Saturday, November 26, 2005

Code Brown Wrapup

The Code Brown espresso I blogged about earlier has run its course and the ballots are's good coffee! Once I managed to tune the grind and dosing to create the 25-28 second pull, a stronger body stood out and it wasn't so citrusy or tart as before. This espresso blend is also great in my soy lattes because it doesn't get overpowered by the soy milk and it manages to push its own flavors through. My wife, who normally drinks Decaf Black Cat, tried Code Brown in her latte (regular milk) and liked the taste, too.

Now, would I buy Code Brown again? Well, right now I am back to Black Cat with plans on next testing Espresso Vivace's famous espresso blend. Once I complete the rounds of testing popular blends such as this, I can easily see myself coming back to Code Brown as an occasional change in my Black Cat routine. Time will tell. In the meanwhile, here's a shot of my last soy latte art with the Code Brown.

Iron Man Results

The KGS November Iron Man Tournament has wrapped up and, I must say, it was a lot of fun. Every match was interesting, I improved as a player, Zero9090 came in 2nd place, and I met some new friends. On the downside, I could only play 9 out of the 20 games due to not-quite-unexpected-but-unexpected-anyway problems on the homefront and I merely finished in 29th place. Of those 9 games, I won 4 but would have won 2 of the remainining 5 if it were not for monumental boneheaded errors, including one on what should have been the last move of the game. :( Oh, well, I think it's those kind of errors that both discourage me and challenge me to improve.

The tournament format itself is interesting, but I leave it feeling that, somehow, it's flawed in that the ranking used as a base for the handicaps is determined at registration time --- not actual game time. So, the winner turned out to be some 16k player (no, I'm not going to say sandbagger even if you make me say sandbagger!) who signed up as a 20k. Although I'm sure there are holes in any system, perhaps there is room for improvement here. What I take out of all this is that, if I want a crown, I need to improve enough to play in the open tournament where every game is played on even terms.

Special thanks go out to both NannyOgg and yoyoma, who helped tremendously with multiple reviews and learning sessions. It is because of them that I was able to get so much out of these games and improve from them. Next month's tournament should be fun!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Code Brown Espresso

I have been a loyal drinker of Intelligentsia's Black Cat Espresso for a good year or so. On the business side, the company is great...they're a local Chicago roaster, they're extremely communicative, and they always manage to get the beans to me a day after roasting. On the coffee side, Black Cat is very forgiving to my lackluster barista skills and equipment. It possesses what I consider to be a very rich and deep taste that's perfect both in the shot glass and in a soy latte. My experience with other beans, namely Terroir's single origin espressos and Paradise Roaster's Espresso Classico, has not been very good and has kept me coming back to Intelligentsia.

Since I have a great new Expobar Brewtus espresso machine now (which makes me the single point of failure), I thought I'd test the waters with a few espresso blends that have been getting praise on coffeegeek. First on the bill is Coffee Emergency's Code Brown. Straight away, the company impressed me by sending out a personal email explaining when the coffee would roast and ship. Next, when the coffee did arrive, it was accompanied by a selection of 4 Baker's chocolates. Nice touch. Now for the actual coffee.

I ended up producing 2 double shots and 1 soy latte. So far, the results are promising. I have not quite dialed in the grind for a 28 second shot, but the espresso was still tasty with abundant thick crema. As a side note, the last shot I pulled used 11 on my Rancilio Rocky grinder where I'd normally be at 13 or 14 with the Black Cat...I still don't understand why I have to grind the BC so coarse. Anyway, back to Code Brown, it certainly tends more (in my opinion) toward the Daterra side than the Black Cat side since it's lighter and fruitier rather than heavy and earthy. Surprisingly, it stood up very well in soy milk and its nice dark reddish crema provided an appealing backdrop for latte art. We'll see how everything works out once I nail the grind and experiment with brewing temps. Coffee is always exciting!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

