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Subject: Session - Relative beginner against IGO - Pointers? rss

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Joe Reil
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Session Report...

First a bit of intro. Some people here may have seen me making a few postings here and there. I'm just barely starting on this particular journey.

Haven't found any regular FTF opponents yet. I have played a little bit on the Yahoo Games server. I've registered at KGS but have yet to play any games there. I've mostly been playing 9x9 against computers. I have qGo and Goban loaded on my Mac at home and the demo version of IGO on a PC.

One unfortunate thing that's missing from the computer versions of Go I've been playing is the ability to "Undo" moves. Most chess programs seem to have this feature and while, on the surface it just looks like a way to "cheat" I've found it very helpful in Chess programs as a learning tool. As a side note, Goban does include this feature but does not allow for anything but the standard 19x19 board size (AFAIK). The other thing I'm missing by not learning from interplay with real people is helpful comments both during and after games and that's why I thought I'd toss this out, see what I can get for tips and pointers.

I've been playing against the free version of IGO a little bit and this notated game is one of my games against that program. The free version only plays 9x9 and starts with a default version of 5 stones. I've just barely gotten to the point of being about 50/50 against the computer with a handicap of 2 stones.

The notation I've seen marks the horizontal lines with letters, A - I, left to right and the vertical lines with numbers 1 - 9 starting on the bottom. I assume this is standard and that's what I'll be using.

I am playing black and starting with two handicap stones, one on C3 and one on G7. First move below starts with White (the computer):

W: G3
B: C7
W: G5
B: E7
W: E3
B: C5
W: H6

Here's the first area where I'm still having trouble deciding on the best course of action.

E5 to claim the center?
G6 or H7 to help defend G7 and make a stronger claim in the face of white's positioning here?

I opt for G6. Let's see where this goes.

B: G6
W: H7
B: F7 seems to be a solid choice. It strengthens the group of G6 and G7 that I've just formed by tying them to E7, and additionally further cements my foothold in the upper right quadrant.
W: D2
B: C2 to place more strength on the lower left corner.
W: F5

Here's where things start to get more interesting. I'm opting for E5 to try to prevent White from pushing too far into the center.

B: E5
W: G8

OK, losing the upper right corner it looks like. Seems like I do want to save as much of that upper territory as I can, and also want to keep that four-stone group intact.

F8 to block? I'm not completely certain, but let's try it.

B: F8
W: H8
B: F9
W: C1
B: B1
W: D1

Now it seems that so far I'm doing OK. The Center isn't completely decided but it looks like I've got a decent start there and I have very solid footholds through most of the upper section of the board and the entire left section.

Now I see a few possibilities.

D4 or E4 to shore up my line there. D4 seems to be safer. E4 gives me more potential territory but then leaves C4 and D5 as possible openings to White attack.

Also toying with F6, but it seems like White's placement there is easily answered by E6 to connect and protect my group there.

Also looking at B2. I'm noticing that a White placement there would probably give White the lower left corner and allow him to threaten my 2-stone group on the C line. I opt to protect that.

B: B2
W: E4
B: D5
W: F6
B: E6 seems necessary.
W: D4
B: C4
W: E3
B: C3

At this point it seems like we have pretty solid lines. I think something odd happened with my notation there because it seems to me that the White move to E3 at that point doesn't make sense. It seems that White had enough strength to push into C3 and cut my territory by one. Still, doesn't make a huge difference in the outcome and the final board position is accurate so I'm not going to sweat it.

B: G9
W: H9

This one was mostly peaceful and ended with me holding 25 territories and white holding 23. A win according to this program, but a loss after applying komi.

So, I'm pretty much a beginner, I've learned a few lessons in my playing so far, but I obviously have a lot of room to grow, so... be cruel if necessary.

I can do more of these if anyone is interested in seeing my progress (and helping it along!).

Thanks.

Joe
 
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Jeff Thompson
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Joe,

It looks you are heading down the right path.

Quick fun comment, instead of F7 (very bad) how about E5?

