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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #41 Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:57 am 
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daal wrote:

Ok, I think my problem is about understanding more than about winning. I admit, I don't handle losing very well, but what really gets under my skin and makes me feel so self-critical, is the feeling that after playing go for 10 years, I still don't know what I am doing. Obviously I have absorbed enough principles to play at a 5k level, but I am still constantly confronted by situations where I feel that I just don't have the basis to make a decision. I can see reasons for playing x or y, but I don't have the tools to say that one is better than the other. It just feels random. So whether I win or lose feels like a matter of luck. It didn't feel like this when I acquired my current level of understanding. I remember when a sentence in one of Robert Jasiek's books got me to 5k, but that was almost 5 years ago, and I have read plenty and studied plenty since then, but my level of understanding feels like it hasn't changed. I do expect that increasing my level of understanding would result in ranking up, but that is not necessarily a goal.


Could it be that you've reached the limit of how far you can go mainly relying on principles and general understanding? It could well be that at 5k most players will be familiar with proverbs and general advice, even if they don't always apply them, and the ones that aren't familiar will be quite good at fighting and tesuji in order to make up for it.

I say this because I noticed the same thing in chess: once you reach 1700 you can be more-or-less certain that anybody else you meet of 1700 or higher will be pretty well acquainted with their Nimzowitsch, etc., and you can't expect to increase your win rate against them just by reading Nimzo for the 19th time. Instead, you simply have to work through specific positions and become acquainted with concrete issues (I found the Russian concept of "priyomes" helpful in this, and I'm sure it has its analogue in go, but that's another discussion). In 2016, I went through Gelfer's Positional Chess Handbook and most of GM Rios's Chess Structures. Before that, I used to struggle at about 1800 on chess.com; now I consistently play at 1900+, so that approach has clearly done me some good.

Somebody else advised you to play only 4-4 corners, invade weird moves at 3-3 automatically, and so on. I really don't like criticising somebody else's advice here, but I have to say that I think it would harm you more than help you in the long run. Referring back to chess, again, there are many people who play only the Stonewall Attack or the (dreaded) London System with White and the King's Indian/Pirc with Black, because these are "universal openings" in which you can rattle off 7 or 8 moves hardly paying attention to oppo at all. Admittedly, such an approach kind of works in chess, but even there there eventually comes a point in the game where it takes on unique characteristics, and success will go to the player who is able to identify and play according to these concrete factors. Since go gets to the moment of uniqueness somewhat earlier, it seems very risky indeed to train yourself to do anything automatically.

Why don't you try studying some joseki carefully thinking about the context of each? For example, set up the first few moves of a pro game, then play out different joseki in one corner and see how the results relate to the other stones. Yang Yilun has a book out called Fundamental Principles of Go and he gives some really good examples in it.

But don't just be satisfied with general, skin-deep understanding. To improve, it simply won't be enough to say, for instance, "I'm building a framework on the side so I shall use a high approach"; you'll need also to look at alternatives and find out for yourself how they work out.

I'm in much the same boat as you: I've been at a sticking point for a while, and I have a great deal of sympathy with you. I believe, though, that sticking points can be broken. THINK and grow STRONG!

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #42 Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:16 am 
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daal wrote:

Ok, I think my problem is about understanding more than about winning. I admit, I don't handle losing very well, but what really gets under my skin and makes me feel so self-critical, is the feeling that after playing go for 10 years, I still don't know what I am doing. Obviously I have absorbed enough principles to play at a 5k level, but I am still constantly confronted by situations where I feel that I just don't have the basis to make a decision. I can see reasons for playing x or y, but I don't have the tools to say that one is better than the other. It just feels random. So whether I win or lose feels like a matter of luck. It didn't feel like this when I acquired my current level of understanding. I remember when a sentence in one of Robert Jasiek's books got me to 5k, but that was almost 5 years ago, and I have read plenty and studied plenty since then, but my level of understanding feels like it hasn't changed. I do expect that increasing my level of understanding would result in ranking up, but that is not necessarily a goal.


