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Post #1 Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:49 pm 
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Hello, I have problems trying to visualise stones when I am calculating. How do you guys work on that? ;-)

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Post #2 Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:05 pm 
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Hi Glummie,

Excellent question.

Anyone knows if they have studied what goes on neurologically in various people as they read ? ( By starting age, by level, for chess/Go/shogi/xiangqi/checkers/Scrabble, etc. ) ?

One factor: tsumego. ( There are others. )


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Post #3 Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:08 pm 
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Glummie wrote:
Hello, I have problems trying to visualise stones when I am calculating. How do you guys work on that? ;-)


Moi, I wouldn't worry about it. :)

You may find the thread on Rapid Calculation interesting. It does address visualization. See viewtopic.php?t=12287

OC, if you wish to improve your visualization of go positions, there is nothing wrong with that, but, to the best of my knowledge, no one has shown that conscious visualization is necessary for good reading in go. There are timed experiments that suggest that unconscious visualization of 3-D images does occur. That is, when the answer to a question involves imagining a rotation of a 3-D object, greater angles of rotation require longer times to come up with the answer. (Edit: And the subjects do not report visualizing an actual rotation.)

Every person's brain works differently, and you may be a person who does not readily visualize. That is not necessarily a handicap for playing go well. :)

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Last edited by Bill Spight on Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #4 Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:13 pm 
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*Maybe* go trains a wide range of brain functions, not just visualisation.

Maybe try drawing pictures/stories with the stones in your mind on the go board...

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Post #5 Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:57 am 
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I have been helped a lot by the books "Level Up!".

Their exercises are easy, and grouped by shape or kind of moves.
Instead of trying to think and read in order to find the solution, in each chapter, the solution to all exercises is always the same.
When I have seen it 24 times in a row, I can visualize the shape before it happens in my game.

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Post #6 Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:46 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
OC, if you wish to improve your visualization of go positions, there is nothing wrong with that, but, to the best of my knowledge, no one has shown that conscious visualization is necessary for good reading in go.


Out of curiosity - are you referring to something like full 3D visualization, or just having images of go positions in your head? I have trouble reading, and it's because making any sort of image in my head is difficult. I'd be very interested if you mean the second and there's an alternative method of reading. :)

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Post #7 Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:27 am 
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kasai wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
OC, if you wish to improve your visualization of go positions, there is nothing wrong with that, but, to the best of my knowledge, no one has shown that conscious visualization is necessary for good reading in go.


Out of curiosity - are you referring to something like full 3D visualization, or just having images of go positions in your head?


I mean conscious visualization of 2-D go images.

Quote:
I have trouble reading, and it's because making any sort of image in my head is difficult. I'd be very interested if you mean the second and there's an alternative method of reading. :)


I have trouble with conscious visualization, too. Once I attended a workshop in which the leader did a guided visualization exercise. He asked the group if anyone was unable to form the image. I was the only one for raise his hand, out of 30 or so people. ;) At the same time, I have a good feel (something like a tactile sense) for spatial relationships. I once took a test, part of which involved using colored blocks to recreate a 2-D image. The tester told me that the most difficult image took people on average 2 minutes to solve, and I had solved it in 12 seconds. ;)

Everybody's brain is different. In the Rapid Calculation topic I mentioned above, I quote Professor Aitken to the effect that the fastest mental numerical calculators seem to be of the auditory, not visual, type. An auditory calculator of go variations might use the names of shapes and plays in calculation. For instance, "4-4, small knight's approach, jump attachment, hane, block, atari, connect." A rhythmical reader might think, "Here, here, here, here, . . ." in time.

