It occurred to me recently that it seems that all I do is nothing but study, play or write about go. Though I would love that to be the case, I can assure you that it is not the case. I am like any other working soul in society: I have a 9 to 5 job, I live on my own (which means I have to cook, clean, and do all those non-go related chores xD), I have other interests (e.g., web design, coding, tennis, sports, etc.), and I have more familial responsibility than most might care to have. Nonetheless, I have somehow managed to squeeze in go in between all the other things that I care about. Why am I writing about this? Good question.
In most players pursuit to gain another stone, it seems there is an illusion that in order to do so, you must devote all your time and energy the way an insei does. Whether you believe me or not, nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason why I know I can say this with absolute certainty is that most players’ goal is to simply surpass the kyus and successfully live amongst the dan players. In other words, not become a professional. With that in mind, the first step to continuing progress is to realize that progress in go is rarely (if ever) made in leaps and bounds. Similar to building a house, it is important that every level be built with the most solid foundation possible. Otherwise, when the house gets to 4 to 5 stories high, it won’t take much for the whole thing to come crashing down.
For those who aspire to be professional players, I applaud your tenacity and ambition. In fact, I would have to admit that even I am secretly hoping to rise to the level of a professional. So believe me when I say that the importance of our growth through one solid step at a time is more critical than anyone else. After all, professionals play at a level where the slightest mistake (such as the timing of one forcing move over another) can make the difference between winning and losing.
To those frustrated with their progress, remember that go is a never ending journey where new ideas will constantly be born. The moment we think we know what we’re doing and have some new “sure-win” strategy, someone will come along and blow it away. So just keep at it with an unrelenting discipline to study (even if only for 10 minutes a day) and to focus on playing inspired games where you learn something rather than simply winning. Once you’ve grasped that, the depth and bottomless pit of wisdom that go has to offer will open its doors to you.