Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ben Go Zen

As I stared intently at the blank page of my blog, the canvas of my craft, intent on coming up with an original, useful, profound new idea for a post, I realized with a sudden jolt that I am not the only Go blogger in the world.

I began to wonder how and why other bloggers started so I emailed a fellow blogger and asked him about it. Here's how the interrogation interview went.

Me: Hey Ben, Thanks for agreeing to write a guest post for my blog, how did you first get involved in Go?

Ben: My first exposure to go was during my childhood years when I went to a Chinese school every Sunday. Although we had a club there at the time, I was into Chinese Chess and had little interest in learning what go was since no one in my family knew how to play it. After a few years, I came across Hikaru no Go like many Go players. My interest in Go was piqued a bit more. Interestingly, around this time my younger brother tried to pick up the game and learn the rules. Unfortunately, the pamphlet we had did not explain the rules very well, and we gave up trying to figure it out. It wasn't till I graduated school that I finally took the time to figure out what Go wall about.

The Inspiration? Criminal Minds: Season 1: Episode 1: Extreme Aggressor. Having the game framed in a psychological and philosophical perspective gave me the final push I needed to dive head first and finally become involved in go.

Me: That's really neat, what made you decide you want to blog about it?

Ben: In my search for go resources, one of the blogs I came across was ChiyoDad. Reading his experience and journey entertained and motivated me. So, soon after I started playing, I decided I would try to record my own journey since I enjoyed writing and thought it would be great if I could be one of the few blogs who would start as a DDK and enter the world of dan players.

Me: Wow, that really resonated with me, many of your experiences echo my own. I also was drawn to go through Hikaru no Go. Thanks you so much for your time.

If you would like to read Ben's blog you can check it out here at
Or if you'd like to check out ChiyoDad's blog, also mentioned in the post find it here

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Power of Giving

In this article I want to give you THREE tips that will help you get teaching games from higher ranked players.
Has a much stronger player ever given you a teaching game? It might take them 5 minutes to teach you what it would have taken you weeks to learn alone.

1. Identify 20 players who you admire.

This step is important in defining what kind of player you want to become. What do you love about these people? Is it their rank? Is it their personality? Is it their style? Is it their spirit? 

2. Watch their games, and, when weaker players ask them for help, offer to help them.

This accomplishes 3 things. 

1. From watching their games, you learn 
2. When the people you admire see you explaining things to people who were asking them for help, they will be more willing to help you since you are taking work/stress off of them. 
3. You are contributing to the go community as a whole by helping weaker players learn.

3. Make helping you, benefit the people who teach you.
There are a couple of ways to do this.

1. Ask them to do something that will establish them as a helper and allow them to explain something they love. You could send them a message like, "Hey, every Tuesday me and 20 others have a guest lecturer come and teach a lesson, We were wondering if you'd explain why you always start Tengen, Last week 'Insert Big Name Go Player Here' taught 'Insert cool lesson here.' We record the lessons and you can take a look at them on 'List personal blog/website here.'

This provides the opportunity for the person you admire to talk about something they love in front of a captive audience, and also to further their prestige at the same time. Also a great way for them to become noticed by higher level players as a helper. 

No matter what level you are at, there is always someone weaker you can help, and no matter how strong you are, there is always someone stronger who can help you. 

When you give to people weaker than you, you establish the ability to give to people stronger than you by providing them with a chance to help many others in a big way. 

If you have any questions of how to apply this, leave me a comment!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Conversation of Go

Do you know the feeling of competition that ensues between two go players? Each player is clawing to get that little bit of extra territory. You can almost feel upset when the enemy player places a stone down, as you realize the area he is taking for himself, angrily you attack back trying to take that territory, out of envy.

I recently noticed this behavior in myself. This feeling that every game was an argument between two players, the only way to win was secrecy and betrayal. I didn't care how the other person saw the match, I just wanted to beat him. but did it have to be this way?

As I hit the "auto match" button, I decided to think about my game as though it were a conversation. Instead of taking territory away from me, my opponent was asking a question. When he played 3,4 he was saying "Can I have the corner, or the wall?" then I could respond. "I would like some of this corner, you can have the wall." Then he might respond by tenuki, playing at the other end of the map. That would be like saying "Hm, This side of the map looks nice, you could build up your position over there, or we could work on dividing up this side."

And what this did for me, was it made the game much more friendly. I started to feel like the person I was playing against was a friend, instead of an enemy. I also found myself understanding his movements better, and when he made unreasonable moves I would ask myself "what is he asking for? doesn't this seem unreasonable?" then I could offer a compromise "You can't take away all my territory there, see you wont be able to escape, but maybe you could use this move as a good ko threat later." Or I could just say "No, you can't have that."

I challenge you to try this out, or let me know if you already think of the game this way. Please comment and tell me how you think of your opponent and his moves.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Letting go of your Points of view

Yesterday I was playing a game against a 1k with a 6 stone handicap when I had an epiphany! He attacked on of 4,4 stones with 3,6 stone, I pincered him High Korean style and then he he played the 6,3 point on the opposite side.

At that moment I was filled with a haunting fear of this player. Every time I had been attacked like this by a strong player I ended up losing. Deep down inside I felt like I had already lost, 4 moves into the game. This was nothing but an unjustified point of view, a judgment that I had made.

How many times have you decided that you have lost a game? How many times was that true? There are an infinite number of possibilities. Every time you notice you have made a judgement, say to yourself "interesting point of view." because that's all it is, a certain point of view. Someone else might look at your same situation and think you have a distinct advantage, or perhaps someone else might think you are drawing a picture with black and white stones. Realizing that this is just a point of view opens up a whole new world of exciting possibilities.

Once you have eliminated your limitating judgments, you can start asking questions. What can I do here? What can I use to my advantage? How can I make this group live? What would this move accomplish? If I resigned right now, what else could I do with my time. Even if your questions lead you to resigning, you still don't have to feel defeated, knowing that you made the best decision you could think of.

Thanks for reading