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Post #21 Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:54 am 
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EdLee wrote:
All I said is age is a huge factor, and it is: if we look at the starting age of all professional sports and in pro Go and chess, the age factor is indisputable.


It is a factor, but the size of it is disputable. :) Kids live in an extremely learning-friendly environment, where everything is focused around education. Most of their day is spent in school or doing homework, they have all the support they need and they are always surrounded by teachers and other students. Their whole lives revolve around acquiring new information, retaining it, and applying it.

When you're an adult, a huge amount of your time is spent on practicing what you already know. In our jobs, much of what we do is the same that we always do, with only slight variations. It's routine, and if we were cassette records, we'd be in "repeat" mode rather than "record" mode a large portion of the time. There are also numerous responsibilities that adults have, ranging from the mundane stuff like shopping and cooking to maintaining social relationships, and of course there are family and children, all eating up time. Most adults simply don't have time or energy to study and learn the way a child does and can.

There are no doubt biological aspects too, but I wonder what the results would be if you sent a 40 year old, talented beginner to a dojo for a couple of years. :)

I quite like Tami's attitude. Being exactly the same age, I struggle quite a bit with the big 40 looming around the corner, not just in regard to Go, so I'm certainly eager to believe that age is overrated, but those traces of a midlife crisis aside, I do feel that "I'm too old" is all too frequently just an excuse and a cop-out, or an easy-to-believe explanation that completely ignores other aspects or conditions.

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Post #22 Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:15 pm 
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As you know, the path of improvement isn't smooth. It's to do with a phase of learning that I haven't seen people discuss here so much, which is "Relational Memory". Basically, when you learn new ideas or information, it takes time for the brain to sort out the connections and to relate the new material with already learned things.

I do lots of different things, but essentially I'm most concentrated on developing my reading skill and re-evaluating concepts that I thought I had understood, but presumably don't really understand.

A lot of my games are really dreadful. I'm seeing a lot of possibilities, but sometimes I try a little too hard. I see shadows and mirages - threats that aren't really dangerous, and opportunities that can only exist in the far distance. So, I defend when there's no need and I attack when there's no chance.

Other times, my mental processes just get completely mixed up. Yesterday, I played a game on KGS, and read out an interesting situation. My choice was to play a normal move to settle a group, or to play a kikashi in the opposite corner, which would create a ladder block, which in turn would give me the chance to make a better sequence to settle my group. So, I confidently began my sequence, and my opponent initiated the ladder. Then I realised I had simply forgotten to play my kikashi...

The best thing to do is to have a laugh about it. It's only a temporary thing (I hope!). Another relevant point is that I generally only play late at night, as I try to devote the daytime to work or study - tiredness does affect me, but strangely more often at 11PM than at 2AM.

I'm working through the Segoe Tesuji Dictionary. I have owned it for years, but I only used to do the C stream problems. Actually, that helped quite a lot. Now, I'm doing all the problems, and I'm finding that I can! My ability to visualise seems to be increasing noticeably - more variations "flow", and I find I can hold shapes steadily in my mind for longer. I am working at it in short bursts: ten or fifteen minutes at a time, spent on one or two problems.

Okay, I probably ought to give this journal a break now. I'm repeating myself.


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #23 Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:44 pm 
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Just a quick update. An important thing to remember with studying go or anything else is that it takes time. Once you get past the beginner stages, even the most rapid progress can seem very slow, especially if you're not patient.

There are not only many things to learn, but also you have to learn how to put them together. It's not only a process of building new understanding, but also of changing existing understanding.

Right now, I've decided to do less tsumego and concentrate more on strategy books and whole-board problems. I've found re-reading Attack and Defence very enlightening, and I am enjoying a book of Takemiya's called アマが理解できない4つ常識 (Four Pieces of Common Sense Amateurs Can't Grasp). Also, I am going through Get Strong at Handicap Go, which I also recommend.