Most of our mental calculation in go is unconscious. Conscious calculation is relatively unimportant. Conscious calculation is linear and slow, unconscious calculation is rapid and parallel. Both may be trained. :)

The fact that you play go indicates that you have a sense of spatial relationships. The fact that it does not seem to be visual is of little consequence. :)

Edit: Here is an exercise that does not rely much upon visualization. Set up the final position of a problem, so that visualizing it is not necessary. Then identify the order of play to get there from the original position. :) (Usually most of the stones in the original position are still on the board, so visualizing it is not difficult, either. ;)) Then set up the original position and imagine the final position, which does require some visualization, and also identify the the order of play. This exercise does not require visualizing each intermediate position. :)

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Post #8 Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:43 pm 
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This is very interesting for me too.

I don't have a great memory for openings or joseki so i tend to rely mainly on calculation and some direction of play theory.

I used to do a lot of tsumego, when I first started Go and made rapid progress. My calculation was stronger. i think its possible to try too hard though, its more a state of relaxed focus, trying to brute force the calculation can only go so far, it needs pattern recognition too.

Over the years, the calculation has changed, less brute force every variation, and more a knowledge of the shapes, knowing where to start in a tsumego problem.

Anyway what I was originally going to post was about juggling. it's my other hobby and I've recently took up again. jugglers are meant to have better 3D visualisation skills involving rotating 3D objects in imaginary space.

i suppose it's down to all those split second trajectory calculations much like good footballers :) Supposed to enlarge some part of the rear brain.

I suppose there is a link with being able to hold go variations in the mind.

If its not fun then your probably doing it wrong is something i tell myself nowadays when studying go. Small study sessions i hear work good too.

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Post #9 Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:37 pm 
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I asked about something similar: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=12615&p=197699&hilit=Hyperpape+ladders#p197699.

I am not great at reading, but when I played my Malkovitch against Illluck, I took some time during a long car ride and realized that I could remember the sequence and visualize the board after 50+ moves.

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Post #10 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:43 am 
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My experience bears out what Bill says, but I'll add a few words from a different standpoint. Often, the more sidelights, the better we can see.

I think there are two aspects worth highlighting most. They are related.

As to the first, I have an English friend who is a taiji expert. He studied in Beijing Sports University and has won gold medals in international competitions in Asia. He is also a high-level classical guitarist. He teaches both disciplines for a living. They are quite different, mentally and physically, yet he has achieved an extremely high level in both. His own explanation can be summed up in an observation he often makes: people often say (to themselves or others) that you should practise, practise something until you get it right. That is so wrong, he says. What you must do is practise until you never get it wrong.

This difference in attitude is subtle in words but huge in terms of commitment and time. However, there is a trap for the unwary. If you are a beginner at something, by definition almost you are likely to be doing it wrong. If you keep practising, practising, you run the risk that you are reinforcing what you are doing wrong. That's one reason why a teacher is always recommended, but in practical terms most of us have to do without. This is where the second aspect comes in. But before going on to that, let me mention a go example of the "never get it wrong" attitude.

I don't recall Go Seigen making a misread - his few mistakes were usually strategic. And this shows in the significant number of very hard classical problems where for years 9-dan pros of the "practise till I get it right" variety have published books of tsumego problems with the wrong answer, only for "never get it wrong" Go to come along and expose their errors.

My second aspect is visualisation. My taiji/guitar friend does not use this term, though does follow the principles. So as to retain that term let me switch to Walter Gieseking. He was a famed piano virtuoso, and part of his fame rested on the fact that he could learn a long and complex classical piece on a plane trip and then play it from memory, faultlessly. He co-wrote a famous book called "Piano Technique." He uses the term "visualisation" a lot. To me, his usage doesn't seem to have anything to do with 3D images or rotations in space. I would say it is more or less "pattern recognition," a term that was perhaps not current when he wrote, but with the proviso that it includes dynamic as well as static patterns - sequences as well as shapes.

For example, one thing he says is: "The first thing to be done is to visualise the notes."

