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 Post subject: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank you!
Post #1 Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:33 am 
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Hi everyone,
So I’ve been playing go about 1.5 years now and absolutely love it (had reached a plateau with chess and got a bit bored of it after many years playing socially/online).
For about the first whole year of playing go I mainly focused on 9x9 on Goquest, which seemed closer to chess and provided more immediate enjoyment and feedback (quick games on small board). I did a lot of tsumego and looked at pro 9x9 games, even memorising a few. On Goquest I peaked at about 1430 and reached 3k (which I know means nothing in 19x19).
Currently on IGS I’m at 14k with 130 odd wins and 112 losses, but it seems way harder to advance than on Goquest. I realise the conditions for promotion are much harder, so for the time being I’ve set myself the goal of just reaching SDK and then reassessing.
To that end: I’m carrying on this the tsumego/tesuji (I worked through GGPFB vols 1-3; Cho Chikun’s 一目の詰碁 and 一目の手筋; the Nihon-Ki-in app and the Smartgokifu problems). Of course I know that tsumego are important, and I’ve felt their benefit in a lot of games (winning fights feels great). I’ve also benefited a lot from Dwyrin’s ‘Back to Basics’- games of which I’ve entered into Smartgokifu- for direction of play and playing ‘big’. Chapters- 1-4 of ‘Attack and Defense’ have also been good. I plan to really assimilate the rest of the book, it’s just way more concentration-heavy than quick bits of tsumego or game review in the toilet at work. Books I’m itching to read but putting off until I get through ‘Attack and Defense’: 500 Opening Problems, Hop’s ‘So you want to play go volume 2’, any book on handicap go and any book on shape.
So I guess I just had two questions:
• What are some of the things you’ve done to reach SDK that I’m not doing?
• Do you reckon I’m might one day reach 1dan if I keep pushing?
Thanks for any encouragement guys.

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 Post subject: Re: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank
Post #2 Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:50 am 
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Some non-technical ideas:

* Try to make your moves purposeful, i.e. have a reason for your move.

* Have a plan or goals for what you want to do in the game.

* Practice three-move reading: If I play there what would my opponent do and what would I do then.

* Pay attention in the game and think about what happened afterwards.

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 Post subject: Re: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank
Post #3 Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:29 am 
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Thanks man, the 3-point thinking sounds especially useful.

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 Post subject: Re: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank
Post #4 Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:49 am 
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I recently made it to IGS SDK. So, it's doable!

In terms of what I studied/did to get there I did much of what you are currently doing with a few differences:

1. I probably focused a bit less on tsumego, but I did do a decent amount.

2. Attack and Defend was extremely useful -- so, definitely make time to finish that. Although in my experience, this was most useful in the 13k-10k range.

3. I put some time into studying basic josekis. Nothing incredibly in-depth, but I read 38 Basic Josekis and bought a joseki dictionary. Nick Sibicky also has a good series of videos entitled something like "Josekis every dan knows" or something like that. There are a large number of josekis so, I focused on the ones that came up most often in my games. If a sequence came out locally unequal, I'd look it up to see what I did wrong and understand why it was wrong. And if I saw a joseki appearing frequently enough, then I'd spend some time specifically on it. I also played the double 4-4 opening most often and limited myself to the high one-space approach to the 3-4 which also limited the number of josekis I encountered a bit. The obvious cost was that I didn't know the 3-4 low approach josekis, but one has to start somewhere and this seemed like a good way to divide up the material.

4. At 15k, I started experimenting with some of the set openings, primarily the shimari openings as black. It may not help everyone, but for me, it put some structure on the games and let me explore the ways that the two corners worked individually and together.

5. Paying a lot more attention to shape -- I think this is what got me from 14k to about 12k. Specifically, not making the tiger's mouth shape (unless there was a compelling advantage to doing so), understanding how to make eyes in the center, thinking very hard about my connections to avoid being cut, and paying attention to the shape of my walls. One of the biggest ideas I learned in this set was the idea of sacrificing stones just to improve the shape of a wall.

6. The last thing that I remember being useful was learning when to defend stones early in the game. Protecting say 4-5 stones in the fuseki or early middle game is usually a bad idea if they have no implications for the life of a group or any larger strategic value.

7. Playing on more than one server. I played exclusively on IGS until about 12k-11k and then started playing on KGS as well. The style of play on KGS is VERY different, and reportedly this is true of other servers as well. Others may disagree, but in my experience, IGS is much more orthodox in it's playing style -- people tend to follow the fuseki strategies that are suggested in most books and while mistakes get made, players seem to generally be more aware of the joseki patterns at the DDK level on IGS. I don't think they necessarily understood the moves, but they made them. There are some players like this on KGS at that level as well (they seem much more common at the 6k level at least), but on KGS in the high SDK and DDK level, there are more players that seem to rely on tactics and fighting skills alone than on IGS. The adjustment was hard, but I soon found that I was learning things in my games on KGS that gave me an edge on IGS and vice versa.

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 Post subject: Re: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank
Post #5 Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:00 am 
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Thanks, that was really awesome advice, especially 7. I tried kgs, but igs so much better aesthetically. Maybe I'll try kgs again.

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Post #6 Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:05 am 
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Hi Kiguchi,

Yes, IGS clients ( gIGo, GoPanda, etc. ) are very pretty.

I also like #7 ( various servers ).
Quote:
5. ... Specifically, not making the tiger's mouth shape
(unless there was a compelling advantage to doing so)...
Just a bit of supplement on #5:
I haven't studied BlindGroup's posted games here extensively,
so I can only guess that he either had some bad experiences playing the tiger's mouth, or he was told (say, in some reviews) that in certain cases, the tiger's mouth wasn't good for him; or both.
So this advice came from his personal experience(s) --
a bias against playing the tiger's mouth, except for the exceptions.

May I suggest another view: by itself, stand-alone,
a tiger's mouth is neutral, and so is a solid connect.
It's impossible ( and bad ) to assign a preference for or against
either shape stand-alone -- we must look at the global, whole-board situation.

Yes, of course shape is very important.
But not at the expense of the whole board situation.
The study of good shapes versus bad shapes is fundamental.
However, in some cases, a "pretty shape" could be a big mistake;
conversely, in some cases, an "ugly-looking shape" could win a game.

To beat a dead horse -- if you've narrowed down the candidates to:
  • Solid connect;
  • Tiger's mouth;
  • Other/tenuki
pick the best one based on the whole-board situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Encouragement/advice needed for reaching SDK IGS! Thank
Post #7 Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:12 am 
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Kiguchiterrier wrote:
Thanks man, the 3-point thinking sounds especially useful.


One futher nuance of three-move-reading: there's a final step that is vitally important: If I play here, where will my oponent play? Where will I play, then? Do I really need the first exchange?

In other words: "1-2-3. What if I just start with 3?"

This single pattern of thought can help you discover nets and tesuji that are the hallmarks of SDK middle-game play, at least in my opinion.

EDIT: Hajin Lee makes a great YouTube series that is highly recommended. In a lot of her videos, you can hear her muttering, "It's not ladder; it's not net." This tells you something about her thought patterns, when fighting.

I generally find that IGS SDK players have super-strong openings and decent end-game but are a little bit weak in the middle-game fighting. I alternate between KGS and IGS because the IGS-style seems to give me an advantage on KGS and silly, aggressive KGS-style moves often claim the lead in the middle-game on IGS.

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