For me, it seems my weaknesses are more in the fuseki and in strategy than tactical, although definitely I need to address L&D patterns again. For a while, I've noticed that although I can see a lot of tactics, the tactics in my games often seem to favour the opponent, which means that usually they must be playing better strategically.

If go could be boiled down to principles only, then it would be easy to play. The difficulties are that often it's not easy to see which principles to apply, how to apply them, and to choose between them when two or more principles suggest very different ways of proceeding. This is where strategy books like the ones I mentioned come in helpful: the more you read them, the more precedents you have to refer to, and the easier it is to choose. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and since I have begun to win games with the help of things I have learned from those books, I think it's a good method.

Finally, there's a delay between knowing and being able to apply. In language acquisition, you naturally learn to listen before you speak, and to read before you write, and in the same way, it can seem to take a long while before you can get past knowing something and to being able to do it automatically. Often, the pro's move makes sense after we see it played - but the thing is that the pro has learned to see it before it's played!

But, it takes time :)


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #24 Posted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:33 am 
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Here are some recent "lessons" I would like to record before I forget.

* Look at the whole board! This is coming up time and again in Takemiya's book, and also I remember a very strong coach from the Nihon Kiin remarking to me two weeks ago that "most people focus on a small area, about 7x7, but the go board is big!". (If you are reading this Dave Sigaty, could you please remind me of his name?)

* Don't attack, don't defend without a clear reason. If it's not clear what your attack gains, or that your defence is necessary, you are in danger of "passing". A gain can be either territory or in power, and necessity is dictated by life and death, or shape. Takemiya, especially, emphasises the importance of playing good shape - he says that territory comes, at the end of the game, from having played in good shape.

* Reject moves that are "ineffectual". In the Japanese books, the word "響かない" (hibikanai - "does not resound") is used, and that expresses the problem of lukewarm moves beautifully, for my money.

* "The biggest move is to make/take a base" (一番大きいのは「根拠の手」). I got this from Ishida Yoshio's book on fuseki, アマが知らない布石絶対の急所, which I bought this afternoon. Much the same idea comes up a lot in Get Strong at Handicap Go and in the Takemiya book.

* Watch your back! It's so easy to get carried away attacking, that you don't notice weaknesses in your own position.

* Sabaki can be unbelievably powerful. If you can sacrifice cleverly, it's possible to turn an enemy area into your own fortress.

I have also seen many shapes and patterns recently - I don`t plan to memorise them slavishly. Instead, I shall review my books in timely fashion, and I shall remember the important things naturally. Up to now, I have tried to memorise things in isolation, but recently I have found that learning techniques in context is both much more enjoyable, and easier too. It's the difference between memorising word lists, and picking up new words from conversation and reading.

I'm still losing a lot, but I can sense a change in the wind.


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #25 Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:51 am 
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Right now, I'm finding go extremely frustrating.

For some time I have been attempting to change my style, as one way of breaking through the limitations of my understanding. Usually, I would say I am distinctly biased toward influence, and I like the star point, takamoku and such like. Indeed, the last time I experienced a jump in strength was when I started to appreciate the power of influence a little better - but that was nearly ten years ago.

So, against all my inclinations, I am opening with 3-4 points and attempting to play for territory. But it just does not work for me! My opponents always seem to end up forcing me into passive, shrinking positions.

I don't mind losing to learn, but it's getting tedious losing most of the time.

For one thing, in territorial games, I get very confused about what is a big point and what isn't.

One idea to try is to be more consistent. That is, to trust in the traditional order of play:

1) Corners 2) Enclosure or Shimari 3) Extension in front of shimari 4) Tsume 5) Jump into centre

I find it hard to keep taking these points when the opponent takes a lead in influence - while many people are unreasonably envious of territory, my tendency is to envy the opponent's influence. If I am to understand territorial go better, maybe I have to stick to my plan, and trust I can make enough points to weather any storms a powered-up opponent might be able to produce.


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #26 Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:39 am 
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Possibly a little bit of an insight.

Taking (potential) territory is big, but you have to notice the right moment to start playing actively. It is very tempting to defend territory, but that is just passive, and it is virtually a sure-lose strategy.