Could it be that you've reached the limit of how far you can go mainly relying on principles and general understanding? It could well be that at 5k most players will be familiar with proverbs and general advice, even if they don't always apply them, and the ones that aren't familiar will be quite good at fighting and tesuji in order to make up for it.

I say this because I noticed the same thing in chess: once you reach 1700 you can be more-or-less certain that anybody else you meet of 1700 or higher will be pretty well acquainted with their Nimzowitsch, etc., and you can't expect to increase your win rate against them just by reading Nimzo for the 19th time (for My System, substitute Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go). Instead, you simply have to work through specific positions and become acquainted with concrete issues (I found the Russian concept of "priyomes" helpful in this, and I'm sure it has its analogue in go, but that's another discussion). In 2016, I went through Gelfer's Positional Chess Handbook (almost entirely made up of positions and variations, with very little verbal commentary) and most of GM Rios's Chess Structures. Before that, I used to struggle at about 1800 on chess.com; now I consistently play at 1900+, so that approach has clearly done me some good.

Somebody else advised you to play only 4-4 corners, invade weird moves at 3-3 automatically, and so on. I really don't like criticising somebody else's advice here, but I have to say that I think it would harm you more than help you in the long run. Referring back to chess, again, there are many people who play only the Stonewall Attack or the (dreaded) London System with White and the King's Indian/Pirc with Black, because these are "universal openings" in which you can rattle off 7 or 8 moves hardly paying attention to oppo at all. Admittedly, such an approach kind of works in chess, but even there there eventually comes a point in the game where it takes on unique characteristics, and success will go to the player who is able to identify and play according to these concrete factors. Since go gets to the moment of uniqueness somewhat earlier, it seems very risky indeed to train yourself to do anything automatically.

Why don't you try studying some joseki carefully thinking about the context of each? For example, set up the first few moves of a pro game, then play out different joseki in one corner and see how the results relate to the other stones. Yang Yilun has a book out called Fundamental Principles of Go and he gives some really good examples in it.

But don't just be satisfied with general, skin-deep understanding. To improve, it simply won't be enough to say, for instance, "I'm building a framework on the side so I shall use a high approach"; you'll need also to look at alternatives and find out for yourself how they work out.

I'm in much the same boat as you: I've been at a sticking point for a while, and I have a great deal of sympathy with you. I believe, though, that sticking points can be broken. THINK and grow STRONG!

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #43 Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:43 pm 
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I found out a long time ago that I don't really have the proper personality to play this game.

I recently looked back at the state of things after being gone for so long, and it's amazing how much widespread strong computer AI has spread after alphago. At this point, I'm only interested in seeing where it goes.

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #44 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:46 am 
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Brandon and Triton said on their stream that its apparently not uncommon for SDKs to get frustrated or even hateful of go.

Their advice was to just grind out 1000+ games, at some point it will fade.

Though this takes a massive amount of time and might just be stockholm syndrome :scratch: .

Personally I think it is good advice, it works for me in a lot of hard video games (Dark Souls, Touhou) but it really comes down to weather or not the satisfaction of the payoff is worth the time investment.

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #45 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:32 am 
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paK0 wrote:
Brandon and Triton said on their stream that its apparently not uncommon for SDKs to get frustrated or even hateful of go.


Near the end, in 2015, I had so much anxiety every time I pressed automatch on kgs. I knew I needed to play, but while that button was spinning I could feel all the dread and adrenaline in my body until I cancelled it. Then I had to shout in anger when a match instantly popped up. I just thought after awhile that if I absoloutely hated the idea of playing, then it's not for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #46 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:06 am 
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Abyssinica wrote:
I just thought after a while that if I absolutely hated the idea of playing, then it's not for me.


Sounds fair.