I'm "Tompy" on KGS. You should spend time there watching people discuss their games, especially if a ~20k game is being reviewed by a stronger player.

I'm on a couple of evenings a week and occasionally at lunch time (central time zone USA). I'd be happy to play some games and discuss how to improve (up to a point of course as I have some room for improvement too).

Later,
Jeff
 
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Joe Reil
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Tompy wrote:
Joe,

It looks you are heading down the right path.


Thanks.

Quote:
Quick fun comment, instead of F7 (very bad) how about E5?


I'll run through the start of the game again and check that change out.

Quote:
I'm "Tompy" on KGS. You should spend time there watching people discuss their games, especially if a ~20k game is being reviewed by a stronger player.


I'd definitely like to, and will be. The main limiting factor right now is free time, which is why I've been focusing on computer opponents for the time being.

I'm also hoping to get some "live" opponents as well. Two of my friends are interested in trying this out with me. One of them is a co-worker. Unfortunately we only have 30-minute lunch breaks so we'll probably be limited to either 9x9 or doing larger games spread out over three or four days.

Quote:
I'm on a couple of evenings a week and occasionally at lunch time (central time zone USA). I'd be happy to play some games and discuss how to improve (up to a point of course as I have some room for improvement too).


I'll take a look for you when I pop in. I imagine when I do get a chance to go in I'll be most active on weekend mornings (I'm an early riser and my wife likes to sleep in so weekend mornings are the easiest times for me to do stuff like that).

Thanks!
 
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Andrew Gross
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I'm going to put in a commercial plug. I am in absolutely no way affiliated with the company I'm plugging, so hopefully I won't ruffle any feathers.

For several years, I paid $25/hour for instruction over the internet from a professional Go player. I didn't improve rapidly enough to in any way justify the cost, but I enjoyed it, so I kept at it. But it was quite a bit of money, more than I ever felt completely comfortable paying.

Then a professional Go player located in Amsterdam created a web site that has pre-recorded lessons on many topics. It's full audio-- you hear the teacher talking as he/she plays the stones on your screen. There are a variety of topics, including a "step by step" course, that starts in lesson 1 with the rules, and by the end of lesson 15 has taught you everything you need to be Shodan, assuming you have practiced what you've learned. :-)

The price for these lessons is a single Euro per lesson-- the lessons last around 45 minutes each. At that price, I have no guilt whatsoever. And the best part is that, at least for me personally, they turn out to be more useful in improving my progress than the 1:1 lessons were-- I improved 2 full ranks in less than a month by going through the step by step course, and am now sitting on the verge of Shodan.

The site is http://www.audiogolessons.com/

Again, I'm in no way affiliated with the site, but I think it's a fantastic bargain, and I highly recommend the step by step course to any beginner that's interested in Go.
 
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Jeff Thompson
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Joe,

Spending time on KGS, and it's as easy to get a 9x9 game in there as with igowin, is valuable.

On KGS there is a BoardgameGeek room. I think it is in the Clubs tab. I'm always hanging out there and willing to play absolutely anyone in that room.

Of course I'm also in the English room at the same time.

I look forward to seeing you there. I occasionally will be there on a weekend morning, and since you are an hour ahead, chances are good we might see each other.

I've heard good things about the lesson's Andrew mentions. I plan to check them out myself.
 
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Ryan McLelland
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I was in a very similar place about 6 months ago. I played against igowin a lot, I got to the point where I beat it pretty easily, but quickly realized I had learned to beat the computer, but didn't know a thing about go.

9x9 games on KGS go quick, and are easy to find opponents for. I think that would be your best bet. Join the BGG room, it's not super active, but when people are on they will help you for sure.

Also, http://www.audiogolessons.com is awesome. I can't recommend them enough.
 
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Joe Reil
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RyanMC wrote:
I was in a very similar place about 6 months ago. I played against igowin a lot, I got to the point where I beat it pretty easily, but quickly realized I had learned to beat the computer, but didn't know a thing about go.


