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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #81 Posted: Fri Sep 23, 2022 12:15 pm 
Gosei

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Indeed, I appreciated this at the time, and went through the book because it was good for me, but I still wasn't happy about it. This time the artificiality somehow stood out less to me. Maybe I've just done a lot of other tsumego in the meantime.

Meanwhile I was just going through a Jump Level Up book for some easy practice, and I think that the themed nature of the book, which is rightfully generally seen as a feature, is actually a bit of a negative point for me. If I see that a chapter is all about belly attachments, say, it's too tempting to glance at every problem and see what the answer (or first move, at least) must be. I still try to check my reading, but there's a lot less incentive to be diligent in the way I was describing above. So I think that these books that are organized by pattern are not good for me right now. I know all the fundamental patterns up to a certain level; what I need to work on is applying them accurately, reading out when a tempting move fails by one liberty, etc.

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Post #82 Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2022 5:20 am 
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dfan wrote:
I'm not really trying to improve my rank anymore - I feel like 2016-2019 was my chance to do that, and was only a limited success - but I still feel like I can do productive work on honing my skills, which brings me pleasure.


Hey, dfan! It's nice to hear from you. I am glad you are enjoying reading more.

The quoted statement above made me curious: while it is perfectly cool not to focus on rank, what was significant about 2016 through 2019 that's different than now?

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #83 Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2022 6:10 am 
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Kirby wrote:
Hey, dfan! It's nice to hear from you. I am glad you are enjoying reading more.

:salute:

Quote:
The quoted statement above made me curious: while it is perfectly cool not to focus on rank, what was significant about 2016 through 2019 that's different than now?

Oh, it's just that that was a period when for various reasons I made a big concerted push to make a quantitative improvement to AGA 1d or so. And I did improve a lot, although my AGA rating doesn't reflect it - my online ranks are a lot stronger, I beat 1ds occasionally in casual games, and I know my knowledge and judgment have gone way up. But my relationship with go by 2019 or so became mostly about trying to prove that I could be as strong as I should be (whether that was rank or playing a praiseworthy game on AYD), which meant I was too invested in my results, which made me tense and frustrated. So now I am making an explicit effort to just enjoy the game. Enjoying still means thinking hard and learning and studying, but I'm trying hard not to grade myself by my results.


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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #84 Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2022 8:56 am 
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dfan wrote:
Enjoying still means thinking hard and learning and studying, but I'm trying hard not to grade myself by my results.


Gotcha. That is difficult for me to do. I am glad you are finding a way. These days, I am having a difficult time deciding how much to focus on work vs. go. Doing well at work is important for having an income, but I find more happiness studying go.

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #85 Posted: Tue Oct 11, 2022 2:02 pm 
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I did a new pass through the Jump Level Up books as a refresher. I didn't keep track of how well I did when I first did the books, but this time my scores were 95.5%, 94.6%, 95.3%, 94.8%, and 91.9%. So only the last book had appreciably harder problems (or maybe I was paying a little less attention).

I like books like this in principle (a prescribed graded syllabus in which each topic is presented and then drilled before moving on to the next one) but they're the wrong kind of book for me, at least right now. I already know all these SDK-level techniques (at least in theory), although getting a refresher was nice. And because the problems are grouped by technique, you usually know what the correct key move is likely to be before even bothering to do things like count liberties, and although of course you should still read things out, I lose a lot of motivation to do so. I could feel my reading skills atrophying as I went through these ~3000 problems, and it was kind of a relief to return to a regular tsumego book where I really have to work at the variations.

Meanwhile I've been playing on Fox. I had dropped down to 1d during the last year of playing an occasional game but not thinking much about Go, so that's where I started, but I went 16-1 at that level and double promoted to 3d. That can't all be due to my immense skill; I think Fox ranks have gotten softer. But one thing that I did feel like I was doing better this time was reading, and having confidence in my reading. If I think I've read out a local situation correctly, I trust it. This can occasionally lead to disaster but you learn more from that and getting actual negative feedback than from overprotecting things.

I also have acquired a new strategy of physically putting my hands in my pockets until the 10-second byo-yomi countdown starts (these are 30-second games), no matter how obvious my next move is. There's always something to look at. I'm sure it's annoying to some opponents but I definitely am noticing some opportunities that I would typically miss.

Most importantly, I'm enjoying playing.

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #86 Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2022 12:46 am 
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It's possible that Fox ranks softened a bit. I got promoted to 3d last month after being stuck at 2d for 21 months (and still stuck at 2k+ on IGS for 18 months).

