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Subject: A relative novice discusses his perspective on why to play even if one cannot become expert rss

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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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1. Introduction

Although I've now played more games of Go than other games at which I am become a veteran player, I remain in reality very much a novice at this game. I have picked up a smattering of the lingo and a better understanding of the principles of the elements of play than of the practical aspects of implementing these principles effectively. Since I have only taken up the game well into my adulthood and do not assiduously study the game, I accept that i shan't become an expert at it and that anyone genuinely knowing what he's about will proverbially wipe the board with me. Nonetheless, I find this a fun game to play in and of itself, albeit preferably with someone who like myself is virtually a complete beginner. Nevertheless, many people in a similar situation-- judging by comments posted on this board-- get burnt out on playing this game because they simply become frustrated at losing all the time and feel nothing is to be gained from the game, whether enjoyment or other benefit, if they cannot become at least sufficiently expert at the game to generally win. My natural response to this is to urge both persistence and play with more suitable players in terms of experience-level. Yet such an answer to many ears rings hollow. So, although I still think it the best answer, I am going to discuss an entirely side-benefit to playing this game at any level for fans of abstract games and especially for fans of traditional ones; specifically, I'm going to talk about how this game helps one think about related games and I'm going to do it while referring to the concepts of but avoiding the jargon of Go, with the exception of the terms alive and dead. (I.e., the term joseki won't occur once outside this sentence.)

For the devoted Go player, this perspective offers the benefit of an alternate perspective which applies the logic of the game to other games. Yet, lessons from one game to another work inevitably both ways. For such a player, the Petteia (AKA Petteia) and tafl families (or family) of games offer perhaps a means of strengthening game-play simply by forcing the play to think about pieces' degrees of freedom and capture of pieces differently.

2. Go in the context of related games

For these purposes, the form of Go which will be most useful is that version in which dead stones-- meaning those stones surrounded by enemy stones on all sides vertically and horizontally by not necessarily diagonally-- remain on the board. Whatever may have been the original game from which the others derive, if indeed such a game exists and remains extant, certainly a continuum exists of games played on a grid-- usually square, with a variable number of points or less commonly spaces-- with two groups of identical pieces, to which one odd piece is sometimes added. Taking the logically simplest perspective and ignoring historical development, these games have either or both of two phases generally-- that of placement and that of movement. Clearly, Go has only the former phase, but if one imagines the game as having once had a now defunct movement phase-- whether or not it actually ever did so-- concepts like life and death and control of areas of the board become clear in a way they might not otherwise or at least in a way that is different.

To this end, one imagines Go as the initial placement phase of a game on a 19x19 board either of Seega or Petteia. The importance of the degrees of freedom in Go then becomes immediately important immediately obvious in that these are the possible directions of movement for the pieces in that imaginary later movement phase of play. That movement does not occur does not matter because the stones stretch out in a chain continuously as if each point of movement were simultaneously visible. The false connection of diagonally adjacent pieces then becomes obvious because pieces will in principle only move horizontally or vertically, not diagonally. To someone who has only played Go this statement may not be clear, but to one who has played Ludus Latrunculorum or tafl, the point is obvious. For the Go player, these games provide a new perspective and source of experience dealing with the game concepts of life and death and degrees of freedom; yet, by the same token, Go provides the player of Petteia or tafl with lessons on the relative strengths of positions on the board and on the vulnerability of pieces. As a Go stone diagonally adjacent to an enemy piece provides a base from which to expand and cut off two degrees of freedom for the enemy piece, so also a piece in Petteia or tafl diagonally adjacent to an enemy piece is in position to block that piece or capture that piece in either of two directions.

Tafl can also be won by completely surrounding an opponent's pieces sothat he has nowhere to move. Of course, the final moves to create this position are virtually never actually played. The position is recognized as untenable and so the losing player resigns. This is the essence of area control. Thus, a way of answering the key question, "When is a group in Go alive or dead?" becomes immediately suggested by imagining a stone in the group, usually at its end, as moving like a rook in Chess and considering whether the piece might avoid capture by being surrounded on all sides in the enemy stones could also so move. Go teaches the player of tafl the situations needed to capture the king, and tafl teaches the player of Go more clearly to see is a group is alive or dead.

3.Remarks

One could continue in this vein to discuss the maxim of "corner, edge, center" and the relative strength of these board positions with practical lessons about working in the border areas. Other examples couldalso be added to the list. Yet the above discussion serves to make the point. With apologies to John Donne, "No game is an island"; lessons will carry over from one game to another and the more closely related the games the more useful and diverse such practical lessons.
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Mark Schlatter
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To move to more general games, I find Go helpful in training me to look for "sente" situations (plays I make that my opponent must respond to) and "gote" situations (plays I make that aid me, but which my opponent can ignore). In other terms, I think Go is good at helping you see when to take profit and when to retrench.
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I expected more than just one reason to play.

Is it really the best perspective to play a game because it improves the playing of other games?

Being a better player at those other games doesn't necessarily mean you enjoy them more.

Ultimately, surely it should be about enjoyment? Why play Go if you've decided you'll never enjoy it?

