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 Post subject: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #1 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:31 am 
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I'm thinking a lot about what's the best way to improve, especially as an adult learner. Of course there's the usual "play, analyze, tsumego" advice, but something a bit more concrete would be appreciated.

Here are some thoughts in no particular order.

I feel that in the West, Go has few role models, few good teachers and a rather small community. A large part of the culture is Asian so I can't really identify with it. That's something I'm envious of in Chess.

It would be nice if there was a well-trodden road to improvement. Let's say, a five-year plan to get to EGF 3-dan. I spend quite a bit of time on studying Go but a lot of what I do seems random or haphazard.

As a child, people support you. as an adult and learn something new, no one really cares about you. So I feel it's important to have a coach who gives you support and cares about you.

Go is a solitary pursuit. Time is a precious resource, so I should really have rules in place on how to use it.


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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #2 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:38 am 
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https://senseis.xmp.net/?DieterVerhofst ... mprovement

On your thoughts:

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I feel that in the West, Go has few role models, few good teachers and a rather small community. A large part of the culture is Asian so I can't really identify with it. That's something I'm envious of in Chess.


I don't share that feeling. Table tennis is also largely dominated by China. Even if Timo Boll is a fantastic player and personality I still root for Ma Long. For me the provenance, dare I say race, doesn't play a role at all in a world wide sport. Perhaps the role model needn't be local but there needs to be a local part of the whole culture?

Quote:
It would be nice if there was a well-trodden road to improvement. Let's say, a five-year plan to get to EGF 3-dan. I spend quite a bit of time on studying Go but a lot of what I do seems random or haphazard.


There's no formula in any sport or leisure. Talent beats hard work beats talent beats deliberate practice ... I do think amateurs largely focus on the wrong things or have exaggerated expectations on the short term of working on the right things in the long term. For the right things (IMO):

* https://senseis.xmp.net/?DieterVerhofst ... OfMistakes
* https://senseis.xmp.net/?DieterVerhofst ... mesmanship

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As a child, people support you. as an adult and learn something new, no one really cares about you. So I feel it's important to have a coach who gives you support and cares about you.


That I can relate to. Without a coach, even at 50, I lose motivation or discipline. A rival has worked too in my past.

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Go is a solitary pursuit. Time is a precious resource, so I should really have rules in place on how to use it.


It's definitely something that doesn't allow for too much wandering of the mind, if you (I) want to improve fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #3 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:18 am 
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Is it really different to study as a 50 year old than as a 15 year old (except that you have less time and learn more slowly)?

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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #4 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:26 am 
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jlt wrote:
Is it really different to study as a 50 year old than as a 15 year old (except that you have less time and learn more slowly)?


Well, you named the two major issues. I do feel that what I lost in terms of capacity and freedom, I can make up with efficiency. The biggest problem I find is longevity. I still remember things I learned at 15. Knowledge acquired later tends to be less ingrained.

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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #5 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:59 am 
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In 2015, I lost a good deal of weight (around 30 pounds). I largely attributed this to something I had heard Andrew Jackson say on YouTube in passing. Namely, he was chatting with a friend about something to the effect of "hard stuff that's easy vs. easy stuff that's hard". I know I don't have the quote exactly right, but it was my takeaway from what he said.

Anyway, he pointed out that you may have something like basic Calculus, which is complex/hard. But if you invest some time and get the knack of it, once it clicks, it's just easy. But then you have something like losing weight. At it's core, it's simple: eat less and exercise more. That's it! But despite that simple solution, it's very hard to stick to on a regular basis, every day, indefinitely.

So people often try to turn a "simple thing that's hard to maintain" into a "complex thing that's easier to maintain". Diet books will talk about the new secret to losing weight, the complex thing you're doing wrong, etc., when in fact, the answer is simple: eat less and exercise more... consistently (the kicker!)...

I believe that improving at go is, like losing weight, another thing in the "simple but hard to maintain" category. To improve at go, it's simple: do go problems, play serious games, review them... Stretch your abilities with each of these activities... consistently. And that's it.

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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #6 Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:13 am 
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Invest time and effort especially on your weakest important points.

