Visiting Reader: As a Dan player, I find The Captain very entertaining to watch, but bad for kyu players (especially those weaker than 5-kyu) to try to emulate. He has a very aggressive and greedy style which is full of overplays and is hard to learn from. The player on KGS I'd recommend most for kyu players (and dans) to study is intetsu - he has a very patient, crystal-clear style and superb endgame. Makes a lot of honte moves, which is something everyone should try to emulate.
ThaddeusOlczyk: intetsu may be the player to emulate style-wise, but he hasn't played since September. Even then he did not play often. One can download old games and learn from them, but somehow watching a game in realtime is different. So which dan players (on KGS) can we watch and emulate?
(Sebastian:) This probably depends on what the kyu player needs to learn. I, for one, have been told I should fight more, and to play a bit overplay when white. So studying The Captain's style might suit me perfectly, were it not for the "hard to learn from". What does that mean?
Rakshasa: TheCaptain will teach you how to how to live with weak groups, and attacking. It's hard to learn if you don't have that skill, but TheCaptain does not make it harder imo. Just as long as you know you should learn how he gets himself out of situations, not how he gets into them.
Alex Weldon: This is a good point. With the exception of "fake" high-dans, who play only ultra-blitz, you can't really say that one player is better to study than another. Clearly, they all have something to be said for them, or else they wouldn't have the rank they do.
So, when studying, it's not a matter of who you should study in general, but rather who you should study to train a specific skill. If you want a source of real-game tsumego, The Captain is great. If you want a lesson in good shape, he's the last person you should look at.
On the other hand, this is not a page about "dans to study from," it's a page about "dans to emulate," which is a different matter entirely. Though studying The Captain's games is good to improve your reading ability, I wouldn't recommend to many people that they should try to play more like him.
Now, thinking about it as I write this, I'm starting to lean towards the notion that emulating anyone, even a pro, is a bad way to go about things. Style is something personal, and trying to play in a style that doesn't suit you is probably counter-productive. Perhaps, then, the idea is to find a pro or strong amateur whose style seems like "you but better" and try to learn from their moves. Then you're playing the game you wanted to play all along, but learning how to do it right.
So, how about making several pages instead of this one? KGS Dans - Cosmic, KGS Dans - Amashi, etc.
(Sebastian:) This seems very specific. How about starting with a page on KGS Dans by Style or even Dan Players by Style? There will be some cross-style discussion, so it will be good to have one discussion page. If we really get a lot on the individual styles, we always can move it into separate pages or subpages. (BTW, there are already some pages on style, but none of them is really satisfactory, and I don't know enough about the subject to fix them. As a start, I created a new page on style and linked some occurrences of that word there. If e.g. Playing Styles gets WMEd then we can use the Style page as an alias.)
Cheyenne: Actually this is kind of one of the things that I was thinking when I started the Territory versus Influence Styles page, where one would break out pros and strong dan players and how they typically played.
ilan: Actually, you should watch games of all styles, not necessarily to emulate them, but rather to learn how to deal with them. If you believe that TheCaptain's style is not necessarily sound, then you will learn a lot by trying to figure out how to refute it and compare this with the way his opponents deal with it. In particular, if you improve enough, you will have to play him at some point. So far, my favourite dan player is Rakshasa, for whipping my butt in 7x7.
Grauniad: Why not rename this page "Dans to study"?
Rakshasa: To emulate is to study.
AdamMarquis: But the converse? Is to study to emulate? I would think no.
Rich: To emulate is to imitate, not necessarily to study; look at the number of mid-kyu players who try to emulate Takemiya, without studying much past "go for central influence". :) The reason I think the Captain's games are little use for kyu-players is that he sees and reads things that kyu-players don't see. Without a dan-level commentary, those things remain hidden.
One can ask simpler, more straightforward questions of simpler, more straightforward dan players; it is more frequently a case of "he played there because it aims at point a and can't be cut", than "he played there because it expects a dan-level response around b, which leaves a tesuji around the cutting point at c as aji, then later the other group can use that aji to rescue those weak stones over there." I certainly get much more on average from an Otake-Rin Kaiho game than from some of the more recent Korean matches; the level of reading (breadth and depth) required for the latter is far beyond me for much more of the game.
Rakshasa: To emulate is more than just to imitate. To imitate only means that your play resembles the one you are imitating. To emulate someone's play, you need to approach or equal it through imitation. This requires more than just blindly copying, it requires study and skills, an understanding of what is going on.
ilan: Recently, I have been "studying" dan level games as follows: I just jump into a game in progress. I think this helps to get used to evaluating different types of positions quickly. Not having the previous context helps develop flexibility in this.
Charles I suspect it is like other kinds of study. If you are in a phase of rapid improvement, it doesn't matter much what it is you look at. If you are not (the normal situation, actually), you should concentrate on good style and fundamentals. The meanings of the italicised terms should follow from this.
ilan: Maybe the players most emulated are those who play for influence.
Alex Weldon: Everyone wants to be a superhero. Captain-style fighting games and Takemiya's Cosmic Style are exciting to watch, so people want to play that way themselves. Not many people read "subway go: it takes you where you want to go, but you don't get to see any scenery" and think "wow, that's the way *I* want to play!" Even I, though truth-be-told I'm probably more like Kobayashi, like to think of myself as being like Sakata, because he's more exciting.
(Hicham) I dislike the really aggressive style of play you often find on KGS. I like it when the dan players play a more normal opening, instead of heading straight into to middle game, where it gets quickly out a hand and it starts to get rather incomprehensible for me( Belgian 3k). I also think that a lot of the high dans do not read out the fighting before they invade but just play it and punch their way out. One can see that in tournaments people play calmer and are less inclined to make rash decisions. That's the reason why i like replaying pro games more than watching high dans clash on KGS.
Rakshasa: I didn't know KGS dan's had such an aggressive style, i thought that was dashn? Also, they don't read it out?.. I know it's not tournament games, but they do read quite a bit more than you are suggesting. If not, how likely would it be that they could punch their way out? Invading isn't just about throwing a stone into your opponents territory.