Last night about 11:00, I let the Newfs out in the backyard for a pee. They charged to the back of the property, and then I heard the yelp that can only mean, oh crap there are 2 giant dogs running at me full tilt. It turned out there was an old beagle in our yard. Along with our neighbour, we walked around the neighbourhood with him. Someone in a car said there was somebody driving around looking for a beagle, but we didn’t see anyone.
We invited the dog to stay with us. He was pretty relaxed with The Partners and the cats and quickly settled in. He followed Sheila when she came up to bed and he hopped up and slept cuddled up with her. Fortunately he had a Toronto tag. I called 311 and within half an hour I was talking to the owner who came to pick him up.
Our guest was named Milo. He was with his owner at a friend’s place over on 30th Street and got scared by some fireworks. The owner said he was driving around looking for him for much of the night, while Milo was comfortably sacked out with us. We’re so happy to have reunited them. Milo was an excellent house-guest.
Last night I won 4/5 games online. I’ve been giving 2 stones and receiving 6.5 komi. In July we played 42 games and I had a 62% win rate.
Vox has consistently been a territorial player. That is, he tries to take early cash and then reduce my potential later in the game. He hasn’t changed this approach even though I’ve forced him to accept 2 stones and have continued to do well. That may be fine in that I’ve won quite a few games as a result of Vox making a critical error or in some cases a blunder. And, there is no doubt that I started winning more after doing a lot of tsumego (life and death) problems and improving my reading skills. It’s reasonable to think that if he can clean up his errors, he’ll have an advantage. At the same time, it may be that by keeping his stones under pressure, and in some cases complicating the game, I increase the chance of forcing an error on his part.
While Vox likes to play to grab cash early, he also does not like me to develop big moyos and if I attempt to build one, he will almost always dive in to stop it quickly, rather than make a big development move himself. I try to restrict his base in this kind of situation and make some profit by attacking. He might consider allowing me to make a moyo and take a bigger one for himself, since he has the handicap helper stones – and then later invade or reduce me. I think this is one way he can start to call the shots and force me to make riskier plays. Another way to look at this is to ask the question, when is the right time to invade or reduce?
Another thing I notice about Vox’s approach is that he will always kick against a kakari. It used to be high-level players preferred to pincer rather than kick, unless there is a friendly stone on the other side of the kicked stone. More recently the robots like to kick in most circumstances and do it with success. However, those are even games, those are super-strong bots. If I were playing the black stones with a 2 stone handicap, I would try tight pincers when my opponent makes a low kakari against a 3/4, trying to keep sente and keep him under pressure.
We played 5 games online the other night and once again I had an edge, winning 4. Of those, 2 were decisive but 2 were within komi. How can we define this edge? In other words, what does Vox have to do to erase the 2 stone handicap?
At this point, it seems that the difference is that my reading is a bit stronger. For instance, in the last game, on review, we could see that I had no business surviving my invasion stones in the top right corner. Vox needs to be able to read tricky corner situations more accurately. As well, he needs to clean up his game a little and not make inattentive errors.
For my part I’ve been doing quite well at assessing the territorial balance, figuring out what I need to achieve to win, and finding ways to do it, sometimes even in difficult positions. I’ve been trying to force myself to slow down my game and also I’ve been counting a number of times during each game to make sure I understand clearly who is ahead and by how much.