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 Post subject: A beginner's journey
Post #1 Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:19 pm 
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Hello everyone.

I joined this forum about a month ago, right about the time when I rediscovered Go.
https://lifein19x19.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15369 Here is my introduction if you want to know more about my history with the game.

I basically consider myself a complete beginner. I played a bit of Go 10 years ago, but never even really finished Graded Go Problems for Beginners and didn't play more than 20-30 games in total. Everything I learned back then, I forgot today. So one month ago, with some helpful tips from users in this forum, I set out to restart my Go journey only more structured this time. I figured I could make up for my age with proper learning.

So for one month I tried to play a game of 19x19 each day and failed miserably. I did 6. But I played over 100 quick 9x9 games on goQuest and did a couple hundred Go Problems.

My first goal is to check out all the different servers and their software. I made accounts everywhere and got the clients installed, but I haven't played too much yet so this is what I want to change in the second month...play more games, especially 19x19, since it's scary.

In this journal I want to write about my progress, successes and hurdles as well as post some games every now and then. I guess general (beginner) questions should better be posted in the (beginner) subforum.



This is where I'm at right now:
No rankings on any server yet, I either got the lowest possible rank or none at all.
The only exception is GuQuest, where I'm at 9kyu and a 1101 ranking, which I'm -very- sure, doesn't represent my actual playing strength on a 19x19.
I'm still struggling with a lot of the problems in Graded Go Problems for Beginners Vol 2, but I'm working through it, as well as doing problems on GoChild and 321go. I also got gogrinder for Android, but I haven't looked at it yet.
I keep track of my progress as best as possible, tracking how many problems I'm doing, saving my games for review and so on. I generally review at least all 19x19 games by myself. I'm probably not the best person to give advice to myself, but so far I'm always getting something out of a quick review.


Instead of setting myself one huge goal, like reach x-rank in y-months, I want to set myself clear, reachable goals in one-month intervals. That way I always have something to do and can see a result much quicker. While I'm keeping track of rankings/ratings, I don't want to set myself any goals to reach such a rank (yet?). I'm sure with enough steady progress I will reach 1d+ eventually, so I'll just note when I get out of the 30-20k beginner range, reach SDK, 1D etc.
That way I'm hoping to avoid the frustration of plateauing on a certain rank at least a little bit. We'll see how that is going to work.


For this month I'll try to play as many 19x19 games as I can. This was already last months goal, but I failed and now I know I have to structure my day better. Since I feel the most uncomfortable on 19x19, as opposed to 9x9 or doing tsumego, reading go books and watching videos on youtube, I think this is the area that I should focus on the most.


To put things in numbers for the next 30 days:
-at least 15 19x19 games with self review
-continue my 9x9 goQuest games
-finish Graded Go Problems for Beginners Vol. 2
-continue my correspondence games and tsumego online
-post at least one game a week here



And I'm also looking for general study advice as well. I have already looked through the web and I -think- I'm familiar with the most popular websites out there as well as software and youtube channels, but I'm always looking for new material.
I like reading, so I've already got a small library of Go books, some of which I bought 10 years ago and never did anything with them. Most of the books are still to difficult for me I guess.

I prefer playing on a real board, but opportunities are rare at best where I live, but I have a cheap board and some glass stones, just in case (my wife also plays a little bit of Go).

If it helps anyone give me suggestions, here's the books I've got right now:
Graded Go Problems for Beginners 1-4
Elementary Go Series 1-7
A complete introduction to the Game by Cho Chikun
The Second Book of Go
Lessons in Fundamentals
Invincible
And the usual suspects of free books available online, like River Mountain Go 1+2.

On youtube I like Nick Sibicky's videos, although I'm usually noticing that I'm lacking fundamentals and can't follow them very well. So it's mostly entertainment right now.

I'll try to post a game in here at least once a week and give more in depth progress updates at least once a month.

Thanks for reading, sorry if this posting ended up being a bit long and unstructured. I'm looking forward to my future with Go :)

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 Post subject: Re: A beginner's journey
Post #2 Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:35 pm 
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Better late than never, here's one of my recent games.