This leads to the next step, which is to be willing to give up territory in order to stay in the game. It's almost like a loan situation: if you take an early lead in territory at the expense of influence, then you have to be prepared to pay it back over time, or else you might end up being forced to pay it back. It's better to fight back while you still can by accepting exchanges.

And the step after that involves positional judgement. Not being a "numbers person", I don't enjoy estimating scores and relative values, and possibly you might agree that an influence-oriented style does seems to suit more verbally or visually oriented minds better than a territorially directed style. But if you are playing territorially, and you are trying to decide whether to defend or offer an exchange, then you have to estimate the relative values of the affected areas; fighting spirit is all very well and good, but as Catalin Taranu explained in his endgame lecture, it's not a good idea to exchange your 40 point area for a 20 point one, even though you prefer to strike back instead of defending.

Finally, I need to remind myself that deliberately playing outside your comfort zone, in unfamiliar, even distasteful patterns will certainly lead to a lot of defeats, but it's well worth doing if it changes and improves your overall understanding.


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #27 Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:21 am 
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I've never really understood why people strive to play for territory, or for influence. Why not both? Or better yet, why set yourself to play one way or the other in the first place? It's not like when I'm playing, I'm thinking to myself 'okay, for this game I'm going to play 3-4s and 3-3s, get solid territory, and try to reduce my opponent's influence as much as possible.' or 'I'll play 4-4s and 5-4s, build a massive moyo while giving up corners and some side, and try to maximize my influence as much as possible while reducing his territory'. It's a very rigid way of thinking. I just go with the flow and try to get the best result without regarding style.

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Post #28 Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:58 pm 
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Araban wrote:
I've never really understood why people strive to play for territory, or for influence. Why not both?


I agree with you, Araban. But I'm doing what I'm doing on purpose, to try to gain more insight into an area of the game I find difficult to understand. If I played my usual way, I would attempt to play for whatever seemed more relevant to the position at hand, but then I would probably also fall back into familiar patterns and ways of thinking, and might not learn anything new.

I think I have gained a better appreciation of several things:

1) The need to play actively - paying back where necessary and making exchanges instead of just defending
2) The need to make positional judgements before committing strategically
3) How useful it is to exploit weak spots in a moyo


Last edited by Tami on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #29 Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:37 am 
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An unexpected idea...

First, it should be obvious that thickness needs room to expand, but I didn't really grasp the reason before.

In an exchange of territory for thickness, it is crucial for the thickness (or influence for that matter) to be put to work. The move that expands it or makes it work is going to be really big in value, because otherwise the thickness will end up as overconcentration. In other words, if you take thickness and expand (or attack) from it, then you are being efficient, but if you fail to do so or cannot do so, then you will just end up with a lot of stones close together.

Likewise, if you play an erasing move, it is very painful for the opponent, because it causes them to play either close to their own stones, or where they have little chance of succeeding anyhow (i.e., the very area they sacrificed to get the thickness).

There may be bigger-looking moves, but because of the exchange behind it, the thickness-expanding/erasing move tends to be urgent, because it is the one that justifies or renders unfair the exchange.

I arrived at this viewpoint after doing a number of fuseki exercises, in which the answer often seemed puzzling, until explained in this way.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Not the best possible example, but es klappt
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O , . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X . . . b . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . a . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


In this position, Black and White have exchanged a contract. White has granted Black a certain amount of influence in exchange for the certain territory in the top left.

There are many plausible moves. You could, for instance, treat the top left lightly and make a sanrensei at A. You could play lightly at B. You could play out the ordinary joseki, and get this position:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Not the best possible example, but es klappt
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O , . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


But, plausible as it looks, it is much better for White, IMHO, because Black's influence is being restrained, while White is getting the chance to enclose the corner.

However, there is another way to play (see Get Strong at the Opening, No. 33).

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Not the best possible example, but es klappt
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O , . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . 3 . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


The point here is that Black is putting his side of the original exchange hard to work, and the overall effect is very efficient.

