Last evening I played some online Go with my friend Vox for the first time since I had my knee repaired. I was worried about two things. First, would I be able to sit at the computer for a sustained period of time? Earlier in the day I had watched a movie on the computer as part of my usual podcast R&D and found I had to do so in two parts, as after a while I became uncomfortable and had to go elevate my leg for a while. My other worry was focus. Would I be able to concentrate well enough to offer Vox some competitive games? At this point I had mostly stopped taking the heavier-duty pain meds the surgeon prescribed for me, which I know had messed with my ability to focus.
I started off well enough with a 7.5 point win playing the white stones. The next two games I lost by resignation after failing to see the obvious danger a group of my stones were in. In the first of those games, my positions crumbled quickly after I blundered away a group of stones.
In the second, I opened in an unusual way, with the tengen (10-10 point), then played aggressively. Vox withstood my early attacking very well and it became a tight game. I thought this one was pretty much done and I was ahead by just a couple points. In fact I had to respond to a move to make a group safe. How could I not see such an obvious thing? I guess I just couldn’t focus in detail well enough. I played elsewhere and Vox proceeded to kill my group. My misread was devastating and in failing to read it properly, I deserved to lose. I have to say that I seriously dislike making that kind of obvious error.
In the 4th game, I opened with a low Chinese fuseki. I dominated this game and won by 28.5 points. I was able to bother his groups all over the board and force him to think about how to make his eye-shape. You don’t have to kill stones when you attack, just gain profit from the effort. I won the 5th as well, but it was a tough, close game.
Vox likes to play the sansan points (3-3) in many of his openings, something I very rarely do. This time out I thought I’d take his own game to him, and I opened with sansans on the right side of the board. Although I did OK and squeaked out a victory, I can’t say I enjoyed opening up this way. It just seems too slow. I prefer to develop faster and map out larger frameworks early in the game. On the other hand, playing lots of games against the same person, it’s interesting to change things up and create new looks and situations for Vox to cope with.
Overall last evening, I won 3 of the 5 games. I didn’t dominate as much as I did in other recent sessions. It is true that in the two games I lost, I made inexcusable blunders. It’s also fair to say, though, that Vox played stronger games over all than he has in a while. One of the things he improved was being more attentive to his shapes.
When I consider why it is I’ve had an edge recently, I think Vox needs to focus more on sente, seizing the initiative. I can think of some examples in which he has made a move that might reduce my potential but doesn’t force me to respond. As well, sometimes I’ve noticed he will make a move that just isn’t worth enough to be sente and I’ll ignore and play a bigger one elsewhere. The other thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes Vox will allow me to pen him into a corner in which he takes territory. There have been times in which I think he would be better to push out to the centre and refuse to be surrounded, even if it means not getting as many points of territory.
As always, I look forward to more games soon.