It ended with white running out of time, although I'm not sure if that was due to internet problems or because I won...because I can't tell if I'm ahead or not. I'm pretty sure I made some terrible terrible mistakes.

Oh and in addition to my posting above, especially the book list: Except Cho Chikun's introduction and Graded Go Problems Vol1, I haven't read any of them, so any advice if (or when) I should tackle one of the books, or additions to that list, are highly welcome.


Anyway, here's the game. I chose this one because I was surprised by the timeout. I'm somewhat sure black won the upper right corner, but looking at the rest of the board, I don't think that's enough to win the game.

I tried to remember an opening, but ended up playing...something.



9x9 is still much more comfortable for me and 19x19 correspondence games are a completely different thing (at least for me right now), so playing 19x19 "live" still feels very very awkward.


Attachments:
2018-03-08-infinities17k-MysteryFTGBC.sgf [1.07 KiB]
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Post #3 Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:08 pm 
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Hi FTG,
A few ideas and variations; missed chances.


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 Post subject: Re: A beginner's journey
Post #4 Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:30 pm 
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Hello Ed,

thank you for your analysis.

I'm asking myself how to best internalize these alternative moves. In hindsight it makes sense and sometimes even seems obvious, but when playing, I kind of fall back to just playing what feels right. And I'm sure at my level I shouldn't trust my instinct or ponder too long over each and every move ;)

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Post #5 Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:03 pm 
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I think you have established a good approach for yourself: small, achievable goals are likely to be more motivating than long term goals with no clear path. That’s a good start in itself!

The Cho Chikun book is pretty good, and I think focusing on the Graded Go Problem books is a good next step. Looking at your game, I think tactical fighting is more important than any other strategic concept at the moment. The elementary go series is good, but most titles are probably a bit beyond your level at the moment. When you’re comfortable with GGPfB volume 2, you will probably be able to get more out of those. Some of them are still challenging / valuable reads MUCH later - I definitely haven’t mastered everything in that series yet!

Invincible can be a fun change of pace, but if you decide to open that book I wouldn’t try to follow all of the variations just yet. Just play through the games (a good use for your physical board!) and note the shapes. The commentary would probably just muddle things at this point, or possibly make you feel you understand more than you actually do. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: A beginner's journey
Post #6 Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:39 pm 
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It's been a week already? Time flies.

Well, I haven't been able to play that many games, but I'm slowly playing more and more. My first correspondence games are nearing completion, so I should have a slow and steady stream of finished games incoming.

I'm also still working through the tsumego catalogue on gochild and 321go. there's a lot of material there and I'm making progress.

I played a game today that seems to fit quite well to jeromie's suggestion of focusing on tactical fighting. After having easily won a few games against a 25k, I felt pretty confident and today was the opposite. As a beginner it's still a bit difficult to tell if I'm ahead or not, so I didn't realize my huge loss until after the game. It seems my opponent expected me to resign much earlier and got annoyed by my haphazard play style so he resigned. Personally I found that to be a bit rude and impatient. If he'd asked in chat I probably would've resigned after realizing his lead. But he probably thought I was being pretty rude as well by wasting his time. Not sure how to deal with things like that yet.

Anyway, here's the game. As you can see white easily invaded everything I thought was safe.


I lost the lower left corner pretty early, then tried to make something in the middle and connect my groups. Somehow I messed up whites 3-3 invasion after 92 which is probably what got me into a lot of trouble in the middle. After that I was just scrambling to keep my remaining territory intact. Which also didn't work and after 148 I was mostly playing on tilt. At least it's getting rare that I miss an obvious atari like that. So I'm making SOME progress.
That game was actually pretty stressful as I felt like I was under attack constantly and every move was being questioned (and rightfully so most of the time).