He takes us through several examples of how to do this. They are frightening at first. The page looks black, with forests of demi-semi-quavers. But (with no reference to fingering or other elements of physical technique) he analyses each piece, showing the hidden patterns. He is not writing for beginners, so the analysis is high level, but to satisfy curiosity here is one example:

Quote:
The accompaniment in this case is a broken C major triad in the left hand. In the first measure a quarter note C is followed by a quarter rest; and in the second, third and fourth measures the quarter notes on E, G and C are followed by corresponding quarter rests. Measures five to eight are the same for the left hand as the first four measures. With the help of visualisation, these eight measures can therefore be played easily, without music; that is, after careful reading without notes.


By analysing this paragraph in a way similar to his own analysis of the piece of music, we too can garner useful information. For example, his reference to E, G and C as a group is not explained but is something that all beginners would learn, and so he is building more complex patterns on a base of simpler patterns. Also, although again I imagine the term "chunk" is not one he would have been familiar with, we can see that he chunking information into groups such as EGC, so that instead of memorising/visualising many discrete items we only have to memorise/visualise a few chunks.

It should be noted that Gieseking demands intense work on this analysis:

Quote:
Having thus carefully visualised several measures, we practise and play them. There are problems to be solved in every measure, which, if they are to be satisfactorily mastered, require careful and concentrated analysing and practice. It is therefore advisable to tackle one measure at a time, and to continue practising it until all the difficulties have been overcome.


in other words, never get it wrong.

Quote:
By this method of visualisation, this careful thinking through of the piece of music in question, the pupil will be capable of writing down the whole exercise from memory. After intense concentration, most of my pupils have been, to their great astonishment, able in a few minutes of time to play the entire exercise from memory. Visualised reading at the same time affords the pupil the best insight into the form of the composition under study. ... This at first somewhat mechanical process will quickly enable him to grasp the import of a composition.


Again to try to render this in nowadays more familiar terms, Gieseking is recommending us to use our conscious brain (analysis) so that our unconscious brain (practice) can never get it wrong.

Applying this to go, I can mention a couple of examples. One is the Meijin Inseki's "Today We Have a Splendid Feast" in which he picks out a specific tsumego technique (analysis) and then gives a large number of problems focusing repeatedly on that one technique (practice).

Another example is the shape pattern recognition implied in the proverb "the L shape is dead." You still have to know specifically how to kill it, of course (the sequence), but this chunking has already done most of the work for you, and with "intense concentration" you can (and should) even chunk the killing sequences. But even this is not mastery of the L shape. You need to know what happens if there are extra legs, hanes, liberties, of course, but did you know that if you are a Go Seigen kind of never-get-it-wrong pro you will also know how many liberties the L shape has when it comes to killing it? There is always something more to analyse! That might be an esoteric example, but actually the principle applies to almost every problem done by almost every amateur - we find a solution and then move on to the next problem, instead of finding all solutions to the first one.

From the above, what I believe follows for the go player is:

1. Those who recommend solving a problem by just sitting there calculating until the solution pops out are misguided (unless they are masochists, of course). They risk reinforcing bad habits and are probably not using chunking enough. It may be impressive to see an amateur struggle and struggle over a problem and eventually come up with a (possibly tentative and probably partial) solution. But I promise you it's a LOT more impressive when you see a pro, as I have done with Kato Masao in a press room, walk past and casually pick out the right answer in front of the strong amateur in a split second. And the explanation is not having seen the problem before. I can remember being overawed by Mrs Sugiuchi who was analysing an amateur game that obviously she had never seen before or had had time to study. She mentioned that the reason for some move being good or bad was the ladder. What ladder? I asked, seeing a totally ladderless board. She then looked at me with the same amazement that I was looking at her - for quite different reasons, of course - and then rattled off a 30-40 move sequence that created a ladder in another part of the board. I've seen that too often to question it now.

2. Those who recommend peeking at the solution of a problem either at once or, more usually, after some effort to solve it ourselves, are on the right lines. But they are usually guilty of poor pedagogic technique because they never explain how to analyse the solution, or to stress that "intense concentration" to do this is still required - just a different sort from pure calculation. In particular, they are usually unlike the Meijin Inseki and never give a swathe of similar problems to reinforce the techniques.

