Life In 19x19

Losing my grip on go
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Author:  Knotwilg [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

Pio2001 wrote:
Winning is not difficult : just play weaker opponents.

There is no such thing as winning often against players of the same strength. It's an oxymoron. If the opponents are of the same strength, the win/loss rate is 50/50 by definition.

I think we got your point by now. You don't seem to get mine, so I'll try again and will bring my point towards yours.

There is level of understanding and level of play. If strength means winning percentage, then obviously you cannot force an increase in winning percentage by applying the same strength.

Now let's look at strength being level of understanding. If you increase your level of understanding, you may expect a temporary increase in winning percentage (against an equal distribution of players around your rank), until you've moved up a rank and your competition has become stronger on average (by virtue of stronger players now starting to accept your game invitations).

This is in general how improvement is regarded.

However this leads to frustration: some people feel they have already invested a lot in their understanding of the game, yet they don't win more games on average. Or they expect to move up 2 ranks, but they merely moved up 1.

To these people I say: what if you're studying interesting stuff which however has only a marginal effect on your results? What if you play too many blitz games, not applying your level of understanding? What if you lose by running out of time, because you try too hard? What if your emotions are running away with you and you resign while you could have fought back? And so on ...

These "improvements in gamesmanship" may be the key to get the results that would be justified by the hours of study spent on joseki, fuseki ...

Once these skills have improved, level of understanding will again be the key determinator. The same stabilization pattern will follow as the one sketched above and there will indeed be no way anymore to force more wins by staying at the same level of understanding (or gamesmanship).

I hope this makes sense and paints a richer picture than either "try to win more" or "your chances are 50/50". Just wanting to win doesn't help indeed. But not even trying to win more (against stronger opponents) is not very ambitious.

Author:  Elom [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

My two cents worth (hidden as it's probably redundant)

If the entirety of one's winning ability (what we call playing strength) is a combination of General Aptitude (your transferable skills, or lack thereof) and Skill/Style (your knowledge and level of understanding), then General Aptitude is like a cap one can move from activity to activity, while Skill is like a base representing one.

Maybe GA can be divided into the ability to think (reasoning, organisation of analysis, acuity of thought, health, etc), what I call call mental athleticism, and attitude (staying calm throughout the game, thinking neutrally and through the eyes of the opponent, etc).

Likewise, it looks as if Skill can be divided into knowledge (joseki, proverbs, etc) and intuition (gained through games).

So if one feels themselves to be increasing their Skill but their overall playing strength is barely changing, the causes could be:

1. They are creating the illusion of increasing their Skill by studying the wrong things, for example, by memorising joseki when you normally lose from reading errors in middle game fights, or having a bad in-game habit such as endless empty triangles in inappropriate positions. It's like throwing glass on the ground in the hope a house appears; you need not only the correct proportion of materials, but the right arrangement of them to build one.

2. The problem lies in General Aptitude. If someone tends not to think before they make their moves, they will do so whether they're playing go, shogi or any other board game.

When people say they're stronger than they play just as a get out of jail card, they seem to imply they have a problem with General Aptitude. So their attempt at repairing their ego becomes a logical backfire in that it seems better to have a low understanding of the game but be able to win regardless through the heroic qualities of patience and determination if go is just their medium to impress. Still, even those more concerned about improving should probably be happy to find themselves as being so— rather than more study, simply fixing a bad habit or two could release their go potential.

Edited for simplicity and less typos.

Author:  jlt [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

Elom: did you mean general attitude (instead of aptitude)?

Author:  Elom [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

jlt wrote:
Elom: did you mean general attitude (instead of aptitude)?

I probably made this response far too long so TL;DR: Attitude is half of General Aptitude.

I think I could use Attitude over ability to control disposition to me, and I changed to the simpler term thanks to your note :). I'll take the liberty (no pun intended) to use a broad definition of the word to include personality for the sake of the concept.

But no— by General Aptitude, I mean your ability to do things in general, and I think your Attitude is merely one half of your General Aptitude; Athleticism is what I call the other.

In sports such as tennis or baseball, physical athleticism is most important— strength, speed, flexibility and similar— whereas in sports such as go or chess, mental athleticism is a must— abstract reasoning, visualisation, the ability to pick up patterns, and, moreso in go, comfort with numeral calculation.

I guess my theory also implies that for beginners, GA is similar for most sports, but at higher levels optimum GA type can differ.

And if someone has talent for go, either their brain is wired to absorb go knowledge and intuition more than most, or their GA tends towards a setting that fits go most, or, most likely, a combination of both.

Author:  Knotwilg [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

These days I'm more involved in table tennis than go. There too I observe players who have great technical ability but low performance.

One of them converts that into match play in friendly environment, where he attains a level of, say, 4 dan. In competitive environments, especially interclub matches, he loses against, say, 2k. The other one has the technique of a 1 dan but the performance of a 15 kyu in any kind of match, blaming the floor, the light, the balls ... anything to account for the fact that he loses against players of much less technical ability. I could write a sports psychology book based on these two (and myself).

Table tennis is much more of a mental game than Go, in the sense that the impact of stress on your performance is enormous and leads to discrepancies between the "aptitude" and the performance.

Similar to what I've said above about frustrated go players, these two will only increase their frustration by practicing harder and acquiring better technique. The stress to perform according to their own high standards under "real" conditions, is too much for them. "I'm no good" becomes their self fulfilling prophecy.

So they need to develop mechanisms to perform better under stress, which leads to psychological inspection of higher order. I abbreviate that as "practicing winning". In fact, playing weaker players is one way, but then to practice the joy of winning (instead of what they usually do when winning: downplaying their achievement).

I'm not a sports psychologist but I have developed routines for myself. In Go, I claim that "not resigning, not losing on time, and always count liberties, especially late in the game" are the holy trinity of not losing in a stupid way, which is the negative way of achieving a higher win rate.

Author:  Bill Spight [ Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Losing my grip on go

Knotwilg wrote:
Similar to what I've said above about frustrated go players, these two will only increase their frustration by practicing harder and acquiring better technique. The stress to perform according to their own high standards under "real" conditions, is too much for them. "I'm no good" becomes their self fulfilling prophecy.

Interesting observation. :)

One of the few things I learned about sports psychology applies to go, but not, I guess, table tennis. It is the 80% rule. Go is a long game, with typically more than one battle. When sustained performance is paramount, playing at 80% instead of 100% guards against early burnout.

I know that appears to contradict what I say about raising the level of your game and playing up to yourself, but, IMX, I have not felt that contradiction. Perhaps that has to do with getting into your Zone of Competence. In your Zone you are not striving too hard, neither are you playing beneath yourself. :)

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