Bad Habits

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It seems like there are a lot of bad habits shared by many Go players. This page is here to discuss some of these habits, why people do them, and why they bother other people.

See also Good Habits and Go Etiquette.

Table of contents

While, before or after playing


Bad Internet habits

Tournament Bad Habits

Losing habits

Lose them and you will get stronger.

Other bad habits

...And since by now, we have elaborately documented the bad habits, how about switching to the Good Habits in playing go?


Also see Gorobei's comments in Sow Discord In The Enemy's Camp - now that's what I call mean strategies :o) --Arno

I was wondering whether playing go at work is a good habit or a bad one :o) --Lezogzog

[1] Jan de Wit writes: Are this one and SocksAside for real? I've heard Go players can become quite weird, but this... It would be fun to distract your opponent like this in a non-serious game :-)

Alex Weldon: There was a guy at the kiwon I used to go to in Korea who sang while he played. I've seen others do it too. I played a guy in a tournament who started singing during our game. I think it was because I had commented before we started playing that it was an important game for both of us, since the winner would place in the top 3 for sure. He claimed he didn't care about placing, and was just in the tournament for fun. I guess he was trying to show me how nonchalant he was about the game. Fortunately, someone at the next table asked him to shut the hell up before I had to.

I was playing a game at a local go club last week. During our game, my opponent put a go stone in his mouth and kept sucking it all the time during our game.
I was really glad that he forgot to put it on the goban later....Yuck! -- MarkD

Neil - When playing on the internet, I wonder, should we be more tolerant of youth who carry some of these habits? I'm torn. I hesitate to blame kids for being kids, but at the same time I play the game to play, not to teach other people's kids good manners.

Alex Weldon: Since there's a page about joseki as a source of bad habits, I'd like to raise an issue about the possibility of tsumego as a source of bad habits.

axd: It seems normal to me that fingers should be clean while playing; is it acceptable to draw players' attention to the fact that hands should be clean before and during play, or does this rather smell like excessive obsession? (In case you wonder, personally I hate dirty hands manipulating "clean" tools such as pencils, for example - but I have no problem with a technician's hands which cannot avoid being dirty.) I always insist that anyone wishing to play with my goban have hands cleaned before (I explicitly state it when I lend it to anyone), and I will not tolerate any activity such as eating/drinking that would make hands - at least the playing hand - dirty. A particular situation is at a club, where the material is not personal, so people could be somewhat less disciplined: is it acceptable there to impose such a rule, or is this too pushing?

Malweth: Although certainly a bad habit, unless the person is excessively dirty (a lot of grease on their hands, etc) it's probably a bit breach to call them out for it. Of course, if it's your own goban I fully support making them wash their hands first (even if visibly clean ;). Of course, I personally wouldn't care with any of the boards & stones that I currently have! Just wait until I get a traditional floor board and slate & shell stones... I'll be getting (or making) one of those plexiglass covers and putting a lock on it ;) (What more can you expect for someone with a dog and a kid on the way...)

Isildur: I had this problem when I was teaching my 7-year-old nephew how to play go. My mother made pancakes, and we had to go somewhere in half an hour. He was hungry, but wanted to continue playing the game so that we might finish before we had to go, so I didn't stop him from eating while playing. It bugged me that all the black stones he played were getting oily from the frying-pan oil (it particularly shows up on black go stones, because it turns their matte surfaces glossy), but I didn't make an issue of it and just cleaned them later.

Isildur: That, in turn reminds me of a another incident. I met some friends in a relatively quiet pub and we played go there. We were quite hungry, so we ordered some bread and soup, and took some bites or spoonfuls in between turns. This all worked out fine and neat until I absentmindedly reached into the wrong bowl to pick up my next stone. >_< Needless to say, I cleaned my hand before continuing with the game.

Tamsin: To get stronger, lose bad habits. This is excellent advice. But, how do you put it into action? If you analyse your defeats and find recurrent weaknesses, then you come up with a list of things not to do.

But, have you ever tried to "not" do something only to find that it's all you can do? To use a favourite example, if I say "Do not think of a pink elephant", then all you will see in your mind will be pink elephants!

So, to get rid of a bad habit or playing fault, I suggest trying to find its positive opposite, e.g.,

1) Don't respond to the opponent's moves without thinking.

2) Don't play endgame moves in the middle game.

These "don't"s could become positive instructions:

1) Can you play somewhere better?

2) Play endgame moves in the endgame!

Ultimately, the outcome of anything depends on what you actually do do, not what you don't do (which is an infinity of hypotheticals). So, concentrate on what you want to do, not what you do not want to do.

[2] Throwing stones

DeathWind: I am actually quite surprised no one mentioned this before the throwing board habit is mentioned. Stone throwing is sometimes seen in my class because there are many kids around. Well, that's how kids are. The teachers would get very angry when they see that though. All in all, throwing stones is very unethical and something go players should never do.

[3] xela: Is this really a bad habit? Personally I think that playing a tournament game very quickly and not using byo-yomi is a worse habit. I hope that tournament games will be high quality serious games, and I'm all in favour of people using the maximum time allowed to achieve this. If you're not supposed to play in byo-yomi, then the tournament organisers shouldn't allow byo-yomi; maybe we should all use Fischer time instead...

Bad Habits last edited by Unkx80 on March 8, 2024 - 15:09
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