To all who seem to like to write about themselves playing go: what happens if you remove "playing go" from the previous sentence?

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Post #47 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:12 am 
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Abyssinica wrote:
I found out a long time ago that I don't really have the proper personality to play this game.
I suspect that I also don't have the proper personality for go, but I've stuck on despite that. There seem to be certain qualities that make someone a good go player. Patience, a thick skin, a penchant for careful and deliberate action and the ability to stay calm under pressure are all qualities that I don't have in abundance. I do however enjoy studying, playing, watching and thinking about go when I am not beating on myself for sucking at it, so I guess that's why, despite not being particularly well suited to being good at it, I haven't quit go.

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Post #48 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:07 am 
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daal wrote:
Abyssinica wrote:
I found out a long time ago that I don't really have the proper personality to play this game.
I suspect that I also don't have the proper personality for go, but I've stuck on despite that. There seem to be certain qualities that make someone a good go player. Patience, a thick skin, a penchant for careful and deliberate action and the ability to stay calm under pressure are all qualities that I don't have in abundance. I do however enjoy studying, playing, watching and thinking about go when I am not beating on myself for sucking at it, so I guess that's why, despite not being particularly well suited to being good at it, I haven't quit go.


This probably sounds stupid to some older or wiser people but here I go:

Personally, I think I have too much pride to play go. I think now that those people who are almost zen buddhas are the ones really fit for the game. The ones who don't care about anything except learning more about the game, or hell, even just playing because that's what they like to do. I remember the dude I played almost four years ago who was an 18k with over 10,000 games. He still couldn't read ladders, but you know what? He played a dozen games every day and was probably very happy and content doing so. That guy is the one fit for the game.

I really hate making mistakes, and every one I make is just painful, especially when it caused me to lose. Probably the best times I've had recently in the game were when I come back for a day or so and find someone I hadn't seen in awhile and play a game. I don't care about it - we just played to socalise and that's it. I don't remember what happened in the game or who won or lost because it didn't matter.

I think one reason why I felt so bad about playing the game seriously was that it was serious; that I invested a hell of a lot of time for what seemed to me to be no result - or at least none that I had wanted. The last time that I had come back to playing I managed to get from my old 5k to 3k. I wonder if I should try it again. I'm probably still not ready, because that's all I'm thinking about - reaching my arbitrary goals I had set in 2014.

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Post #49 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:44 am 
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Abyssinica wrote:
I think now that those people who are almost zen buddhas are the ones really fit for the game.


I think that there is something to that. :)

In chess, by contrast, one may, as Fischer put it, crush the the opponent's ego, or, as he did not say, have your own ego crushed. But that is not the case in go because of the accurate handicapping system. If you are 7 stones stronger than your opponent, you could wipe the board with him in an even game, but with a 7 stone handicap you are going to lose half the time. Since you are going to lose half your games, equanimity helps. :D

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Post #50 Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:51 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Abyssinica wrote:
I just thought after a while that if I absolutely hated the idea of playing, then it's not for me.


Sounds fair.

To all who seem to like to write about themselves playing go: what happens if you remove "playing go" from the previous sentence?


This is OT, but the idea of removing words from a sentence reminded me of this joke from high school. "Parking" refers to the mainly high school pastime of you and your date sitting in a parked car in a secluded spot and engaging in love play.

"Oh Brad, please, let's not park here."

"Oh Brad, please, let's not park."

"Oh Brad, please, let's not."

"Oh Brad, please, let's."

"Oh Brad, please."

"Oh Brad!"

"Oh!"

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Post #51 Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:11 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
"Oh Brad, please, let's not park here."

"Oh Brad, please, let's not park."

"Oh Brad, please, let's not."

"Oh Brad, please, let's."

"Oh Brad, please."

"Oh Brad!"

"Oh!"


Groan... I'm never going to be able to expunge this "joke" from my brain. My only solace is that I can now torture others with it and hope that the schadenfreude compensates for the inner torture...

