I have just started a new blog on Go lessons. Please visit there is you are interested. The rationale for setting that blog up is also justified. I have written, for the first time, my Go history as well :)
Monthly Archives: January 2010
So, first step to learning Japanese. This “teach yourself instant Japanese” is really good. Easy to follow and relevant. Looking forward to be able to converse in some Japanese, and not just in short words like sayonara, konichiwa, ohayo, arigato, kudasai, sumimasen, etc. but in full sentences and hold at least simple conversations. And unlike other big budget series, this Teach Yourself set that comes with a book and 2 CDs only cost me about RM70. Maybe after I have mastered this book and if there is still some fire in me, I will go and take the hardcore Japanese class, and learn some hiragana and katakana. But as for now, I just need to be able to just converse.
When the Buddha see a rose, does he recognize it as a rose in the same way that we do? Of course he does. But before he says the rose is a rose, the Buddha has seen that the rose is not a rose. He has seen that it is made of non-rose elements, with no clear demarcation between the rose and those elements that are not the rose. When we perceive things, we generally use the sword of conceptualization to cut reality into pieces, saying, “This piece is A, and A cannot be B, C, or D.” But when A is looked at in light of dependent co-arising, we see that A is comprised of B, C, D, and everything else in the universe. “A” can never exist by itself alone. When we look deeply into A, we see B, C, D, and so on. Once we understand that A is not just A, we understand the true nature of A and are qualified to say “A is A,” or “A is not A.” But until then, the A we see is just an illusion of the true A.
Look deeply at the one you love (or at someone you do not like at all!) and you will see that she is not herself alone. “She” includes her education, society, culture, heredity, parents, and all the things that contribute to her being. When we see that, we truly understand her. If she makes us unhappy, we can see that she did not intend to but that unfavorable conditions made her do it. To protect and cultivate the good qualities in her, we need to know how to protect and cultivate the elements outside her, including ourselves, that make her fresh and lovely. If we are peaceful and pleasant, she too will be peaceful and pleasant.
If we look deeply into A and see that A is not A, we see A in its fullest flowering. At that time, love becomes true love, generosity becomes true generosity, practicing the precepts become truly practicing the precepts, and support becomes true support. This is the way the Buddha looks at a rose, and it is why he is not attached to the rose. When we are still caught in signs, we are still attached to the rose. A Chinese Zen master once said, “Before practicing Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers. While practicing Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers. After practicing, mountains are mountains again and rivers are rivers again.”
– From The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion, Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Diamond Sutra. Thich Nhat Hanh
Recently, on the 10th of Jan, the Bahau Arts Society invited us to an event to help promote and teach Go in that area. The society is very active and promotes a lot of artistic and cultural things, such as Chinese chess, calligraphy etc. They are very nice and treated us very well. One thing amazing about Bahau is the high prices of the properties there, which is at least comparable to Kuala Lumpur prices. One reason is because the people there are rich from logging and rubber and because they like to stay where they are and because of the limited number of properties available, demand exceeds supply and thus the prices go up. At least that was what I was told.
Bahau is the romanised word for “Horse Mouth”. I asked why it’s called Horse Mouth and apparently there are no specific reasons. It just happened to be like that. I strongly believe that there is a reason but then the person we asked may not know.
Here are some pictures from that day. And thereafter, a great dinner ensued, thanks to a friend who took us to that restaurant.
The organizing committee. Our association is represented by our president Mr. Tiong (in black shirt) and our secretary, Mr. Chow (in orange shirt).
Part of the audience
Our Malaysia Weiqi Association’s gift to the Bahau Arts Society.
Mr. Chow giving an introduction about Go to the audience.
The kids are totally hooked. Let’s hope they continue to learn and improve.
Old and Young – everyone can enjoy and play Go.
Look who’s talking.
Recently, I got to give a fancy name to close fighting in Go and called it the Wing Chun of Go. This name was inspired in my game with Dennis recently, two games to be precise, where close fighting occurred, one stone touching the other and killing off liberties as they Go, and one mis-reading will mean the collapse of the entire group. This is very exciting Go.
