What made him buy the book ($1.95) and begin, unknowingly at the time, his go career, was that the book contained a table of go clubs listed by country. Steven immediately wrote to John Williams, who was listed as the contact-person in Toronto, where Steven was a student, to obtain the address of the local club.
It was also during this same Holiday period that Steven bought his first go set. The one he bought, which was a magnetic set, had the standard 19 x 19 board, but the physical dimensions of this board were smaller than those of the standard size sets that experienced players buy. Of course, in those days, well, come to think of it, those days are very much like these days (nothing much has changed really), go sets were not that easy to find. Steven was lucky that sets were available at the Game and Toy Department at Eaton's Department store (the one in downtown Montreal next to Christ Church Cathedral, and which closed its doors in 1999, like the other stores in the Eaton's chain). Steven paid $13.50 for this set, which, by the way, he still has.
Finally, by January, 1978, Steven was ready. He had the chance to read the introductory book on go that he had bought during the Holidays, and he may even have had the chance to replay some games on his small magetic go set. At any rate, on January 8, he crossed the threshold of the doorway that led into the halloweed room of the Toronto Go Club, which was located in the old downtown YMCA (since demolisghed) where go players assembled on Sunday afternoons to play. It was there that Steven played his very first games of go.
At first, Stevens go career got off to an uncertain future. As a beginner, he was naturally playing the usual 9-stone handicap games, the obligatory, entry-level game format for beginners, and, as one can expect from a raw beginner, he was being slaughtered, nay, decimated by his opponents who (shame be onto them) were not taking the time to explain to Steven his mistakes. Discouraged, and pressed by the time he was taking away from his studies, Steven stopped playing sometimes in the second half of February.
About two years later, in early 1980, back in Montreal and having DEFINITELY more time on his hands, Steven decided that he would try his hand at go one more time. He was determined that, at the very least, he would stick it out long enough to learn and understand the fundamentals of the game. Ever since that fateful moment in time, Steven has never stopped playing go.
All this to say that the development of Steven's go statistics followed an evolutionary path. As the reader will discover for himself as he reads on, the state of Steven's statistics grew as time went by, it did not take shape in one dramatic moment of self-realization.
Steven had no idea, in the early months of 1980, as he jotted down his go activities (games played, the number of times he went to the club, and so on) that these were the baby steps that were destined to lead to a body of statistical detail that easily dwarfed anything Steven could have imagined during this formative period. Who would have guessed that these early fumblings were nothing less then the illustration of the old proverb Great things have small beginnings.
By June 1st, 1980, however, Steven could claim, with a certain degree of justification, that he now had in place the rudiments for what would eventualy constitute the foundation of his go statistics. (Note)
For each game he plays, Steven records the following four items of information:
(The very last time Steven did not record any one of these four items was on October 22, 1980 when Steven failed to record the handicap of the game he lost against an unknown player (an unknown player is one whose name was not recorded). Actually, to be technical, this statement, about October 22 being the last time he failed to record one of the four items of information, is not quite true. On several occsions in the future, Steven would sometimes leave out the names of his opponents, not the names of those players whom he knew, but rather, the names of those players whom he did not know. A good example would be those times when Steven visited a club in a town he did not feel he would ever visit again. (For example, in August, 1981, Steven went to New York City where he had the chance to play go at the New York Go Club almost every evening. He played 28 games during his stay in New York, but he recorded the names of only two players. Why just two players? Because he was sure that he would never have the chance to play with these players again) Consequently, asking for the names of these players did not seem to be worthwhile. Besides, asking strangers for their names might be considerded as being rather forward, maybe even impolite).
(However, all this is now in the past. The last time Steven accepted to leave unrecorded the first and last names of an opponent was on October 29, 1995). By that time, steven
After each session of go-playing, Steven records this raw information in two places: in a yearly agenda book and on the index cards of his opponents. The agenda book helps Steven to keep track of his games in chronological order and it is the all-important source of his raw data. The index cards were useful at first as a means for allowing Steven to measure his progress vis-à-vis his opponents. This last function has long since lost its importance, but Steven has never abandoned the practice of recording his games on these cards.
(Note, however, that the use of these cards is reserved for those players whom Steven feels he will play with again on an ongoing basis usually because they live in the same city as he does and attends the same go club. Steven does not use these cards for those players with whom he plays on the Internet).
In May of 1982, Steven decided to compile his statistics in a table format. After deciding on the number of tables and on the layout of each one, he selected the month as the basis for each compilation. Ever since then, Steven compiles his statistics on, or shortly after, the 1st of each month.
In the spring of 1994, Steven transferred his statistics to his newly bought computer. He created two database files: one to contain information on all his games, in chronological order; and the other one to contain summary information of his games with all his opponents. These computer files have allowed Steven to create charts based on his statistics (real neat).
In order to determine which ones of the many games that Steven plays may be included in his statistics, Steven eastablished the five ctriteria listed below.
(Tied games are treated as losses. In the early part of his go career, Steven treated those games in which his opponent and he had not settled on the value of the komi and which ended in a tie, as losses. (There's a certain logic at work here: afterall, if a game is not won, then it must be lost). Not long afterwards, Steven stopped the practice of recording the result of such games as a tie. A new practice evolved in which, if, prior to the beginning of a game, Steven and his opponent had not settled on the value of the komi for their game, and, also supposing that their game ends in a tie, then, in such cases, rare though they be, theses games are counted and recorded as losses. Steven has no idea whatsoever of the number of games he counted as losses even though they are in fact ties (in other words, Steven did not lose these games, he just did'nt win them)).
Over the years, Steven has been plagued by a persistent and nagging dilemma: Should he or should he not not count the games he plays against computers? So far, Steven has been able to put off having to make a decision on this matter by simply abstaining from playing any 19 x 19 games against these machines.
(However, to be perfectly honest, at some point in his carrer, Steven has probably played a game or two against computers, out of curiosity (no, these games were not counted). This would have been at a time when he would not have been fully concious of the wider implications of such an actfrom the point of view of the integrity of his statisticsof playing against a machine.)
Why the reluctance to deal with this issue? At the heart of the matter lies the issue of a missing standard in the ranking of computers. When Steven plays against a human, he knows that he is playing against someone who is ranked at a certain level, and that the hancicap, if any, that is given to Black will produce a game whose outcome will be fair, more or less, to both players. But against machines, there is no such standard. The ranking of these machines varies, and it varies not only over time but also from machine to machine. This can produce lopsided results. In such a situation, for example, how would players evalute the significance of a statistical analysis that would be made of, say, victories?
Another factor that militates against the inclusion of games played against computers, a factor just as important as the one on the lack of a standard of ranking, is the fact that computers don't have names. One of the items of information that is recorded on each game is the name of the opponent. This allows Steven to determine whether or not he has played with the same person before, or in this particular situation, with the same computer.
(In case you are not aware, there is a page dedicated to the statistics on the games that Steven played in his tournamnets. You can click on this link to open this page. (In case you not aware, the shortcut key of Alt + Left Arrow will redirect you back immediately to this page).