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Post #87 Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 8:53 am 
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My sense of what activities are effective for me personally continues to improve. As I started to relearn some of the knowledge I had let slip during my break (such as life and death statuses and joseki) I found my play slipping a bit - playing by shape and knowledge instead of by reading. So I went back to 1001 Life-and-Death Problems to remind myself that it's fundamentally all about reading in the end. My results were a little better than a few months ago, for what it's worth:
Code:
           9/2022  2/2023
Live in 1   84.5%   88.0%
Kill in 1   96.5%   96.0%
Live in 3   87.5%   93.0%
Kill in 3   99.0%   97.0%
Live in 5   84.0%   83.0%
Kill in 5   80.1%   87.1%
Total       88.0%   90.8%

I managed to hold on to Fox 3d in my first period of games by the skin of my teeth, but it's not unlikely that I'll drop down to 2d at some point, which is fine. I may not totally deserve to be a Fox 3d yet, but I deserve to play games with Fox 3ds, if that makes sense.

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #88 Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 11:39 am 
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It's fascinating to me how your accuracy rate is rather consistent throughout the book. I remember clocking in around 10%+ accuracy higher on the 5 moves to kill than the 5 moves to live problems.

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Post #89 Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 1:40 pm 
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Quote:
As I started to relearn some of the knowledge I had let slip during my break (such as life and death statuses and joseki)


I wonder, I wonder. Do we learn them properly?

I was reading a Chinese book last night on calligraphy. It is not just in go that there are startling differences between the words or the mindsets that Chinese compared use to us. In the case of calligraphy, western books tend to talk about beautiful Chinese calligraphy in terms of the final shape, with often an accent on symmetry. Like urban architecture of the tower-block variety. Any deviation from symmetry is then deemed strange (though possibly wonderful). But symmetry is a side issue to a Chinese calligrapher, and is usually rather rare.

What this book talked about instead was the beauty of characters coming from the "shi" (power, or what we call influence in go) of the various components - which obviously varies according to position. These "power" points then have to be joined up by "techniques" (fa) of writing and combining strokes. This instantly put me in mind of the similar common discussion of shi and fa (in the form of zhaofa) in old Chinese go.

The calligraphy book went on to explain that attention has to be given (under the heading of technique) to the beginning and middle and end of each stroke (once the various shi elements have been mapped into the writer's consciousness).

You could dismiss that as sheer coincidence, but it resonated with me because I have been lucky enough to stand beside famous calligraphers as they have written large characters, and when you do that you can literally feel they are writing the beginning, the middle and the end of each stroke - not quite separately but with a change of pace over the whole stroke. That change of pace shows up in the final stroke. This process makes the writing of each stroke ever so slightly - but noticeably - slower than the way a western writer writes characters, where a quick, showy slash is deemed skilful. Furthermore, when the Chinese writer writes in cursive or running hand, which looks on the page as if it has been dashed off at high speed, he actually writes rather slowly with a perceptible b m and e.

When you read well-written script you can follow the writer's movements in each stroke and so deduce the sort of feeling he is trying to imbue.

I spent some time after waking up this morning thinking about whether we should be thinking about zhaofa (or Japanese suji or Korean haengma) in these same BME terms. And I'd be quite confident in asserting that next to nobody here does. I certainly don't. Most people just go straight to the middle part and try to find the tesuji. If they can't they MAY go back to the beginning and look harder at the problem. But even when they do find a tesuji that works, do they do the end bit, too? Check for weird variations and/or think how this sequence can combine with other sequences (or power bases)?

But if we did do problems (life & death, tesujis, josekis) on that "full English breakfast" basis, what would the process look like? I suppose the beginning part would be recognising the various shapes and weak points. The middle is the actual tactical sequence. The end part might be thinking about "where do we go from here?" as described just above.

My own thoughts haven't settled down yet, but I'd hazard a strong guess that the apparently slow BME process would end up a lot faster (rather like the alpha-beta algorithm) because it is more efficient, pruning out lots of unnecessary lines.

But also (and here I revert to the quote above) this step-by-step approach would surely make it much more likely that we learn the sequence more securely. Just as a full English breakfast keeps you going a lot longer than a bowl of cornflakes. And since you would largely be understanding it better, this understanding would make other techniques much easier to learn.

Your thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #90 Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 5:16 pm 
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Interesting thoughts as always John. I remember going into an art gallery in Melbourne where they had not just a display of calligraphy, but also a video of a calligrapher at work. It was quite an education.

