Since I'm not currently teaching Go and have decided to focus more on school  on personal go studies, I have decided to start a blog regarding my thoughts on the many aspects of Go, it's history, famous Go Players, local Go Players, my study journal, Go in the media/mainstream, Go in school, and conflicts with the promotion of Go. I will also try to include pictures and game records of tournaments and workshops I participate in. It won't be a blog in that it won't be as spontaneous and I'm not trying to track my day to day or week to week Go progression. Rather I strive to write well thought out articles, perhaps including my rank progression every few months..
-David Su
Revised 1/12/10

Winter Break: Renewed Strength

posted Jan 28, 2011, 4:50 PM by First Last   [ updated May 17, 2011, 2:56 AM ]

After my first semester at college, Winter Break was an enjoyable step away from the chaos of college. The finals week of college was dreary because everyone was leaving during random intervals of the week after they completed their finals, so that by the end of the week I was one of only so many dorm mates left.

Reflecting on the first semester, I saw it is an adjustment phase. I had dropped out of a computer science course during the first 5 weeks of the semester to take a prepatory CS3S course. I had to adjust to the relative lack of privacy than compared to home. What I relished the most, nonetheless, was independence, especially the opportunity to meet Tadashi Sasaki 8p in San Francisco from Japan during the school year.

Nevertheless, at the end of the semester, I was weary, and ready to head home. I walked out of my last final, the math final, with a dreadful feeling. Exhaustaion took it's toll on my go. By the end of the semester I had managed to drop to 2kyu, a rating that I had held for nearly a year.

The first couple of weeks back tested my patience. My laptop screen started to malfunction and my losing streak continued. I wanted to reclinch my former rank with what I believed would be several won rated games. Rather than winning those games, I lost them, leading to so much frustration that I actually exploded in anger, my first time since playing Go. I pounded my desk, feeling worthless and unable to play. My game record for December  was 4-7.

Then I decided to read Go books and start tagging and documenting my games beginning with my game 12/24 DUYMINH titled the “the road back to 1k game 3” although my first game back as 2k was against BackOffice on 10/28/10. Back in October, I decided that if I were ever to reclaim my former rank, I would have to play more for fun and enjoyment and experimentation of the game. Hencee, I decided to play “free” games on KGS. I decidedly started naming my games “the road back to 1k” because it gave me a new sense of purpose and renewed energy.

I wanted to restart with the basics because I felt like I had overlooked some material. I started reading 38 Basic Joseki and then began reading Invincible: the games of Shusaku to get a full board understanding of Go, playing out game records on an actual Goban rather than just reading the book. This $90 book was sitting on my older brother's bookshelf, and I was excited to finally take the opportunity to read it. Although some players may argue that Shusaku's game are archaic and outdated (this conflict was also alive in the newspaper sponsored Hokuto Cup in Hikaru no Go, where the Korean Go Player insults Shusaku) but what I enjoy the most about these games is that they are thoroughly commented by Go Professionals including Go Seigen and Sengoe Kensaku, Miyamoto Naoki. Although I think some of the professionals' emotions may be lost through translation, John Powers is able to make the commentary sharp and intelligent. I was able to see the game through the eyes of a professional players. Variations and life and death situations were thoroughly explored. I was able to grasp a full understanding of the game, an emphasis on global thinking. It made me see the whole board as a stage for a life and death conflict and exchanges.

The thoroughness is what draws me to also watch Bat's Go lectures.

Books completed:

Opening Theory Made Easy by Otake Hideo

Get Strong at Attacking by Richard Bozulich 

Books in Progress:

Invincible by John Powers 

The Basics of Go Strategy by Richard Bozulich 

38 Basic Joseki by Kiyoshi Kosugi and Jamies Davies

I went back to school with a deeper enjoyment of Go. However, I know that I should focus more on my schoolwork and perhaps occasionally pop open a Go book. For now, since I'm participating in the Young Kwon National Tournament, I still have reason to put in slightly more time into training until the tournament completes. Though my online rank might not show, I do indeed feel stronger!

