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 Post subject: Reading block
Post #1 Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Hello forum! :D

Well Im having a bit of trouble with my L&D studies, just playing matches has gotten me this far, but now I feel the need to try and fine tune my reading ability. However the problem surfaces whenever i try and solve a problem i cannot visualize where the stones are.

This leads me to playing out the moves, and its like throwing darts on a board, i might get it, i believe this is unnacceptable in a real match (especially since i cant hit the back button to replay the sequence)

Your advice would be much appreciated :D

P.S. I wasn't sure if this should be put in the beginners section or general go, etc. sorry if this is the wrong area ^^;;

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #2 Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:40 pm 
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Practice, practice, practice. Perhaps start with some easier problems.

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Post #3 Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:55 am 
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YinTiger wrote:
Hello forum! :D

Well Im having a bit of trouble with my L&D studies, just playing matches has gotten me this far, but now I feel the need to try and fine tune my reading ability. However the problem surfaces whenever i try and solve a problem i cannot visualize where the stones are.

This leads me to playing out the moves, and its like throwing darts on a board, i might get it, i believe this is unnacceptable in a real match (especially since i cant hit the back button to replay the sequence)

Your advice would be much appreciated :D

P.S. I wasn't sure if this should be put in the beginners section or general go, etc. sorry if this is the wrong area ^^;;


What is called "reading" is simply visualization. Training yourself in reading problems does two things: it trains you to find the moves that work, and it hones your visualization skills. It's kind of like playing scales on a piano.

If you have trouble, start with very easy problems. Read them out in your mind slowly. Work your way up from there.

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #4 Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:45 am 
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A very familiar problem, for me. I often find myself unable to read past a certain point in a problem.

I find it helps to slow down a bit. Often, I quickly read the first handful of moves, then I'm struggling to "see" the continuation. What I do (sometimes) is to start from the beginning, and very deliberately visualize each stone as I "place" it on the diagram -- saying "black, white, black..." in my head as I go. By being slower and more deliberate, the sequence stays in my head a bit better. Sometimes it's also good to stop every few moves and make sure you can visualize the entire pattern up to that point.

This is all very pedantic, but as daniel_the_smith points out, it's all about practice. My belief (or is it merely my hope>?) is that as i do this, my brain becomes better and better at reading longer sequences, and I will have to apply this deliberateness in fewer and fewer cases.

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Post #5 Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:48 am 
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Kageyama recommends reading out ladders again and again - changing some stones around the ladder destination, and repeating it, and again, and again etc...

The idea being that ladders are easy to read because they don't branch, so all the practice becomes on improving visualisation skills. Once those improve it is much easier to read branched variations.

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Post #6 Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:58 am 
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I do not have a problem with reading deeply as much as a problem with reading the same sequences over and over again.

A typical scenario is as follows.

Kirby: "Ok, B plays X, W plays Y, B plays Z, then white plays here, and it doesn't work..."

(pause)

Kirby: "Hmm, Ok. So what if B plays X, W plays Y, but then B plays Z... Wait a second, white plays there, and it's the same as what I already read..."

(Repeat the above 5 or 6 times)

Possible Ending 1:
Kirby: "What if B plays Y first? Oh, that works."

Possible Ending 2:
(an hour later)
Kirby: "Ok, B plays X, W plays Y, B plays Z, then white plays here, and it doesn't work..."

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Post #7 Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:20 pm 
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starting from reading ladders

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #8 Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:04 am 
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I recommend starting with some really simple problems that you really can easily read all the way out with very little trouble. This both helps to build confidence and provides a necessary building block for more complex problems. I personally think that a lot of players spend too much time on problems that are too hard for them.

At 9k, Graded Go Problems for Beginners volume 1 is probably too simple for you, but if you know someone who has it, it might be a good confidence-building exercise to borrow out and tear through it in half an hour. :) GGPB v2 should be a good level.

Even more than that I highly recommend the first two (out of four) Level Up "Essential Life & Death" books. They slowly build up your reading ability move by move. It's the most structured textbook on life and death I've found and will really get the basic techniques into your eyes and fingers. Yellow Mountain Imports sells them although they seem to be out of stock of the first two right now. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #9 Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:19 am 
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dfan wrote:
At 9k, Graded Go Problems for Beginners volume 1 is probably too simple for you, but if you know someone who has it, it might be a good confidence-building exercise to borrow out and tear through it in half an hour. :) GGPB v2 should be a good level.


My copy of GGPB 3 (admittedly, an old printing) says 20-kyu to 15-kyu. It's clearly not that level, but when did they change the levels on the books?

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #10 Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:32 am 
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I agree the levels written on those books are rather odd. This is a very useful page that I couldn't see linked to on this thread: http://senseis.xmp.net/?ProblemBookGrades


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Post #11 Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:49 am 
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The grades given in old Japanese books, like Maeda's three-volume tsumego book, indicate how much rank inflation there has been in the world, not just in Japan.

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 Post subject: Re: Reading block
Post #12 Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:57 am 
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Perhaps you are not so visually inclined. You could try mouthing silently to yourself, "white goes there--black goes there--white goes there--" and focus on each individual point with your eyes as you say there. This tends to slow down the reading, and helps me think it out more. Later, as I needed less time, I would shorted the words to just, "whi--bla--whi--bla--" and so on. Before I knew it, I could pretend I was hearing a small "click" every time I visualized a stone.

Try it and tell us how it works.

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Post #13 Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:38 am 
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Sakata pointed out that reading isn't simply the calculation of variations, but the judgement of the outcome positions. (In a tsumego problem that is easy, though. ;) ) Our own Magicwand has pointed out here that it involves knowing what plays not to make. :) It is also more than visualization. It involves building a tree.

Kotov, in Think Like a Grandmaster, cautioned against the inefficiency of repeating lines that you have already read. Bridge great Terence Reese warned against dithering. :) Building a tree organizes your reading.

I have heard that recent research indicates that it is not a bad idea (contra Kotov) to start again from the original position and retrace your steps up to a branch point. My thought is that perhaps that helps keep the whole tree in memory.

One very important part of building a tree that Kotov recommends is to identify candidate moves at each step. OC, as Magicwand says, that involves eliminating other moves.

This means that reading is not, I play here, he plays there, I play there, . . . It is like this:

There is a good point, and there is another one, and there is another, . . . Suppose that I play here. What are good plays by him? . . . Suppose that he plays there. Then what are my possible replies? . . . OK, I have got that line. Let's start over. Here, here, here, here, . . . Now suppose that he plays here instead. . . .

Also, particularly in go, you consider your opponent's possible plays. Like this: If he plays there he will have two eyes, so that's a good spot for me. But if he played there, and then I got two moves, could I take away an eye or make ko? Ah! I could, so either of those points might be good, too. :)

If you are calculating variations, purposefully build a tree. :)

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