But at the same time, despite never becoming an expert, there are many ways to enjoy the game:

* You can play an exciting match against better players. It can be enjoyed with a handicap against those up to 9 stones better than you, without changing the fundamental nature of the game.

* It's relaxing and can be almost a form of mediation. It can imbue upon you a state of mind that few other games can. The strategies borne of such simple rules have engages me and a friend for many, many hours whilst drinking tea at a local cafe. Considering moves, only 'speaking' through our placement of stones on the board, I have felt myself totally at ease with the world when playing Go in a way I never do at other times.

* If you travel to Japan/Korea - or even within your own city - being able to play Go may be something that allows you access to a new community and perhaps a new friend.

Of course, that last point is starting to grasp at straws - there's many other activities that also share this quality - but there are other reasons to play something than just for the reason of gaining skill at ultimately meaningless activities.
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Moshe Callen
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Bezman:

As stated in the OP, I do enjoy the game in and of itself, but I was quite up-front that I was presenting one reason to play aisde from this in the review. The reason is designed to address novice players' frustration in that they feel they're getting nothing out of the game because they keep losing. This is not the same as a genuine lack of enjoyment. so, I suggest a benefit of playing the game obtainable in the short term, i.e., a reason to keep playing. The game is very enjoyable especially if a novice's frustration at losing can be assuaged. This was the raison d'etre for the review.
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Randall Bart
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whac3 wrote:
moving like a rook in Ta Yü


I'm a traditionalist. I play Ta Yü without rooks.

Ta Yü is game 117. Chess is 171. That's a surprisingly low number for Ta Yü . I would think they would do a bunch of classics before they got to Ta Yü. Of course, Ta Yü is a classic; I just didn't expect BGG to have known that back then.

Enough silliness, let's get to the matter at hand. I think your point is weak. You're saying that time spent playing Go will help you playing Petteia and vice versa. If I accept that (and I don't) what's the point? Is this directed at the dozen or so people who really want to play Latrunculorum? Playing a few similar but different games can help broaden the mind, but these aren't all that similar. Go is placement; Latrunculorum is movement. Go is capture of groups; Latrunculorum is capture of individuals. Go capture is by surrounding and the edge counts for the offense; Latrunculorum capture is by occupying opposite sides, and the edge counts for defense. In some ways Cathedral is closer to Go. In fact all connection games have a relationship to Go, because Go is about connecting and cutting and making eyeshape. Go is not about capture; capture only provides the tension to drive the cutting and connecting.

If I had a friend who wanted to play Go, I would play Go. I still own a board somewhere. My black stones were stolen. Also the suede bag I had my white stones in was stolen. I could get new stones (and get normal bowls for the pieces) but I have no need. If someone else really wants to play Go they must provide a board.

Actually Go is a good game for people of different abilities, because it has such a simple and effective handicapping system. I could beat a pro if he gave me enough stones (at least 17). The biggest downside to this is that if you always play against someone who gives you four or more stones, you will only learn Joseki where you own the 4,4 point. When you try to play against someone your own level suddenly there are many more Joseki possibilities. But against any opponent there is a handicap level that will make for a good game. OTOH, Chess has no balancing mechanism.

Go has immense depth and replayability. I've played 200 or more times, and I have hardly scratched the surface. Yet at the same time I am played out. After ten games and two books I was a 7 kyu. After 200 games and five books I was a 6 kyu. I played against Yoshi, a 3 dan. He said I had the ability to make sho dan. But to do that would take book learning. I don't want to spend my time reading; I want to play. (Then why do I spend six hours a day on BGG? I am vast, I contain multitudes.)
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Moshe Callen
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Randall;

Thanks for pointing out the typo.

As for the weakness of the point, I have in practice found my play of the games to help one another in actual fact. The point is not abstract theory but a practical reality. See my review of Seega for a case in point.
 
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whac3 wrote:
Bezman:

As stated in the OP, I do enjoy the game in and of itself, but I was quite up-front that I was presenting one reason to play aisde from this in the review. The reason is designed to address novice players' frustration in that they feel they're getting nothing out of the game because they keep losing. This is not the same as a genuine lack of enjoyment. so, I suggest a benefit of playing the game obtainable in the short term, i.e., a reason to keep playing. The game is very enjoyable especially if a novice's frustration at losing can be assuaged. This was the raison d'etre for the review.


I apologise if I was too confrontational. I did notice the bit where you stated you'd enjoyed the games - just chose to concentrate on the point I disagreed with.

Thing is, there is no need to constantly lose - nearly any player I've met is happy to give 9 handicap stones to someone who needs them and my brother has beaten me - thanks to a 5-stone handicap on a 9x9 board.

I see no reason for someone to continually lose, as you stated you were doing in the first paragraph, unless everyone you know is above at least 17Kyu. Which, on reflection, is probably the reason.

Is becoming better at other games the real reason you play, though? Surely there are other reasons you enjoy the game, despite your inability to be an expert?
 
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Bezman wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Bezman:

As stated in the OP, I do enjoy the game in and of itself, but I was quite up-front that I was presenting one reason to play aisde from this in the review. The reason is designed to address novice players' frustration in that they feel they're getting nothing out of the game because they keep losing. This is not the same as a genuine lack of enjoyment. so, I suggest a benefit of playing the game obtainable in the short term, i.e., a reason to keep playing. The game is very enjoyable especially if a novice's frustration at losing can be assuaged. This was the raison d'etre for the review.


