Dual Defeats

Today I played abysmally: I was too passive, enabled White to grow too large, and created weak groups. I resigned both games. My rank is back to 12 kyu. After a good start I am feeling depressed about today’s dual defeats. I will try to learn from them, but the shame is quite powerful at the moment. I take solace in the fact that tomorrow is a fresh start. I know that I will lose many games in the future – indeed, much effort is required to get to 1 dan! – but that doesn’t really make me feel any happier at the moment. OK, I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself, dust off, and get back on the saddle.


Download SGF



Download SGF


Create PDF Kifus With SGF2PDF

Czech developer Daniel Maslo has created a handy web application that converts SGFs into PDF kifus. Called SGF2PDF, Maslo’s program generates one-page game records that are easy to share and print, making it ideal for offline game reviews. I have tested SGF2PDF and it functions as advertised.

SGF2PDF works in a simple two-step process: users select the target SGF file, then click “create PDF kifu.” The converter then automatically downloads the PDF to the user’s computer. Behind the scenes, things get a little more complex. SGF2PDF is written in PHP and its logic runs on the server side. When a game file is uploaded, the application parses the SGF tree and separates information about moves. The resulting data is drawn by SVG into PDF.

According to Maslo, “Almost no baduk software produces valid [i.e. standardized] SGF.” This has necessitated the development of “some tricks” to handle different SGF types.

The PDF kifu looks like a traditional game record. Moves appear on a grid diagram marked by numbers up to three digits in length. The players’ information, game location, and result appear in a table at the bottom of the page. I noted only that the web address of my game ran across cells within the information table.


SGF2PDF does have a few limitations and bugs, and Maslo is open about these shortcomings. SGF2PDF will convert only single branch SGFs played on a 19×19 goban, and it can output only a single sheet PDF. Data within complicated games – that is, for example, those with extensive ko fights and drawbacks – will overflow onto the information table at the bottom of the page. Most users will find, however, that SGF2PDF does exactly what is asked of it: no-frills conversion of single tree SGFs into PDF files.

Maslo solicits both feature requests and suggestions on how to improve SGF2PDF from users. He wrote that the most sought after change is the ability to split kifus across multiple pages. My own request is for the addition of a grid coordinates toggle. Unfortunately, Maslo notes, there hasn’t been much feedback from the baduk community, although some servers are now posting links to the application. “SGF2PDF is here for all of you,” he writes, “Reporting errors and posting feedback will…push me to improve it.”

Disappointment with existing SGF converters sparked the development of SGF2PDF. Available software produced output that Maslo complains was “weird” and “ugly,” so he started to think about building his own program. Writing SGF2PDF, he noted, is a “pretty good way how to train your PHP skills.” Maslo has been playing baduk for nearly four years “for fun” and “brain training.”

Daniel Maslo has distinguished himself by bringing SGF2PDF to the baduk community. I am pleased to recommend this application, because it performs its singular task quite well. I hope players everywhere find SGF2PDF to their satisfaction.

Becoming An Apprentice

This week Zhou Yuan (7D) became my shifu (師傅), or “master,” and I his túdì (徒弟), or “apprentice.” Finding a mentor like this is definite progress in my efforts to engage in deliberate practice; I also hope it is the beginning of a productive relationship. Until now my instruction was exclusively self-taught. This is alright as far as it goes, but it also means that my training has been incomplete, if only due to ignorance.

In our first lesson Shifu and I were introduced and analyzed the game below. Although I won, my victory was a fluke: my opponent made a critical reading error. I should have lost. I am not proud of the way I played.

Shifu weaved helpful advice into his game analysis. Often I could not remember the moves that either I or my opponent made. According to Shifu, this is because I made moves without purpose. Had I thought about the intention behind a move, he said, I would be able to replay the game from start to finish, like a story. This technique seems far more intuitive than the rote memorization that I had been trying to practice – after all, every baduk game is a story.


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Consider that it all starts with a blank canvas: the empty goban. In alternating turns Black and White communicate their intentions by adding pieces to the board. Words prove unnecessary, the stones tell the tale. Moves may be deliberate, submissive, greedy, aggressive, puzzling, etc. but each (hopefully) is animated by some purpose, which the opponent and observer must discern. Baduk is a conversation without words. Shifu helped me see this reality, and for that I am grateful.

Note: Zhou Yuan (7D) is located in Germantown, MD and available to teach in the Washington, DC metropolitan region.