Go studying

Since I’m studying Go every few days, and I’d like to keep a bit of a journal of my progress, I thought I’d do so here.

I’ve been playing for a number of years, but never quite made it close to the amateur 1-dan rank, so I’m currently making yet another attempt to seriously study the game and improve my skill. I’m currently ranked at 7-kyu on the KGS server’s ranking system, so 7 more “student” ranks to go before reaching the start of the amateur “master” levels.

When I was in China, I briefly had a Go teacher who taught at a Go school there. We traded her some English lessons in exchange for Go lessons. One thing she said about studying was that if I was serious, I should spend several hours per day studying. During those several hours, I should play perhaps 2 or 3 games, spend a few hours doing practice problems to improve my “reading” abilities, and then study several professional tournament games.

Although I’ve got other things to work on too, and therefore don’t have many hours do dedicate to go every day, I’m still trying to mostly follow this advice. I’m doing a bunch of practice problems from Cho Chikun’s “Encyclopedia of Life and Death”, which is quite well-designed. I’m playing occasional games online and in person with friends. And I’m also studying some pro games.

To study pro games, what I’m mainly doing is playing through the game once myself, and trying to understand the meaning of each move. In each turn, I try to assess the board and determine what my own move would be in that situation, and then I check what the pros actually did. When their moves differ, which is quite often the case, then I try to figure out why they are there instead of where I guessed. I also ask myself why that particular spot instead of the one right beside it, for example.

After going through the first 50 or so moves like this, I wipe the board clean and attempt to reconstruct all the moves, in order, back to that point in the game. If I can’t remember one, I look it up, and then continue. Once I get back to where I was, I continue assessing each move up to the 100th move, and then I try again with the memorization component.

I rarely go beyond about 100 moves, because at that point some complicated fighting usually breaks out and requires much more in-depth reading of the possibilities in order to understand what exactly is happening, and I want to focus my efforts mainly on the opening and middle game at this point.

In the past week, I’ve gone through 6 games this way, and I’ve added the games to an Anki flashcard deck so that I can get reminders to go back over them later. After further repetitions, I should have them well-memorized.

Ideally I’d like to work on a new one every day or so, so that I can make the kind of progress that I want. I usually spend between half an hour and an hour on each game. I also find it beneficial to work with a partner, because then we both can come up with new ideas about the moves, and we both get more out of it.

As I progress, I’d like to update things here. It’ll be useful to be able to go back and see how much work it takes to advance one rank. Off I go now, to do some more 🙂

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