Now of course those quite well versed in martial arts will rebuke me at this point and say that Wing Chun is not as simple as I said, Wing Chun is not the same thing as close fighting, although close fighting is one of its characteristics (those who at least have watched the movie IP MAN will know). Wing Chun is of course a lot more. Most of all, Wing Chun is about flexibility. Flexibility that give rise to strength, just like a bamboo. It is also about the balance of the body. Balance plus flexibility give rise to strength and speed.
So as in Go, in a close fighting situation, flexibility and balance is extremely important and one major factor in determining which player have better flexibility and balance can be seen through the shapes of the stones of the player. The understanding and knowledge of shape is one key factor in fighting and add on to more detailed and superior reading abilities, it can be determined which side will win the fight.
Detailed and superior reading ability can be cultivated and one of the blind spot that I realise is to read the lines of play based on a one way street, i.e. the player only reads what he/she thinks they want the results to be without careful consideration of the other options that the opponent has. This kind of wishful reading is very dangerous because the player did not consider the flexibility of the stones and will often then get big surprises when the opponent does not play along their wishful lines.
Another important thing in Go is the realisation of the “Plus/Minus” factor. In Go, one cannot gain everything (at least between players of equal strength). Here flexibility is important. Letting the opponent get something and one gets something in return is important. Being too rigid and stubborn will result in the player not getting anything at all.
A give and take attitude with a good splash of patience, flexibility and balance, backed by reasonably good reading and awareness of the ever changing stone configurations, should give one a good Wing Chun game. Haha.
Turn Left Turn Right MV
The movie is not as good, but imho is good enough, as SOUND OF COLORS, also based on Jimmy Liao’s work.
There are two MVs in this video, of which I prefer the second song. And re the second song, there is a better version sang in Mandarin but me being a Gigi Leung fan (one time), here she is!
Tian Mi Mi – Teresa Teng
A favourite song used in one of my favourite movies of all time, COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY (movie review by my geeky friend. Click link to read).
Here is my attempt to translate the lyrics:
SWEET AS HONEY
Sweet as honey, your smile is as sweet as honey,
Like flowers blooming in the breeze of spring,
Blooming in the breeze of spring.
Where have I, alas! where have I seen you before?
Your sweet smile is so familiar,
I just can’t recall it now…
Ah!… In my dream!
In my dream, yes, in my dream I have seen you before,
So sweet, your smile is really so sweet,
It’s you! Yes it’s you who are in my dreams!
“Just because the moon and the sun looks the same size from where you stand does not mean that they are of the same size.”
This “thing-in-itself” and “thing-as-they-appear” is not so new and has been quite thoroughly explored by Kant and then further “improved” by Schopenhauer, as he would have liked to believe. Anyways, it will be a very long post if we delve into this topic, even if we are just to discuss about Kant’s idea of thing-in-itself versus Schopenhauer’s so-called critique. It suffice here to say that in Kant’s idea, the “thing-in-itself” is transcendental and cannot be known while Schopenhauer thought that the “Will” is the “thing-in-itself” which is not separate from the things that appear to be (phenomena).
Anyways, nowadays I lean towards what is said in the Heart Sutra, that everything is empty of itself, i.e. there is no distinction between things in itself and things that they appear to be (which one feels like what Schopenhauer is saying although not exactly but this is no surprise as he is very much into Oriental philosophy).
Well, let’s get back to the subject of this post. Actually what I wanted to say here is really simple, i.e. it is important to be aware and realize our own point of view because just because we happen to be standing here and looking at something and interpreting them as they are, this does not mean that other people standing somewhere else cannot have a different interpretation. At the end, they are both talking about the same object but just describing them from their own perspective, their own point of view.
This is really basic and very simple to understand but inevitably, somehow this gets lost somewhere and mankind lose their rational mind and unreasonable emotion gets in the way. It is of course impossible to “take away” emotions which I personally believe is impossible. An emotionless rationality makes no sense because mankind is an emotional animal and to take away that aspect by pure force of logic does not stand against the test of time. But what I am really saying is to regulate such emotion and use the rational mind, together with a regulated emotional state and make sensible and reasonable decisions.
Emotion without reason is as deadly as reason without emotion.
I think I owe MUALLAF some comments.
