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 Post subject: Frustrated
Post #1 Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:10 pm 
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Hi! OK, so as instructed, I've lost a billion games in a row. Is there any way that I could possibly win one at any time in the future? Unfortunately, it's no fun at all to play a game that you can't possibly win at.

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Post #2 Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:34 pm 
Judan
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Your win-loss rate should be roughly 50%, if you play opponents around your own level.

This is true for most people.

If you constantly only play people better than you, your loss rate will be higher than 50% --
this is to be expected. You can be losing more often than you win, but you could be improving (no guarantee).
However, if you exclusively play people better than you, at the expense of all the others,
then you're also missing out on some things (say, to play as White).

Yes, Go can bring great fun and great frustrations.

Have you finished around 100 games yet ?

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Post #3 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:31 am 
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Are you using handicap stones? But whatever you do, keep playing!

Catalin Taranu is one of the very few westerners to have turned professional (despite the fact that he learnt go rather late, at 16) so you may think he was quite talented, and still he said:
Catalin Taranu, 5p wrote:
In April of 1989 I played my first game of go. I don't exactly know why, but I remember that period well. The first two months were agony. Although I thought I understood the rules and the game certainly captivated me, I really didn't know what exactly to do. I gave it a shot and hoped I'd become a little better fast.

Go's only weakness

"I think this is the only weakness of go, that starting period in which beginners get the rules explained but can't really do anything with them at all. The two months it took me to get a grasp of what really was the general idea are no exception. Only people slightly obsessed with the game will come out on the other end of this. In that respect chess players are a lot better off; there may be more rules but the goal and the way of playing become clear much sooner than with go."


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated
Post #4 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:51 am 
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dmpeyton wrote:
Hi! OK, so as instructed, I've lost a billion games in a row. Is there any way that I could possibly win one at any time in the future? Unfortunately, it's no fun at all to play a game that you can't possibly win at.


It's certainly no fun playing and never winning. How many is a 'billion' games? Have you lost one hundred games yet? Who/where are you playing? i.e. people or software? And if you're playing on 19x19 you can always try 9x9, moving onto 13x13 and finally 19x19.

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Post #5 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:27 am 
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Personally I never liked the idea of "losing 100 games" etc. Indeed it doesn't really motivate.

As said above, look for easy opponents (human or bot). If they happen not to exist and you are indeed the worst player on earth, then take the next one in line and ask for handicap.

I agree with you it is fun to win and you can learn from winning too. People do that all the time actually, developing success strategies.

The only thing is: losing is inevitably part of it too. There's only one guy at the top and since recently it's not a human any longer.

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Post #6 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:10 am 
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dmpeyton wrote:
Hi! OK, so as instructed, I've lost a billion games in a row. Is there any way that I could possibly win one at any time in the future? Unfortunately, it's no fun at all to play a game that you can't possibly win at.

Welcome to Go. :)
Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel...

I remember playing a guy every week and he gave me a 9 stone handicap. I lost every game. Eventually he told me to change my strategy... to play only defensive moves. No attacking moves at all. Soon, I started winning some games and was able to reduce my handicap.

Apparently, I had been trying to hard to attack and kill my opponent's stones, and in the process was not paying enough attention to my own weak stones left behind.

Share with us some of your games, and we can help give you some more specific advice. Good luck.

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Post #7 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:19 am 
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Hehe.. yesterday I lost a game of chess that I was going to win, because I got lazy and made a simple mistake.

My initial reaction - "that's it, I've had enough of this game, I quit!"

Took me a few hours to cool down :lol:


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Post #8 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:33 am 
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While chess rules are more complex than those in go it's pretty clear what to do for beginners. Yes they make silly mistakes probably but at least they move towards mating the opponent king.

Once you teach rules of go to beginners and let them play you will notice they have no clue what to do.

This is why it's not a bad idea to play atari go on 9x9 with someone new. Eventually they will realize that making more territory enables you to win the atari go since you have more points to fill in (there is no pass in atari go).

Then you ether move them to 13x13 or directly to 19x19.

Honestly I went straight to 19x19 with 9 handicap and got ruined every time. The only reason I was still playing is because I was hooked, there was this fanatical desire to learn this thing and I decided not to quit. So after few months, a year I was able to play pretty well for a beginner.