And this brings me to understand, just a little more deeply, that every exchange or skirmish has a meaning, and you need to play so that you do not lose your meaning or so that you cause the opponent to lose their meaning.

If you enclose a corner, it means you have spent two moves in one place, while the opponent has perhaps taken two moves across a larger area. Therefore, to make full value of your enclosure, you have to challenge your opponent's wider, but probably thin, position, using your enclosure as a base. If you do not exploit your side of the bargain, then you are living a life of dissipation; and if you cannot exploit it, then you've been had!

A better example is this one, No. 92 from Get Strong at the Opening. If you are interested to see, there are other problems in the same part of the book with the same basic idea.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$c Putting thickness to work
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . a . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . O O X X X X . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . O . O O X . . . . . . . b . . . . . |
$$ | . O . O X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Now, based on my misunderstanding of O Meien's "zone press park" thingie, which I have only been able to glean from the internet as I don't have a copy of the book, and misguided by the proverb about playing far from thickness, I have often played moves like a in the past. After all, b is all of six lines away from Black's thickness, while a is sensational nine lines distant from the star point in the upper right.

But, the best move is b. It makes the thickness work! Therefore it justifies the bargain black made in the lower left earlier.

It's hard to imagine it happening in a position like this, but I'm sure most of you have shared the painful experience of having had thickness, and then playing in the wrong direction. Eventually, the thickness turned to heaviness, and there was no choice but to make eyes, which is the ultimate humiliation for a once-thick and mighty group.

It could be that a is in fact bigger than b, at least territorially, but b is more urgent, because it prevents black's exchange in the lower left from becoming pointless. And, didn't Jim Kerwin 1p say something like an urgent move was one that prevented one of your earlier plays from becoming meaningless?

It is said that territory is like cash in hand, while thickness is like money in the bank. I think there's a lot of depth to that statement. If you have invested money, you have to wait for a long time before you get dividends for it; but the investment grows (hopefully!). If you don't invest, but let the thickness just sit there, then it will become less and less valuable, like money under the mattress. That's why my old notion of "Deadweight Value of Thickness" is probably invalid. (You can read my thoughts about that on Sensei's Library, should you be so inclined.) If you have cash, you have to keep getting some more once what you have is spent. The difference is that with money in the bank, you make the money do the work; with cash, you have to do the work.

And isn't that so true of go? If you make a thick game, you can feel as though you are behind for a long time, but if you have put the thickness to work, little by little the returns start to come in. If you play territorially, you start off with easy money, but as the game wears on, you have to work harder and harder; after all, the two stones you spent on your enclosure (for instance) cover only a small area, while the opponent's stones on the side cover a greater area.

Small wonder, then, that Takemiya finds his style "natural", while people like Cho Chikun or O Rissei are noted for the skills at sabaki and shinogi.


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Post #30 Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:41 pm 
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Interesting musings Tami. It sounds like you've had a go epiphany :).

To some extent that's what we were talking about earlier too.

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Post #31 Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:29 pm 
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I have hidden most of my older posts in order to make it easier to read more recent ones - like putting old books back on the shelf.

I have changed a lot since the summer. Back then, I was still looking for a quick-fix to get stronger. Aren't a lot of people trying to do that?

Two things have changed my attitude fundamentally. One was learning about the "10,000 hour" rule; the other was reading a comment about Ilia Shikshin, stating how he attained his strength by studying everything he could get his hands on.

It should have been obvious, but the one sure way to get good at anything is to put in the time and effort, and to keep it up.

I don't think I can manage 10,000 hours on go within a time frame shorter than 15 years, but having investigated the study hours required in various disciplines to reach certain standards, I am convinced that there are still worthwhile goals to aim at. In any case, I have decided to do what the strong did, and study as much as possible and to keep it up. To make sure that I put in a meaningful effort, I have been keeping a log of the hours I spend on things I wish to improve in. It may sound funny, but I have a chart, and after every study session I award myself a sticker for each half-hour unit. You should try it - it's surprisingly satisfying to see the rewards stack up, and to know that you're doing what you have to do. The one caveat is that you must not simply mark time - a unit can only be awarded for time spent making an effort to understand, learn or solve something challenging. Simply playing games, clicking through pro games without understanding, or skim-reading Hikaru no Go does not qualify! Once you have begun keeping a record, you become painfully aware of how determined you have to be, and how easy it was to fritter away time in the past.

