(note: I'm planning on putting my thoughts and experiences on learning Go here. If this somehow goes against the purpose and design of this site, please let me know. Also, if you wish to comment or answer some question I may ask, please do NOT insert a horizontal rule (--- -), since those separate entries. Thanks)
Blake - I am about 13k on KGS. I would be willing to give you a teaching game sometime.. just drop by the SL room (it's under 'Social' or private message me when I'm on.
Yesterday was my first visit to the Go club in Zurich. The location was utterly fantastic, the place itself (a restaurant) was quite nice (good beer - good or bad for learning Go? ;)) and the people themselves were very warm.
I went with my wife, Carla, who is also a programmer. She has some interest in Go, mainly stemming from the difficulties it poses to AI programs (she is doing a Master's in that field). Still, I dunno if she will become a player or not.
A very nice man called Jon taught her the rules while I watched, and I managed to ask him some questions which I had. He then played Carla 9x9, giving her 5 stones. He lost, by about 3 or 4 moku. Still, it was a good game and Carla seemed happy she had won.
After that it was my turn to play Carla. I gave her 2 stones, to account for the fact that I read this site and she doesn't. I am sad to say this was a mistake, since she managed to also win that one, and by about 5 moku. Still, it was great to actually play someone face to face, and I learned a lot from playing an "even" game (meaning, not shidougo)
I also bought my first goban and set of glass stones, as well as The Second Book Of Go, which taught me quite a lot already, just in the first pages.
If I manage to keep this level of interest for some time, until I can play at a level of 15-20 kyu, I guess I will play this game for a loooooooooooong time.
Sheesh, it's been a while. 5 months. Unfortunately, of these 5, only the last one has been spent with Go. At this point, I'm about to finish the second book of JaniceKim's series, and I've played some games on KGS already. I'm ranked 10k? there, which is a laugh. I'd guess I lean more towards 23-25k. Overall, I've been happy with my progress in the last month. I've learned to recognize some common sequences, the concept of "movement" of stones, and some other things. I now make decent shape in the opening (no more playing the 7-6 point!), but I usually falter in the extension towards the middle. Invasions still give me chills, and my fighting skills are severely lacking.
Actually, this fighting thing is becoming a serious problem. I think I have to play a lot more 9x9 to get into quick scraps and learn how to live in them. I think this is a direct consequence of reading more than I play. I understand Sente on a basic level, I can recognize the different stages of play, I know the proper responses to some extensions, invasions, etc. This comes from reading, mostly, and commented games. But *once* I'm approached, I make really serious blunders.
This was made evident when I lost a game against another newbie after I opened A LOT better than him. His shape was all over the place, while mine was neat. I made some decent approaches, he played more haphazardly. In the middle game, though, he totally destroyed me.
A related topic is killing live groups. One of my teaching games, after the person had explained the concept of attacking the 4-4 point by playing SanSan and making life in the corner, I managed to use it against him and completed the joseki flawlessly. "Great!" he said, "Nice memory. White is now alive." What do I do? I lose the entire group in the end game because I failed to recognize how to secure the group to make it's life factual. I didn't play the crucial points, and therefore lost it all.
So, I assume my next step will be twofold: study LifeAndDeath a lot more than I did until now, and at the same time go play 9x9 to learn how to survive scraps.
We'll see how it goes. :)
Here I am again, once more interested, once more wondering just how long this interest will last. I came back to the game because of a friend of mine, who I introduced to the game last year. He's been playing recently, and pulled me back in. I've played quite a few games in KGS in the last couple days, losing the majority (of course) but playing well enough that I don't look like a complete newbie. My fighting has improved somewhat, and I find now that my biggest fault lies in the middle game, where I let all the gains I make in the opening crumble. My guess is that this will go away with simple practice and playing more and more games. Honestly, at the moment I'm more concerned about losing interest again than I am about losing games. I'll try to work at least one game into my day no matter what else I do, this way I'll steadily make it a normal part of my life.
I'm always interested in learning games, and losing against interesting, knowledgeable people is always fun.
I'll add the link to my games in KGS to my hamepage, so people can see just how much I don't know :)