I apologise if I was too confrontational. I did notice the bit where you stated you'd enjoyed the games - just chose to concentrate on the point I disagreed with.

Thing is, there is no need to constantly lose - nearly any player I've met is happy to give 9 handicap stones to someone who needs them and my brother has beaten me - thanks to a 5-stone handicap on a 9x9 board.

I see no reason for someone to continually lose, as you stated you were doing in the first paragraph, unless everyone you know is above at least 17Kyu. Which, on reflection, is probably the reason.

Is becoming better at other games the real reason you play, though? Surely there are other reasons you enjoy the game, despite your inability to be an expert?


1. I never said I always lose. I have heard and read posted many who say they do though. Even if I did lose all the time or for that matter win allthe time, that's something I'd keep to myself.

2. I play because I enjoy it. Learning to play other games better in the process is a side-benefit.

Yet, the point is to address a level of frustration I have seen more than once. I've talked to people who stopped playign because they felt they were wasting their time, although they did enjoy the games. So, my point is to say, "You enjoy the games individually and it's not actually a waste of time."
 
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Randall Bart
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whac3 wrote:
As for the weakness of the point, I have in practice found my play of the games to help one another in actual fact. The point is not abstract theory but a practical reality. See my review of Seega for a case in point.

I always like to say that Chess is like Poker, because they both have kings and queens, and like Monopoly, because they are both played on a square board.

Now if you want me to read your review, then you should provide me with a link to your review. After reading it, I think you're making a tortured comparison.
Moshe's review wrote:
The initial placement phase of play is the key to the game. Cunning attention to strategy during thisphase will virtually ensure winning the game, whereas poor placement of stones can hamstring otherwise good play during the movement phase.

Well, okay. If you make early moves with an eye toward what will happen later in the game, you'll do better than a player who doesn't. This is generally true of games. Is there some unique point about Go and Seega you wanted to make?
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The concepts of eyes, life and death from Go are key to understanding how to play the initial placement phase of this game and even the movement phase.

The point about eyes is relevant, in the sense that having an empty space where your opponent can't go is helpful. But eyes in Seega aren't really like eyes in Go. The bit about life and death is confusing. In Chess or Checkers, having your piece die is bad, having it survive is good. Death in Seega is a little more like death in Go than in Chess, but it's still different. In Go, when a stone is threatened you can either try to save it or you can sacrifice it, either as a ko threat, or you can force the other player to move next to the dying stone by threatening to save it. Thus in Go life and death themselves are simple, but how stones get into a live or dead state, and what you can do in the in between state is immensely complex.

So all I see in your argument is that the Tafl game have a vague similarity to a simple part of Go. There are many other games with similarities to Go, particularly the connection games and Cathedral.
 
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Randall;

Fine. You don't find it useful to think of the games that way. I do. It's not merely a matter of thinking ahead in any game but of how most usefully to think about about the game. I'm not claiming the approach is useful to everybody. For myself, I find the benefit in practical application considerable. The quality of my games played and the level at which i now play them taking this approach shows it is useful to me.

In short, I'm not about to argue whether the approach is valid or not in practice because I've seen by experience that it is. If you or others don't, fine; so we play differently. I prefer opponents who think differently than I do; it makes games more interesting. Keep this in mind if you ever come to Jerusalem.
 
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Barticus88 wrote:

After ten games and two books I was a 7 kyu. After 200 games and five books I was a 6 kyu.


Whaouu... 7 kyu in 10 games ?! That's impressive ! I would be very interested to know the name of those 2 books you've been reading initially...

I've given myself 1 year to reach 9 kyu... After 3 months and 75 games, I'm still "only" 14 kyu (KGS ranking). Have you been playing those few games with high level players ? What is your secret ?
 
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Moshe, I think I just misunderstood whom your article was aimed at. Apologies.

Barticus88 wrote:
I've played 200 or more times, and I have hardly scratched the surface. Yet at the same time I am played out. After ten games and two books I was a 7 kyu. After 200 games and five books I was a 6 kyu.


I was also amazed by this - sounds like you're a real natural.

I'm still trying to win my first match against a 9Kyu (with 9 stones handicap). One day soon...

I'd also like to know the books you read, but suspect your success has more to do with natural ability than anything else.
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Actorios wrote:
Barticus88 wrote:

After ten games and two books I was a 7 kyu. After 200 games and five books I was a 6 kyu.


Whaouu... 7 kyu in 10 games ?! That's impressive ! I would be very interested to know the name of those 2 books you've been reading initially...

I've given myself 1 year to reach 9 kyu... After 3 months and 75 games, I'm still "only" 14 kyu (KGS ranking). Have you been playing those few games with high level players ? What is your secret ?


I think the way the rankings are used has changed some in the intervening 30 years. As I understood it, there was professional 9 dan thru 1 dan, then (amateur) 9 dan thru 1 dan, then 1 kyu thru 9 kyu. Some Go clubs rated members down to 12 kyu but that was about as far as it went. Lower ranks were not considered to have value, because a 20 kyu player was just one game from that epiphany that made him a 9 kyu.