YKNOT and my hesitance of Online Tournaments

posted Dec 20, 2010, 6:22 PM by First Last   [ updated May 17, 2011, 2:57 AM ]

As an AGA member, I am  participating in the Young Kwon National Online Tournament to motivate myself to get out of my 2k slump. After a full of year of playing I managed to drop back down to 1k. This isn't my first slump. My last one occured this August. After months of not playing, I had managed to obtain 1 dan, but was unable to maintain that rank. I kept on trying to get back but each time my rank continued to plunge. It is a great thing that this tournament will motivate me to get back to 1kyu. I need only one game to get back to 1kyu and have played a couple free games in preparation for that one needed win. I have all of winter break to win this game, and fully intend to relish the moment and perhaps surpass my expectations  and attain shodan.

    But lets leave my personal drama aside and discuss online tournaments. One thing online tournaments lacks are contact face. It just is not as motivating to play online when you know you won't be able to see the opponent's face. It feels more lively when there is a crowd behind your back glancing and pondering at your board. At least then, you feel like your with people who understand and appreciate the game as much as you do.
     Furthermore,  there is lack of genuineness a possibility of cheating at any rank. This problem of cheating seems to be mitigated but not fully eradicated by the use of Skype for communication among players and officials. However, technology still adds some ways to get around the system. There is a mute option in and a pause video option in Skype so there possibly could be someone observing your game in another room and come to your room to watch your game. This at least helps to eliminate the possibility of somebody playing with two different accounts and using a friend's AGA number. Online tournaments function more on an honor system and good faith. The best insurance policy is that online tournaments at least within the AGA, are unrated although they do show up on your game history.
   Nonetheless, online tournaments also have their own positive attributes. It allows for players from all different regions of the world to compete against each other. It also brings together a community of like minded people. In 2007, I was elated to discover the AGHS STT, formerly ING School Team Championship and to finally be able to meet and greet other high school go players in the US. Furthermore online tournaments are more convenient. Games in the AGHS School Team Tournament were arranged so that there was a 2 week gap in between rounds, with the full tournament lasting about 2 weeks. From a tournament director perspective, I imagine it gives them more time to pair out tournaments without the stressers of a restless crowd.
    In the end, what I find discouraging, even more so than the prospect of cheating, is that it is hard to trace the effects of one's good will. A tournament sponsor such as Mr. Young Kwon, will have a hard time tracking down if he/she has fulfilled the intent of the prizes. For example, If a tournament organizer hands out prizes to lure kids into the game of Go, how will they know how far the kids fulfill their potential? But I guess kids are very impressionable; if they do something that gives them rewards they will continue to do it. Sure this gimmick probably works for elementary schooler and possibly middle schoolers, but at a certain point, a serious Go player would probably find owning a Go-related item just as exciting if not more exciting than winning something else.
    According to the AGA E-journal, Mr. Young Kwon's intent, through founding the tournament, is to " promote go in the United States through increasing the AGA’s membership.”1 I applaud his romanticism to believe that organizing the tournament will inspire a bunch of players to join the AGA and sustain that membership. I see his vision with mixed effects: either it deters non-AGA members and strengthens the interest of Go enthusiasts or it actually does inspire people to join the AGA.For one, I was and still am one of those players that joined the AGA, a meager $10 expense for youths, to play in tournaments but more importantly because I wanted to belong to the community that I found. The AGA yearbook, the AGA e-journal,, and the AGHS STT made me excited about Go.
    I sympathize, in the end, for the sponsors that never in the end meet and greet the beneficiaries of their support. Sure, it will always be hard to know if someone cheats in an online server, and I hope not that no one does at the YKNOT. Mr. Young Kwon, if I do win in my division in the tournament, I will make sure to send you a personal letter of thanks. If I don't, I would like to nonetheless thank you for motivating me in crawling out of my slump.


Thoughts on Go and Computer Gaming

posted Dec 13, 2010, 9:25 PM by First Last   [ updated Dec 13, 2010, 9:51 PM ]

I was studying for finals and browsing on youtube the yesterday and came across this video on starcraft, possibly the most popular pc game in the world. The video titled "Korean Gamers: APM Demonstratin" caught my eye because it had 1.3 million views on it. Also I had heard that Koreans were  famous for starcraft. In some way, the way I train for Go is similar to the way people train for starcraft. It is, no matter how much I hate to admit, an obsession. I probably look just as zoned into the computer as the Starcraft two players look like. They have a focused expression. At the rate they are playing, the game is more of a competition than it is an enjoyment.