Yasmin Ahmad’s films always have a higher purpose and what I find wonderful about her films is besides trying to “speak” to the audience about this higher purposes, she manages to put into them humour and lots and lots of culture.
Maybe I can elaborate. By higher purpose, her themes are always about Malaysia, or 1Malaysia as is popular now. It is about how different races can live together, can love each other, can help each other out. In short, come to think about it, maybe I am wrong. Yasmin’s film is not only about Malaysia. It is about humanity as a whole, take away all the race, creed and class.
Yasmin’s films is also about God in it’s ultimate sense, one God. Not only a Christian God, or Chinese God or Muslim God. And it is so apparent in Yasmin’s film that she cannot stand people who just appear to be religious but in fact is a total farce, someone that just has a religious facade but do not live up to it’s true principles.
Yasmin’s films is also about people, especially about family. Family is very important, as Confucius would have totally agree. According to Confucius, family is the ultimate nucleus in the prosperity of a nation. I don’t know if Yasmin is aware of this or not although I know that she loves the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu very much but never mention anything about the Analects by Confucius.
And of course, Yasmin’s films is, for a lack of a better expression, very cultured. From the tasteful selection of music, from Thai and Cantonese pop song right up to operatic arias, and the selection of poems that peppered her movies, one feels the substance of the filmmaker herself and her love for life, people and culture. It is a wonderful experience watching a Yasmin Ahmad movie.
Of course, not everything is sweet and nice and her films are not without flaws but just the heart and vision that she put into her films, one can easily overlook those flaws and take the whole thing as part of a “package”, just like her message in the funeral commercial and Cikgu Adibah’s comment that “pitching Nina Simone pun tak adalah always perfect” (Nina Simone’s pitching is also not always perfect).
So what about MUALLAF. Well, the first feeling that one gets after watching the movie is that it is preaching a lot. And that the movie is not about conversion into Islam. And it is not a Malay language movie. Haha.
The preaching a lot part is quite true, with quotations from the Quran, St. Augustine, the Tao Te Ching being peppered throughout the movie and one almost feel like getting a crash course in comparative religion. It is, however, quite interesting the quotes that Yasmin chose, where a lot of them tries to clear up a lot of misconceptions about Islam. As with some of her other movies (e.g. GUBRA), she tries to tell what Islam is truly about and what Islam is not about. Perhaps this subject is really too deep to explain in the course of a movie, however, it is like a seed planted in one’s mind and prompts one to search further and deeper for the truth.
Of course, the hypocrites are also shown, for example, when the Datuk refuses to shake the Chinese hands after he touched a dog, but then requested for a refill for the glass of beer in front of him. Yasmin’s films is always like this. What is in the surface may not be true, what is true may not be easily seen (reminds one of the Tao Te Ching?). For example, the bar girl who secretly gave some money to the sisters after she herself caused the the girl to be fired. One sees the two sides of her, the bad side but also the good side. It co-exist. No one is really all bad. And no one is really all Angel.
And yes, the story was changed and it is not really about the conversion to Islam as the movie title seems to indicate. It is more like a conversion from bad to good, which I find a really good choice. And of course, perhaps 90% of the dialogue is in English and this is classified as a Malay movie. Again, this is typical of Yasmin. No pigeon-holing.
So all in all, it is generally a good movie but in my personal ranking of Yasmin’s movie, the following is my sentiment right now and may change:
I really like TALENTIME. I don’t know why.
My Blackberry Nights?
Since I have not posted something on Go for quite some time, perhaps I can share some things I have learnt from strong Go players and hope that it also helps others. And so this is what a strong Go player told me when I asked him what is the problem with my Go:
“You only try to solve local problems and not global problems.”
And it is like a kick in the brain for me. Indeed it is true. For example, when I send in an invading troop, I only look at making sure that that troop survives but in the process of doing so, my opponent gains better advantage elsewhere. I do not consider other possibilities. This is only one example and nowadays, with this awareness, whenever I make a move, I try to ask myself, am I only trying to solve a local problem and forget the global problem? By solving this local problem, am I creating a bigger global problem?
Another one that I like is this:
“This move means you choose to destroy 10 points and build zero.”
