This long post, and its many replies discuss (among other things) a moderator’s decision to annul a ranked game. Since this post was originally made, the moderator reached out to me and:
- graciously apologised , and
- reversed the decision to annul the ranked game.
I am grateful for this resolution. Thank you @Kosh!
My faith that the results on the board will stand has been restored.
The rest of this post will remain as it originally appeared for continuity, but for the sake of keeping the peace, I want to highlight this happy, and speedy resolution to anyone that may be new to the thread.
I’ve had a 20 year love affair with Go. True, this relationship has run a bit hot and cold at times. But since discovering this server about a year ago, the old flame was reignited and burning brightly. I’ve logged some 658 ranked games. I couldn’t be more grateful for this renascence, and each and every surprise as it unfolded on the board (especially during the pandemic, when other options were scarce).
But, four days ago, because of an outcome I could never have predicted, I played a game which completely broke this Go player’s heart. I’ve not found joy in the game ever since. It’s in a humble attempt to process what happened that I recount the events.
Let’s begin with the question at the heart of it all: Could there be any move more hopeless than white’s first move in a handicap game? We all know the feeling. Stones are given, we play white, and move after move, we are unable close the gap. Our opponent plays beautifully and relishes as the handicap transforms first into thickness, and then into an enormous moyo. Nothing short of a catastrophic blunder by our opponent could turn the game around.
But as experienced Go players, we know: mistakes do happen in games, often. Sometimes, the only way forward for white is to keep our fighting spirit alive. Create a tenuous web of complexity on the board, and give our opponent opportunity to make a mistake. As long as there is possibility for an upset, we fight on. Indeed, the alternative would seem to be to resign on the first move of any handicap game.
My heartbreak game is just such game.
We can see that by move 128, black has built a beautiful moyo in the center. My opinion at the time was that straightforward reductions would no longer do. It seems a deep invasion, however grim the odds, was the only path to victory.
A Cut and a Ko: by move 183, groups A and B are locked in heated battle. In theory, heated battles favour the stronger player…
By move 196, I’ve scrapped together a favorable position. Groups A and B face off with four liberties each, white has sente…
Move 204. Ah, the comedy of life, I’ve blundered away a beautiful opportunity. Black’s four liberties loom over white’s three.
But then another upset: Group A hangs in atari with just one liberty. Group B has just two. Black’s move (236) gives atari on the lone stone at C. White responds at 1, black does not notice the atari on group B and instead of capturing group A, plays an endgame reduction at 2! White captures group B, with a play at 3, and black immediately resigns the game.
As this game shows, major upsets happen on the board. And there is no way of predicting the result of a game until the last stone is played. But I was completely unprepared for what happened next. After resigning, my opponent contacted @kosh, a site moderator, and had the results of the ranked game annulled!
Via private message, I reached out to my opponent. I asked him to explain why he chose to do this. I told him it was bothering me a lot. As of this writing, I have received no reply.
Regarding our annulled game, I received the following private message from the moderator:
“Please don’t play pointless “stalling moves” as you did here. While players are allowed to proceed to scoring they are not entitled to gratuitously stall in games.”
I appealed my case to @Kosh, He remained firm. His final word were: “I am sorry that you disagree with my ruling and you may ofc adjust your use of the site as you see fit.”
This is a troubling and chilling precedence. It all feels so arbitrary. As my opponent’s blunder and resignation demonstrate, while the odds of victory past move 204 where grim, they were provably not zero. What @Kosh calls stalling moves, I call successful use of misdirection.
And here in lies the real problem. Unlike my opponent and the moderator, I know my thoughts and intentions during the game. And the fact of the matter is, I was not stalling. I was fighting the grim fight. Soldering on despite the odds. So the message I’m hearing from all this is: my fighting spirit isn’t welcome on online-go.com. Neither my opponent nor the site moderators are interested in me playing my best game here. Perhaps it would have been best for everyone (myself included), if I had just resigned on move one. After all, when your opponent has three corners to your one, isn’t every move stalling the inevitable?
In all my tournament games, all my face to face games, all my online games, I have never encountered this sentiment.
And frankly, it seems the joy of Go had died in me for a time.
I don’t know what comes next. Will I gently set Go down, and pick up another hobby? Will my 20 year love of the game ever burn so bright again? Will I find a new perspective on this bizarre incident that lets me make peace with what happened? Will I ever be free of the troubling implication that no matter which opponent I face, the outcome on the board is never final and may at any time be subject to arbitrary post game rulings of the moderators?