Remember that this forum is a gathering place for go-playing amateurs! I think what you're seeing in our approach is not an intrinsic weakness of "the western mind", just the dallying of dillettantes. I'm glad you haven't given up on us, and appreciate the continued nudging.

There's also the question of how to work efficiently as a part-timer. If you're not studying go eight hours a day, but struggle to make even eight hours a month, is it better to spend an hour studying five shapes in depth, or to get a superficial exposure to 50-100 shapes in the same time?

Did Behind the scenes of some endgame tesuji move us in the direction of a full English breakfast at all?


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Post #91 Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 5:28 pm 
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Quote:
Did Behind the scenes of some endgame tesuji move us in the direction of a full English breakfast at all?


It seems you were ahead of me!

Is a full go breakfast one with black pudding and white pudding?

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Post #92 Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2023 8:25 am 
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hl782 wrote:
It's fascinating to me how your accuracy rate is rather consistent throughout the book. I remember clocking in around 10%+ accuracy higher on the 5 moves to kill than the 5 moves to live problems.

I definitely find the living problems harder than the killing problems! So maybe I just take more care with them to compensate. Also I think that the increased difficulty most often manifests in it being hard to find a potential solution in the first place, but once I find a candidate variation I may be more likely to make a mistake of the form "This must kill, oh, whoops" rather than "This must live, oh, whoops."

John Fairbairn wrote:
I wonder, I wonder. Do we learn them properly?

Well, probably not! But honestly after a few decades of studying both chess and Go I've become pretty wary of any "if I just studied in this other way I'd improve much faster" thoughts. I also have a feeling that what works best varies a lot from person to person.

The one time I did make a big qualitative jump from a plateau was in chess when I suddenly went from 1800 to 2000+ USCF (say, like suddenly jumping from 2k to 1d). That happened when I did a lot of spaced repetition of openings and strategic problems (among other things), before spaced repetition became a big thing. So that's one reason I've been enthusiastic about the same process in Go. But really I'm pretty sure that the best thing for my improvement would just be to play more often.

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #93 Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2023 6:00 pm 
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I rejoined Yunguseng Dojang and the season just ended so I guess it's a good time to take stock.

I took a break from YD in 2020 after three years of continuous play there; I was getting a bit frustrated at not improving (much) despite the effort I was putting in, and I felt like I kept letting In-seong down with my bad play. I was a little ambivalent about rejoining but I thought that getting some game reviews would be really valuable and I felt that I had let go enough of my need to quantitatively improve that I could just enjoy the games and not take it so personally like I used to.

Well, the good news is that I went 10-5 this season and In-seong said he could hardly recognize my play from before. I used to be very conservative; this season he even needed to criticize a few moves for being too aggressive.

A few things that I think have changed:
1) As I noted earlier, I have spent more time doing problems and trying to read really precisely, with more confidence that I can actually do it based on my recent chess experience.
2) I trust my reading more. If my reading says my group is safe, then I'll leave it alone! If I'm wrong I'll learn something.
3) I am much more willing to live on a knife-edge between success and failure. I'll say more about this in a separate comment later.
4) I don't care so much whether I win or lose! I still enjoy playing well but I have stopped having a rank goal.

Of course the true test will be whether I am still so happy about my play when I have a bad season... but for now I am enjoying myself. In the meantime, I now feel fully confident going up against Fox 3d players; I'm 10-10 in my last 20 games (10-5 in my last 15) so I no longer feel just lucky to be there.


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Post #94 Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2023 5:29 am 
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OK, here's the expansion of point 3 from yesterday.

I used to have the attitude that playing Go well was largely about making territory well and keeping your groups strong. If your opponent makes weak groups you can attack them, and if you have to invade, you should do it and try to do your best, but basically it's about sketching out territory with healthy groups.

My new attitude is that playing Go well is all about reading and fighting between groups of imperfect strength. There is a famous joke about two campers who encounter an angry bear in the woods; the first camper starts putting on their sneakers, the second one says "Surely you don't think you can outrun a bear?!", and the first replies "I don't need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you." In Go, your group doesn't need to be invulnerable, it just needs to be stronger than the one it is fighting. Capturing-race variations aren't a sign that you're desperate, they're a sign that you're effectively using the fact that your group is a little stronger than your opponent's. If your variations don't have you winning capturing races by one liberty, you're probably not playing maximally effectively. Once I flipped my attitude I started realizing how many josekis are really about getting one liberty ahead in a corner capturing race.

So that's my new attitude, or at least I'm attempting to make it so; of course sometimes my old conservatism creeps in. It certainly makes games more exciting!

