Friday, February 29, 2008

Vacations are distracting!

We took a two week vacation to visit Los Angeles to attend Kumi's wedding and get a little R&R. (Congratulations again Kumi and Dan!). Of course I brought along the chess set and laptop, thinking that the kids might want to play sometime, but it turns out they'd rather spend vacation time visiting the zoo, going to Disneyland, playing at the beach, playing poker in Vegas (or maybe that was me...) What's up with that? At least we got in some Chess Master games in on the airplane. Don't they realize they're playing in the CT State Scholastic Chess Championship in one week?

Monday, February 11, 2008

4 Month Check on Kids Chess Progress

As promised, I've included a recent game between Alyssa and Richie with no interference. Their progress in the last 3 months is evident. While by no means blunder free, there are several aspects of improvement: sounder opening moves which seek development, fewer hung pieces, more purposeful and aggressive moves with a semblance of planning. Actually many pieces were lost in sacrificial attacks which is something I hadn't really seen before this game. White (Richie) in particular shows directed force at the Black King rather than aimless time wasting moves. Now we just need to tame down the aggression a little. But that's much preferable than excessive passiveness I guess. One thing I noticed about this game in particular which is not obvious from the replay is how quickly Richie made his end game decisions. He wasted no time at all removing Alyssa's remaining rooks even at the cost of his queen and executed the finish very efficiently which is actually a pretty recent development. This game says a lot as it is, but there's the added bonus of an en passant capture. For her part I actually thought Alyssa's game was quite nice up until she sac'd two pieces in a row. I'd like a chance to review this game with her and show her that she was ahead. I hope that will make her look forward to challenging Richie to another round.

Friday, February 1, 2008

3 Month Update on Dad's Go Progress

Well if KGS rank has any meaning, it seems that I managed to improve slightly since last month. I am now barely 12k online which surprises me because I remember thinking a month or two ago that most of the games I had with 12k were hopelessly one-sided. In fact I don't think I actually won many games against higher ranked players, but I've become more consistent about winning against 14k and lower so I guess that's improved my rank some.

Shamefully, I have less motivation to actually study anything or do tsumego problems while my rank is still progressing just from games. I did pick up a copy of Fundamentals of Go by Kageyama which is a nice book that I would recommend highly. I like his conversational style and I found his examples to be quite interesting and enlightening. The unusual thing about this book is that many of the reviews of the book suggested that it is useful to read several times at different stages. Essentially reviewing this book helped a lot of people get over developmental blocks at successively higher levels of strength. They made comments which in effect said that the material is basic enough for someone like me or around mid-teens kyu to get something out of, but when you are much stronger, you can come back to the same exact material and find deeper insights still.

I especially liked the emphasis he puts on reading. I have to admit that I am sometimes lazy over the board and play many moves based on my meager intuitive grasp, when if I just sat and concentrated I could probably read out a solution.

In a game today against a 14k, I recalled specifically the first lesson in his book which requires reading out a ladder across the board. I had a similar situation in this game where I had a center facing stone caught in a ladder. I played an approach to the upper left corner which I had read out to be a ladder break. But my opponent failed to realize the ladder break was in place and proceeded to chase me for about 10 moves in a broken ladder. Of course, once he realized his error, his entire game fell apart as my diagonal thickness and his excess aji were too much to overcome. He resigned shortly afterwards.
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