KGS Hiatus

I've suddenly decided to take another small step in my young go journey and declare a minor KGS hiatus. While I love the site and, heck, even subscribed as a KGS Plus member, something that Zero9090 said in jest about lurkers has hit home. All I've been doing lately on KGS has been lurking - that is, chatting, beating up on some hapless bots, and throwing in an occasional game or two with my new KGS friends and fellow go students. Part of the problem has certainly been due to family matters out of my control (which will probably make me withdraw from the ironman tournament I was so excited about earlier) but most of it has been that, when I could actually play, I'd only login and begin chatting or observing. Also, there have been times when I simply want to play and NOT chat, but I dread logging in and having people observe the game and then later review it. While I love reviews and appreciate really good reviews like yoyoma has provided, there are times when I just want to sit down and play, score it up, and play again.

So, I'll be on IGS for a while. It's not the nice club atmosphere of KGS, the client programs are not quite as clean and reliable as cgoban2, and I still think it's much more tedious to find a game for someone of my rank with their challenge system. But it's almost all go, almost all the time. :) Maybe I'll see you there. But if we meet, let's play!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Latte Art

Nothing much new to report. Studying lots of go problems, both from and my Graded Go Problems books, in preparation for the KGS November Iron Man Handicap Tournament. The two goals of the tournament, as far as I can tell, are to play as many of your scheduled games as possible and to win as many as possible. Games are scheduled every 6 hours over a 5 day span for a total of 20 games per player. With my timezone being US/Central, I am scheduled to play at 2am, 8am, 2pm, and 8pm. I do plan on making an effort to play every game, which would tack on an additional 7 days of KGS Plus to my year subscription. I have been meaning for some time to subscribe and I actually registered this week, so I'm pleased about that.

Being a handicap tournament, obviously rating plays a large role in determining how your games will play out. The way KGS handles this is to lock your effective rating for the tournament at entry time. For me, that was 18k. Right now, though, I'm 17k and, if things go as planned, I will be 16k by next week when the tournament begins on the 20th. So, perhaps that will help me out a bit. :) With 4k players in the tournament, I'll certainly need all the help I can get!

Aside from go, I'm still learning the ins and outs of my new espresso machine, the Expobar Brewtus. I've been extremely pleased with everything about the machine, but actually right now I'm a bit I looked for a URL I found that the Brewtus II has been released and there was no indication of that when I bought the original a few weeks ago. Oh, well.

At any rate, while I am still working on my steaming and latte art, I have produced a couple near decent rosettas using soy milk. Here is an example.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Why, hello!

Again, it's been way too long. After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back and playing go with a vengeance. The past few days have seen me playing around 10 games per day online in addition to studying the game with the help of some books I recently purchased from Kiseido. The two I'm reading now are:

Basic Techniques of Go

Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Vol. 2

After reading the first chapter of BTOG and studying the first 100 problems or so in GGPFB, I played what I feel are probably the two best games I've come up with so far. I still have problems in the endgame where my mind shuts off, thinking the game is over and won, only to watch my opponent flail around and grab a seki or fill in all dame and then kill a large group that had no business dying as I pass away my moves. I actually lost 3 games this week where I was up by more than 25 points but turned my brain off within the last 5 moves to lose. Perhaps if I lose a few more like this I'll pay more attention. :)

On a fun note, last night yoyoma goaded me into playing ChiyoDad (22k at the time vs my 18k) in a 4 stone handicap match and it was a blast. I have never played with so many observers (the ChiyoMob) and the game was definitely tense, with many long thoughtful pauses. In the end, despite the fact that I think I played pretty well, he ended up winning by a nice 20+ point margin due to the fact that I just did not make headway into a large territory he built up on the left side of the board. I think I may try to play more handicap games as white in the coming days because it certainly makes me think harder about big points and territory values.

On another fun note, I won two auctions on eBay for Hikaru No Go toys. :) As I was explaining to ChiyoDad the other day, these are ostensibly for my kids, but I really wanted to play with them, myself!

My daughter enjoys watching Hikaru and perhaps these toys will help her and my infant son get more interested in playing go. I need someone to play with me on a real board!