Attachment:
2018-03-17-Roku17k-MysteryFTGBC.sgf [1.47 KiB]
Downloaded 178 times


If the complete destruction of most of my territory is due to my lack of tactical fighting ability, I'll gladly work on that.
What do you guys suggest? Grind L&D Problems and play a bunch of 9x9? I kind of stopped playing GoQuest (9x9) recently and was wondering if I should just play a game or two every day alongside my 19x19 sessions.

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 Post subject: Re: A beginner's journey
Post #7 Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:36 pm 
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21-23 - why did you play these moves?
31-33 - why those moves? why attachments?
45 previously you played as if sacrificing this group, now you set about saving it
63 compare this move with White's next move
93 tricked; worth to remember


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Post #8 Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:26 pm 
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21-23: I thought the two stones looked a bit like they had nowhere to go, so I tried to give them some space. My feeling was if white plays at 21+23, I wouldn't know what to do with my two stones.
31-33: I tried to get the white stone in trouble and push him towards the center. There's very likely a better solution here and this probably wasn't the best idea for my two stones in the lower left corner.
45: Believe me, I didn't intend to sacrifice these stones earlier. I thought I could connect them with the stones to the right, but it turns out that wasn't the case. That's why I continued to play there.
63: Hm, whites move of course is bigger. That's about all I can tell at my level right now. I am pretty hesitant to play anything larger than a one space jump because anything larger seems like it could be cut off more easily and I don't know how to protect against it. Maybe I just should play bigger extensions a lot and see what happens and if/how I can deal with it.
93: I feel like I messed up with 93 because from there until 113, I just can't stop white at all.

Thanks for the hints, it seems I still need to work a lot on the basics.

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Post #9 Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:15 am 
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We have all been where you are, some more recently than others.

What helped me in my 16kyu days was video lessons: for instance try Nick Sibicky's youtube lessons (aimed at double-digit kyu players) and then maybe Dwyrin's "Back to basics" series.

For both of those series, the earlier videos contained a lot of good advice and insights to me.


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Post #10 Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:04 am 
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I'll take a look at both again, thanks for the suggestion. I already watched a few of Nick Sibicky's videos recently and they seem quite helpful. The Back to Basics videos make everything seem soo easy and simple, but (of course) I can't recreate that in my own games (yet), so I guess I'll wait a bit until I've got a slightly more solid foundation.

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Post #11 Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:07 am 
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After your answers, I can provide some variations at these places:



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Post #12 Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:57 am 
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Thanks a lot for the insightful comments.

It's very interesting to think how much of a difference I could've made with better choices at 23 and 33. I guess that feeling never really goes away even at higher skill levels, does it? ;)

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 Post subject: Re: A beginner's journey
Post #13 Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:30 am 
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MysteryFTG wrote:
Thanks a lot for the insightful comments.

It's very interesting to think how much of a difference I could've made with better choices at 23 and 33. I guess that feeling never really goes away even at higher skill levels, does it? ;)


IMX, you get used to such situations and forget how bad some choices are. Your big mistakes tend to be in complicated positions. As a dan player I once took a look at some of my game records from when I was 4 kyu. Often my reaction was, "What the hell was I thinking?" ;)

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Post #14 Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:57 pm 
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Just want to say that I am enjoying this thread. I'm very new to Go -- just started learning a few weeks ago -- and I'm doing many of the same things you are, down to reading similar books, playing 9x9 games, doing puzzles, and watching some of the same YouTube videos.

Setting short-term achievable goals was spot on, psychologically. And this journal is a great idea, too!


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Post #15 Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:32 pm 
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Hey tosche, thanks for your kind words. I'll definitely keep updating this thread regularly.

Speaking of updating, it's been roughly one month since I started this thread and instead of posting another game, I thought I'd write an update about my progress and come back with another game next week.


I'm still working my way through the second volume of Graded Go Problems for Beginners. Same goes for the problems on 321go and GoChild. There's a LOT of material to work through.
Very slowly, I'm starting to notice some improvements in my reading ability. Don't get me wrong, it's still terrible, but here and there some of the easier patterns look more familiar.
When playing against weaker players, i.e. total beginners, it really makes a difference.