So now I see a poll with rankings all the way down to 30 kyu and I have to wonder whether the ranks are used the same way. Are the ranks still considered to be one starting stone apart? Can a 20 kyu give a 30 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 10 kyu give a 20 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 1 dan give a 10 kyu nine stones and win? If not, the system has changed. If so, I have serious trouble understanding what these people in the 20s are doing.

Bezman wrote:
I was also amazed by this - sounds like you're a real natural.


And yes I am a natural. My IQ has been measured at 138, and I have never taken an IQ test that could reliably rank people much higher than that. I am good at spacial relationships. I am helpless at Chess, because Chess takes a lot of book learning and I don't like book learning. (Chess also had six types of pieces, which makes it harder to learn intuitively.) I did not want to read Go books, but after ten (maybe 12) games I realized it would help me. I bought and read a couple books and sucked up a lot of it. The next time I saw my friend Mike (with whom I had been evenly matched the week before), I showed him the two books, and said he should read them. I picked up one and said "this is a very good book", but he wasn't interested. I blew him away, then held up the book and said "this is a very good book". Then I blew him away again, held up the book and said "this is a very good book". So Mike read the book.

A few years later, I was going to a friend's house for gaming every week, and he had a friend from Japan named Yoshi who was a 3 dan. Yoshi said I was a 6 kyu and Mike was 6 or 7 kyu. He said we both had the natural ability to make 1 dan, and that we could make 3 kyu in less than a year. But Yoshi went back to Japan after a couple months, and not long after that my black Go stones were stolen and I have hardly played since.

I was never a regular at a Go club, so the most official rating I have is Yoshi's say so. However, Yoshi's 3 dan rating was very official. I played a couple games against a ranked player in 1994. I told him that I had been a 6 kyu when I was in practice, but I hadn't played in years. After we played he said I was a 6 or 7 kyu.

If I had a friend who wanted to play Go, I would play Go. As it is, I have lost interest. I am an egotist who wants to be world class. If I am not going to be world class, then I have already put a few hundred hours into this game, and I would rather play something else.
 
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Barticus88 wrote:
Are the ranks still considered to be one starting stone apart? Can a 20 kyu give a 30 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 10 kyu give a 20 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 1 dan give a 10 kyu nine stones and win?


Yes, 1 stone apart (within the realms of Kyu and amateur Dan, I think).

Barticus88 wrote:
If so, I have serious trouble understanding what these people in the 20s are doing.


I guess we don't all progress as fast as you. Harumph.
 
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Barticus88 wrote:
So now I see a poll with rankings all the way down to 30 kyu and I have to wonder whether the ranks are used the same way. Are the ranks still considered to be one starting stone apart? Can a 20 kyu give a 30 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 10 kyu give a 20 kyu nine stones and win? Can a 1 dan give a 10 kyu nine stones and win? If not, the system has changed. If so, I have serious trouble understanding what these people in the 20s are doing.

Short anwser is yes. If you make a small trip on KGS go server, you will see that it is indeed the case. However, it is very possible for a 30 kyu "average joe" to make it to 20 kyu in just a few games. Some will take sevral days, but it is something just about anyone can pull off very easily with no study at all. A 30 kyu is someone who barely know how to play at all and have no strategic concept at all. Simply giving a 30 kyu player a few hints like "corner, edge and center" might very will well be enough to make them 28 kyu or more on the spot.

Now it take dramaticly more time to make it from 20 kyu to 10 kyu. Most people will make it in few months assuming that they play often. From this point on, it is a long trip to the top. People generaly make it to 6 kyu range in an other few months assuming they play often AND study at least a bit. Like you said yourself, it generaly take serious study to make it past 4-6 kyu range and it can take as much as two months to gain a single stone. However, there are some people who did make it in the amateur dan level with no study at all. They are generally people who have been playing go since early childhood. They have learned what they needed from massive experience with the game. It is simply generaly quicker to simply read books than find it by yourself with trial and error. Finaly, to make to the professionnal level you do need serious training. All those childrens that make it the that very high level in there teens generaly have their personnal go instructor. There are reported very few exceptions of people who seem to have just miraculiously made it there with no particular trainning aside from intensive playing, but it is not something you should expect even from you average genius. We are entering the realm of legends here.

I belive that most pro players out there are people who have been trained since early childhood to be a go master. I remember that 8 years old 6 dan player I saw at one tournement. 9 years old and already 6 dan amateur... how impressive. However, that child comes from a family of professional go players. I'm not sure I can imagine the training that child went threw.

Side note: In the world of go there is something called hitting a wall. Your rank is progressing and suddently bam, you are stuck. That is called hitting a wall. I have read in one book (don't remember which) that many people will never make it past that wall and remain at there current rank the rest of their life. No matter how hard they study or the effort they make. Passing a "wall" is rather hard. I had to deal with 2 walls befor and I'm currently facing one. What you need to do each time is diffrent but it is always something you wouldn't think of. Often involve rethinking your whole playing style over, accepting to actualy get weaker for a while in order to come back in strenght.

