Game Review: Nate vs. Matt
This is a game I played recently against my younger brother, Matt. (All fellow students of my teacher, Yuan Zhou, are my siblings. Students who preceded me are “older” and students who came after me are “younger”.)
I met Matt at the 2011 Maryland Open over a go board; I was 10k and he was 11k. Matt and I talked after our game and I told him about taking lessons; he became a student himself shortly afterward.
I’m proud of the progress I’ve made since 2011, but Matt proved in this game that he’s made dramatic progress, too. This was a no-komi game where I played white.
Both Matt and I went over this game with Shifu (Yuan Zhou) in our individual lessons. These comments are my attempt to preserve some of the things that came out of my lesson.
Every time there is a statement in quotation marks, I am quoting Shifu.
(These opening and closing remarks are reproduced in the game record so that it makes sense independent of this post.)
- Correct judgment in the opening is very important, particularly when both players are playing calmly and waiting for the appropriate moment to begin fighting. Making a move that doesn’t work well with your other stones can leave you at an immediate disadvantage. That’s one reason some styles emphasize initiating fighting as soon as possible.
- Sometimes my fighting is too lax, too patient. I had an opportunity early to cleanly kill black’s stones with a peep and a seal, but I didn’t look hard enough for it because I was content to play an obvious but slack move. If I’m going to play for thickness, I need to recognize that when I’ve got my chance, I have to attack as sharply as possible. “When it’s time to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk!”
- Never help your opponent! My peep in the upper left gave black a key stone. Never assume a forcing move is free. If your opponent is going to win, make sure they win by taking things from you: no presents allowed.
- Study life and death. Life and death isn’t just an abstract pursuit: if I had handled the top correctly, it would have been game over. My L&D skills are lagging behind the rest of my game right now.
- Tsumego study matters. Because of my tsumego study, I accurately and easily identified one tesuji, but I missed a simple net. Those kinds of nets are maybe 12k level – continuing to do many relatively quick, easy problems will help me avoid mistakes like this. Because of this, I lost another opportunity to win the game.
- Thickness has value! I made tons of mistakes in this game, but managed to win in the end because playing thick gave me so many opportunities.