Normally, this is related to one’s lack of the big picture again and what is called the “jealousy” factor. By playing a move that just prevents your opponent from taking a bit of points and not creating any points for oneself, what the opponent will do is just play elsewhere and make more points elsewhere. It is very important to know where the blue ocean is. Competing in a red ocean environment leaves one with little profit.
Besides advice from stronger players, which is absolutely essential in one’s quest to become a stronger player, there are many other things that one can do and for me, besides playing with stronger players and benefit from their reviews, solving life and death problems (tsumego) and tesuji problems is again absolutely important.
If there is one series of books that I can attribute to a significant improvement in my playing strength, it is the Lee Changho Six volumes Tsumego and Six Volumes Tesuji problems. The increase in strength is amazing and I can feel that power, just like those chinese martial arts movies where one learns a new technique or stance or has some of their “chi” points opened. The feeling is amazing.
This set of books is good for anyone that is in the region of 3-4kyu and wishes to breakthrough to the dan ranks. They are very affordable (only RM7.00 per book) and should see one through at least 3dan.
On replaying pro games, I have replayed quite a lot of pro games but at this moment, I do not seem to see much benefit from them (but maybe subconsciously they helped a lot). Compared to playing with stronger players and get their help to comment games which I think is the BEST way to improve, replaying pro games can be time consuming and yields comparatively little results, although replaying pro games can be very enlightening and exposes possibilities. But I still think the time spent vs results ratio still favours playing games with stronger players and getting games commented.
But I do remember distinct improvements when I replayed a Shusaku game against Ota Yuzo, another time when I replayed a Gu Li game and also the first game in Jubango between Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru in 1939. These three I remember distinctly their effect on my game.
Studying joseki? No point for me since I forget them in about a week’s time. But I remember again learning a great lesson when studying the taisha in the lecture by Yang Yilun, on what joseki is all about. I then seem to realise that joseki embodies a lot of things in Go, the concept of miai, the principles of fighting, the principles of positional judgment, etc. But honestly, if you ask me about more variations of a one space low pincer against a komoku kakari, I surrender immediately. I really don’t know many josekis and I don’t seem to be able to remember the sequences somehow, even after trying to remember them repeatedly.
Oh my, and it’s finally happening. The Malaysian audience at large can finally see on their TV screen movies form the Cathay Classic Library that includes such great classics such as MAMBO GIRL, WILD WILD ROSE, OUR SISTER HEDY, JUNE BRIDE, SISTER LONG LEGS, THE GREATEST WEDDING ON EARTH, DEATH TRAP, SUN MOON AND STAR, etc. as they are becoming available via the NTV7 Friday 1.30pm slot (named Friday Classics: My Film Noir). At this point in time, I am unsure of the whole library that they have acquired but they have advertised, as their maiden month’s offering, MAMBO GIRL, HER TENDER HEART, CINDERELLA AND HER LITTLE ANGELS and OUR SISTER HEDY.
A couple of years ago, Variety View, a distributor, signed a deal to distribute those movies including distribution in Malaysia for theatrical, TV, DVD rights etc. but up to now, no sign of those DVDs are in sight in the video stores that I visit and I have to rely on my geeky friend to loan me or to buy for me in Hong Kong, or I buy them myself when I am in Hong Kong or via YesAsia.
These movies from the Cathay Classic Libraries are really gems and to a certain extent and in general, in my opinion, is better than those Shaw Brothers classic movies (although I also love many of the Shaw movies). I don’t know but perhaps I am not much of a fan of action movies which I somehow relate to the Shaw library (although this is not true, e.g. HOUSE OF 72 TENANTS) and prefer the more family types of movie that I somehow relate to the Cathay Classic movies.
But all in all, kudos to the NTV7 crew for making this happen (Cheah Yee, Mey Leng and gang, great job!)
A small note, just by the way, is in regards to the naming of the slot My Film Noir which is, I feel, not quite appropriate as when I read it, I was expecting movies like DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE BIG SLEEP and such which characterizes that genre. I do understand, however, as “noir”, they would really want to mean black and white movies but somehow, maybe I am too pedantic, I relate Film Noir to movies of that genre and not black and white movies. But it doesn’t really matter so long as we can watch those Cathay Classics!