two for oneI will admit, last week other than my daily play in the Dojo and a few tsumego, I did little to advance my Go. I was busy during nights completing a project that I will write more in depth about later, I am considering an article or some other thought-out essay. For now, suffice it to say that my Tuesday night game with Bob was postponed till Thursday, and then just skipped altogether. I didn’t get away to the SGC, and I didn’t take the time to play anyone online or watch a lecture.

IntroAh, but this week I start anew, side project completed, and I asked if Bob would oblige me at his place for a game Tuesday night. It was clearly enjoyable for both of us, as he invited me back again in a week for a repeat. But I get ahead of myself, I wish to describe instead the match we played last night and its outcome.  I look forward to our next match in less than a week…

I am happy to hear that my recent improvements in our occasional games have sparked him to start studying as well, several unfamiliar and obviously older tsumego books were out and on top of nearby piles, signs of recent study scattered around the clear space on the floor around a roll up set with glass stones. Because I brought my home set to work to show a co-worker how to play Go on a coinciding day, I have my yunzi stones and bowls ready to play on the larger bamboo board. It is agreed that due to my loosing streak of late, I will take 3 stones from him. Play is begun, and as is common with an unbalanced board like that, becomes laden with fierce contact fighting almost immediately.

first pauseNow, although I haven’t been studying, when I get a rare weekend morning to spend an hour on Go all at once, I have been continuing to work my way through Bruce Wilcox’s Contact Fights software. Even though I am less than halfway complete, I am already feeling a marked difference in my game. By conditioning and codifying what I know and explaining it in the manner that Mr Wilcox does in his program, it has crystallized a few weak spots in my game that have stood for some rapid improvement.  I definitely look forward to completing the course fully and plan to share some of the distilled wisdom with some of the people I have been teaching lately…

close up corner fightSome people have a very direct attacking style, and a game of Pente with my non-confrontational wife made me realize that this initial leap into the fray can be quite off-putting if applied too soon to someone not yet committed to learning the depth of the game, Pente and anything else. A strong, bold, forceful response creates immediate tension that must be resolved, and blocks further reasonable development until the local situation is resolved. In a good fight, this can quickly cover a quarter of the entire board and of course strongly influences what remains of the game. Learning the method to contact fighting allows you to redirect this aggressive thrust into a weaker missed attack that then opens up possibilities for response and follow through. Almost like a martial art, such as Judo.

4 corners fightingSo, our three stone match began with a 3-vs-1 corner balance immediately. Bob successfully invaded but was boxed in, and a few empty triangles later I was in good position. His broad strokes made quick life, but not very large and not complete. He did show me a very specific technique that I think was useful, a way of poking along a long wall of stones to create a certain shape that establishes a beachhead of sorts. If you have ever watched despairing as an opponent builds an unbalanced wall of stones, ready to fall upon any unlucky victims trapped below the avalanche, then you might know what I mean.

parting shotHere is the last shot I took of the game before things got very intense and fairly quickly resolved. I have strong position in some places, and in some of the battles that were played out, I made a few mistakes but also some large captures. In fact, several captures really turned the course of battle to my favor. In the end, we played out all the situations and entanglements to create a line of battle, but once these were resolved Bob resigned the game without the final count since it was obvious and decisive victory for me. I will not be playing any more three game stones with Bob for sure now, I just have to consistently hold my own on a 2 stone.  Thank you again for the game and your teaching, Bob.  I hope to face you evenly soon.

Peace to you and yours, and good hunting.