That's one reason I wanted to get feedback here on what I was doing, because I recognize that as a very real trap. The program I have on my Mac does seem to offer a more realistic opponent, but still not as good as a skilled human player I'm sure.

Quote:
9x9 games on KGS go quick, and are easy to find opponents for. I think that would be your best bet. Join the BGG room, it's not super active, but when people are on they will help you for sure.


I will definitely make it on there. As I said I have spent some time on the Yahoo server, before I heard of KGS and I haven't been that impressed with that one. There are some decent people there, but nobody seems all that interested in chatting much. The other thing is I see a lot of people with a lot of experience and average to high ratings hanging out in the "Beginner" rooms.

Thanks for all comments... Does anyone else have specific comments about the game I posted?
 
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Jeff Thompson
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There's really not a lot to say about it.


XABCDEFGHI
9.........
8.........
7..X.X.X..
6.......O.
5..X...O..
4.........
3..X.O.O..
2.........
1.........


Here's where you had your first question, wH6. There is no territory in the center. So dropping down to H7 is fine. It also makes bG6 sente later.

XABCDEFGHI
9.........
8.........
7..X.X.XO.
6......XO.
5..X...O..
4.........
3..X.O.O..
2.........
1.........


Here's the next point. You chose F7, which basically connects to groups that are already connected. Let's see what it looks like after b is more aggressive...

bF5, wF4, bE5

XABCDEFGHI
9.........
8.........
7..X.X.XO.
6......XO.
5..X.XXO..
4.....O...
3..X.O.O..
2.........
1.........

This is simple enough. I'd probably play bH5, wG4 forcing move first because that makes bH8 more interesting.

Here's F7 to compare...

XABCDEFGHI
9.........
8.........
7..X.XXXO.
6......XO.
5..X...O..
4.........
3..X.O.O..
2.........
1.........


continuing...

XABCDEFGHI
9.........
8......O..
7..X.XXXO.
6......XO.
5..X.XOO..
4.........
3..X.O.O..
2..XO.....
1.........


White could probably afford to go to E5 here, but he's already lost, so he's squirming around.

B should have played H8 first instead of E5. There is no territory in the middle.

That's about it.

Trust me when I say playing against a human is a lot different. Computers give up easily and make "predictable" moves even while losing. Playing a human that refuses to give up and plays some unreasonable move and surprises you is a lot more fun.
 
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Joe Reil
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Tompy wrote:
There's really not a lot to say about it.


Thanks for trying though. It really is helpful.

Quote:
Trust me when I say playing against a human is a lot different. Computers give up easily and make "predictable" moves even while losing. Playing a human that refuses to give up and plays some unreasonable move and surprises you is a lot more fun.


Oh I definitely understand that. I'm kinda working within the framework I have to work in right now. Did have a few minutes to kill so popped into KGS... No BGG room, atm, where is it and what is it named, normally?
 
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Billy McBoatface
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RedShark92 wrote:
Oh I definitely understand that. I'm kinda working within the framework I have to work in right now. Did have a few minutes to kill so popped into KGS... No BGG room, atm, where is it and what is it named, normally?
The BGG room is always there, it is permanent.

Look under the "social" category for "BoardGameGeek".
 
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Brendan Tracey
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There is definitly something wrong with your notation. You say black plays at C3, except you began with C3 as a handicap point. (Also, you have white playing at E3 twice I think.

My main comment would be your play at G6. The beginning of the game started out completely symmetrically, and yet at one corner you extended out to the center, and at the other corner, you extended towards the side. If you look, both groups ended up alive, but in one of the groups you kept the corner, and in the other of the groups you lost the corner. I wasn't entirely sure how to handle the two stones played on top of another stone, but, I ignored it, then had white play h9 and black play g9 (which doesn't make sense, but maybe it looks as it should?)

If the board ended like this, black should play D3, that way white has to respond at F2 or E2, else black can play at E2 and kill the bottom white three stones. so, you basically gain another point.
 
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