First Tournament


I finally did it: I registered for my first tournament.

On 15 July I will be playing in the National Go Center’s Summer Sizzler.

It will be an exciting day for the DC-area go community. This is the NGC’s second tournament (its inaugural event, the Cherry Blossom tournament, was held on 29 April). After the four-round event, at 19:00, the Center will host a screening of the award-winning go documentary The Surrounding Game. A full day of go awaits!

Registration for the tournament was a breeze. The only delay I encountered was fumbling around for my AGA card, so I could enter my member ID 🙂 . Otherwise it couldn’t have been easier. IF I were to recommend one improvement, however, it would be this: offer a combined rate for attending both the tournament and the documentary screening. As it is, these are separate costs and registrations. This is really a minor point – probably the cost/benefit of implementing this wouldn’t be worth it.

I’m looking forward to the 15th with nervous anticipation. These will be my first AGA-rated games and, of course, I’m concerned about performance. I really shouldn’t be: Win or lose I’m going to take the experience for what it is and learn from it. Rank anxiety is something I’ve mostly banished from online play. I suspect the change of medium is the reason it’s now rearing its head. Even though I’ll be surrounded by fellow go players, large groups can make me a bit nervous.

With just two weeks to go (pun intended!), how should I prepare?

First, I’m going to make a concerned effort to play more games. Unfortunately the past two months have not been good for my game. A combination of job loss, job hunt, and job acquisition plus house work and the preparations for the arrival of a new child have limited the time available for training. Things have settled down a bit and, with the object in sight, I hope this will help motivate me to create space for training. Already I’ve seen this focus bearing fruit. Over the past few days I’ve played five serious games. Hoping for more in the weeks ahead!

Second, I’m going to do some light study. I say light because I don’t have time to delve into really new material, and I also want to prioritize practice games. I’m reading Yuan Zhou’s How Not to Play Go. Although short, the book provides several excellent examples of fundamental issues kyu-level players face and how they can work on them. This is exactly what I need. I’ll also probably rewatch Dwyrin’s excellent “Back to Basics” series.

Sticking to this regimen I should be all set for the momentous day. I’ll report back after the tournament!

“This Atari Is Complete Nonsense!”

GoKibitz homepage.
GoKibitz homepage.

Pardon the pun, but lately GoKibitz has been my go to resource for game reviews. Every time I post a game I get insightful feedback from the community, which is (good to say) very active. Rarely do I have to wait more than an hour or two for my games to receive commentary.

The structure of GoKibitz makes it fun and easy to use. After creating a (free!) account, users have the option of either uploading their SGF files directly to GoKibitz or importing it via URL. The latter is especially useful for games played on OGS. That’s it. The rest is all conversation about the game.

I find the format of these conversations particularly effective because you’re looking at the board during the moment in question. Time and again I remember sending my SGFs to other reviewers and getting comments like “On move 101 Black should have haned.” OK, now I have to scroll to move 101. GoKibitz enables you to jump to exactly the right spot, which is great if you just want to read what others have said about your game.

There is a continuum of reviewers. As a 9k I get feedback from both kyu- and dan-level players. It’s interesting to see how the conversation differs based on the reviewer’s rank. Each player brings their own experience and style to the table, which I really enjoy because my own understanding of the game is constantly evolving. Every game I’ve posted so far has received comments from a range of experience levels, and that’s really great for the community because there is something for players at every level.

The game below is one that I played just yesterday and it contains the best comment I’ve yet received on GoKibitz. User @tuerda, a 1d, looked at Black’s move 109 and writes: “This atari is complete nonsense!” As I looked at the move I realized that he’s completely right. I wasn’t thinking and played a terrible move. It’s always important to recognize areas of improvement, and one area for me to improve in is definitely playing correct moves. For some @tuerda’s feedback might have seemed a bit harsh but for me the honest feedback was most appreciated. It even made my wife (who really isn’t interested in baduk) laugh out loud. “Oh no!” she said, “I’m laughing at go things.” That’s the first step! I’ll get her hooked on the game yet.