I could easily be wrong, but maybe you have hit a wall. Prehapse if you found a way arround, you could make it to the dan level unbelivably fast just like you did to get in the 6-7 kyu range. I have to admit, I still having an hard time beliving that you made it to 6-7 kyu in 10 games. Then again, ranking systems work differently all over the world and especialy 30 years ago.
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Randall Bart
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Moshe, sorry for hijacking your thread to discuss my favorite subject (me).

Some history. My father served in the US Army in Japan in 1945-1946. He came home with a bunch of Japanese stamps, and a few other souvenirs. About 1970, I was going though his stamps, and came across an English language book on Go, from the 1930s. I realize now that the stuff about formal rankings not going past 9 kyu probably came from this book, so this knowledge isn't 30 years old, it's 70 years old. I learned the rules of Go from this book, but I didn't have a Go-ban, so I didn't play the game then. The book did say that beginning players are 20+ kyu, but it implied (if it didn't state outright) that the rise to 9 kyu is pretty swift, and that ranking below that is inherently vague because such a person's game would be so erratic.

I didn't actually play Go, until 1979 when someone brought a Go set to the game shop where I hung out. He had lived in the Orient for many years, and had a ranking of 3 kyu. He gave me nine stones and beat me, of course. He also beat Mike. Mike was an accomplished Chess player, who had been raised believing Chess was the greatest of games. Mike immediately believed that Go was a better game than Chess, and wanted to play more. So I bought a Go set.

I wanted to get a Go-ban that doesn't fold. It's just an OCD thing, but I don't like having a crack running down the board. I had seen such a board just a few months earlier, so I went back to that same store, but it was not there. I spent the rest of the day looking all over Los Angeles trying to find a one piece Go-ban. I looked in dozens of stores in Little Tokyo and then dozens of stores in China Town. I was close to giving up, when I spotted this store with a name something like "Chinese Cultural Center". It was a store owned by the Chinese government, for the purported purpose of spreading Chinese culture in the USA. (This was just a few years after Nixon, and trade with China was still minimal.) It was in this Chinese government store that I bought my board and stones. I didn't realize until I got home that they were marked "Made in Japan".

So then Mike and I started playing Go. We were bad and we knew it. After a couple months (ten to twelve games) I decided I needed a Go book. I went back to a book store in Little Tokyo which had a huge Go section. Most of the books were in Japanese, but there were literally dozens of books in English. I bought what looked like two good books.

I am a genius. I got a perfect score in math on the SAT. My father (a math wiz himself) talked about taking an hour a page to study a math book, and was amazed that I just read math books. I breezed through high school calculus, and was a little pissed that I had to take a college calculus class that covered the same ground. The I got to differential equations. Suddenly math was hard. I could no longer just read the math book, I needed to study it. I had never studied math in my life. This contributed to me flunking out of college.

So I read the Go books, the same way I read math books. One was full of good stuff, that seemed so obvious once I read it. Connecting, cutting, making eye shape, preventing eye shape, using cutting points to prevent eye shape, I have an eye and you don't, false eyes, etc, this book was just full of topics. I read it like I was reading a calculus book, and maybe you would read it just like you were reading a calculus book too. The second book also had some good stuff to read, though a lot of it was Go games to study. I don't really like study.

Then I clobbered Mike a couple times, and left the books with him. I had to leave the board with him too. Mike had studied Chess books and was now willing to study a Go book, but unlike me he needed to set up positions on the board in order to do it.

A couple weeks later, I had occasion to play the 3 kyu fellow I had played my first game against. He wanted to give me seven stones, but I had him give me five and I beat him. He complimented me on how I had improved. Then he gave me three stones and beat me easily. Unfortunately, I never got to play him again.

It was the late 1980s when we met Yoshi. At this point Mike and I had played about 200 games, but about 90% of those were against each other, and the rest were against people who were 20+ kyu. Yoshi said we were about 6 kyu, but he also saw a lot of flaws in our game (due to our lack of opponents). He said he could train us to be 1 dan, but then he returned to Japan.

Zhab wrote:
However, there are some people who did make it in the amateur dan level with no study at all.

That's better than me. I would probably have made it to about 7 kyu without a book, but the book opened my eyes to all the things I needed to know.
Zhab wrote:
There are reported very few exceptions of people who seem to have just miraculiously made it there with no particular trainning aside from intensive playing, but it is not something you should expect even from you average genius. We are entering the realm of legends here.

I am non-legendary. Yoshi said he would train us, not that we would rise just by playing him.
Zhab wrote:
I remember that 8 years old 6 dan player I saw at one tournement. 9 years old and already 6 dan amateur... how impressive. However, that child comes from a family of professional go players. I'm not sure I can imagine the training that child went threw.

He must have inherited some genes for Go. Assuming he played two games a day from when he was old enough to hold a stone, he had played 5000 games by then. I am sure that included some formal training as well. The rules of Go are so simple that it can be learned by the very young.

Zhab wrote:
Passing a "wall" is rather hard. I had to deal with 2 walls befor and I'm currently facing one.

Everyone has walls. You improve easily then suddenly it's like differential equations. Some walls you can get over with experience, some walls require study and training, and some walls are absolute.

