Last day of the congress! It’s been a whirlwind and I can hardly believe it’s almost over. Today my opponent was David Halperin 7 kyu and a regular member of the Boston Go scene. It was a very memorable game as I was behind for most of it but was eventually able to secure a large amount of territory with a few fancy maneuvers and couple of slack plays by white. I probably could have even turned the game around but my endgame fu just isn’t good enough yet especially under the pressure of byo-yomi. I lost by 8.5 points.
After the game we went to the lounge area to review the first 40 moves or so. Again Nate and a couple of other dans who wandered by offered their helpful thoughts. Then David, Nate and I headed over to the cafeteria to grab a bite before the pro review. Gurujeet Khalsa joined us at our table and we had some nice conversations.
Cathy Li was doing the beginner to 5 kyu review today and we were first in line. The review was mostly straightforward since it was pretty obvious what went wrong with the black group in the middle. She did however have some better ideas about how to deal with that unfortunate situation than I came up with in the game. It’s not yet an instinct for me to attack at san-san (the 3-3 point). This strategy came up several times in reviews and I need to remember to consider it in my games if favorable conditions arise. I also let white off way too easy in the lower right corner. She was surprised I was able to gain the top eventually but she agreed that white was still ahead on the board.
After the review I took off a bit early to finish yesterday’s blog post.
I returned to the congress venue right before 6 pm. A line was starting to form for getting into the main hall. I ran into Nathan and his friend Diego also a student of Yuan Zhou. When we were let in we ended up sharing a table with Daniela Trinks, another gentleman from Germany, and David Halperin.
The food was not bad and we all discussed our favorite parts of the congress. We also talked briefly about Yasunari Kawabata’s Master of Go which I had read a few months ago and really enjoyed.
Awards were announced, songs were sung, poems read, signed boards and bowls auctioned, and the amazing volunteers that made the event possible received a standing ovation. On the way out I saw the Korean pros lining up for a photo so I snapped one myself.
Nate was up a for an evening of celebration now that we didn’t have an Open game looming in our future. Jonathan Hop was game also and so was Michael, a player we had met earlier in the week.
We walked down to the cocktail spot, The Hawthorne, that Ien and I had tried a few nights ago. Nate was a cocktail connoisseur so my fingers were crossed that he would like the place. As it turns out he liked it quite a bit! We sat around till about midnight talking about pros, the long road to getting stronger, and the future of AlphaGo. While we all had different thoughts on the matter, we’re all curious to see more AlphaGo games against other players.
We also talked about upcoming Go tournaments. After my incredible experience at the US Go Congress there’s no way I’ll miss the New Jersey Open next year. Nate had attended in the past with Diego and also expressed interest in going to the next one. The New Jersey Open is quite big these days with close to two hundred players in attendance and it usually happens in March. There’s also the Maryland Open and the Stonybrook Go tournaments with both around 60 players in the month of May. All of these events seem like good opportunities to rank up before next year’s Congress in San Diego. Gaining a stone is a lot of work but I’m going to aim for three or four stones by one year from now.
Eventually we parted ways and I must say I was quite sad to see such a great week come to an end.
US Go Congress was without question one of the most fun experiences I have ever had. I don’t really play many games these days, video or otherwise. I’ve also never been involved in any kind of tournament so pretty much every aspect of the congress was an entirely novel experience for me.
Playing six slow games, getting professional reviews of pretty much each one, and being surrounded by strong players probably did more for my understanding of the game than the last three months of playing on KGS and DGS. There’s only so much you can get from reading books and playing faster games online. I’m also not at all unhappy with my 3-3 result after entering at 7 kyu. When I had first registered for the US Go Congress I had entered 8 kyu but a few weeks before the congress I changed it to 7 kyu to give myself a challenge. So while I would have liked a better record, I didn’t deserve it. The losses really showed me the weak points in my game as well as conceptual holes in my understanding.
Heading back to New York I will have a lot to chew on. I can feel the new ideas bubbling around in my head and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to gain strength. I suspect there are a lot more KGS games in my future in addition to my regular Mostly Go evenings. I also intend to look into Stephanie Yin’s New York Go Academy in Flushing. After my experience with professional reviews I now believe one of the fastest ways to improve besides playing is to get a good teacher.