Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So Finland Is really Expensive...

Yeah. I was warned several times about this before I went there, but seriously it was more expensive than New York. The alchohol, the milk products and the real estate costs were the only things cheaper.

My friends and I decided to open a communal kitchen of sorts to fight the strain on our wallets. Most meals consisited of cold cuts, bread, mustard and juice. It wasn't too bad, a bit repetitive though. Somehow, even though I thought I was being frugal, my wallet seemed to get very light towards the end of the week. I needed to figure out a way to make some money.

I implemented two courses of action. The first was being a recycler. It was a pretty highly paid job in finland. Of course you receive no hourly wage, just commision. The hours are great, basically whenever you want, and you are self employed, no boss barking at you to do or not to do something. For ever 2 liter plastic bottle you recieve .40 euro, for the half liter bottles you get .20 euro, and for cans you only get .15.

I made about 100 euros from this job. My other job was more interesting. With the help of chidori's donation of a sign board (, I set up a massage booth at congress to help players relieve the stress of playing 5 hour long games. I charged 5 euros for 15 minutes back rub or hand massage. I had 3 customers doing this at a booth.

I was not too succesful until I took my business to the bar that all of congress attendees went to and started offering short massages. Three minutes for 1 euro. I am not sure exactly how many customers I had at the bar. Some paid in drinks. Overall I was pretty happy with the results.

Somehow I made it out of Finland without losing all my money...I must say though Helkinki is amazing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

European Go Congress

Its a bit late, but here is my European go congress report.

European Go Congress Main Tournament/and results.
A lot of people have been asking me why I went to the EGC instead of the AGC, my main reason was because I wanted to see my friends from Korea. Also I wanted an excuse to travel in europe this summer.

I got off the airplane, and got to the bus. I had somehow not counted on needing money and had nothing in my pocket. Luckily I was able to trade a 3/4 empty bottle of Grappa for a bus ticket.

I found the congress site pretty easily, it was the source of all the elderly japanese people wandering about. Actually this was quite amusing, I imagine, for the locals. Suddenly the City of Tampere had a drastic increase of Japanese. I wonder what sort of ideas they had...

The congress was held at the Aleksantari school. I arrived and registered without a problem. I could not really find what to do so I just started talking to some german people. I was lucky to find a very interesting person. He had just biked from germany through Scandinavia and then taken a ferry to finland and biked the rest of the way to congress. He was also a 2d go player, and a geo-cacher, in fact for teh past 2 years i believe he finds at least one cache a day.

I spent the day hanging out with him, I found my first cache, and went swimming in a nice big Finnish lake. Also I was very surprised to eat one of the best donuts I have ever tasted.

Here are the "results"

  • I played as a 1 kyu in the tournament. I had an ok result of 5 wins 5 losses. But I was not satisfied since i won 4 games the first week and only one the second.

  • In the weekend tournament I did very poorly, I only won 1 game out of 5.

  • My pair go partner, Kim Chaelim, and I got to the top 8, but we lost a very close game in the quarter finals.

  • The team I played on in the football tournament got 4th place.

In general I was surprised after the first week that I was able to get 4 wins. I expected to not be able to hold my 1kyu level so well. The weekend tournament dissapointed me, but i blamed that on too much partying and poor sleeping conditions. I thought that my winning streak would start again after my win on the first day of the second week, but I ended up losing the last 4 games. To be honest, I was pretty disapointed with myself in losing the last game. I had a really good opening, yet somehow in the endgame my level suddenly dropped back down to 30kyu. I played Ko's I didn't need, missed ataris and didn't defend after blocking on the first line.

Overall I am satisfied with my 5-5 result, but I think I could have done better.

(Photo by EuroGoTv)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leipzig secret Museum of Graffiti

In the City of Leipzig in eastern Germany there used to be a large publishing/printing company. It has long since been abandoned, and the locals have turned it into a wonderful secret Museum of Graffiti/street art.

I found it entirely by accident, a large empty building caught my eye while riding a around on a bike.

The building itself is Is easy to miss, there are lots of trees and blocking it from the front and the back is connected to a construction site. If you look carefully though you can actually see some of the graffiti from the outside. If you want to visit it, it is located in Liepzig, Germany on the corner of Dresdener Strase and Salmonstrase.

Ill show some of my favourite pieces here,

From graffiti museum

From graffiti museum

From graffiti museum

From graffiti museum

You can find the rest on my picassa.

Also, if you want to see pictures of what it used to look like, you can find them here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

P.S. Ice Cream and mean homeless man and Accordians on the street

I was walking around Düsseldorf feeling hot, sweaty a bit lonely when I see a sign that reads "Bier Ice cream 1€. I ordered, and to my surprise its really really good. It tastes like Kvass more then beer,but its quite good none the less. Its rather bitter sweet, and its carbonized so you get a little sparkly feeling. Its very refreshing and suprisingly good stuff. I definetly reccomend it if you find yourself in Düsseldorf in the summer.

I was looking for either the Central station in Dusseldorf, or a net cafe. I asked a man if he spoke english, and he gave me an accentless "Yes, I do". I asked him for directions, and he answered me again in accentless english

"I am very sorry, but I will not help you. Whenever I ask people they never help me out, so sorry for your poor luck, but I refuse to help you"

He proceeded to cross the street and dig for empty bottles in the trash.

Also there are lots of really good accordian musicians scattered around germany, here is one.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Düsseldorf and the Flight

After a two hour delay due to bad weather, I boarded the plane. I was lucky enough to sit next to the girl I had been talking to for 2 hours already; I didn't have to go through all the pleasentrie and introductions again. Talking and laughing and eating and very unclear maps made 6 hours go by pretty fast. I arrived in Dusseldorf around 10 in the morning, and after some coffee I bid farwell to Marcelline, and set out to explore the city. She had to catch another train to take cross country to her home.

I headed to city central. I wanted to go see the Rein river. When I got off the train I found myself quite tired and a bit lost, so I decided to have some snack before I continued. A nice looking greek cafe did the trick. I had Turkish Coffee and some large cheesy flaky pastry. They seemed to make a big deal out of the fact that they gave me water with my coffee, later i found out that they generally serve bottled water in germany, so you have to pay for it. Actually you have to pay for the bottle when you bu water or cola, and then sell it back. In the states basicly we do the same thing, but in Germany its a seperate charge, and sometimes bottles are rather expensive, as much as 50 cents.

Düsseldorf was a very impressive city, it was full of old style buildings, alleyways, parks, musuems and also a lot of rich people. There was a very sudden and noticeable class difference. If you weren´t dressed in designer clothing you were begging for money, or a german "punk" more on punks later.

Later I went to explore a bit around the Rein river. Mostly I just saw people enjoying cold drink looking out on the water trying to survive the heat. It was a good 100 degrees that day. I wandered around until I found an art musuem. It was a rather large and diverse collection of art. They had a room with some of Napolean's belongings and portriats as well as a photo project of different ethnicities and some art satirizing the Nazi party as well. I was the only person in the museum, so I was able to enjoy it all my own.

Then I spent the next hour or two trying to get to Köln.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A New Adventure

I haven't been writing anything itneresting for quite some time now, but Its that time again!! I am packing my bag and heading off; first to Germany, then Finland for the European Go Congress and then...I am not sure.

I will be updating frequently, so please come by and read from time to time.



So last week I decide to check my AGA rating and I am very pleasantly surprised find out I am 1.48 dan. I didn't notice at what point it happened, but apparently I am now officially a Dan player. It must have been from the last tournament I played/directed, though I thought that I had registered as 1kyu.

Though I am still but a mere 2kyu on kgs, its nice to know that I don't have to go to japan to call myself a dan player anymore woot woot.

Jokes aside though, In case all the kyu players are wondering, when I look at the board, I still have no clue whats going on...I can just sort of read out naturally occurring life and death problems now that's all.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

NAIMT Qualifiers

There are four NAIM qualifying tournaments scheduled for June. One each Weekend

June starts out with the KGS NAIM Qualifier on June 5-6th. There will be two rounds each day, preregistration is a must and should be done no later than June 4th.

( to preregister)

The Second on June 12th, Organized by Andrew Okun

"The 4th Annual Santa Monica Coffee Cup will be held this coming Saturday June 12 at the Unurban Coffeehouse, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. The event will be a one-day, three-round, AGA-rated tournament, Japanese rules. Pre-registration is essential, although we are expanding the maximum number of players to 48. (It could be cramped … a couple of you may be playing outside, sitting on bar stools or standing up!) The format will be the same as previous years, the coffee will still be strong and the food will still be good." contact :

The third is July 13th all the way on the other side of the country in New York

There are four rounds of AGA rated games starting at 10 am. Pre-register please. email

The month ends with:

The second KGS NAIM qualifier, on june 26th-27th. Again preregistration is a must, and will be accepted no later than June 23rd.
Contact is

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dead a little

I have been rather unproductive since last posting here. School is almost over for the semester, so you can probably expect to see more posts soon. You know, its been almost a year since I got back to from Korea, time doesn't seem to exist, I am still there but very clearly I am here. Also I think I am in Germany and Finland right now too....Wierd.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Visiting Quebec

lso at the end of February, my friend Roman and I took a short trip to visit Quebec. Of course we visited the Quebec go club while there.

On the way up to quebec we very briefly stopped by a teahouse in Montreal. They happened to have a go set there, but it was a little strange...

The funny board

In Quebec we stayed with my friend Pascal Tremblay 5d (we were roommates in the IBA) His roommates were a girl that liked to smoke, and worked as a newspaper delivery person. And a guy who was much too sick, and loved music and beer. He was actually a very interesting person, he had little talent for the guitar or ukulele, or probably any other instrument for that matter, but still every night I was there late into the night he would play. He also had a little impromptu art studio in the living room, fully equipped with a tape deck. His CD player and DVD players didn't work. Most of his work consisted of manipulating found objects. Also he was an ice climber, and a history buff.

In the living room

After two days of much relaxing we went to to the university go club with Pascal. We met the members at a food court of a mall, and after eating we proceeded to the University. We ended up in the section of the school reserved for grade schoolers. The club room itself was the art room that the kids used. The tables were your regular school tables made of some indiscernible material coated with something similar to linoleum. We had two large bottles of soda and a bag of chips. The playing boards were of bamboo, and we used Chinese style stones to play. It was during the Olympics, so while we were playing go, the women were playing hockey on the computer screen. Through the windows, took up most of the wall, we could see a forest covered in snow, there was a surreal yellow-y light reflecting up out of the snow.

Well that was what the club looked like if you can imagine it from my description.

There were about 10 of us. I played a game with the Vice president, unfortunately I lost by 2 points or so. Roman had much better results. I think he won 3 of his games there. He seems to have improved a lot for no reason. Recently he came back from a 6 month travel around Europe, and for no discernible reason he grew from 11kyu to about 8 or 7 kyu.

Ice Wall

Photos Courtesy of Roman Kudryashov

Thoughts on KGS Insei League

This post is a little late, but it has to be done.

Last month I decided to play as much go as I could have, because I knew that I would soon (currently) be in school. I should probably mention my goal of shodan by euro congress, more specifically KGS shodan. Anyway to help motivate myself to play and study I joined Dinerschtien's league.

I managed to play 12 games in the league, another 25 or so on KGS and another 30 or so in person. While its not exactly as much as I could have, its still about 2 games a day. I did not utilize all of the resources of the league as I could have, but I did play the minimum required amount of games, and I did watch 3 or 4 lectures by Alex.

I found the lectures very interesting, and by far the best part of the league, the sgf game reviews were not as helpful. The main point of the league was motivation to play and it definitley did that for me. I was able to play much more seriously than I could previously, and I managed to bring my KGS level from almost 5kyu to the cusp of 2kyu. I might not have actually become stronger per-se but I learned a bit of self control.

The league would definitely benefit from having sections based on Time zones. Not having opponents who slept and worked at similar hours to me was by far the greatest inconvenience.

My school has started now and I noticed that between work, school, and Karate there is very little time for Go. As sad as this is I promise, (If you guys care at all ^^) that I will play at least one game a week so as not to forget the rules.

Oh and of course life and death on the train.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New Jersey Open

Last weekend I went to the New Jersey Open.

I self promoted to AGA 1kyu, and I went 3-2. Unfortunatly I don't have any complete game records to show, nor did I take any pictures :(

I learned an interesting opening as white, 3-5 point hellish enclosure. Known by some as the box.

More on this later.

The main reason for this post is to say that I am officially (aga) 1kyu :))

Monday, February 22, 2010

League Game #9 vs.TD282

It feels like I a getting stronger. Or maybe I am just starting to understand the Chinese opening. For the past month every time I played black I used chinese opening.

Friday, February 19, 2010

League Game #8 vs Grumbles

Easy win...

League Game #7 vs Vlom

Hard fought game, but Vlom, he played better.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bamboo joint

Nakamura Kaicho gives us short lectures after our meditation sessions.

Today he talked about the Bamboo Joint "setsu"
Bamboo joint is the foundation or, the core of the otherwise hollow bamboo grass. Without it the grass would not be as strong and resilient and would just break when the wind blew hard.

What this means to us as karate-ka and as people is that you have to have a strong core of discipline, so that when faced with hardships you can stay standing and be flexible and resilient.

Also the bamboo joint is a rather strong shape in go isn't it?


League Game #6 vs MZ500

This was a very close, and tough game for me.

In the beginning I was doing well but for some reason I played c7 at move 65, and made the game at least twice as hard as it had to be...

I got lucky when my opponent left a weakness at D13, After that I managed to stay ahead

Sunday, February 7, 2010

League Game#5 VS Imagine

I played this game rather well I think, but I found it rather boring. I did not push very hard. In the end I only won by a relatively small margin. I should be more careful in end game, even If I am ahead....

League Game #4 VS MZ500

This game I played a bit better than the others, but I lost to my greed in the end. (please note I am now 3K)

League Game #3 vs.TD282

Another win, this time due to luck...

League Game #2 VS Grumbles

Even though I won, I cannot say it was satisfying, I played some really bad moves...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

To my blog readers I pose a question

I know that I have been getting quite a few hits on my blog, even at times when I wasn't writing. So I am curious, who is reading it?

Please post a response to the question who are you?

Also, on a side note, I am up to 3k now on KGS, about a year ago I think I was 3k as well, but i dropped down to 5k since then, and worked back up. :)) 7 wins in-a-row

Friday, February 5, 2010

Karaoke at the New York Go Center

As fun as Go is on its own, sometimes we like to take a break from go, and sing a little.

This Tuesday we went out to Karaoke.

Just some pictures, Enjoy :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

VS. Illya Shikshin 4 stones League Simul 1

This is the first game I played against the teachers, I have included some basic commentary.

I am pretty happy with how the game started but I made a few mistakes in the middle, mostly shape related.

All comments are welcome

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

League Game 1 vs. Vlom

This is my first league game played at 5 in the morning. I played too quickly in the begining and ended up behind a lot. Though I tried to catch up, I failed to. It was a fun and Bloody game. Enjoy and comments are welcome

A story and a Disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: This is a free flowing story, meaning I just typed till it ended in about 8 breaths, its is not meant to be taken seriously, possibly it can be enjoyed. Some parts were based my life. But mostly just my imagination.

Winning at go really feels great.

I have been winning a lot recently, it motivates me to study to win more. Its a bit scary though...

Its an endless cycle, you study and get stronger, you win even more, study more. Next thing you know go has enveloped your life. You suddenly find yourself in Korea. You are eating and breathing the game. You are in bed with a lover, but secretly you close your eyes and imagine chasing an opponents ladder. You come back home to reality but only you don't. You fix your schedule around go. You spend your free time playing, your time at work sneaking to the bathroom to do tsumego. Your time at school is spent in a very similair way. You get stronger and stronger. Maybe you have no talent so this takes a long time, maybe you do and this takes no time at all. Than you lose a game, quickly you start a new one, and lose again. The losses pile up. Maybe not too high, only maybe 6 games, but you start to hate the game. You start to loathe the game. You start pulling at your hair, but find it is no longer there. Funny didn't you have hair when you started playing? Its too late now, you have nowhere to go. All you know is go. So, now even though you hate the game you keep playing. Its all you know. Sometimes you win a game, though you mostly just lose, and when you win you are reminded of the time when you were just getting the hang of the rules. Each game was more exciting the one before. With such a thought, if you are lucky that is, you close your eyes. You don't open them again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

KGS Insei League

So, keeping with my push forward attitude that I recently adopted (embodied with an all powerful, and very meaningful OSU!) I registered for Breakfast's (Alex Dinerchtien 3p) KGS insei league.

I am genuinely very excited about this, and I believe I am starting tomorrow. For the next month I will post all games that I play in the league here, I hope I can improve a lot. I will not have so much time once school starts in March.

My current goal in Go is to get my teacher Vincent Liu down to 5 stones. If I do this he will aknowledge me as 1d, but until I can get him to 4 stones, I won't call myself that.

Also, check out, its kind of like facebook for Go players

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I am a Baduk-ka

Laziness, sloth, procrastination, slowly growing in width, difficulty concentrating for long times, lower endurance -- these are things that I have been feeling progressively more and more. It did not help that I started smoking. In lieu of New Years, or perhaps coincidentally reaching my threshold then, I decided to start fixing myself. I was getting smarter (maybe not) learning emotionally, getting better at go, but my body was slowly deteriorating. I was quite tired of this, so I set out to find a place to practice martial arts.

Just a little history, I have practiced martial arts since I was about 4 years old, I started out in Tae Kwan Do, and then I did shotokan for a few years, and most recently I practiced Goju Ryu. I was almost always doing something, but In Sophomore year of high school, something dreadful yet wonderful happened. I discovered Manga, and shortly thereafter Go. My life changed forever, and this and that and here I am. I attempted to start something in Korea, but aside from meeting a TaeKwondo 9d who used to be a bodyguard for Princess Diana, and being offered free lessons by him, and also being friends with a Muy Thai "4d" (although I wasn't really aware they had a rating system), I failed. I had opportunities, but I didn't take them. Well now I had a little break from school due to problems with my financial aid, so I decided to make the most of my time, and do something.

So I set out to find a school which suited my needs. I was considering taking Muy Thai, I rather enjoyed the one lesson my friend gave me back in Korea. Unfortunately it is difficult to find a gym that I could afford, and that was in any convinient location. After eliminating other potential choices, such as Daitoryu Aikijiujutsu, Aikido, and Kyokushin Karate, I settled on the Seido Juku style of Karate.

The deciding factors were: The grandmaster of the style teaches at the school, there are several classes daily at different times, 300 bucks for first 3 months.

Since I have started, about 2 weeks ago, I have felt so much better in everything. Even in Go, I have been able to concentrate more, and I have just generally been playing better. My teacher, VIncent Liu, told me that I am strong enough that I just have to learn right now how to concentrate and I should go up a few stones. I think I might be getting it.

One of the great things about the Karate dojo is the meditation classes. I am really enjoying the meditation, its been helping me renormalize my breathing since I quit smoking, but also the lectures that Kaicho (grandmaster) gives after meditation. You are Karate-ka, always, belt doesn't matter, Karate-ka always pushing, always trying be good, to do good, to be better.

I am a Baduk-ka.

(pun on Baduk and Budo-ka, Budo-ka means martial artist in Japanese, Baduk is Korean for Go.)