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To contrast with the discussion at rank and what you know, one can look at the idea that a player stalled at one particular level may lack good comprehension of just one or two key concepts.
There seems to be no particular reason to think that at most levels those ideas are determined in advance. In fact that is relatively implausible, on a global scale.
- Here's the game archive from NNGS with 300,000+ games from 1995 up to 2005.
- It is clear that up to ~14k, progress is noticably quicker:
- Some more statistics, arguing in favor of universal plateaus, at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~barryp/barriers.htm .
- There may be some bias from the way improving players continue to play, while a player stalled at a level may drop out.
- Another explanation is that beginning players aren't aware enough of their mental state to know when they're too tired or irritated to keep playing, and losing while in such a state can often lead to a desire to keep playing in order to finish the session with a win rather than a loss. There's an interesting (if perhaps pretentious) mention of games building self-awareness in an essay by Robert Morrell.
- The conventional wisdom here is the dan ranks are one big bottleneck, just a slow grind on your way up. Still, there seems to be a fundamental difference between a 1 dan and a 4 dan, so maybe there are jumps in the dan ranks too.
- Worrying about bottlenecks is a way of psyching yourself out.
- The 'bottleneck' is primarily a coaching concept, rather than a self-study concept.