Archive: undefined/2014

The Importance of Struggling

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #42

Credit to Business in Canada

For most of the time I studied go, I was always focused on getting the right answer. Perhaps this is a result of being conditioned from school and being obsessed with answering the question correctly, but nonetheless it showed up in my approach to studying go. So more often than not, if I managed to guess what the correct answer was for a particular problem, that would be the end of it and I would move on to the next problem. After all, I got the right answer and that’s what’s important isn’t it?

Of course, the next question is what happened if I got the answer wrong. Well, since I got the answer wrong, the logical choice would be to see what the correct answer is and try to memorize it. In other words, I would focus on understanding why the correct answer was correct and was less concerned with why my answer was wrong. Standard studying mechanism for taking any test in a class right?

Unfortunately, while that sounds okay in theory and may have helped me get through school rather easily, it turns out I have been barking up the wrong tree this entire time.

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WGW37: Tesuji More Useful Than Tsumego?

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #37

Last Friday, I mentioned an article that was shared with me on how to improve at go by Lynx. According to conventional wisdom, the one piece of advice that everyone seem to agree upon is that studying life and death is critical to getting stronger. And to be honest, it’s something I never really questioned. However, after reading Lynx’s article, I was confronted with an eye-opening question: Is studying tesuji more useful than tsumego?

After a lot of thought, I would have to concur with Lynx’s perspective. In fact, it is one of the key components to breaking the glass ceiling when trying to gain that next stone. However, because the masses constantly spout how important life and death is, it is often forgotten in all the noise.

Now now, before you grab your pitchforks and torches, hear me out won’t you?

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Kaz's Go School is Finally Here!

Kaz’s Online Go School is finally here! For those who don’t know about Kaz, I discovered him from his site ( a couple of years ago and have been waiting for his website to become fully live and functional. The website is a bit hard to navigate, but after going through it, I thought that it would be great if I ever got a chance to learn from him. So after waiting for a couple of years, I am psyched to tell you that the opportunity is finally here!

So for those curious about this online go school, let me start with this: The first session of Kaz’s Online Go School is 8 classes for only $6 USD. Now that I have your attention, here’s my elevator pitch for the school.

  1. His teaching style emphasizes teaching amateur players who are adults which is quite unique! In fact, he states in his ad that the range of players he normally teaches is 30 to 70+ years old and talks about how teaching children is very different from teaching adults! So in other words, it sounds like he has a lot of experience working with amateur players (which is precisely what many of us need).

  2. Kaz will generate a text for student’s to study after each lesson. It’s great to get online reviews and such, but I think it’s great that Kaz will also be generating offline content for students to study as well in order to reinforce the concepts learned from the last lesson.

  3. You get 8 two-hour group lessons with Kaz for only $6 USD. This is such an incredible value and such a great deal if anyone has done even the slightest bit of research on the other online schools available. For those who haven’t, one of the most popular online go schools charges about $135 a month. So yeah. ‘Nuff said.

Bottom line: I think any player who has even been remotely interested in participating in an online go school needs to do this. There is just no reason for why you shouldn’t give this a shot for $6 USD. It’s seriously an incredible deal.

For more details on his school, you can find it in his Kaz’s Online Go School (PDF). I took the liberty of taking his email and updating some of the language and structure in order to make it easier to find the information you need. And for those interested in the free problems set that he attached to his email, be sure to reach out to him!

And just in case it isn’t clear, I have already paid my $6 and will definitely be participating in this. Let me know if you guys have any other questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. Hope to see you in class!

WGW 30: Tiny Habits

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #30

With 2014 being only eight days old, new year resolutions are still fresh and many people are off trying to pursue their goals (i.e., lose weight, get in shape, etc.). In lieu with that theme, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share a video that I was recommended recently. It’s a TEDxTalk by BJ Fogg on the topic of creating real and permanent change in your life through tiny habits.

One of the things that struck me about this talk is how BJ Fogg clearly delineates between goal setting in terms of long term change and short term change. And contrary to what most people think, being highly motivated only contributes to short term change and not long term change. But of course, the question you’re probably wondering is: how does this relate to go?

