In A Korean Baduk School/ Discussion

RobertJasiek: What exactly is meant here by "mindset of a professional", "creativity", "attacking"? What and how do you learn from a played tournament game there? What and how do you learn at the school that you could not learn at home? Do the professionals speak mainly about technique (variations, haengma, etc.) or can they also give more general advice in terms of principles? - About day 7: Who could agree more that there are no formal fuseki any longer and that fighting starts immediately? (I like to start at the 9-7.).

Benjamin: 9-7 is a fuseki-move ^^ fighting just starts when ... well, some weak groups cut each other and so on, you know.

Hu: Many thanks for your diary of the school. I found it informative, enjoyable, and inspirational. Best wishes.

Nathan: I think this page is great and I look forward to every update. I often stress to those who want to reach Shodan that fighting strength is key to improving so it's nice to see that Mr. Kwon agrees.

Dieter: My God, why are we still messing about in our clubs...

bitti: Yeah, keep this wonderful diary going! But please try to not waste too much time on the net.

Some questions:

  • As I understand it there are two league systems, the "School League" and the "Yeonguseng League", right?
  • Who are the members of the school league? Just guests like you or yeonguseng aspirants mainly?
  • Do you have an idea of the strength difference between the first and last school league?
  • Are the age declarations in asian style (+1 year) or western style?

Hwan Kuk Kang: Dear David,

We intend to keep the diary going. The Yeonguseng League consists of the most talented young players in Korea. Not everyone can participate in it. I have already described how strong they are. At least I could not find much of a difference between a 3rd league and a 8th league player. I have seen 8th league players beating professionals as well.

The yeonguseng league is played in the building of the Hankuk Kiwon, and pupils from many Go schools are participating in it.

In the school Tournament there are about 25 Yeonguseng, the other 50 players are mostly small children (age 10-14 mainly)who are determined to get better in Go. There are also 5 guests participating - A professional from Japan, a professional from China, her friend, and we both.

Strength difference: The first three leagues consist of Yeonguseng. They are quite strong.

Benjamin plays in the 6th league. He takes 2-3 stones from the strong guys. I play in the 8th league, taking 2 stones from Benjamin. In the 9th (last) league there are also weaker player participating, but they are very young, therefore have a great potential.

Age: I have already eliminated the age difference - if I said somebody was 12, he is born in 1993.

Calvin: This is the best Go blog ever. I read it every day. Astonishing. Thanks!

Velobici: Would it be possible to show us some (or all) of the 20 life and death problems presented on 24 August 2005

Hwan Kuk Kang: No, this wouldn't be possible because the problems are treated like secrets. The Kwon school doesn't allow other schools have their self invented problems. The exam papers were destroyed immediately after the test.

Truc: Very interesting. Keep up the good work.

bitti: At least this Photo ([ext] makes your unbelievable storys a little bit more probable ;)

Hwan Kuk Kang: Well, we got special permission from Mr. Kwon to show our fans 1 or 2 of the special problems - this will be done on monday.

Attempts of the problem moved to In A Korean Baduk School/Attempts.

bitti: So when you come back and not at least one stone stronger resp. I will be quite disappointed ;).

Hwan Kuk Kang: You won't be disappointed. :) You know we had about 300 hours studying Go. It's about 1200 hours compared to Europe. Usually we don't spend 1200 hours in 1-2 YEAR for studying Go. Therefore there is no reason that we shouldn't be 1 stone stronger.

maruseru: Thank you for this journal - it was a fascinating insight into the korean Baduk education system. I'm a little bit worried by Mr Kwon's statement that one month isn't enough to teach the basics, considering Benjamin is 6d (or now 7d?) - so does that mean that a european 6d still hasn't got the basics right? Then what about us lowly kyu players? :)

Bob McGuigan: I think it is a matter of refinement and subtlety. Some kyu players confuse heaviness with thickness. Nine dan pros sometimes misjudge the value of an opponent's thickness. That is they both have work to do on the basic concept of thickness, just at different levels of sophistication. :)

nachtrabe: Grandmaster Hampton, 8d in Taekwon Do and 7d in Hapkido (among his other martial art experience) has told me repeatedly that there are still things he is working on in form 1 (the very first and most basic form you learn) for Taekwon Do. Misty May, one the two young women who won gold in beach volleyball, shocked the media when she said that there were still things in her passing that she did not like and is working to improve.

dnerra: Thanks to both of you for your daily reporting, it was fun to follow!

Hwan Kuk Kang: For Mr. Kwon, we were both beginners, therefore it was clear that we couldn't have the basics yet. But we (Ben and me) constantly complain to each other how weak our basics and our reading abilities are, so we agree to Mr. Kwon.