One reason, though, that the advice of the latter group seems basically sound is that seeing the solution is a form of visualisation. You are seeing the goal that you have to work towards. That seems to stress efficiency, and humans need efficiency (in the form of heuristics, admittedly) to compensate for lack of brute calculating power. This also accords with a tip I got from someone about how to memorise a piece of music. It's obviously not Gieseking's method and I can't say it worked for me, but the tip was to start with the final passage of the music (so that you know it's supposed to resolve, and thus how it may evolve).

Another underused tip is to wipe off the stones after looking at a problem (which of course implies using a board not just a book - just as we use a piano and not just sheet music) and then, as Gieseking implies, put down the entire position from memory. We probably do this by laying out certain obvious shapes first, so we are in a way analysing the structure of the position (in the "EGC is a chord group" kind of way, but we can build on that later).

We can be as eclectic as we like about tips. As Bill say, everybody's brain is different. But I'm sure there are enough shared elements to make it worth at least heeding the example of pros like Kato and Sugiuchi and the advice of masters like Gieseking and the Meijin Inseki.


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Post #11 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:54 am 
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Let me second JF's post. Elsewhere I have posted suggestions that agree in almost every particular. :)

I am unfamiliar with Gieseking, so I can't say I understand what he is getting at with visualisation. But from what John quotes I can see evidence of both analysis (which I have recommended) and synthesis. The separate notes, C, E, G, C, are synthesized into a chord. That synthesis produces a natural chunk. :)

I have emphasized overlearning, but perhaps not to the level of perfection that John's taiji teacher recommends. Gieseking's recommendation to master each measure reminds me of something I read years ago, also with regard to playing the piano and overlearning. The author used the metaphor of a broken bone. In healing a broken bone the body adds extra bone tissue to the site of the break, so that what was a weak spot becomes stronger than normal. The author recommends turning weaknesses into strengths. Despite some effort, doing that for my go game is not something that I have achieved. :sad:

Walter Gieseking wrote:
By this method of visualisation, this careful thinking through of the piece of music in question, the pupil will be capable of writing down the whole exercise from memory. After intense concentration, most of my pupils have been, to their great astonishment, able in a few minutes of time to play the entire exercise from memory. Visualised reading at the same time affords the pupil the best insight into the form of the composition under study. ... This at first somewhat mechanical process will quickly enable him to grasp the import of a composition.


To me Gieseking's method seems to be a good way to study joseki, so that you don't lose two stones of strength in the process. :)

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Post #12 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:02 am 
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Go players have a handicap when it comes to visualization when compared to chess players, due to the lack of notation. When you read a book of chess games, variations are specified textually ("1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 ed 4.Nxd4" etc.). It is a standard skill one picks up to read the text of the variation and execute the corresponding moves in your head. On the other hand, go variations are generally specified by actually displaying the moves in the diagram, which means that the visualization has already been done for you!

So I think you have to do a little work to build up your visualization muscles. Lay out the current position on a board or in a go program. Look at the variation. Now look back at your board and imagine the variation being played out. Hold the final position in your head. Now play it out again with stones, from memory. See how the board is different from what you had in your head (it is possible, for instance, that you "saw" all the stones but didn't see some implication of the position until you could see it with your eyes). Repeat!

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Post #13 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:30 am 
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Here is an example of a misread by Go Seigen. However, his opponent made the same misread, so things worked out in Go Seigen's favor. ;) Go to move 91.


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Post #14 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:45 am 
Oza

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Bill: Yes, I called that game "The one with the double blunder" so maybe I should now call it the one with the triple blunder :)

And of course I ought to have remembered Go saying: "Go is interesting because there are mistakes. If there were no mistakes, only gods would be playing."