I think I can manage about 750 study hours on go every year. Given that it takes 1000 hours to learn how to fly a helicopter, or 3000 hours to learn how to fly an airliner, this represents enough time and effort to become a seriously strong player within a reasonable time frame (about five years). That is still not aiming at anything like professional strength, however!

How am I spending my go time?

First, I am doing as many tsumego as I can, mainly of easy-to-moderate difficulty. When you are putting in the effort, it is suprising how many you can get through.

Second, I am reading strategy books (mainly Japanese ones from MyCom). Finally I see the point! It's not about learning new principles (that only high dans know) or anything like that; it's rather that you need continual reminding and training in the basics of good play, no matter how good you think you are. I think of it this way: it is one thing knowing something in principle, and another thing to master its application. For example, one of the most basic skills in playing the guitar is alternate picking. That is nothing more than moving your pick up and down in time with the beat, and hitting/missing the strings according to the rhythm you want to play. It may sound simple in the extreme, but be assured that it takes many, many hours to learn how to alternate pick smoothly, with complete control and good feeling. Strategy books, especially those with sets of whole-board problems, offer something similar to musical drills.

Third, I am reading technical books. You need to know your joseki and middle-game patterns, but it takes time to learn them properly. Mere memorisation is a recipe for disaster; slow, thoughtful working through each pattern, plus plenty of review, seems to be the way forward.

I don't know how to classify time spent playing go. Recently I have been playing too quickly, which is mainly a mixture of playing late at night and having a lot of new information bouncing around my head. I suppose that playing blitz is almost worthless as a learning activity, because it only tells you what your level is when you're not thinking; but if you want to get better, then it's already established that you have to make a deliberate effort. But, then there are many people who play thousands of games over the years, presumably with some thought put into it, who never get any better. Obviously it's necessary to play, and even more than that, the main purpose of go is to play, but in terms of learning how to play better, I can only surmise that play is a good deal less effective than deliberate practice. Quite likely, it's the time spent critically reviewing your games that aids improvement, not the time spent playing them itself.

To make playing less like playing, and more like deliberate practice (heh heh, am I not a jolly person? :D ), I think compasses and checklists are probably a good thing, but not as a substitute for thinking. You cannot win a go game by turning yourself into a four-line computer program, but you can deliberately integrate that four-line routine into your overall thinking. As for devising good navigation systems to install, I think there's not much better than the wonderful MyCom books - Takemiya, Hane, Sonoda and Yamashita
all supply thinking patterns that could be implemented neatly as compasses.

While I'm at it, I have concluded that playing through uncommented pro games is not a good idea. It's like a high school student attempting to understand Dufay or Josquin - it's very likely you'll miss the point without a guide.

__________________
So, in a nutshell:

GOOD Read books, review games, solve problems, play over commented games, use checklists to learn disciplined thinking
BAD Play blitz, memorise joseki, using checklists as a substitute for thinking

POINT! Even at two hours a day, that totals no more than between 500 and 700 study hours a year, assuming that you have the occasional rest day. If it takes 10,000 hours to become top-class in something, and 3000 to become "competent", then you will see that it requires a real commitment and sustained effort to make progress beyond the intermediate ranks. Sorry, but there are no easy alternatives.
__________


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Post #32 Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:18 am 
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Thickness needs space to develop, lest it becomes overconcentrated.

Likewise, if you play for influence, you can't afford to fall behind. I like influence, but I think I am too soft on territory. I believe the cause is my liking for thickness. I tend to play reinforcing moves on top of influence-oriented moves, and that is why I give away too many points in the opening. Thickness and influence are related concepts, but they're not the same thing at all.

