Bill Strider

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I seem to be a perennial beginner, probably because I spend all my time reading rather than playing actual games. I've recently (and belatedly) started my quest to LoseYourFirst50GamesAsQuicklyAsPossible.

Fast facts: I'm a baby boomer, living just outside the Beltway in Washington, DC. I'm a project manager for an IT firm. I have four kids and three cats.

My user name on various Go servers is "jagara". There's a picture on KGS if you're interested.

ZeroKun :You're lucky to live in DC, theres a great go club there with some strong players.

Velobici: There are a lot of go clubs here in the Washington Area. They are listed on the GoPlacesInTheUSA page. Try to play a game every day, more than one a day if possible.

I need a plan.

After wandering fairly aimlessly for almost two years, I'm determined to start making consistent progress. Not necessarily rapid, but consistent. Like the tortoise, one step at a time. I plan to split my time more or less evenly among reading, playing and working problems. Suggestions are welcome.

Reading: One of my big problems is in the opening. After the corners and sides are occupied, I'm not sure what to do. To try to improve this area, I'm reading Opening Theory Made Easy. So far, it's easy to follow, and really makes sense.

I'm fortunate that the local public library has a pretty good collection of Go books, including The Second Book of Go, Tesuji, Attack and Defense and the four volumes of Graded Go Problems for Beginners.

I've picked up a number of Go books on eBay, including How to Play Go by Takagawa, first edition, 1956. It includes a full-page photo of a young, quite handsome Takagawa, with his head tilted at a bizarre angle that only a photographer could love. The book is quite good as an introduction, but it is clearly aimed at the developing Western market. The only Japanese terms he uses are atari and ko, plus a parenthetical reference to seki. The book shows its age, too. There is a picture of Takagawa teaching a class of "housewives, schoolgirls and Geisha girls." I sure hope Google doesn't index this page. It might attract some interesting traffic to SL. :)

Of course, there are a lot of resources that can be read online: the AGA E-Journal, GoBase and Sensei's Library, to mention just a few. It's easy to fall victim to information overload, so I think it's best to focus my reading on one book at a time.

Playing: I appreciate Velobici's advice to play a game every day. Unfortunately, between work, housekeeping and riding herd on my teenagers, I don't really have the time. I keep a number of games going on the Dragon Go Server, so I do play every day, just not a complete game.

I tried turn-based Go a year ago, and it just didn't work for me. Every time I came back to a game, I had to go back to the beginning and figure out what was going on. Now, though, that doesn't seem to be a problem. For the most part, I can just look back a couple of moves, and I'm able to pick it up with no problem. I take that as a sign that my understanding of the game has improved.

I also want to start playing at least a few games a week on KGS and/or IGS. I plan to start attending the Greater Washington Go Club on Friday evenings. Everyone there is way stronger than I am, but that's a good thing, right? A bonus is that Yuan Zhou 7 dan comes to the club once a month to review games. I had my first session with him recently, and it was very helpful. His explanations are crystal clear.

Another thing I plan to do is review some of my games and submit them to the Go Teaching Ladder. And at some point, I'll probably try to find a regular teacher.

Problems: I try to look at at least a dozen problems every day. I'm about halfway through the second volume of Graded Go Problems for Beginners. I expect I can benefit from going through this series more than once. I also have two of the Nihon Ki-in pocket books, 180 Tesuji and 180 Life and Death. If I don't have a book with me, has plenty to keep me busy.

So, that's the plan. Again, comments are most welcome.

Dieter: Doing so many problems is bound to pay off. As for games, I'd advise you to spend the same amount of time you have played to analysis. If you play a quick game on a Go server, give it a brief look to recognize the crucial points in the game. If you play a long game with a substantial amount of thought, then spend some time analyzing the position tactically. Do this by yourself, with the opponent, or with a stronger player, with increasing degree of efficiency.

Playing few long games with no analysis is perhaps the best way to get frustrated: so much time spent and hardly any improvement.

TJ: You can also get the occasional analysis in real-time on KGS in the beginner's room. Some people enjoy doing game reviews for people on occasion. You can upload your Dragon Go Server sgf files, too.:) This probably wouldn't be as in-depth as a review on the GTL could get, of course, and you need to connect with someone both a good strength and in the mood to help you out, but it gives the benefit of being able to ask questions and help steer the analysis. Anyways, best of luck, and remember to have fun, too!

Bill Strider last edited by ArnoHollosi on June 24, 2008 - 23:50
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