I have seen this effect playing computer games. I will be putting up better and better times at a game like Mah Jongg or Minesweeper or Skyscrapers then the advance will stop. I'll go months getting close to my record, sometimes tying it but never beating it. Then one day I'll take a few seconds off my time, and over the next few days I'll chip a few more seconds off, until I hit the next wall.

Zhab wrote:
I could easily be wrong, but maybe you have hit a wall. Prehapse if you found a way arround, you could make it to the dan level unbelivably fast just like you did to get in the 6-7 kyu range

I know I can get past the wall I was at when I met Yoshi. I know it because Yoshi said so, and I know it because I never studied joseki at all. I read a couple chapters on joseki and fuseki, but I never studied it, and I picked up very little.

Zhab wrote:
I have to admit, I still having an hard time beliving that you made it to 6-7 kyu in 10 games.

I am a genius. Can you believe I have a non-genius friend who made it to 7 kyu in less that 20 games? We played that whoever lost the last game was black. He had a bad losing streak and I gave him two stones for a few games (which bugged him) but that period was brief. He was always slower to learn, and usually he was a little below me, but he was never far below me. (Arguably, the fact that he was my only opponent limited me to being just a rank above him.)

Zhab wrote:
Then again, ranking systems work differently all over the world and especialy 30 years ago.

Rankings are based on how others play; they are not absolute. Rankings could easily shift a stone or more in a generation. Under most circumstances, I would expect rank inflation, but with the professionals defining the top and growing popularity of the game they could easily shift the other way.

As I said Yoshi said I could make dan level, and in a way it would be nice make dan level, but I am averse to putting the effort into it. However this whole discussion gives me the urge to go to KGS and see how I rank. I have always found Go to be too long, and my patience has gotten only shorter with age. Can one play 13x13 games and get a rating, or would I need to play full size games?

One final note: My mother visited Japan about 40 years after my father. She brought back a three part objet d'art of two old men playing Go. It's just three cheap little porcelain figures, but it's gorgeous. When I go to my Mother's house, I usually need to turn the table around and explain that the man leaning over the board is holding the black stone, so he should be on the side with the bowl of black stones.
 
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Randall;

The stuff about your life is interesting and I understand a lot more than you'd think. People were calling me a mathematical genius from the time I was a small child, albeit to my parents--not me usually. Genius-level IQ's [on the high end of it] run in the family. I never studied ANYTHING in school until I got into college. No one in my family did and so I think at least I ended up a lot more normal than a lot of the kids in the special classes with me.

My father is a chess fanatic. He'd studied the game ad nauseam before I was even born and I never actually remember learning to play it any more than I remember learnign to walk and talk.

Math in and of itself bored me because it came so easily.I took a bit to get calculus but then it clicked and it was just like any other math. Differential equations also took a bit more effort but eventually these clicked too. Of course after having done calculus for my basic math credit while studying classical philology, I discovered physics. Suddenly math took on new life. The math itself was not so interesting but every bit of math opened up new ways of thinking about physics and quite literally how I perceive and think about the world. The research I'm doing now (if it gets generally accepted) will be viewed as much as fundamental research in math as in physics because I often have to use math in unconventional ways, like doing differential geometry on field-space manifolds using spin-tensors.

This is perhaps why the approachI describe in my review isuseful and meaningful to me. I think in patterns and extending and manipulatign those patterns. I don't know the game Go that well and so I've been struggling at first how to think about it. For me, it clicked into place mentally to think of it in the context of other logically related games. This is like the fact I can follow a conversation in a language I've never studied because I know related languages and went sufficiently deep into philology that I no longer see or tihnk of languages as genuinely distinct entites. One blends into another over time and across distances. Yet unless one has a background to think of it in that way concretely trying to approach languages that way is counter-productive. So it is also with the approach I take to Go. The game is also starting to develop perceptible patterns to me as I play in and of itself, but the patterns underlying its commonality with other games lets me see what's going on with the basics of the game. I'm no longer erratically putting stones on the board without any rhyme or reason. I still need lots of practice but the basic concepts make sense to me now.
 
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Barticus88 wrote:
He must have inherited some genes for Go. Assuming he played two games a day from when he was old enough to hold a stone, he had played 5000 games by then. I am sure that included some formal training as well. The rules of Go are so simple that it can be learned by the very young.

Typical go apprentice study go several hours a day and pro players tipicaly spend 8-12 hours a day on it. 2 games a day ? If you ask me the whole life of that kid revolve arround go.
Barticus88 wrote:
I am a genius. Can you believe I have a non-genius friend who made it to 7 kyu in less that 20 games? We played that whoever lost the last game was black. He had a bad losing streak and I gave him two stones for a few games (which bugged him) but that period was brief. He was always slower to learn, and usually he was a little below me, but he was never far below me. (Arguably, the fact that he was my only opponent limited me to being just a rank above him.)

Well I find it just as hard to belive. Go is really not something you need to be a genius to master. There are many pro players that suck at math and school in general for that matter. I guess you could called them go genius. IQ is not everything afterall. But above all it take trainning and study. I went threw my first 20 games in like 2-3 days and I was far from being 6-7 kyu. I belive 99 % of the people (genius or not) will tell you something similar. 6-7 Kyu in 200 games however is impressive but quite possible in my opinion. I don't actualy know how many game I played to get there, but I belive I must not be to far from that count. I read somewhere that you can get to 1 dan in 1000 games. Don't know anyone who are living exemple thou.

