and Tsumego books. And I do that everyday, at most, I will miss one or maximum 2 days out of a week. I have completed the Tesuji series (6 volumes in total) and am starting on volume 5 of his Tsumego book.

I find the Tesuji series relatively easier than the Tsumego series so far. I do not face much problem with the Tesuji series up to and until volume 5. Volume 6 was quite tough but still okay. The Tsumego series, I have no problems up to the 3rd book. The 4th book got hard but still solvable, but I am getting more and more wrong answers or variations that I have not thought of.

I think I have improved a little bit over the past few months and I attribute this to the Lee Changho Tesuji and Tsumego series. I hope I do not exaggerate by saying that EVERY, EACH AND EVERY, Go player should work through these two series of books. I plan to revisit this series again after I complete the Tsumego books.

And one side result is I find myself quite addicted to solving Life and Death (i.e. Tsumego) problems. I used to really hate Tsumego and avoided it like a plague but by forcing myself to go through the problems, I find new joy in them. In fact, I am looking out for other tsumego problems and I have determined to work through the Gokyo Shumyo when I get the book (I have actually printed the problems out from the internet but will wait for the book anyways) and I am now working on the Shikatsu Myoki. I am trying to do 4 problems from the Shikatsu Myoki every night and I have started just two nights ago, taking the advice from my previous post, i.e. 4 problems set on the goban and I will work it through, and then next morning while waiting for the iron to get hot so that I can iron my work clothes, I will look at the goban again and visualise the solution.

Shikatsu Myoki and Gokyo Shumyo are both tsumego from the classical period and the questions are quite interesting. Looking at the problems inside, Shikatsu Myoki do look like a tougher book while I don’t have any problems with the first few questions from the Gokyo Shumyo.

I am planning to also post the problems on this blog as well and to discuss the solutions here. At least I will start. I have a feeling that I won’t be able to get this going for long but I will try. I will post here the problems and the solution, together with my line of thoughts, refutations, etc. from the Shikatsu Myoki.

Here is the first problem from Shikatsu Myoki. Black to play and kill white.The solution will be in a separate post:


Filed under Tsumego, Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Everyone Starts Playing Go as a Beginner

The title to this post is the title of a book that Boon Ping took back from Japan where he was there for the World Amateur Go Championship and won 5 games out of 8, a very good feat! The book was given to me since I am the training director of the Malaysia Weiqi Association and I have read through the book two times just last night and indeed it is a very good book for beginners. In fact, it ventured slightly more then just beginner as it goes on to talk in some detail about Joseki and Fuseki. I estimate this book can serve its purpose up to probably 15kyu level.

There are some advice that I find in the book and I would like to share it here:

Advice number one: Everyone Starts Playing Go as a Beginner

“Keep you pride and modesty and don’t be arrogant”. This is my motto that helps me remain humble and not to be arrogant. I used this phrase as the title of this book.

Advice number two: A model to improve Go

Before going to bed at night, practice 4 problems, 5 to 10 times each so your fingers remember them. Place those problem diagrams in the four corners of the Go board and leave them till next morning. When you wake up, solve the problems only with your eyes. In other words, solve them by just looking, not using stones. It trains your mind to imagine the answer diagram without using stones. Four problems one night, and another four the following night…. After 100 nights, it accumulates to 400 problems. After doing this for three months, your winning rate should be improved dramatically. ** Practice 1 meter golf putt 100 times a day for 100 days. It may result in a “miracle.”Please, try it.

Advice number three: Importance of repeated practice

Like remembering letters by writing them repeatedly, you will open a learning circuit in your brain by placing stones on the board repetitiously. And when your understanding deepens, you realize your Go skill has amazingly improved.

Fallingstones’ clarification: For those who do not know, what was meant by “remembering letters” is that when we learn Chinese characters or Japanese characters for example, it is through rote memorization of the word since it is not like English. There is no choice. You just have to memorize the character by writing and repeating it endlessly.

Now that our course in the Japan club has been going on for more than 2 months, we are now starting the so called Module B which is a more advanced lessons on Go. This is targeted to get the player to a solid 12k to 15k range. Yesterday we had our first lesson concerning the Opening (Fuseki) and next week, is also on Fuseki. Then I plan to talk a bit on how to use some common josekis, i.e. josekis that every 12k-15k should know, focusing on the rationale for the joseki moves instead of pure rote memorization. Then The lesson will venture into the important Middle Game, with a lot of focus on attack and defense. Then it will end with a more advanced lesson on the Endgame (Yose).

Let’s hope that there is a new generation of Go players in Malaysia. Go is just too wonderful a game to lose its appeal to the young. All Go players have the responsibility to teach and transmit the game to others. As Denji Aihara said, “Everyone starts playing Go as a beginner”.


Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk