Pro Qualification 2017: The Broken Curse

Unbeknownst to most, this year’s 4th EGF Pro Qualification was my 5th participation at a pro exam.

The first time (in 2011) I was coaxed into trying the pro qualification in Taiwan. (One of my parents read too much Hikaru no Go I guess.) I scored 2:3 or something in the preliminaries and did not pass.

Then, ever since the EGF Pro Qualification existed, I participated every year, and every year I won one more game.
Thus my bio reads:

2014: participation at 1st EGF pro qualification (eliminated in round 2)
2015: participation at 2nd EGF pro qualification (eliminated in round 3)
2016: Participation at 3rd EGF pro qualification (eliminated in round 4)

This year, the pattern was finally interrupted and I am proud to add:

2017: Participation at 4th EGF pro qualification (eliminated in round 6) 🙂

Let’s hope this does not reset the score count to 0 for the next one.

In certain rounds, I was kinda inspired and I was able to play some really cool moves…

Round 4

Everything started with my keima 24.

Black descended 25 to threaten the corner and I followed my plan to sacrifice it. (Yes, it was on purpose, I did not misread this time :p)
The positioning of the keima is important as Black could also have extended two-space at 2.

In this case I would have played the kosumitsuke 3 in order to make the placement at 5.

This would maximise the efficiency of White’s corner in sente and also take care of the outside group.
In the end White got all the moves outside in sente. (Black’s 33 is a really good move so White only has two more sente moves outside, and they only threaten a ko.)

Locally this is probably better for Black, but White can approach in Black’s face with 38. Once White gets this spot, the shimari is clearly worth less than 2 moves.
Black made the best out of it with 39 and I played the extremely inspired asking move 40.

Black simply responded at 41 and after the stadard crosscut sequence, 40-41 became a good exchange.

(Without it, Black would exchange A-D, which he could still do, and 40-41 has created some aji out of nowhere.)

Regardless of whether 40 really was a good move (Black could have responded 48 and who knows what would happen then), I was clearly in an awesome mindset to get this idea.

I have no clue where this inspiration came from. One would expect that being nervous during an important tournament makes your Go more stiff and unimaginative. Maybe it was the feeling of certainty of winning this round (you know, I was supposed to pass round 4 this year, following the pattern) that gave me confidence.

Round 5

In this game Black pincered me at 25 and I retorted with the again very inspired combo 26 and 28.
The first instinct would usually be to make a crosscut.

(It doesn’t matter whether W starts at 1 or 3 in this case, Black would hane anyway.)

But it’s a trap.
Black would atari at 4 and create the shape shown in the diagramme.

This only works when Black has the exact pincer at A and a low stone around B. (I’ve explained this previously in a few videos.)

Apparently, White is in trouble now.
Thus I found that 28 is the keypoint because Black would hane at this spot whereever White attaches.

So this sequence happened and the rest is history.

Yes, i know now that I could have killed the group at move 172. A dozen people, including my opponent, have told me individually.

It became an extremely lucky half-point win. More on that in a separate post…

Round 6

After breaking the curse and advancing one round further than usually, I was extremely relaxed to be facing Andrii Kravets 7d (now 1p, duh) whom I deemed most worthy of the pro title out of all participants this year.

Alas, two minutes before the game started, I remembered that this game would be printed on the pro cerificate of whomever won it. Fie, I did not want to ruin Andrii’s pro certificate for all eternity and thus the nervous stiffness I mentioned earlier kicked in. orz

Andrii chose a joseki I had not played in a few years, much less in a tournament game.

I made the extremely uninspired keima at 24…
I learned later that the upper side extension is much more valuable in this joseki.

Jumping at A is sente, and White can even aim at the more severe aji at B, a move that was only in my passive repertoire.

The right side group is not in immediate danger and I’m not even sure Black’s attack would end in sente.
At least I could have thought of the attachment at 1. This move is much more obvious than what I did in round 4…

This way White would have a much better follow-up at A.

(If Black plays the nobi at A, it only makes B for White better than before.)

Unfortunately my thoughts were more like “Is 3 the correct extension? What if I mess up the joseki and ruin Andrii’s certificate omg”.
Some moves later, White was already solidly behind after Black got the jump at A.

When Black slid at 33, I thought for half an hour, but was not able to find a better move than the – again – extremely uninspired kosumi 34…

With this sudden loss of inspiration and imagination, my play deteriorated in the weekend tournament and I lost more than 20 rating 😦
Whether sleep deprivation was to blame, I do not know. I hope I can recover for the upcoming European Championship.

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