Today is Monday the 27th of July, 2009. I have spent a long time playing Go now, almost as long a time as I played Chess. On Saturday I will travel to the US Go Congress, but for tonight I will write a little of my history with this game.

It all began when I was in Durham studying for my MSci in Physics. A girl I knew from Chess Club mentioned that there was a Go Club tomorrow, and that she was going. "Go" I echoed, "What?" Anyway I liked her, I went along, and that was the only time she ever attended, but I kept going back. I recognized there was something to the game immediately.

Sadly I was just rubbish at the game. This was a combination of things. My obstinance certainly played a part. However there was a general lack of strategy being put on display for me. I didn't get taught the basics in my opinion. A few trips to Newcastle Club produced the only real strategy I saw - failsoft, connections. Eventually I simply gave up, pressure of work etc. Took up Bridge for a bit. Key people from that time Paul Callaghan, Durham Go Club at that time, came to be sniffed at in a derogatory fashion by its later members (sadly). Allan Scarff from Newcastle - nice guy, taught me stuff, John Hall, dead some three years now. Owner of Newcastle Go Club, I remember him falling asleep in his flat while we played, seemed a nice guy. 

After leaving Durham I played a few odd games on yahoo, nothing real, nothing useful. I think the European Go Congress in Dublin was played during that time. Then I moved to Cambridge for an RA position, found the university had a huge Go Club, decided to learn the game properly. At this point I also signed up to KGS, dug the kibitz from day 1. "Silence you impudent logic gate" was my second line I think towards user XOR.

I met lots of great helpful teachers on KGS, deft, domie, drstraw, danoontje et al. In Cambridge itself I had great fun being able to play Go almost every day of the week. There I played with lots of people - probably the best were Charles Matthews and Dave Ward, although one French Player whose name I have now forgotten gave me a good remedy for the monkey jump. I wanted to reach 15kyu when I started Cambridge, I believed this rank conveyed some level of knowledge about this game. However sadly i improved far too much, by the time I left I was 7kyu. On joining I had been declared as 23kyu by Andrew Walkingshaw.

Back to Northern Ireland I went after leaving Cambridge. There was nobody to play with there. So it was only KGS for me for a good while. I began taking lessons from Tictactoe, aka Ron Polak 5D+, a somewhat mysterious Dutchman. He really changed something in my game. I learnt that what I was playing was often just ridiculous overplay. So something of a mild reformation took place in my play. 

It was then I also started playing in the Top 8 - the Irish Championship league. I began with the knockout preliminary, managing a half point sneaker against Paul Brennan, that acheived my ambition at the time, to qualify for the Top 8. That year I managed third place after several pretty lucky scrapes. My aim had been upgraded to not losing every single game, so this was quite a turn up for the books.

Ron Polak vanished from KGS soon after, and not really much progress was made with my game. Then Tiberiu Gociu turned up in town, bizarrely to work in the same company as myself. At this point I had also started lessons with Cristian Pop 7D. Education with an opportunity to put it into practice was a an ideal combination. I gradually powered through toward shodan.

In 2007 I got to play in the first Korean Prime Minister's Cup and would later claim the Irish Championship. In 2008 I got to the World Amateur Go Championship in Japan, but that year only managed 4th place in Ireland (disappointing). Popic slid off the internet with family life, so I turned to Guo Juan 5p for lessons. She taught me to fight more.

What the future holds is uncertain now. I still feel I need a local rival to actually push me up beyond slack shodan back to the realms of near nidan I had at my peak. I think it's possible though, if I become more positive in my play again. We shall see in due course.

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