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Post #52 Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:47 am 
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Tami wrote:
It could well be that at 5k most players will be familiar with proverbs and general advice, even if they don't always apply them, and the ones that aren't familiar will be quite good at fighting and tesuji in order to make up for it.

I say this because I noticed the same thing in chess: once you reach 1700 you can be more-or-less certain that anybody else you meet of 1700 or higher will be pretty well acquainted with their Nimzowitsch, etc., and you can't expect to increase your win rate against them just by reading Nimzo for the 19th time (for My System, substitute Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go). Instead, you simply have to work through specific positions and become acquainted with concrete issues (I found the Russian concept of "priyomes" helpful in this, and I'm sure it has its analogue in go, but that's another discussion).


I play in this range, and I'm not sure that chess is a good model here. My best guess as to why this range tends to be a common plateau is that progressing from this point requires developing a more balanced game. My impression is that I and my opponents tend to have a VERY basic understanding of all of the elements of the game, but we tend to be proficient in only one or two. For example, I just played someone who played a terrible fuseki followed by a shockingly strong middle game, and then a passable endgame. In short, he wins based solely on is middle game skills. I play a strong fuseki, and until recently, I won or lost based on the advantage I built up at the start of the game.

To progress from here, I think one has to start focusing on developing a broader set of skills. For example, @Knotwilg pointed out a few months ago that players in our range do not properly utilize influence. Made sense. So, I started opting to build influence at every chance to force myself to learn how to use it. However, in doing so, I exposed a number of weaknesses in complementary skills. Players at this level readily give up influence for territory, but they are also not blind to the threat the influence poses. What usually happens is that they allow the influence to develop more than a stronger player would and then try to neutralize it by overplaying. For example, by invading a moyo too deeply. The result is usually a fight which then requires a better understanding of shape and tsumego than I currently have -- my opponents usually break out or manage to live inside when they shouldn't.

I think what makes this stage very hard is that it is not at all obvious where one's holes are and progress requires devloping multiple skills.

Also, you mentioned basic proverbs. I think people in this range are probably familiar with them, but we still misapply them regularly. Dwyrin (https://www.youtube.com/user/dwyrin) has a nice series called "Back to Basics" where he tries to demonstrate that it's possible to beat SDK players just by focusing on basic principles and making large moves. In general, I think he's right, but his commentary also makes it clear that the application of basic princples often requires a decent set of complementary skills.

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Post #53 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:05 am 
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BlindGroup wrote:
Also, you mentioned basic proverbs. I think people in this range are probably familiar with them, but we still misapply them regularly. Dwyrin (https://www.youtube.com/user/dwyrin) has a nice series called "Back to Basics" where he tries to demonstrate that it's possible to beat SDK players just by focusing on basic principles and making large moves. In general, I think he's right, but his commentary also makes it clear that the application of basic princples often requires a decent set of complementary skills.


I also enjoy watching Dwyrin's videos, usually, but I think it's worth remembering that he tends to play much weaker opponents in many of these. It can be hard to tell for sure whether he beats the opponent because he follows basic principles, or simply because he knows a great deal more about go. In other words, he could easily make it look on the surface as though all he were doing was, say, making good shape or playing far from thickness or whichever principle du jour; but there could be other reasons for his victories.

Anyway, I concede you do have a point. If I could afford to have a teacher, I'd definitely go for that, because I do feel that my own game has strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps other people in the SDK range are just as uneven as I am. On the other hand, I maintain that I also have a point: relying on verbal principles can only take you so far, and the real foundation of strength is something more concrete than that. Taking Dwyrin as an illustration of that, even while he's expounding basic principles he is also more than capable of rattling off very specific sequences peculiar to the shape in question, which suggests to me that one reason he's strong is because he's carefully studied a lot of real positions.