For example, if you have done fewer than 1500 each of tactical reading problems with branches, endgame evaluation problems or game openings, and cannot apply all theory fluently, you know what to do now.


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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #7 Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:14 am 
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Marcel Grünauer wrote:
I'm thinking a lot about what's the best way to improve, especially as an adult learner. Of course there's the usual "play, analyze, tsumego" advice, but something a bit more concrete would be appreciated.

The "play, analyze, tsumego" is decent advice but I find it more useful to first focus on what needs to be improved and only then on how to improve it. This helps with establishing more concrete goals and adding structure to one's training plan. For example, we can distinguish between:

    - opening
    - middle game
    - yose

Or:

    - go theory
    - reading
    - intuition
    - mindset
    - meta elements (e.g. time management)

Or:
    - local tactics (e.g. tesuji, sabaki, haengma...)
    - global strategies (e.g. direction of play, positional judgment...)

You can also approach these topics in a different order. For example,
    - chronologically (opening>middle game>yose)
    - starting with your weakest area
    - starting with the topic you enjoy the most
    - ...

If you're interested in fast improvement, then I suggest starting with the weakest area first. If you'd prefer a more ordered approach then something more chronological would be better. I've pretty much opted for a mix of both. My opening is probably mid-dan level but my middle game is very weak so I've been focusing on improving it for the past year. My goal is to master all/most middle game fundamentals before I move on to yose. This will probably take me at least another year.


Marcel Grünauer wrote:
It would be nice if there was a well-trodden road to improvement. Let's say, a five-year plan to get to EGF 3-dan. I spend quite a bit of time on studying Go but a lot of what I do seems random or haphazard.

I'm sure the above lists are not exhaustive but if you manage to master the fundamentals of everything I listed above you should be within reach of EGF 3 dan. As for "how to master all of these fundamentals", well, that's a more difficult matter. The reason why there's so many different study plans is that there's no one-size-fits-all plan. You'll probably improve regardless of the plan you use but if you want to be efficient you need to figure out what works for you. After a very long decade of slowly and painfully crawling towards shodan, I finally started making some decent progress again last year after I started more seriously analysing my games with AI. While I've always religiously reviewed my games on my own, I never had a teacher and apparently what I needed to kick-start my progress again was for someone or something to yell at me for all the bad moves I make. I've also started reading go books again after a decade long pause and I believe that helped me as well since books are the only resource I found that provide decent enough overview of various go topics. This is what worked for me but everyone is different.


Marcel Grünauer wrote:
As a child, people support you. as an adult and learn something new, no one really cares about you. So I feel it's important to have a coach who gives you support and cares about you.

Go is a solitary pursuit. Time is a precious resource, so I should really have rules in place on how to use it.


Since you feel that having a teacher is important, have you tried getting one? There's also various online leagues/study groups that you could join. Some of them are free. I've also found go clubs and tournaments to be very useful in terms of learning opportunities as well as motivation and support.

All in all, what I'd suggest to you if you want a more structured approach is:
1.) Write down a comprehensive list of go topics.
2.) Asses how good you are at each of these topics (if possible, with the help of AI and/or a stronger player).
3.) Choose which topic(s) you want to focus on. Don't pick too many.
4.) Decide how you want to study them. This will to an extent depend on your learning style but you can't go too wrong with a mix of theory (books, youtube), practice (games) and analysis (I'd include here being conscious of your thought-processes while you're playing.)
5.) Regularly assess your improvement.

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 Post subject: Re: Random thoughts on improvement
Post #8 Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:45 am 
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Getting a teacher is great - I've been in the American Yunguseng Dojang (AYD) for 4 years. For the first 1 1/2 years it helped a lot and then I stalled for a couple of years. There are many reasons for that, but they all boil down to being a busy adult. Recently things turned around for me because two of my real life Go friends who are not that far from my level (2-3 stones) joined up during these socially distant times and we decided to review our games and go over the study material together once every couple of weeks via Discord. This has really changed our level of engagement - since everybody sees something different, has different levels of experience, etc. Joseki and patterns that seemed tedious to study are now great fun, because we compare notes, ask each other lots of questions, make jokes etc. Now I see that probably this social dimension of a dojang is just important as the playing and tsumego.


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