Anyway we have an idea how to reduce the misery in Yeonguseng-free countries like Germany - Ben has bought 20 classical life and death problems (about 100 problems in each book). If we are someday able to solve the problems in seconds (without learning the solutions by heart), we should have improved at least 1 stone by then. We just need the discipline to do it...

At least I have another evidence that I grasped some of the basics in Mr. Kwons school - yesterday I beat Kang Na Yeon 6d with Black, who also participated in EGC 2005 (28th) and also won some female amateur tournaments in Korea!

Tamsin: Thank you for this wonderful diary. It is humbling to see how go is played by really strong people. But, what are the basics? How do you get to understand the basics in the deepest way? Can it be put into words? Is there something beyond proverbs and principles? And, how can you really grasp this? You make me wonder: should I abandon my old way of thinking? Should I forget everything that I have learned and play the game with a new mind? This diary unsettles me. It makes me think. I have wasted so much time jealously guarding my patch on the foothills, when all the time you people have been scaling the heights, and you have gone so far above me that you cannot be seen for the clouds. Now, I want to climb.

Calvin: Question for Ben: Have your experiences reinforced or changed the advice you give in your guide to become strong?

Benjamin: Yes, I'd like to change one of my advises. First, it's also good just to replay pro-games and think about the moved if you're strong enough - so high-dan-players maybe don't have to learn these games actually - just replay a few times might also work if you like better. Another point: Now I like (and therefore recommend) to replay pro-games until the very end while trying to cout each moves value, as Hwan proposed. European player's endgame (including me) is very very weak indeed...

Hwan Kuk Kang: Even now we can't say accurately what the basics are - our major problem is that we don't know the basics - but we have some theories about that:

1. Strong reading (calculating) abilities. This is the most important issue in the game. Reading abilities (RA) are important for everything. At first, you have to fight in every game. You need reading to develop the fight in your favor. Second, only if you have adequate RA, you can understand professinal games. For example, you wonder all the time: "Why has he played like this? Why not the other 'natural' move?" Well, with RA you can grasp why. If you understand the professinal games there is a lot you can learn from them, of course. Third, you can avoid bad shape, aji and bad exchanges because of your RA. If you play bad aji there is nothing wrong at first but with RA you can see what might go wrong few moves later. Forth, it is easier to calculate endgame moves.

The problem is, there is not easy way to improve his own RA. This includes solving a lot of Life-and-death problems. You mustn't look into the solutions unless you are completely confident to have found the right moves. You have to begin with easy ones, work through them until you can solve every one of them in seconds. It is important not to learn them by heart. If you see the problems 1 year later, you must still be able to solve them in seconds. Then you proceed to more difficult ones etc.

2. The 'other stuff' like Joseki, Fuseki etc.

Through extensive studies of books, professional games and analysis of his own games one can gain insight about the "natural" moves. If you reach a certain level, you needn't think too much to find the "natural" move. A further explanations to these "natural moves" - you all know the situation - It's your turn, and you don't have any idea what to do. Invading? Expanding? Attacking? Defending?... In a fight this is even worse - you can't even imagine what a position could arise in 3 move. But the "Real understanders of the real moves" just know what move should be ABOUT right without looking longer then a few seconds on the Go board. Of course they have to back it with adequate RA.

Of course the pros think a lot to find something better than the natural move, but they know what should be the natural move anyway. Certainly, the study of professional games are most useful because they are played by the "Understanders of the natural moves". By studying these games, you can, at least partially, learn these "natural moves". But to understand such a game fully, you need RA, as mentioned above. There are a method to profit from professional games.

Play through the game quickly. Then do it again and again until you know the game by heart. Of course it is useless to put the stones on the board without thinking. You don't do it to exercise your arms. You have to think about something like this: "Why has he played here? Is Black leading with how many points? How big was that endgame move etc." If you go through the game many times, you can grasp clearly more then you do it only once. You can repeat the process until you think you have understood everything important.

Well, I don't know your old way of thinking therefore I don't know if you should forget everything you learned.

Tamsin: Dear Hwan, thank you for such a detailed reply. I have been studying Zen recently, as well, and I am coming to the view that I have been too constricted by logic and principles when playing go. The idea has dawned on me to play each position as I see it, to try to understand it on its own features, and not to rely on proverbs and other saws to generate moves. Maybe what you are saying fits in with that: it is important to know the "natural moves", but ultimately being strong comes from being able to read - because reading unlocks the unique aspects of the position. I also began memorising pro games recently, and that inspired me, because of the boldness and flexibility of pro play. Now and then, when I open my mind and think in a creative way, looking at the board as a field of opportunity instead of trying to find a correct move by deduction, I feel a surge of power and freedom...

In A Korean Baduk School/ Discussion last edited by Unkx80 on February 17, 2008 - 15:02
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