I wanted to address a point Abssyinica raised. It's understandable to feel nervous, especially if playing go is something you want to do well. The School of Life did a good video on Youtube about mastery a few years back. The main point is that we tend only to see very skilful practitioners as they are now: we don't get to see all of the many, many discarded drafts that they had to produce before composing a Ninth Symphony or painting a Mona Lisa. So, if you want to get good at go, don't you just have to accept that making mistakes and losing a lot of really crummy games is just part of the process? If I could be certain that it would help me to make a high dan rank, then I'd gladly lose another 10,000 games! Wasn't it Bill who said that he's 5d now, so who cares how many games he lost before that?

As for feeling nervous: yes, it can be unpleasant. You have to learn to deal with it. Play with your head and not your heart. Emotions tend to settle down if one makes a determined effort to stay objective; and enjoyment comes back.

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Post #54 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:51 am 
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BlindGroup wrote:
To progress from here, I think one has to start focusing on developing a broader set of skills.


Virtually every amateur has glaring holes and weaknesses in their game. That's why when asked what to study, I say study everything. :)

Quote:
For example, @Knotwilg pointed out a few months ago that players in our range do not properly utilize influence. Made sense. So, I started opting to build influence at every chance to force myself to learn how to use it. However, in doing so, I exposed a number of weaknesses in complementary skills.


When I was a rank beginner I tried to kill everything. OC, I ended up getting killed. ;) Around 7 kyu I started to build thickness, mainly by sacrificing stones that were going to get killed, anyway. To my delight I discovered that thickness helped me kill things. :cool:

Ben Hogan, who had almost as smooth a golf swing as Sam Snead, said that beginners should hit their drives as hard as they can. In his experience he had found that players who started off trying to develop a smooth swing (which is the ideal) never developed any power.

In go, to utilize thickness requires power.
Moi wrote:
It is better to have attacked and lost than never to have attacked at all.
:lol:

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Post #55 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:07 pm 
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Hi Tami,
Quote:
hard to tell for sure whether he beats the opponent because...
There are numerous mistakes in the sequences, the reviews, and the evaluations: only better players aren't around to point them all out: they have no time or obligation, or both.


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Post #56 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:14 pm 
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Tami wrote:
I also enjoy watching Dwyrin's videos, usually, but I think it's worth remembering that he tends to play much weaker opponents in many of these. It can be hard to tell for sure whether he beats the opponent because he follows basic principles, or simply because he knows a great deal more about go. In other words, he could easily make it look on the surface as though all he were doing was, say, making good shape or playing far from thickness or whichever principle du jour; but there could be other reasons for his victories.


I completely agree with you on this. The example that springs to mind is knowing when to tenuki. I'll frequently make moves that he'd consider slow because I either don't see that two groups are already connected or that a group is unconditionally alive. So, while he's following a basic principle in playing away, the decision is predicated on a very solid understanding of shape, tsumego, etc. That's, of course, not to knock his series -- I watch it regularly -- but it illustrates how different skills depend on each other.

Tami wrote:
Anyway, I concede you do have a point. If I could afford to have a teacher, I'd definitely go for that, because I do feel that my own game has strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps other people in the SDK range are just as uneven as I am. On the other hand, I maintain that I also have a point: relying on verbal principles can only take you so far, and the real foundation of strength is something more concrete than that. Taking Dwyrin as an illustration of that, even while he's expounding basic principles he is also more than capable of rattling off very specific sequences peculiar to the shape in question, which suggests to me that one reason he's strong is because he's carefully studied a lot of real positions.


I may not have been clear in my earlier post. I definitely agree with your point that principles can only take you so far. The point I was really trying to get across is that I feel like I'm beginning to understand that skills in go interact significantly with each other. So much so, that one might be develop one a skill only to find it's value is limited due to a lack of another.

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Post #57 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:28 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
BlindGroup wrote:
To progress from here, I think one has to start focusing on developing a broader set of skills.