Korean Gamers: APM Demonstration

Geek Warriors

Cyber Athletes Of South Korea (CBS News)

for cbs video,
2 months ago 23

This is every american parents worst nightmare

A video of Go on APM. Though I doubt this is physically possibly even in a blitz game, the technique of stop-motion camera filming catches the varying beauty of Go.

Around We Go

To be completed...

Do I want to be pro?

posted Dec 10, 2010, 10:49 AM by First Last   [ updated May 17, 2011, 2:56 AM ]

    Personally, this question has never crossed my mind. I never really could picture myself training at a professional go association such as the Ni-hon Ki-in (Japan Go Institute), Hankuk Ki-in (Korean Baduk Academy), Zhongguo Qiyuan (Chinese Weiqi Association).
    At most, my closest experience to intensive training was a three week class in July 2005 at Chang Ching Childen's Go College in Taiwan and once a week group lessons with Joey Hung from 2005-2006, advancing from 25k to 4k on KGS using the pseudonym tamalpais. Both these experiences contributed to my love for the game. My aspirations were local, competing  in the Ing's Youth Goe Tournament, Jujo Jiang Youth Goe Tournament, and training for the California High School Goe Tournament, once I went to high school. It was satisfying enough to have local success.
    It was only until recently, when I was promoting the Go club at my local high school in spring 2010 that I met a modest looking parent, who asked what the Go was, secretly testing my understanding of the game. After several minutes of explanation and after observation my demonstration game with a fellow member, he came out as being a former Japanese insei. I was so humbled and taken aback at having met an insei that I forgot to ask for his name.
    My interest in the insei system was put on a backburner until, to my embarrassment, I finally watched Hikaru No Go this summer. It was only until I witnessed the anime portrayal of the insei system, the degree of difficulty of the pro test. As portrayed by Hikaru no Go, only members of the top insei class and the general public (amateurs, ex-insei, etc.) are allowed to take  take the pro test, a mock tournament. Of the competitors, only the top 3 performers ascend to the professional world. Just being the top of the insei class does not guarantee professional status. In Hikaru No Go, Isumi faces the grueling reality of failing the pro test two years straight, despite being top of the class.
    If I were to attempt to be a pro, I would have to travel overseas, distancing myself from my friends, family, and my lifestyle, without the guaranteed sucess of being professional. Financially, I would have to rely on my parents, lending to guilt. Furthermore, I would have to learn a new language.
    Even if a player does achieve professional status, the future is of uncertainty. Where does the steady income come from?
    Despite all this doubt and uncertainty, there are a collection of westerners that have achieved this coveted status the first being Manfred Wimmer of Austria from Kansaii Ki-in in 1978, shortly followed by James Kerwin from the Nihon Ki-in. Based on information from Pok's Go Article How it Happened that Manfred Wimmer Slept on a Gym Mat: A Kind of Obituary, Manz Wimmer muddled in some scrupulous activities associated with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia of the time. Because of his vices, he was expelled from Japan and moved to Madagascar for Epicurean pursuits. I find it disappointing, if not shameful, that the Western World's first Go professional was so unprincipled. His actions present a bad rap to the Go professional abroad, and make me less attracted to the prospect of becoming a professional.
    Furthermore, amateurs still can grasp success. For example, Sakai Hideyuki was accepted as a pro by the Kansaii Ki-in, the western Japanese Professional Go Association at the age of 27 after winning the World Amateur Go Championship. Even recently, Hideyuki won the Gosei title. In Korea, 6 dan amateur Han Taehee defeated Lee Changho by resignation in the first 96 moves in the 2nd BC Card Cup match on 1/16/10. In 2009, 18 year old 7 dan Andy Liu defeated 3 pros (Yilun Yang 7P, Feng Yun 9P, Mingjiu Jiang 7P) to win the 2009 North American ING Masters.
    In order for a westerner to become a pro, I believe nonetheless that intense training and traveling abroad is necessary. There is appears to be no age limit to becoming a pro. James Kerwin started playing Go after getting introduced to the game while attending Carlton College, became a student of Iwamato Sensei (who also funded the NY Go Center for many years) in 1971 and finally became pro in 1978 at the age of 32. Similarly, Sakai Hideyuki became a pro of the Kansaii Ki-in at the age on 27.
     Although this feat is probably unlikely, in the meantime I can still enjoy a pursuit toward being a strong amateur player and play against a pro on a rare occasion.

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