Quadruple Ko!

It is ridiculous how some games of Go end up! This is one example of a pro game from the group stage of the 17th Samsung Cup. Gu Li vs Lee Sedol were battling it out when a quadruple ko formed. I’ve seen a few examples of triple kos, but never did I imagine it would go this far.

Download SGF

As seen on GoGameGuru.

Invincible SGF Pack

honinbo shusaku

I have finally completed it! Before I go into what it is that I have completed, do you know about the book Invincible? If you don’t, it is definitely worth the study time for those who have a greater understanding of Go. In short, it is a collection of a ton of games played by the famous professional from the mid-19th century, Honinbo Shusaku, with commentary by more modern professionals. The games are from a time when the way to play Go truly was corners, sides, followed by center.

Things have changed over the last century, of course, but Shusaku was and still is considered a genius and arguably one of the best Go players of all time. He pioneered and mastered a unique opening style, and he eventually obtained the nickname of Invincible after he won 19 strait castle games, so a great deal can be learned of the older foundations of Go from his games.

For many months I have been working on turning all of the games in the book Invincible into SGF files so that while one is reading Invincible, he or she (including myself) may view the games and work through variations more easily.

Here it is (zipped format):

Games of Invincible

Note: No commentary in here, just the games. If you want the commentary, pick up the book!


As some of you have heard, I just recently took the step into my second six months of playing Go. I originally had a goal to attempt to reach single digit kyu (SDK), before reaching the end of my first six months. Unfortunately, I did not make it to SDK. The closest I came was 12k and was sent back to 13k shortly after. I feel this is still a great accomplishment. Some people it takes years for them to attain a rank close to SDK and some never get out of the 20k’s.

As I look back on when my rank changed the most it began very obvious it was when I took the time to sit down with someone and review games I lost and also games I won from the prospective of my opponent. It is very interesting to see how my opponents mistakes led to my victory but also how they could have turned those mistakes into some amazing opportunities for them in the game. It is also very helpful to see where I could have played a better move and thus had gained a larger advantage and even completely destroyed my opponent.

But the single most important thing I have learned from these last six months is that you cannot move forward just at Go Club. If you want to get stronger and progress at a quick and steady rate you must play online to improve. When I played only at club I improved; very slowly, when I played on KGS often I improved; much faster. If you don’t have a lot of free time to play online just take the time for two maybe three games a week. You will progress and learn and have the opportunity to play and see things that you might never see in Tucson.

Stages of Focus

After playing Go for a couple of years, I’ve been able to understand where focus lies in this game at the many different levels. You could say that this is the only true defining difference between the stronger and the weaker player other than just reading/experience, more often than not because of not knowing what to focus on rather than choosing wrong. It’s as if when you first start the game, your focus is at the lowest denomination: a single piece. That one piece is you, and its death would represent the death of everything that you are in the game. You’ll do whatever you can do to save it. Doesn’t seem to work out so well when another piece is put to the test, and another. Same goes for trying to kill the opponent’s piece. The stone is the focus.

Soon enough, you get used to the larger formation of pieces, or groups. When you reach single digit kyu ranking, a stone is silly. Who cares about a stone? In fact, who cares about five stones? Not when a group of twenty stones is on the line. Focus becomes shifted one deeper. The game is no longer about how someone could capitalize on destroying stones, but threatening stones together. This is where the true concentration on the importance of life and death materializes. Most will spend years in this focus: is this group safe? Can I kill that group? The battles are put aside for the war. The mind games have yet to come, however.

What is the next stage of focus? What could possibly be more important than the life and death of huge groups of stones (and territory, of course)? Well, the answer to this lies in the derivative. If you’re a math junkie, you could equate this with focusing on the rate of the rate of change rather than the rate of change. Perhaps if you like finances, you know about stock options. Instead of investing/speculation on values of stocks, you’re investing/speculating on values of instruments that are hinged on the change in the values of stocks. Instead of focusing on threatening groups, you will be focusing on threatening to threaten groups. A lot can be accomplished by threatening to kill a group and not even try to kill it directly, so it becomes a war of being able to threaten a group!

This is the mind game. At what point are you in danger of being threatened with death? How about threatening the opponent with death? You are no longer dealing with attacking stones or attacking groups, but threatening to attack.

Are there further stages of focus? Do they ever end?