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 Post subject: Starting go in your later years
Post #1 Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:29 pm 
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Is it possible to become a competitive player when you start learning go around your 20s? I visited a go salon a while ago to learn how to play, but the owner said that I was too old and wouldn't become a strong player, he told me it would have been better if I learned when I was younger. Really quite discouraging... But I really enjoy this game and I'm continuing to learn and study it, anyone else heard of this? Or maybe know of people who started learning when they're older but still become strong?

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #2 Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:58 pm 
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jsteinberg89 wrote:
Is it possible to become a competitive player when you start learning go around your 20s? I visited a go salon a while ago to learn how to play, but the owner said that I was too old and wouldn't become a strong player, he told me it would have been better if I learned when I was younger. Really quite discouraging... But I really enjoy this game and I'm continuing to learn and study it, anyone else heard of this? Or maybe know of people who started learning when they're older but still become strong?


Depends on your definition of competitive. Is it all a waste of time unless you can book a showdown with professional players and have an even chance to win? Probably a bit late to start, but not necessarily impossible. Depends on you. If you are competing against people at your own level it doesn't matter in the slightest how strong you are.

I say go for it. I started learning in my mid thirties (last year). The game is fantastic, and if studied can help you understand much. The strategic and tactical concepts you will learn seem to translate rather well to other areas of life. If I somehow knew that I could never get stronger than I am right now, I would still hope to play until I am physically incapable of doing so. It is an amazing game.

edit: from the title of your post, I had initially assumed you were talking about older than 70 or so. :) there are a couple members of my go study group about that age, so would be no surprise. 20's is very young still.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #3 Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:07 pm 
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I wonder if the fact that many people who start late don't become, relatively, strong is because of their brain ageing or because of the fact that they can't dedicate large sums of time to the game the way a 13 year old can.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #4 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:57 am 
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Years ago I read a letter in a go magazine by a guy who retired at 50 and started playing go again. He had learned to play in college. He took lessons from a pro and made shodan at age 51, and advanced one stone per year until, at age 55, he made 5 dan. This was at a time when 6 dan amateur overlapped pro strength.

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Post #5 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:59 am 
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Hi Bill, nice story: do you happen to remember if they mentioned his background -- what was his training and experience (education, profession, etc.) before he was 50, and what was his Go training and studying method after 50 ? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #6 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:29 am 
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"In you later years" LOL

Learning go as an adult is similar to learning to play the piano as an adult, and you can expect similar results, which will correlate to the amount of time and energy you put into the endeavor, as well as to whatever predisposition to the skill you happen to possess.

Both go and piano playing can be a heck of a lot of fun at levels far below that of professionals.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #7 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:23 am 
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I have always been surprised at how few western players seem to treat go as a spectator sport. If you look at genuine sports such as cricket, baseball, football, etc, the number of passive fans (well, active only in the sense of opening beer cans) relative to the number of players is immense. Numbers cited by chess organisers for the recent chess world championship suggest there was also a massive audience of spectators there.

Although there is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to be a top pro, I personally have never had the urge to be one, even when young -- too many other things I want to do so can't afford to be single-minded. But I have always been keen to learn more so as to be able to appreciate the pro games better as an educated fan. Being able to actually play the odd game is simply a bonus. And that has sustained me in go for some 50 years.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #8 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:50 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I have always been surprised at how few western players seem to treat go as a spectator sport. If you look at genuine sports such as cricket, baseball, football, etc, the number of passive fans (well, active only in the sense of opening beer cans) relative to the number of players is immense. Numbers cited by chess organisers for the recent chess world championship suggest there was also a massive audience of spectators there.

Although there is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to be a top pro, I personally have never had the urge to be one, even when young -- too many other things I want to do so can't afford to be single-minded. But I have always been keen to learn more so as to be able to appreciate the pro games better as an educated fan. Being able to actually play the odd game is simply a bonus. And that has sustained me in go for some 50 years.


There's a difference with chess spectators, in that most of them are either picking chess now or have been involved in chess in the past, even if not active players right now (I was following this year's match, and I'm refreshing my chess tactics now... I feel like getting slightly better visualisation in chess should help, even if just a little, my go visualisation... so it makes for a nice change of pace from tsumego.)

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #9 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:25 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I have always been surprised at how few western players seem to treat go as a spectator sport.


I'm more of a spectator than a player (and I'm not sure that's really a good thing :oops:)

I think the problem is there is very little coverage available in English. I know enough Japanese that I can enjoy the niconico streams and that's doubly interesting to me as it becomes language practice as well.

For people learning Korean there is baduk tv and I guess there is probably some equivalent for Chinese too. But if you don't know any of those languages what can you watch? A few amateur tournaments on eurogotv with the KGS trolls for commentary?

Also you pretty much need to build up the interest, people need to know who the actors are and why they should care about them. There is a big difference in spectator interest between the east and the west because there is also a huge difference in media coverage due to the difference in the number of players.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #10 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:10 am 
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Wow this is great thanks for everyone's input! The reason I put later years is because the go salon owner made it sound like being in your 20s was just way too late to learn and I should find a different hobby.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #11 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:25 am 
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I began to learn the rules right before new years eve last year, and have since then made it to almost 5kyu KGS. Yesterday I took white in an even game against a solid 3 kyu and won. I think that is a pretty good progress for less than a year? Oh and I am 23. Don't listen to anyone who says you cannot do something, just prove them wrong instead.
If you want to become strong quickly I suggest doing tsumego every day, play as often as you can (at least one game a day) and get a stronger player to review your games. Getting reviews are so extremely good for getting a better understanding of the game. The brain isn't even fully developed until around age 26, and it is not like it becomes useless and cannot learn anything new after that. Sure it might take more effort but with motivation I am sure anyone can break into dan level. I refuse to believe otherwise :D Good luck! Check out the book section in the forum too for some tips on such things.