I got my first rankings on different servers. KGS 23k? and DGS 23k. OGS thought I had "won" some of the timeout games, so I was briefly ranked 8k (yeah, right), but it's starting to come back down again. Like I said, I don't have any goals for ranks, I just set general study goals.

While I didn't meet my goal of playing one 19x19 game every day, at least I finished 10 games...including correspondence games. It's a step up from last month, but there's still room for improvement.

So far just doing tsumego and playing games seems like the way to go. Books and lectures seem helpful, but at my level I feel my time is spent most effectively doing problems and playing games.


I'm sure it has been stated many times, but just to be sure I want to mention it to other new players: Do Go problems properly! It's better to do just one or two problems, but read them out as much as possible than click through a couple dozen problems and think you've learned sooo much by seeing the right sequence. I really try to do every problem until I'm either sure I don't need the answer anymore or until I'm sure I've analyzed it to the best of my abilities.
I think the solution of a go problem doesn't really teach you that much, it's how you work towards that solution yourself that teaches you the most.
Well, that's probably obvious to most people here, but maybe not so much to complete beginners.

Another thing I noticed is about the advice given to players "don't think" and "lose your first X (x usually being 50 or 100) games quickly". I'm sure there are players who take tons of time thinking about every single move, trying to find the best solution, even when their ability doesn't allow them to do that, no matter how much time they have. I've played against 30k players who just play every move within a handful of seconds, basically not playing at all and thus relying on instinct (that they don't have yet I guess).
I'm not sure they're learning anything by playing that way. Maybe given enough time this is some kind of brute force approach that will eventually result in better skill? But I like to at least try to think a little bit about every move. Surely I can't tell a weak group from a strong one yet, but I'm still giving it a few seconds every move to look at the board and try to read ahead just a few moves locally.
I mean, if I have to be able to read far ahead at high levels, I'm surely not going to get there if I never practice it during gameplay...right?
Any opinions on that from higher level players? I'm just hovering around 25-20k so I might be totally wrong ;)


Oh and I also joined the German Go Federation "Deutscher Go-Bund". I'm not sure I can participate in any tournaments or events yet, given my strength and also the fact that I live in the countryside, but I wanted to support organized Go here.


Goals for the next month:
Well, not much different from last month. Play more 19x19 than this month, especially more live games. I'm playing 10 correspondence games on DGS and OGS respectively, so I think I've got that covered, but live games still stress me out a bit too much, so I need to work on that.
My goal last month was 15 19x19 games and I finished 10. 15 seems doable.
Finish Graded Go Problems 2. This was already my goal last month, but I "only" managed to do about 80 problems, so I have to work on that.

Staying consistent is the key to success but also harder than it seemed when I started playing/learning.

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Post #16 Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:58 pm 
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Awesome to read up on your progress!
I'm 18kyu on OGS, maybe we can play a correspondence game?

I understand all too well that live games make you nervous. I have the same thing, I always sweat like a pig playing a live game on OGS. In real life it greatly depends on how the board is developing! But since I tend to be more patient irl, I read better and play better usually.
What is really helping me is playing games against Leela, this is a fairly strong bot (+3d I think) that's handy for analyzing games/moves with. You can play her on different board size with optional komi, handicap... Playing a robot doesn't make me nervous, so I can concentrate fully on the game (of course, this doesn't help facing your fears :p)

Playing games is probably the best way to improve, especially if you read well, so keep doing that! I get a lot out of books, but also out of reviewing games. I'd rather play one game and review it than play three consecutive games. Review doesn't even have to be super-detailed. Sometimes I just go look over a group I lost and then go back a few moves until I find what move it was that I missed, where did it go wrong and why?

I just finished GGPB 2 and the problems get tougher near the end, so I'm definitely gonna reread a few times. I think your approach is good, slow but surely. I may have read it a bit too quickly.

Anyway, good luck on your objectives!


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Post #17 Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:21 am 
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Thank you for your motivating comment!