Virtually every amateur has glaring holes and weaknesses in their game. That's why when asked what to study, I say study everything. :)


Can't argue with that, but one does have to start somewhere!

Quote:
Quote:
For example, @Knotwilg pointed out a few months ago that players in our range do not properly utilize influence. Made sense. So, I started opting to build influence at every chance to force myself to learn how to use it. However, in doing so, I exposed a number of weaknesses in complementary skills.


When I was a rank beginner I tried to kill everything. OC, I ended up getting killed. ;) Around 7 kyu I started to build thickness, mainly by sacrificing stones that were going to get killed, anyway. To my delight I discovered that thickness helped me kill things. :cool:

Ben Hogan, who had almost as smooth a golf swing as Sam Snead, said that beginners should hit their drives as hard as they can. In his experience he had found that players who started off trying to develop a smooth swing (which is the ideal) never developed any power.

In go, to utilize thickness requires power.
Moi wrote:
It is better to have attacked and lost than never to have attacked at all.
:lol:


I am beginning to understand your point. Oddly, I never went through the "kill everything" phase. For some reason, I had (and still do to an extent) a strong aversion to fighting. I can't articulate it, but it just felt like someone how the natural balance/beauty of the game was getting desecrated. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I still feel a psychic pain when it becomes clear that my opponent is going to do nothing other than try to kill me.

Unfortunately, I now understand that I need to further develop the ability to kill things. :) I also wonder if I might have been better off trying to kill everything from the start. It seems that if one can fight well enough, one can make up for a hots of other weaknesses.

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Post #58 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:02 pm 
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Hi BG,
Quote:
I am beginning to understand your point. Oddly, I never went through the "kill everything" phase.
Sometimes, that's a prescription for those who play very timidly...
Quote:
For some reason, I had (and still do to an extent) a strong aversion to fighting.
Would it help if you think of it as very intense dancing ( like some salsa variation ) ? :blackeye:

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EdLee wrote:
Sometimes, that's a prescription for those who play very timidly...


I'm not sure whether or not this fits me. I do fight when I feel provoked, but if I see a non-fighting option, I usually opt for it. I've not (I think) been accused of playing timidly. So, perhaps this impression is correct. But I've also developed a better appreciation for fighting now that I've started to see how it interacts with thickness and good direction of play. The thing I find most interesting about go is how the different structures on the board interact with each other. The kind of crazy kyu fighting that is entirely local seemed to lack this, but once I realized that not even these kinds of fights are entirely local, I've gotten quite a bit better at fighting. That said, I think it is still my biggest weakness.

EdLee wrote:
Would it help if you think of it as very intense dancing ( like some salsa variation ) ? :blackeye:


I'll try! I've also been inclined to create a new account with the idea of just playing to pick fights.

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 Post subject: Re: Losing my grip on go
Post #60 Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:19 pm 
Judan

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BlindGroup wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
When I was a rank beginner I tried to kill everything. OC, I ended up getting killed. ;) Around 7 kyu I started to build thickness, mainly by sacrificing stones that were going to get killed, anyway. To my delight I discovered that thickness helped me kill things. :cool:

Ben Hogan, who had almost as smooth a golf swing as Sam Snead, said that beginners should hit their drives as hard as they can. In his experience he had found that players who started off trying to develop a smooth swing (which is the ideal) never developed any power.

In go, to utilize thickness requires power.
Moi wrote:
It is better to have attacked and lost than never to have attacked at all.
:lol:


I am beginning to understand your point. Oddly, I never went through the "kill everything" phase.


I don't think that many people do. And, OC, you have to grow out if it. But it sort of explains how I ended up with a thick style. :)

BlindGroup wrote:
I do fight when I feel provoked, but if I see a non-fighting option, I usually opt for it. I've not (I think) been accused of playing timidly.


Having looked at your recent game, I would not call your play timid. But I think it does lack enterprise. :)

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