An example speaks louder than words:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]W$$ Don't fall behind!
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . O . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


I played at 2 in a recent game, which is a thick move, but it was too slow.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$ It is hard to build a moyo
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , 6 . . . . , . . . O . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . 7 . . . . . . . . . . . 2 O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 4 . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


I played as shown, but it was hard to build a moyo (I did, in fact, but I was lucky).

After the game, it occurred to me that this way might have been better:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]W$$ More effective
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , 2 . . . . , . . . O . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


It looks like the approach is working better with the upper right, and it does not feel that I am giving black a lot of points.

It's like drawing a picture, I suppose. You can start by sketching a rough outline and then filling in details (gaining influence and development first), or you can start with small details and work outwards (playing thickly but slowly). In the second line, White lays out her moyo in rough, and is prepared to fight over the details; the way she actually played, however, avoided difficult fighting, but was too slow.

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Post #33 Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:26 am 
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Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]W$$ More effective?
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , 2 . . . . , . . . W . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


When going for influence consistency of effort is often more important in my humble (and not so much strength based) opinion. If you had not played the keima, tenuki would be ok, here the keima move ends in an odd place after Black cuts.

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Post #34 Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:04 am 
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I see what you mean, tapir.

That noted, I still think there's the beginning of a new insight around here. Something along the lines of

* Thick play needs scope to develop, otherwise you get overconcentrated
* Influence too needs room to develop, but for to avoid being soft with territory
* If there is no way to develop satisfactorily, then you should not choose the influence- or thickness-biased move.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]W$$ Another way?
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . b . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , 4 . . . . , . . . W . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . a . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Instead of playing at a, how about approaching? The approach looks good before Black has played b.

I did choose the move at a in the actual game, but somehow it looks too flat or too close to the upper right. Whatever the reason, it seems misdirected.

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Post #35 Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:05 am 
Judan
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i just started reading this thread..
i hope i can help answer some of your question..

yes 4 looks better than 'a'
better?? let me choose aother word..."active"
it doesnt necessary mean better but has a potental to be better.
for that reason i do not like :b3: .
should have been played around :w4:
Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]W$$ Another way?
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . b . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . . |
$$ | . . X , 4 . . . . , . . . W . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . a . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . X , . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


now this thread is in my view file...i will try to give you some feedback if i can.

_________________
"The more we think we know about
The greater the unknown"

Words by neil peart, music by geddy lee and alex lifeson

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Post #36 Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:50 pm 
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Thanks, magicwand. I always appreciate constructive input.

I've been reviewing Sonoda's book on basic strategy (一流基本戦略). Little by little, my understanding is being refined. When I read it two years ago, I took "playing near living groups is small" to mean much the same thing as "play far from thickness". Now, I see that it does not mean that at all.

Thickness needs to be developed, as I noted a few posts ago, to avoid becoming a large number of stones played close together with little territory to show for the investment. It is quite possible for thickness not only to be wasted, but to be turned into a heavy group that needs to make two eyes, the ultimate humiliation.

A living group already has two eyes. It may or may not be thick, but it can't be killed. Playing near your partner's living group is like hitting a tank with a stick - it's a "so what? situation". Playing near your own living group is like guarding a tank with a swordsman - it's a waste.

So, putting it all together, you can make the following compass to add to the navigational aids of go.

CENTRE - Know the balance (every move takes something, and gives something. Take more than you give!)
NORTH - Influence needs speed (or you`ll be soft on territory)
WEST - Thickness needs to work (expand and attack, and do not allow overconcentration)
EAST - Territory needs activity (you can't win just by defending ground)
SOUTH - Don't be single-minded!

On an unrelated note, I`m going to have to pay more attention to handling my emotions. I don't get angry nearly as much as I used to, but I still allow irritation to affect me at times, and I recently had another tilting episode.

