As most of you know, I own a majority of the English go literature that exists out in the market. And in conjunction with that notion, I’ve also reviewed quite a few books as I’ve progressed throughout my journey. What some of you may not realize however, is that one of the downsides to me trying to review books in quick succession means that I am unable to spend a lot of time absorbing the material. As a result, my growth as a player is not necessarily correlated with the number of books I’ve read.
Lately I’ve been really starting to see the detrimental effect of my poor reading abilities. I have found myself in numerous positions where I may have made strategically sound decisions and had aims that should have worked in actuality, but due to my weak reading skills I was unable to follow through or execute my plan properly. So after numerous frustrating games and irritation with my own growth, I’ve decided to take a step back in my studies.
Instead of moving onto new books that I’ve yet to read or try to solve problems much higher than my reading ability, I am going back to ground zero. In other words, I’m going back to the basics of basics. For example, I have decided to start the Level Up series over again and start at Level Up 1. And in the case of the go problems I’m solving, I’m spending my time cycling through the same 600 problems (not all at once though) over and over again.
Now you might wonder, where is the value in that?
Well the thing about a game as complex as go is that there are often so many variables going on at any point in the game. Are you checking the life and death of a group? Perhaps you are estimating the board territory to see what to do next. Or what about those two groups over there, is there a way to cut them off? Can you ignore your opponent’s threat?
The fact is that the more efficient you are at making decisions about things associated with reading, the more time you will have to spend on things like your strategy and which direction of play is better. And as most of you probably know from your own research, the kinds of problems that amateur players constantly mess up in games are actually quite simple ones.
In order to speed up your reading ability, I believe that the key is honing in on your instinctual abilities. For example, if I were to give most of you a position where your opponent had a bent in three shape, you probably wouldn’t have to spend any time trying to read it out. BAM. Right on the vital point. Dead. No questions about it. Imagine the kinds of things you could do if you could do that with more shapes and positions?
So by going back to the basics and the “easy stuff,” I intend on improving my own instinctual reading abilities. As Kageyama emphasized again and again in his book, Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, many amateur players blow off the fundamentals and then wind up wondering why they can’t get any stronger.
Don’t make that same mistake. Do not underestimate the power of repetition and its abilities to improve your basics.