It is very easy to not notice your own improvement when you are always playing the same opponnent of undetermined strenght. How many game did you played when that 3 kyu guy finaly "confirmed" your rank ?

Barticus88 wrote:
As I said Yoshi said I could make dan level, and in a way it would be nice make dan level, but I am averse to putting the effort into it. However this whole discussion gives me the urge to go to KGS and see how I rank. I have always found Go to be too long, and my patience has gotten only shorter with age. Can one play 13x13 games and get a rating, or would I need to play full size games?

The whole world of "High level Go" tend to revolve arround 19x19 boards specificly. 9x9 and 13x13 board are more or less for trainning purpose only. That is not to say that their isn't any competition about smaller boards, but all ranking system I know are for your strenght on 19x19 board exclusively. The dynamic of the game change dramaticly from one board to an other. The stronger you are, the more obvious this is. That said, a player ranked better than on other player on a 19x19 is somewhat expected to win on a 9x9 board.

Now, because of all this, KGS only take into consideration games played on a 19x19 board for ranking. However if what you want are quick games, you could play blitz games. You have just a few seconds on the clock for each moves which force you to think and play fast. Blitz are actualy quite popular on KGS. Especialy at higher level. A dan level game is hardly ever not a blitz. It's a playing style that favor instinct and general go sense. You might find it to your licking. If not, the standare time is 30 min on the clock for both player. But games are often over befor players have drained all their time. So you could expect to play a "normal" game in under an hour. Of course time can be adjusted to whatever you like.
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whac3 wrote:
...many people in a similar situation-- judging by comments posted on this board-- get burnt out on playing this game because they simply become frustrated at losing all the time and feel nothing is to be gained from the game, whether enjoyment or other benefit, if they cannot become at least sufficiently expert at the game to generally win.


I think the average board game player greatly underestimates the depth, complexity, blah, blah, blah of Go. From a distance, it is easy to assume it is just some big 19x19 version of Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect Four or Othello. Even after learning the basic rules, (which are simple), you have no reason to think you are being confronted with a monster of a game.

I think we all have a mental template of what will happen learning a new game, something along the lines of:

- Play once, mess up a few rules, learn the basic strategies and tactics, achieve "competence" at the game.
- If the game is "heavy", play a few more times to try alternate strategies, and in doing so achieve "expert" level.


Go just can't be mastered that fast. In fact, you could argue that no computer or human has yet mastered the game.

In the modern world of short attention spans and need for instant gratification, Go is a tough sell. Part of what I read in your review is an attempt to find a way to "sell" the game to new players. Yes, Go has strategic and tactical elements that translate to other games, but not with a much higher correlation than any other game (as far as I can tell).

So, your review asks "why play Go"? I think it appeals to a different side of us from the instant gratification side we are so often focused on. It appeals to the part of us that makes us take on any hobby. The part of us that wants to delve into a subject complex enough that we will never completely get our arms around - like woodworking, music, wine, golf or boardgames.

So why have a hobby even if you may never carve the perfect claw-footed desk, accurately name varietals blindfolded, or ace every par 3? Because...cue the Zen music...because the day-to-day experiences doing the hobby are enjoyable, and in doing them you inch closer to mastery. "Its the journey not the destination."

Winning is strange in Go as well. Which is a greater win:

- Crushing a player who is obviously much weaker than you.
- Noticing and avoiding mistakes you have made in previous games but still coming up a few stones short of victory.

Go is a game designed to be played hundreds of times, much of that time spent losing and learning. If you are investing in a game you will play hundreds of times, every learning opportunity becomes more valuable than the specific outcome of any single game.

It makes me realize I should have added a third line to the "game learning template" above:

- Win a few times, consider the game "mastered". Move on to another game...

Go will not appeal to everyone - it doesn't fit the typical game template. But if you have the time and inclination to add another hobby to your life, Go is up to the challenge. Careful! It may even replace your game hopping hobby!

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Colin Clay
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Amusing thread Especially all this self proclaimed genius stuff.

I thought I might give some points from a dan perspective.

Even people with average aptitude can make the amateur dan ranks. Study helps a lot, but if your goal is just to reach 1 dan, this can be accomplished mostly through just playing. People with a strong aptitude for the game can often make dan within a year without intensive study.

Playing go can be lots of fun at any level. Some people like to study to improve, others just like to play. It's a game that appeals to different people for different reasons.


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Clay wrote:

Even people with average aptitude can make the amateur dan ranks. Study helps a lot, but if your goal is just to reach 1 dan, this can be accomplished mostly through just playing. People with a strong aptitude for the game can often make dan within a year without intensive study.


Hi,
It's interesting to read your comment but I guess, from my beginner level and the reading I've made so far, that reaching dan level also depends on your age. Depending on how early you start playing the game, you can envision reaching it or not. I suppose as a teenager, you can aim for it... I'm not so sure afterwards.
Despite my willingness to improve and exercise at this game, I clearly feel that the dan level is out of reach, for my limited free time and my thirty years. Now, that's not something that will reduce my interest in the game... I can still define some challenging goals for me to reach.
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Reaching dan isn't a realistic goal for most, but I believe this limitation is due to a lack of resources and not enough time to study/play.

