Nate Eagle

Front-End Developer

Six stones vs. Shifu

I take lessons every two weeks from Yuan Zhou via Skype and KGS. Every so often, he’ll play a simul game against Diego and me in which we have six handicap stones with free placement. Free placement is an astonishing advantage with handicap stones, allowing you to form your own structures rather than the standard star-point placement.

For the second or third time, I formed two shimari and then played hoshi (the star point) in the remaining two corners. If I, playing white, looked out at a board like that before my first move, I might break down crying. But not only did I fail to beat Shifu (as I have always failed), I failed to make it close.

I fought as fiercely as I could. Frankly, I enjoy facing Shifu, because the game is all combat, and I like to imagine myself baring my fangs, forcing my teacher to cut me down. Watching how white handles this game is beautiful; white is constantly leaning, pressing one direction in order to build the strength to slash in the other direction. All he needs is one target, and with that target he creates more.

I think there were some changes this game, but it’s depressing how quickly I got pressed into survival mode, as my potential for territory dried up in front of my eyes. But I think games like this are great practice: I spent almost two hours reading intensely, worrying about the pure elements of the midgame: connections, eye shape, and positional judgment.

Someday I’ll beat him.