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June 10, 2020

A Perfect Travel Board for the Aspiring Go Influencer

A majestic Go board can really pull together a room. It says to any visitor: “Would you like to play Go now? It's right here.” Hopefully the answer is yes.

And if you're looking to be a Go influencer, it's essential for those Instragram photos.

A cat looking at a Go board.
#cats #catsofinstagram #instacat #go #influencer

But if you want to play Go somewhere other than your home, theoretically even outdoors, a majestic board isn't going to cut it. It's heavy, awkward, and it's going to get scratched to shit.

So I needed a good travel board. Just in case I want to be a, uh, Go influencer at some point.

My first one was a $20 set from the mall:

A small, "deluxe" Go board Don't let the cat on this board.
Don't let the cat on this board.

It's light, and slides into a designer backpack or shoulder bag easily. But these stones have all the weight of chewy fruit candies; it's impossible to play without stones skittering off the board. A gust of wind could end a photo shoot.

Even more portable is this one, folded into book format. It was a gift from a friend who keeps rats as pets, and has the quality of having actually been chewed by rats:

Rats automatically make a thing more cool.

The stones are bigger, and it's got a 9x9 on the back, but aesthetically, it leaves something to be desired. The rat story is cool, but how are you going to be a top Go influencer with a piece of red cardboard and a book telling you what atari means?

My followers won't respect me if I post garbage like this. The cat is back with a vengeance!
My followers won't respect me if I post garbage like this, unless I can get the cat involved again.
Yeah, he can definitely smell the rats.

So I went online. Years ago I'd ordered my good board from GoGameGuru, but the site has since shut down, so I needed a new retailer. I soon found myself on the Kiseido site, looking at some very unique boards:

A board struck by lighting!? I'll pay double!
A board struck by lighting!? I'll pay double!

Ordering from this place, though, looks sketchy. The SSL is broken and the reasons do not inspire confidence.

I guess the migration didn't go well.
I guess the "migration" didn't go well.

Seeing as I don't want my payment information compromised en route, or perhaps stored in a plaintext file somewhere, I kept looking.

Now this one looked ideal: a roll-up magnetic Go board, in a convenient travel sling. It's like I'm going to Yoga, except I'm definitely not – the sweat is rather from spending the afternoon generating affiliate links.

Blend in with the people who know how to stay in shape.
If this beauty fits your lifestyle, you can pick it up from Yellow Mountain and I'll take my influencer's cut.

The stones stay in place, and there's even the option to stick it to the fridge, so you can consider Go problems while you're making smoothies. Or you can write out motivational phrases for yourself!

A go board on a fridge saying, 'Live. Laugh. Look at fridge'
You can't write very much on it but it sure does warm the heart.

But now your hordes of followers expect new phrases all the time, so it's a fridge board now, and not a travel board at all.

What I needed was a mix of everything. A set I could take from the office to the bar. Something with heft, but not too much. One with an intoxicating Cherry finish.

"Cherry Delight"
I wouldn't shill for the Go board company unless the products were as gorgeous as this.

It came with a convenient carrybag for the bowls, and the board slips into a large tote bag. I wouldn't want to carry it around all day, but my assistant can!

The ubiquitous sunglasses shot.
The ubiquitous sunglasses shot. #nofilter

When this pandemic is over I am going to be such an influencer.

March 2, 2020

Animal-Themed Moves You Can Try When Playing Go

We love animals here at Mirth Turtle, but we also love Go, so we're often torn: spend time with an animal, or play the greatest game there is? (which is Go, as you are well aware)

Cat goban

Turns out you don't even need to choose, because Go is full of animal-themed moves that you too can bring to a game. Here are some of my favourites:

The Crane’s Nest

This is a fairly common sequence but never fails to bring a smile to my otherwise emotionless face. I like to think the “egg” in the situation is the stone that gets cleverly sacrificed.

Black is trying to escape from your nest, but in fact it's impossible. Prove it below by playing an egg at A!

Sacrifice an egg for the greater good in this interactive Crane's Nest capture. Reset

The Golden Chicken Standing On One Leg

Another bird-themed position is also a favourite of mine, and it’s a rare treat when I can make it work. I used to call it an “Awkward Split” but its actual name is far superior, and more evocative of birds.

Play at A below to see why White is powerless in the situation.

Once Black descends, White can't capture from either side. Brawwk! Reset

The Mole

The animal that goes by this name may be adorable, but a play on the second line is far more insidious. It's a flexible way to invade an opponent’s territory, as it allows a follow-up either into the corner or off to the side. It does, however, give your opponent the choice of which to defend — so if the corner is what you want, just play at A right away instead.

A deep invasion for White, good when A and B are both be acceptable follow-ups.

The Three Crows

Probably my favourite shimari and the main reason I like to open at 4-4. This holds the corner but it’s also powerful enough to have some influence on battles in the center. Plus, look at those birds.

Mmmm, that stoic formation. An invasion will not succeed.

The Monkey Jump

Can’t leave this one out. Playing this large knight's move is a great way to reduce your opponent's undefended side territory near the endgame. Try it below!

Oof. White left a window open and a monkey swung right in. That could have been 4-6 points of territory. Reset

Know any more animal-themed moves? Keep them to yourself! There’s no comments section.

January 19, 2020

Mirth Turtle is Live

If there’s anything a comedy business knows, it’s comedy. But this particular comedy business also knows Go, so some products have been Go-related.

Well, I’ve spent a lot of time communing with the Business Voices, and we’ve agreed that it’s time for a pivot:

Mirth Turtle is now a Go company, which also occasionally still produces comedy.

A Go board

Why? Because Go is the best game in the world, and all I need to do is produce content and software to support people who are learning it. And then get as many people interested in the game as possible.

Right now, online Go is in a sorry state. Interactive tutorials are broken. Sites don’t use SSL. Forums are dead. You may be able to teach yourself the game with the Wikipedia of Go, Sensei’s Library, but how do you know where to start?

Mirth Turtle is going to give you the tools you need to get better at Go, and if you don’t play it yet, it’s going to make you want to try it. It’s going to make it easy for you to try it.

Another Go board

Anyway, that’s the foundational principle of the company now. I’m starting with a semi-regular livestream, where I play Go wordlessly over music, so you can relax, see how it’s played, and connect with others in the chat. Follow me on Twitch, and on Twitter for more regular updates. You might find me under the #SickGoTakedowns hashtag.

I’ve also produced 2 volumes of Snapback, an adventure series revolving around an international Go conspiracy. I designed it to be enjoyable for all levels of players, including non-players, and you can read the first volume for free if you create an account on this site.

Anyway, if all of this turns out to be foolish and I go bankrupt: at least I’ve still got Ghostcrime to fall back on.