But who made the change in the GoGoD file? This wasn't the "1st game between 9-dans". It was (as in the original file) the "1st uchikomi game between 9-dans." They played the 1st 9-dan game (with komi) almost three weeks earlier.

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Post #15 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:11 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
And of course I ought to have remembered Go saying: "Go is interesting because there are mistakes. If there were no mistakes, only gods would be playing."

:mrgreen:

Quote:
But who made the change in the GoGoD file? This wasn't the "1st game between 9-dans". It was (as in the original file) the "1st uchikomi game between 9-dans." They played the 1st 9-dan game (with komi) almost three weeks earlier.


Pas moi. All I did was add the variations. The file I have has a date of May 11, 2003. The file for the earlier game was entered 1 minute earlier.

Edit: Corrected time for the earlier game.

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Post #16 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:24 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
But who made the change in the GoGoD file?

Could it be that you changed it yourself and later forgot?
I have a gobase source dated 1998-07-28 that says
US[Jan van der Steen] C[These two players were the only 9 dan players at the time.]
and a source (from GoGoD?) dated 1999-05-31 that says
US[GoGoD95] GC[1st game between 9-dans].

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Post #17 Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:23 pm 
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dfan wrote:
Go players have a handicap when it comes to visualization when compared to chess players, due to the lack of notation. When you read a book of chess games, variations are specified textually ("1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 ed 4.Nxd4" etc.). It is a standard skill one picks up to read the text of the variation and execute the corresponding moves in your head. On the other hand, go variations are generally specified by actually displaying the moves in the diagram, which means that the visualization has already been done for you!

So I think you have to do a little work to build up your visualization muscles. Lay out the current position on a board or in a go program. Look at the variation. Now look back at your board and imagine the variation being played out. Hold the final position in your head. Now play it out again with stones, from memory. See how the board is different from what you had in your head (it is possible, for instance, that you "saw" all the stones but didn't see some implication of the position until you could see it with your eyes). Repeat!


I wonder if this is completely true. It took a while to build the skill of looking at a 100 move diagram and visualizing the board state as the game progressed. It might be "easier" than chess, but it's not so easy as you make it out I think.

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Post #18 Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:34 am 
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Yes, there is definitely a different skill that you pick up, of looking at the final diagram and playing out the numbered stones in your mind. I feel that this is pretty different from the process of looking at a position and imagining the position at the end of a variation, though, which of course is what happens when you perform reading during actual games.

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Post #19 Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:50 am 
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When people ask "Why is Go hard for computers?", particularly in comparison to chess, the bigger position / game tree complexity is often given as a reason (plus harder to make evaluation function, thanks neural networks). But I think perhaps the more pertinent question is "Why is Go so easy for humans?" given you might expect it to be so much harder with so many more orders of magnitudes of possibilities. I think a big part of that is that Go is easier to visualise because the pieces don't move so the evolution of a position over time is (mostly) additive and amenable to chunking whereas with chess the pieces move around. That makes reading in chess much harder for me, but is that just because I'm a weak chess player? Is the kind of additive visualisation of Go inherently easier for the average human as I suppose, or is it just easier for me because I've trained it on my way to becoming a relatively strong Go player? Or perhaps I was better than average at it before I started Go, and that helped me make decent progress.

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Post #20 Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:01 am 
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I generally find chess visualization easier than go visualization, but that is probably just because I have more experience with chess than go, especially when I was young. You learn to chunk in chess just as with go, and in fact I often find it easier because chess positions have more "texture" (different sorts of pieces that interact in particular geometric ways) as opposed to being more abstract (at first glance) collections of homogeneous stones.

In fact my general overall visualization abilities are extremely poor (I don't actually see anything in my head the way I can hear things in my head) and perhaps this makes it harder for me to imagine ten additional stones being placed on a board than to imagine the pieces in front of me being moved around ten times. Despite my supposed expert level in chess, I'm completely hopeless if I don't have a board in front of me as a reference point.

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