I think the key is not suppressing your emotions, as I used to think, but rather to acknowledge them and to control them. I might feel irritated with the opponent who tries to induce me to blunder at 2 AM by playing on and on in hopeless position, but I don't have to act on that irritation. It's normal to feel nervous, angry or sad sometimes. Recognise how you feel, but put that feeling into a separate part of your mind, and continue to make unclouded judgements. Easier said than done, but probably more correct and more achievable than attempting not to feel anything at all.

While I'm at it, I think I shall take the opportunity to share a theory of learning I'm working on. I was keeping it to myself, but then the "physical finesse and creative career path" chap from the DaiJob ads in the Dailu Yomiuri published a short essay containing a similar idea, so I suppose the cat's out the bag.

Having investigated the 10,000 hour rule, it occurred to me to look into what approximate grades of accomplishment other investments of time and energy might produce. Here is my basic idea, based on a mixture of non-scientific web-surfing, reading and observation.

10,000 hours - world-class ability
3,000 hours - entry-level professional
1,000 hours - technician (you have professional-level abilities, but only within a highly specialised range)
500-750 hours - intermediate
100 hours - basic competency

The hours have to be spent on effortful study - that is, deliberate practice and research aimed at stretching your understanding and knowledge to the next step. Going through the motions does not count.

The bases for the 10,000 rule have been argued at length elsewhere. Briefly, I'll supply my rationale for the other "grades".

3,000 hours - that's how long it takes to become a Fide Master at chess, if you're lucky. It's about the number of training hours to become an airline pilot.

1,000 hours - that's the number of hours required to learn to fly a helipcopter. You can gain professional certificates in things like aromatherapy with this investment. It's supposed to take about this long to get to JLPT N1 in Japanese.

500-750 hours - that's the time required for JLPT N3. It's good and definitely useful, but it's not that good.

100 hours - you can learn to drive a car or, believe it or not, fly a light aircraft. In other words, you can get from home to the supermarket and back without accidents, but you're not exactly ready for the Monaco GP.

Now, I'm guessing here but...

10,000 hours - full-time go professional
3000-5000 hours - permanent low-dan professional who makes most of their money from teaching or journalism
1000 hours - high-dan amateur
300-500 hours - amateur shodan
100 hours - SDK

Please let me know if you agree. Let me know if your experiences match or differ from this scale!

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Post #37 Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:43 am 
Judan
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Tami wrote:
Now, I'm guessing here but...

10,000 hours - full-time go professional
3000-5000 hours - permanent low-dan professional who makes most of their money from teaching or journalism
1000 hours - high-dan amateur
300-500 hours - amateur shodan
100 hours - SDK

Please let me know if you agree. Let me know if your experiences match or differ from this scale!

i dont think i can ever become professional because i dont have what it takes.
everyone can reach 7 dan but professional is only for selected few who already have that brain.
i read some of your thought and felt that you have good understanding of go.
if you read professional comments and variations then you will improve very quickly to 5d.
IMO your scale is useless because everyone have different brain.
it didnt take much effort to ace through algebra. i see others who are having very hard time on algebra.
we are two different people who have different aptitude of learning certain thing.

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Post #38 Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:10 pm 
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I think I am improving steadily, as much as can be expected with the amount of time I invest: about 40 hours of study since 26 October.

I have recently had a number of games where I have definitely felt that I have been playing on a higher level than before, where I've been able to put my knowledge and reading together in a coherent way. That is satisfying.

Unfortunately, I also have a lot of horrible games in which I simply do not play anywhere close to my mark. Likely the main reason is playing long past midnight. I spend the daytime working, practicing music and studying go; by the time I log on to KGS, I am usually exhausted. It is like giving an extra stone or two in handicap - my fighting spirit is weaker, and I find it hard to play rationally.

So, I have either to divide my free day time between playing and studying, or I have to play in the day, and study at night, or simply accept that I can't play as much as I want to. Obviously studying late at night is not ideal, but it might not be as demanding as trying to play.

In any case, I cannot go on playing at 2AM against some well-rested youngster in Germany or America.