I still believe an average 30-40 year old has the potential to reach shodan. For most people, it would require too big a sacrifice for it to be worth it to them. I think that 5-10k is probably a more realistic goal for most adults who want to make a sizable investment into the game.

This is totally all conjecture and speculation on my behalf, so take it with a grain of salt.

I feel strongly about this because I spent much of my life limiting myself because I thought I lacked potential. I never thought I could be good at a sport, or graduate with honors, or be a dan player in go.

Turns out, I just lacked the effort.


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Clay wrote:
I thought I might give some points from a dan perspective.

Even people with average aptitude can make the amateur dan ranks. Study helps a lot, but if your goal is just to reach 1 dan, this can be accomplished mostly through just playing. People with a strong aptitude for the game can often make dan within a year without intensive study.


That's about what I thought. It was my impression that reaching 7 kyu with something like 20 hours of play and 10 hours of study was a completely non-amazing accomplishment. I thought 5% or more of the population reached 7 kyu or higher in short order.

I had planned to let this thread lie, but now that someone has brought it back....

If I had been the son of a professional dan, and from when I was a baby I watched daddy play Go, and at 2 years old I was taught to put stones on the board, and I had played and been trained for several hours each day in Go, then there is no doubt in my mind or in Mike's mind that I would be a professional dan today. It's not that I am such a natural on Go per se, but with my native math/game/computer programming ability directed towards Go, my brain would be quite a mighty Go machine.

I will go play some Go, just for the sake of my own ego. I wish I could soothe my ego at 13x13. It's a time issue, in part, but I don't want to play fast game, I want to play shorter games. To me 13x13 has virtually all the depth of 19x19, while 9x9 loses a whole lot. Of course I have already acknowledged my joseki gap, so I can see that someone with stronger joseki/fuseki would want a bigger board. How about 17x17? Does anyone play that anymore?
 
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Barticus88 wrote:
That's about what I thought. It was my impression that reaching 7 kyu with something like 20 hours of play and 10 hours of study was a completely non-amazing accomplishment. I thought 5% or more of the population reached 7 kyu or higher in short order.


Ok, first of all, the previous poster din't say anything about reaching 7k quickly. All he said, is that about anyone can get to the amateur dan level at some point in there life without studying. Some quicker than others. Then he specified that people with natural born talent for the game can possibly do so under a year. However, while I agree this is possible, it requires a LOT of investment into the game.

Note that it is almost impossible not to study at least one bit. Reviewing a game, doing some go problems or simply thinking back on past moves to see how you could do better next time all counts as studying in my opinion. Now there are some people who don't even do this, but they are far from being fast progressing. Prehapse he meant people who don't read books (Joseki, Fuseki, Tesuji, direction of play and prehapse Yoze).

In anycase, he also said that it was pure conjecture. I on ther other hand have trained over 200 people over extended period of time from their beginning days. None made it to 7k under 20 hours. Especialy not childrens. In theory, childrens learn fast and easily. But in practice, I notice that they often forget my advices and/or play carelessly.

"Don't play edge move in the beginning... At best slow, at worst lot of trouble"

... Oh right right... I forgot.

They know the theory but don't use it in their play. I notice that my advices were far more effective on older students. Prehapse because their brain is fully formed and have greater self control and discipline in general.

In anycase, the most performant students I had made it from 23k to 15k in one week playing about 6-12 games a day with about 2 hours of personnalised training by me. We are over 30 hours in optimal conditions and still quite far away from 7k. Also, once they reached the 15k level, their growth stall. There is only so much improved theory knowledge can do for you in a short time. Life an death skills and specialy reading skills were lagging behind and holding them back.

As for 4k and above... I know a number of "high ranker" on KGS and I have watched them for extentded period. Watching sometimes as friend, as fan or student. In anycase, my personnal observation give an average growth of one stone by 2 months for hardworkers (some are faster some are slower). Others look static in ranking. I personnly don't know of anyone who made it to 1 dan under a years, but from what I have seem from growth rate here and there, I belive it is very possible. I'd say that it would require lot of investments however. Investments that most people can't afford to provide. I guess someone could do it without studying, but that person would most definatively be a natural. But people like that would probably progress even faster with study and/or trainer.
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Guillaume G.
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I'm afraid I'm just an average person and a beginner at Go...

I've mostly played online and have played about 90 ranked games (plus a dozen more in "friendly play" as well as a few 13x13 and 9x9.
I've started playing on KGS by end of September and after 4 months, I reached the level of 12 kyu on KGS (probably more 15k according to other rankings I guess).
It represents probably something like 90 hours of gaming (I usually play in 35 / 35 mn). I can't say that I dedicate all of my free time to the game but I'm doing a little bit of Go everyday (playing, a few exercises or just reading books).
I've quickly moved the idea of "reaching dan level" out of my head... I needed to set myself challenging but yet achievable goals: I've given myself a year to reach 9 kyu on KGS. I still think / hope I'll make it (and maybe earlier than expected if possible).
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