3 years later and I am here at ~6 EGF kyu rank and still learning.

Don't quit, keep trying to understand the basic flow of the game and then you will be amazed by the amount of knowledge you can learn.

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Post #9 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:36 am 
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dmpeyton wrote:
Hi! OK, so as instructed, I've lost a billion games in a row. Is there any way that I could possibly win one at any time in the future? Unfortunately, it's no fun at all to play a game that you can't possibly win at.


Unfortunately, you are playing against people who do not know about giving handicaps. Within a few game it should be possible for you to take a handicap with which you can win. At that point, you will be advancing rapidly, so you will be winning a lot, and as a result you will be taking smaller handicaps. :)

The usual way to give a handicap in go is to let your opponent play Black and make more than one play on his first move.

You might also try playing on small boards. Take Black on the 5x5, for example. It should not be long before you can win on the 5x5. :) You might even win your first game. :D

Something else you might try is the Capture Game, in which the first player to capture a stone wins. There are no passes. The Capture Game is usually played on small boards, up to 9x9. :)

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Post #10 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:41 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Personally I never liked the idea of "losing 100 games" etc. Indeed it doesn't really motivate.


Me, either. I have taught absolute beginners by letting them take Black on the 3x3. They get their first win pretty quickly. :D

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Post #11 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:35 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Knotwilg wrote:
Personally I never liked the idea of "losing 100 games" etc. Indeed it doesn't really motivate.





I tell beginners that there's three basic steps to understanding the game of Go: Lose 100 games, then lose 1,000 and then lose 10,000 and you'll be on the right track.

Honestly though, I've heard from very strong players that you can't really expect to start grasping the game until you've played (not necessarily lost) 10,000 games. At my rate, I will accomplish this in about 18 more years. Good thing I'm in no hurry.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated
Post #12 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:13 pm 
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Thanks for all the helpful comments! I have definitely lost more than 100 games because that is the advice I saw everywhere. As was pointed out above, this is obviously horrible advice, but it's not likely to change because it has become a cliche. I played a bunch of 9x9 games against the computer on the free version of Many Faces of Go. I can beat that one on occasion. But I signed up on GoPanda and the computers there trounce me pretty much every time. (Also on 9x9. I wouldn't even know where to begin on a bigger board.) It would be foolish of me to waste another human being's time playing against me. I think my main point here is that losing a game doesn't necessarily teach you anything at all. If you don't know why you lost then it's frustrating and not helpful. I'll keep giving it a shot for now, but I suspect I'm simply too stupid to play the game.

Any advice for getting better that is not just "lose your first 100 games?" What is the most time-efficient way to progress?

Thanks!

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Post #13 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:48 pm 
Judan

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dmpeyton wrote:
Thanks for all the helpful comments! I have definitely lost more than 100 games because that is the advice I saw everywhere. As was pointed out above, this is obviously horrible advice, but it's not likely to change because it has become a cliche. I played a bunch of 9x9 games against the computer on the free version of Many Faces of Go. I can beat that one on occasion. But I signed up on GoPanda and the computers there trounce me pretty much every time. (Also on 9x9. I wouldn't even know where to begin on a bigger board.)


Can't you get handicap games from computer programs?

Quote:
It would be foolish of me to waste another human being's time playing against me.


It is not a waste of their time. We were all beginners once, and anyone who refuses to play beginners has a screw loose. Ask for teaching games, online if necessary. If nobody bites online, go to a different server.

Quote:
I think my main point here is that losing a game doesn't necessarily teach you anything at all. If you don't know why you lost then it's frustrating and not helpful.


This is why you should get teaching games. :D

Quote:
What is the most time-efficient way to progress?


I doubt if anybody knows. But you have found out what does not work for you. Start playing humans instead.

Good luck! :)

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Post #14 Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:08 pm 
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dmpeyton wrote:
It would be foolish of me to waste another human being's time playing against me.

If I could go back in time and give myself any advice... it would be to never turn down an offer from stronger players to play a game.