We can absolutely play correspondence on OGS, just send me an invite. My username is in my profile.

Glad to see I'm not the only one who has trouble being calm during live games. I guess it'll get better the more I play, but right now it's holding me back a little bit as I can't just play a few games every now and then.

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Post #18 Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:22 pm 
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Again, I`m late for my "weekly" update. But at least I'm still playing ;)

As usual, I'm not playing enough games. I'm trying to play more live games, but my nervousness is really getting to me every time.
With 9x9 on GoQuest I managed to get it under control after about 50 games, so I'm hoping I'll have the same result on 19x19...but for some reason it's much worse.
Right now I'm trying to have a goal for each game like use something new I've learned to get used to new concepts. Let's see if that helps.

But I still managed to play a live game today, where I had a situation I didn't handle correctly but I can't figure out what I should have done differently.



I feel like I really handled move 32 wrong, but I'm not sure what I did wrong. Play 49 at 51 and then...something? I don't know.
Also the 3-3 invasion at 131 didn't work at all. I'm still trying to figure out when I can successfully play that and when I shouldn't.
I still kind of used the messed up invasion with a ko to reduce white's territory in the end, so it wasn't a complete waste?

247 and 253: Are they even necessary?




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Post #19 Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:52 pm 
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Hi FTG,

:b27: Double hane H14.

:b33: L16 atari first. Then, you're guaranteed to capture either :white: stone.
In other words, you have Miai of { J18, M17 }.

:b35: This take is premature and you have a local shape problem.
Just connect at K15.
The K15 cut is always an issue you need to keep track of,
ever since you jumped at :b29: --
if you simply extend on :b29: to J13, then no cut at K15.

:w38: Locally, you get bad shape because of a series of moves:
:b29: unaware of shape issue ; :b33: missing L16 atari ; :b35: not connecting at K15 is the final local mistake.

:b49: Foundation; fundamental.
Quote:
Play 49 at 51 and then...something? I don't know.
L14 is better than the game move, and reduces 1 W liberty.
M14 is one candidate.

:b63: Bad. Throwing good money at bad.

:b95: Bad shape ( bad empty triangle ), slow.

:black: 127 study why this move is bad.

:white: 130 Does W need this ?
Quote:
Also the 3-3 invasion at 131 didn't work at all. I'm still trying to figure out when I can successfully play that and when I shouldn't.
This requires study & experience & Go exercises.

:white: 138 D18.

:white: 146 W confused.

:black: 147 B confused.

:white: 166 W confused ; similar mistake as :black: 127.

:black: 167 Gote, slow, small. Fixing P3 is huge.

:white: 168 W confused. P3 is huge.

:black: 169 through :black: 175 Both B & W confused.

Study why ( :black: 127, :white: 166, :black: 175 ) are all bad.


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Post #20 Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:05 pm 
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Hello FTG,

I sympathize with not playing enough games. I love to do go problems and study patterns but find logging onto a server and playing hard. A method I've found helpful is implementation intention. If I just say I will play a game every day I won't follow through. But if I instead say I will play a game after I do my life and death for the day, I have a much easier time starting a game. Another way to say it is: if I finish my problems, then I will play a game. I just learned about this method, but I've played on three of the four days this week. This is instead of once a week which had been my habit.

With respect to the proverbs on not thinking too hard and losing a bunch of games quickly. A good middle ground starting out would be to spend thirty seconds per move UNLESS it becomes a matter of life and death. In that case, take your time. The meaning behind the proverb is to prune out super basic mistakes e.g. ladders, caught on the second line, not seeing atari. All of these you'll stop doing without much effort when it has happened to you ten times.


You are absolutely correct that how one reads is very important. One of the amazing things is how complicated looking positions can fall apart effortlessly if you apply the right methodology.

When living or killing: begin with the simplest moves. When refuted by the opponent, examine the line where you play at the refuting move first. Repeat until solved.
When living: maximize eye space.
When killing: minimize eye space.

If you want to post a few problems that you find tricky I can show you what I mean.


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