I do think that the "Go is about safely sketching out territory" mindset is a big problem not just with me but with lots of Western players in the SDK range, particularly 5-9k or so. They've gotten to that point by slaughtering players who don't understand strategy at all, but then they get into a rut where they keep making moves that are only 70% effective because they're so conservative, and it's hard to get out of that rut because the moves that stronger players tell you you should have made look so scary.


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Post #95 Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2023 10:06 am 
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So in this view the fighting aspect of go gets the attention.
Go revealing the fundamental vectors of all kind of battles.


Not only the close combat is a cut throat activity. The whole game from move one to the end is a brutal confrontation in the full view of life and death with every move striving for the advantage.


But there is also a time for peaceful step by step development and even the defeat can be glorious.


As a second thought: What about the game between us and AI ;-)

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Post #96 Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2023 8:42 am 
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Still having fun!

I'm holding steady at 3d on Fox. Still playing in Yunguseng Dojang, and my rating there has gone up, but more importantly In-seong has confirmed that I'm playing more actively and with fighting spirit. I'm also playing with a more carefree attitude, and so far have stopped myself from feeling too bad when I get a negative review. Finally, I've been playing in BenKyo League (https://www.benkyoleague.com/), Ben Mantle's (OGS 6d) group, for a few months. Ben's great, and the atmosphere there is very friendly; here's lots of chat on Discord and kibitzing of each other's games, so it feels like having a Go club around all the time.

My Go activity consists pretty much completely of playing games and tsumego. I continue to be very serious about reading accurately. I ordered some books from China a few months ago and they are the main components of my current diet.

- 速成围棋专项训练死活1000题 is a 10-volume graded set (starting at DDK, ending at 6d) with 1000 life-and-death problems in each book. I like the problems a lot, although I couldn't tell you how original they are, and the books are good quality. Each volume has a bunch of short chapters on individual techniques, then a few long ones (covering over half the book) that are just generically live, kill, and ko. The one negative thing, and it's a pretty big one, is that the solutions are not in the book; they're only available online, which I didn't realize before ordering. I started with the 5-1k book (volume 3) and didn't have much trouble (91%) and am now halfway through the 1d book (88%, but it'll get tougher when I get to the generic chapters).
- 围棋经典死活3600题 is I guess a popular collection of life-and-death problems (I've seen it referred to before); three volumes with 1200 problems in each. The first volume is plenty hard for me - 79% success so far. These are perfect for my current reading ability, a step above 1001L&D but generally within my reach (when I get a problem wrong I can see how I could have gotten it right). These books are also high quality; it's a pleasure to hold them and solve from them.
- 围棋经典手筋3600题 is an analogous collection of tesuji problems. These include both tactics problems and shape/haengma problems, which both seem to fall under the general category of "tesuji" (for example, I feel that Get Strong at Tesuji is largely about shape), and for me at least the difficulty of the two types is wildly different. I sailed through the tactical section of volume 1 (97%) and muddled through the shape section (57%). I guess the upside is that I can learn a lot from the shape problems, although there are no verbal explanations. I'm going through volume two now.

I've registered for the Go Congress; I was on the fence a bit, and then decided that I'm spending so much time on Go right now that it would be silly not to take advantage of the opportunity. I've entirely ditched my old goal of eventually reaching AGA 1d (for one thing, I'm more and more disenchanted with the AGA rating system) and am just enjoying playing and learning. I'm looking forward to seeing both old and new friends there.


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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #97 Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2023 11:45 am 
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If you are consistently 3d on fox, maybe you could just self-promote to 1d. Should be fine.

BTW, I will probably be at the congress, so it would be cool to catch up. I don't think I will play in the open, but I will be there for socializing :-)

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 Post subject: Re: dfan's quest for competence
Post #98 Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2023 12:35 pm 
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I appreciate your confidence in me! But the highest rank I feel I could possibly "really" be is 2k, plus I underperform in over-the-board play. I don't want to game the system to try get my rank up and deprive some stronger players of the opportunity to play each other. I'm happy to just play the games that I'm naturally assigned and I'll do how I do.

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Post #99 Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2023 4:49 am 
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dfan wrote:
I appreciate your confidence in me! But the highest rank I feel I could possibly "really" be is 2k, plus I underperform in over-the-board play. I don't want to game the system to try get my rank up and deprive some stronger players of the opportunity to play each other. I'm happy to just play the games that I'm naturally assigned and I'll do how I do.


I don't think it's gaming the system. Self-promotion is a part of the system.

That being said, I can relate to being weaker over-the-board. I am like that, too.

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