Many players love to play games with beginners and help them learn to play this game. Some are better at it than others though :)

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Post #15 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:44 am 
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dmpeyton wrote:
Any advice for getting better that is not just "lose your first 100 games?" What is the most time-efficient way to progress?


Buy a book. Learn ladders, nets and snapback. Learn false eyes and the standard unsettled eye shapes. That's all kind of obvious.

Play rational openings, and try to observe how frameworks arise: initially this means assessing the centre before it is too late. Beginners find the endgame the hardest phase, when it is in fact the easiest. So spend some time on it.

At the level of technique, cutting and connecting has to come first. Once you see how cutting points determine fundamental tactics, you are ready to study tesuji.

Note proverbs, but don't assume they are going to do the thinking for you.

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Post #16 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:48 am 
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dmpeyton wrote:
(Also on 9x9. I wouldn't even know where to begin on a bigger board.) It would be foolish of me to waste another human being's time playing against me.


Hi dmpeyton,
This helps us to see where you are. It seems that your level is around 25 kyu.

I second Charles Matthews's advices.

Good books for beginners are Go, a Complete Introduction to the Game, by Cho Chikun, or Learn to Play Go vol 1, by Janice Kim.
If you play a lot on 9x9, you may -or may not- be already familiar with some of the techniques explained in these books (ladders, vital points, nets, capture races...).
Learn to Play Go vol 2 explains what to do on a 19x19 board.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated
Post #17 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:56 am 
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I agree with the advice you've been given. At about your level, I got Learn to Play Go volume 2. (I skipped volume 1.) Having a book really helped accelerate my learning.

Play people! There are plenty of other beginners out there, and you're both likely to have more fun if you play each other. Weak computer opponents tend to make the same mistakes over and over, so it's hard to learn from them. Many stronger players are perfectly happy to play games with beginners, too. Increasing the joy that go brings and expanding the go playing community is not a waste of their time. :-)

I'd be happy to play a teaching game some time if we could work out a time that worked for both of us. Alternatively, if you post your sgf files to this forum you're likely to get some good advice from people willing to review your game.

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Post #18 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:03 am 
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1) The advice "quickly lose 100 games" is perhaps too easily misunderstood because over simplified. In order to learn, you need to see the difference between right and wrong strategies. In other words, even at the stage where you usually do the wrong thing you have to be sometimes doing the right thing. The 100 games refers to the numer lost out of perhaps 125-150. If you are playing under conditions that you lose ALL of them, of course you can't learn. Try inder conditions of strength disparity plus handicap that you SOMETIMES win.

2) SOME people can learn from books (while other people, only personal trial and error). If you are one of the people who can learn from books, there are some that teach elementary strategy and tactics.

3) If you can't find anybody to play against with the appropriate strength difference plus handicap so that you win 1 out of every 4-5 games consider one of the bots you can run on your own computer. Best to use these with a strength setting so that you need at least three stone handicap.

4) About the previous post "weak computer programs tend to make the same mistakes". That is true of some but not of others. You want one of the latter sort (that have a "randomize" option). And use a strength setting so you need at least three stones. Yes they will still be making systematic mistakes, but ones that a stronger player might make (stronger than where you currently are). Will be able to punish the mistakes at YOUR current (lower level) so you cna learn not to make those. It's only once you get up to the level where the programs are using MCTS that you should consider playing level games against them.

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Post #19 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Perhaps OP is now a bit overwhelmed by the above advice.

So, remind: have fun, have a chat and/or drink. Don't force speedy improvement, take a short break if you like.


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Post #20 Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:10 pm 
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Thanks for all the helpful advice! That is exactly what I was looking for, particularly the book recommendations. I will give one of these a try to see if that helps. I suppose I will try playing some humans online, but honestly the idea fills me with dread. And we are talking about playing a game online here, so I know it will not be long at all till I run into a jerk who just wants to taunt and make fun of me. I can handle it, but I'd rather not if I don't need to.

The oft quoted advice is "lose your first 100 games." This implies that you should lose ALL of your first 100 games, not 100 out of your first 200 games or something like that. The learning will only take place when you do something wrong and then see how it could have been right, or better yet, see something wrong and then change your mind and DO it right.

We'll see how it goes!

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