Learning to play go is like learning a new language

    Keywords: Proverb
Or: "Why reading is 90% of your playing strength."

  • Learning shapes, tesuji, probes is like learning words, expanding your vocabulary.
  • Going over pro games is like reading books, seeing how words are used by native speakers.
  • Learning joseki is like learning set phrases, like "Can you tell me the time?" or "How much for those apples?"
  • Doing life & death is like conversation practice: "At the hotel", "At the airport", "In the shop".
  • Standard openings are like standard conversation starters, like "How was work today?"

Playing a game is like having an actual conversation. You still have to tie all of what you've learned together. Which words are appropriate to express what thought? What response is appropriate to which question? Is this consistent with the rest of what I've been saying? Even though you're using the same words, every conversation is unique.

Having an actual conversation means you have to think about what you are saying. That is what reading is in go. All those memorized components will make your conversation better, easier and faster, but you do have to think about how to apply them.


tapir: I, 110%, agree with this page. I even recently mixed some tsumego problems with my vocabulary cards. But what is the equivalent of writing a love letter or a poem? Do I try to win conversations? Shouldn't I escape unpleasant games more often, as I do with unpleasant conversations?

Herman: Perhaps "debate" is more appropriate for a formal game, discussion for a casual game, conversation for exploring variations during analysis, etc. A poem or love letter would be a specially composed go problem, perhaps. There's all sorts of conversations, just like there's all sorts of types of go games :)

Learning to play go is like learning a new language last edited by HermanHiddema on August 10, 2011 - 13:53
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