New Stones and Bowls [updated x2]

I bought these stones and bowls from Yellow Mountain Imports last week, and they arrived by UPS today.

They’re pretty much what I expected, and that’s both a good and bad thing.

The Stones

Melamine resin is a fairly dense plastic, which gives these stones a solid feel despite how thin they are. They’re not particularly shiny, however; both white and black stones are somewhat dull. They also lack the translucence of Yunzi stones. I haven’t had a chance to try oiling the stones yet, but I doubt they’ll be much helped.

Whether it’s the plastic or the single-convex shape, these stones sound good. They have a satisfying snap when you play them. Single convex stones seem to have a polarizing effect on the community: either you love them or you hate them. I fall on the side of liking them, though I do admit their major drawback: they’re difficult to remove from the board, and these stones are no exception.

The stones were packed in plastic bags inside their bowls, presumably to keep any stones from falling out. I haven’t seen any broken or chipped stones yet; I can’t guarantee that none were broken, but it certainly looks like they made the trip intact, even without any additional padding.

The Bowls

The bowls themselves are lightweight but solid, in a Go Seigen style. They’re an appropriate size for the stones included; there isn’t a large amount of empty space.

Carved from wild jujube, the bowls have a slightly green tint, which might go away as the wood continues to age. They’re also relatively dull, but that’s likely to be solved with a coat of mineral oil. The grain is noticeable but not as prominent as in the promotional photo.


I paid about $35 for this set, with shipping. In all, I’d say it was a justifiable purchase, and I’ve been relatively happy with them. If you want stones and bowls that have a reasonably traditional look and feel, but can’t drop $200 or more for a set of slate and shell stones, or even $70 for Yunzi stones, then you should strongly consider these.


After giving the bowls a light coat of oil, they’re a lot glossier than they were, but maybe not quite as much as I expected; I’d probably need polyurethane or the like. The oil did bring out the grain a bit more, though.

Oiling a few stones of each color did help their shininess. I may wash and oil the black stones, though the effect is probably not worth the effort. (Should I use a lighter oil for the stones than for the bowls? I used mineral oil for the bowls; maybe 3-in-1 oil would be better for the stones, and easier to clean.)

Update #2

Exactly 181 black and 180 white stones were included; every stone arrived intact.

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Tampa Go Club, 24 Oct 2010

Another Sunday, another Tampa Go Club meeting.

There was a lot less go in this go club meeting, for me, anyway. I managed to play a grand total of about 2/3 of a game (we quit since Spencer had to leave), and got some education and practice with playing out variations for our inter-club slow game. None of the other DDK players showed up.

Most of my time was spent mopping; when I used the restroom, the toilet malfunctioned (stuck lever) and overflowed, and I offered to clean it up. Those commercial mops are harder to use than they look, and it took me at least a half hour to finish.

For completely unrelated reasons, most of the regulars won’t be there next week, so chances are good that the meeting will be canceled. (If you want to come and bring a board, feel free, but most of us won’t be there.) The next Sunday, though, we should be back with a vengeance.

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Breaking News: I Still Suck

I still suck at go, but not quite as much as before.

I haven’t been playing on KGS very often. In fact, it had been almost a month since I played a game there. In the meantime, my rank drifted from a solid 18k to a tentative 16k.

Then I had a weird run of luck. Friday, I played two games, winning both. The first was against a 20k; the second was against a 15k. This catapulted my rank to a tentative 12k. (Is there a term for reverse sandbagging?)

I knew this couldn’t stand, so I played a few today. I lost my first two by resignation; a 9k handed me my ass after giving me three stones, and a 12k beat me in an even game. This dropped my rank to a solid 14k. My third game was against a 16k; I gave him two stones and won by 25.5. That game taught me not to underestimate my opponent, even when they make odd moves. (I thought it’d be a blowout.)

So, I’m 14k. That’s where KGS put me, and that seems to be about right. It’ll take some time to get used to the idea, since I’ve considered myself an 18k player for so long.

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KGS Post-Mortem: martinled[16k] vs. Phoon[19k?]

Game in SGF

Automatch paired me with martinled, a 16th kyu player. The game started well; I was playing quickly and he was responding adeptly. However, he slowly outmatched me, and I semi-resigned at move 158.

One move turned it from a close match to a blowout, and that was move 169. I had written the A11 dango off as dead, so I tried to protect two other stones by playing at A7. If I had played at A8 or A9, the lump would have lived. That was approximately a 25-point error.

On the bright side, I now have a solid rank: 20k.

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Tampa Go Club, 12 September 2010

Being Sunday, I went to the Tampa Go Club meeting.


  • Played against another beginner (whose name I can’t remember). Claimed rank about 15k, even game. I took black and lost by about 40.
  • Played two ‘games’ against the visiting 2d. I gave him nine stones, but ‘win’ means making a group live. I attained life both times.

Also, someone (John?) loaned me a well-worn copy of Life And Death, by Davies.

I won’t be attending next week’s meeting due to a prior commitment (the third Sunday of each month is reserved), but hope to return the following week.

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Tampa Go Club, 5 September 2010

I visited the Tampa Go Club for the second time on Sunday.

Another beginner was there, so we played two and a half games. I won all of them. (The half-game was a fight that continued across most of the board, and he gave up.)

After that, I put down the stones and picked up the camera.

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This is my journey from crappy go player to… less crappy go player.

Right now, as I start this blog, I’m approximately 20th kyu. I learned to play go a few years ago, but completely stopped playing because Real Life™ got in the way. Now I’m back and climbing my way back up the ranks.

I have a KGS account, as Phoon, and I play a couple of Sundays a month at the Tampa Go Club.

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