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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #12 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:57 am 
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Sundaay wrote:
I began to learn the rules right before new years eve last year, and have since then made it to almost 5kyu KGS. Yesterday I took white in an even game against a solid 3 kyu and won. I think that is a pretty good progress for less than a year? Oh and I am 23. Don't listen to anyone who says you cannot do something, just prove them wrong instead.
If you want to become strong quickly I suggest doing tsumego every day, play as often as you can (at least one game a day) and get a stronger player to review your games. Getting reviews are so extremely good for getting a better understanding of the game. The brain isn't even fully developed until around age 26, and it is not like it becomes useless and cannot learn anything new after that. Sure it might take more effort but with motivation I am sure anyone can break into dan level. I refuse to believe otherwise :D Good luck! Check out the book section in the forum too for some tips on such things.


Also one year of go for me, started at the age of 40,and reached 13-14 kyu IGS... My schedule allows me toplay something like 2 or 3 games a week. Would I become a strong player one day ? probably not. do I have great time playing go ? sure I Have !

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #13 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:57 am 
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Very timely, a write up of a small tourney today between the top three players of ayd and eyd. It seems all of them started in their twenties or later. https://americanyungusengreports.wordpr ... p-preview/


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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #14 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:10 am 
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Sundaay wrote:
I began to learn the rules right before new years eve last year, and have since then made it to almost 5kyu KGS. Yesterday I took white in an even game against a solid 3 kyu and won. I think that is a pretty good progress for less than a year? Oh and I am 23. Don't listen to anyone who says you cannot do something, just prove them wrong instead.
If you want to become strong quickly I suggest doing tsumego every day, play as often as you can (at least one game a day) and get a stronger player to review your games. Getting reviews are so extremely good for getting a better understanding of the game. The brain isn't even fully developed until around age 26, and it is not like it becomes useless and cannot learn anything new after that. Sure it might take more effort but with motivation I am sure anyone can break into dan level. I refuse to believe otherwise :D Good luck! Check out the book section in the forum too for some tips on such things.


Thanks for your story!! It gives me hope! I actually just posted my first few games I played on kgs in the game review section if you would like help review my games!

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #15 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:19 am 
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foe wrote:
Very timely, a write up of a small tourney today between the top three players of ayd and eyd. It seems all of them started in their twenties or later. https://americanyungusengreports.wordpr ... p-preview/


This is awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #16 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:30 am 
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Would it help if I told you, that I …

• am 57 years old,
• began playing more seriously and more often than before about seven years ago (albeit, sadly, still with too little time for Go),
• am currently around 12k (see how “little” progress!),
• don’t even know whether I’ll ever make it to SDK (Single Digit Kyu) in this life,

… and that I enjoy every game I play?


Cordially, Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #17 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:46 am 
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jsteinberg89 wrote:
Sundaay wrote:
I began to learn the rules right before new years eve last year, and have since then made it to almost 5kyu KGS. Yesterday I took white in an even game against a solid 3 kyu and won. I think that is a pretty good progress for less than a year? Oh and I am 23. Don't listen to anyone who says you cannot do something, just prove them wrong instead.
If you want to become strong quickly I suggest doing tsumego every day, play as often as you can (at least one game a day) and get a stronger player to review your games. Getting reviews are so extremely good for getting a better understanding of the game. The brain isn't even fully developed until around age 26, and it is not like it becomes useless and cannot learn anything new after that. Sure it might take more effort but with motivation I am sure anyone can break into dan level. I refuse to believe otherwise :D Good luck! Check out the book section in the forum too for some tips on such things.


Thanks for your story!! It gives me hope! I actually just posted my first few games I played on kgs in the game review section if you would like help review my games!


I suggest you don't request game reviews here yet but instead play around 50 games (also playing against stronger players isn't bad)

Watching some of the beginner youtube streamers like bat or nick sibicky or what ever he is called :D

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #18 Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:12 pm 
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jsteinberg89 wrote:
Wow this is great thanks for everyone's input! The reason I put later years is because the go salon owner made it sound like being in your 20s was just way too late to learn and I should find a different hobby.

he's both right and wrong at the same time.
its not impossible, but it'll be difficult.
either way, enjoy your journey.

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #19 Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:16 am 
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This is a problem about the term "competitive", possible lack of agreement about how the term is to be understood. For example:

1) Competitive in international tournaments
2) Competitive in regional/local tournaments
3) Competitive at the typical* go club and its club tournaments

If you mean "3", then you are not too old. If you mean "1", sorry, it's too late. That go salon person probably was using meaning 1 or 2




* I have to stick in that "typical" because I suspect that the world of go might contain some clubs equivalent to the Marshall Chess Club (where to win a "local" club tournament almost surely a grandmaster, at least it was in the old days)

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 Post subject: Re: Starting go in your later years
Post #20 Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:52 pm 
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"The brain isn't even fully developed until around age 26, and it is not like it becomes useless and cannot learn anything new after that."

More like mid-thirty's! The ability to predict the behavior of others, based on your own actions, takes time to mature.

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