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Post #39 Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:30 am 
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It's high time to update this journal. Far from losing interest in go, my enjoyment of and interest in the game have been increasing, but I find that once you have decided on a path, the best thing to do is to walk it, not talk it, hence the lack of updates.

I appreciate it that quite a few people have taken the time to read my thoughts, and to offer comments. For what it's worth, my long-term aim is to become a high-dan player and to be able to teach go for a reasonable fee, should the need arise. My other aim is simply to become more skilful - "because it's there".

Since October I have definitely become stronger. This is shown by the steady crawl upwards of my rank graph, and more importantly by the sense of improved clarity that I have now. I feel much more aware of what is going on, and better able to act because of that.

I have read quite a few books, but the ones that have helped me most have been slightly surprising, because they came from the budget end of the go shelf in the bookshop. One is "No Time Tsumego" (ノータイム詰碁) from MyCom and the other is Takeo Shinji's "Introduction to the Fuseki" series (布石入門 and 布石から中盤) from Seibido.

The tsumego book is a little pocket book of 360 life and death problems, and consistently strikes the right balance between being easy but not trivial, and challenging but not frustrating. I've been bringing down quite a few large dragons because of an awareness of weak points that has been enhanced by this handy little collection.

Takao Shinji's go series is brilliant. I can't wait to read the next volume, which is about the middlegame. He states the most important principles for each stage of the game and then shows you how to apply them in various situations that occur frequently in amateur games. Other books do the same thing, but I have not read another book with such excellent structure and purpose. It is as though Takao-sensei is sitting at the goban, drilling you thoroughly and making certain than you have understood. A lot of thought has clearly been put into selecting the exercises and presenting them in a progressive order. I would recommend this book to non-Japanese readers, too, because the examples, rather than the text, do the talking.

I have noticed a couple of interesting things about playing on KGS around the 1k/1d level. First, Japanese players seem stronger relatively speaking then other players of the same rank. They make few tactical errors and they play in good shape; it can be very frustrating trying to catch up if you fall behind, because they simpy don't leave as many weaknesses behind as others at that level. Why then aren't they 2d or higher? Is it that many of them, perhaps being freeters or students without regular work commitments, don't know when to quit and go to bed, and play on, with decreasing success, as the night wears on? Or do they tend to play mainly with other Japanese, and maintain a 2k-2d "bubble" that is markedly different from the other KGSers? I wish I knew!

The other interesting point is that very few people play positively. The most popular style appears to be the amateur version of "amashi", which is a high-level strategy in the hands of a pro. As I believe Charles Matthews once wrote on SL, this kind of thing tends to peak around 1k. By this, I mean that most opponents seem to play with the main purpose of preventing me from getting territory or influence, rather than creating anything of their own. This is manifested in premature invasions and moves too close to thickness. Happily, I think I'm becoming more adept at punishing this kind of play.

Another funny thing is that you can tell a lot about the person you are playing by the way they play. I often have an inkling of impending escapage or departing without saying "thanks" from the kinds of sucker punches that have been thrown my way as the game has developed.

Changing subject, the Kaya alpha is going very well. It will likely become my favourite place to play when all the features have been set into motion. I do like KGS a lot, and one must have gratitude toward WMS for offering such a high-quality server for free, but I can only welcome the arrival of a server that will probably improve greatly on KGS in the crucial areas of ranking system and escaper handling. I have no doubt that KGS ranks change too slowly and unpredictably (this is my conclusion, having read both sides of the arguments carefully), and while I am seldom victim of escapers, I can only have sympathy for honest players of around 15k-7k (where escapolgy is apparently rife). Perhaps a rivalry between Kaya and KGS will benefit everybody by spurring both sides on to improving their product.

Lastly, I'm sure there is no "magic bullet" for improvement. Lots of things help you to improve, all you have to do it get on with them and remember that it takes months and years of sustained effort, not mere days.


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Post #40 Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:11 pm 
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Make a note to myself: never play past 1AM when tired and upset. It's asking for trouble.

Sadly, bad things happen sometimes, and there are occasions where in't best simply to take a break and let the situation pass.

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