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Archive: undefined/2013

One Game A Day

As most of you are aware, I am pretty diligent and hard working when it comes to my studies. The vast quantity of information that I ingest is probably quite frightening for some. The only downside to this, however, is that being able to digest it is a completely different matter. In addition, you have to realize that I am often more focused on finishing the books instead of truly mastering the topic at hand in order to fulfill my goal of having the most comprehensive book reviews for go. So at the end of the day, I have to really question how I’m really going to get stronger.

I recently finished Commented Games by Lee Sedol, Vol. 1. And in one of his mini monologues about getting stronger, Lee Sedol commented that he believes the fastest way for any player to get stronger is to simply play games. Of course, he recommends reviewing them as well, but the idea lies in the fundamental premise that one learns fastest through experience. And as if that wasn’t enough to get me questioning my methods, I watched an episode of Hikaru no Go (Episode 25: Fear and Impatience) earlier where Waya makes a comment about how regardless of how talented a player is, it means nothing without playing stronger opponents.

Something tells me the universe is trying to tell me something… Haha… So as I’ve learned in life, it’s best to listen to the universe when it’s trying to nudge you along the right path. I will no longer worry about losing games due to lack of time or lack of energy. And from this day forth, I will always find time to play at least one game a day.

Nothing But Go

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.

Reviewing Your Games

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #14

Proofreading - Credit to TitanWebMarketingSolutoins

While nothing can replace the experience of playing games, one of the greatest mistakes that players make is to play games endlessly without any mind as to why they are winning or losing. There is nothing wrong with this approach as a whole, but it is contrary to the whole notion of getting stronger. After all, how can anyone learn from their mistake if they never knew it existed?

The one thing we have to remember as kyu players is that we often fall victim to being ignorant to fundamental go principles. It’s not so much that we’re not aware of them, but applying them in our game is a completely different story. Often times in the middle of a game, we will think one way and will not realize our mistake till later on. As a result, an extremely important aspect of getting stronger is to review your games.

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The Follow-Up Move

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #12

Blue Waterfall

Like the flow of water down a waterfall, every player’s goal is to have their territory pervade into as much of the go board in the most efficient way possible. As kyu players, we often attempt to do this with moves that either look or “feel” right. We are compelled to play these moves for a variety of reasons (i.e., we saw a professional do it, we heard some proverb that we follow without regard to the situation, etc.), yet we often find ourselves grumbling and frustrated when our work is laid to waste or even killed off.

While part of the issue with our plays lies in our lack of understanding behind the purposes of each move, I have often found that we are also just as guilty for an important and often overlooked piece in our in our play: the follow-up move.

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Archive: undefined/2012

So Far So Good...

Contrary to my previous attempts at abstaining from ranked games, I’m happy to report that I have kept to that promise thus far. I won’t say that it hasn’t been difficult, since I can’t help but stare at the numerous opponents I could be playing. Nevertheless, the free games that I’ve been playing have helped to abate that desire. In addition, I’m also very happy to report that my apprehensiveness at playing White has diminished significantly since that last post.

In regards to my study, I’ve been working on studying more on shapes and how to attack properly. The free games have been great because they allow me to experiment with the concepts I’ve been exposing myself to, and as always, having stronger players review my games afterwards give me a better sense of how far off the mark I am when attempting to apply X Y Z principles.

As I’ve began to enter the realm of mid-SDK ranks, I am beginning to see that the terrain of each game has begun to deviate from the go I was familiar with before in the lower kyu. For example, many games in the past were often determined by large captures. Nowadays, I have noticed that failure to take direction of play and whole board strategy into consideration generally ends poorly for me. It’s not to say that my reading abilities are good enough as they stand, but the other intricacies of the game (e.g., leaving behind aji on purpose, solid knowledge of joseki, etc.) will soon become critical to master if I am to take the next step.

Experimental Games

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #7

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results. - Narcotics Anonymous

If we rephrase it into a go context, it might look something like this.

Insanity in go is playing the same level of moves over and over again, but expecting to gain a stone in strength.

That being said, this brings us to a critical aspect to getting stronger at go: experimental games.

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