Migeru's ideas on improvement
Not that I am extremely strong,, but I have some ideas about what it takes to get stronger that I would like to discuss. I will probably not say anything in substance that is not in the page on improvement and the pages linked from it, but maybe the organization of the ideas will be sufficiently different and hopefully valuable. Comments are welcome.
These are the things one should do to get better:
- Study - by oneself (with books) or from a teacher. This is where one gets acquainted with new ideas and tools. If you are at the stage of discovering your own new ideas and tools you are a professional.
- Drills - doing problems. The goal of drilling is, by repetition, to be able to apply the newly-learned principles automatically when the opportunity presents itself.
- Play - recreationally, I mean. Playing lots of games, as quickly as one is comfortable with with as many different opponents as possible, and possibly on different board sizes (9x9, for instance, allows you to set up interesting fights in under 5 minutes so you can practice your life-and-death), trying the techniques that you have been drilling.
- Competition - Arno quotes Fernando Aguilar as saying that it is essential to play tournaments in order to become stronger, as only there your opponent gives you their best.
- Review - this is a facet of study, but you can only do it if you play and compete! You can review by yourself, with your opponent, or with a teacher. A review of a friendly game should be quick, concentrating on the main actions and the result of your experiments with new concepts. A review of a competition game should be more thorough, as your own thinking during the game is supposed to have been.
- Teach - there is no better way to increase your awareness of the game than teaching others, because that forces you to express what you may intuitively know in an understandable form.
Some observations about the learning process: when you start studying with a new teacher or learn a new concept, you should expect your performance to drop slightly as the you integrate the new ideas into your existing conceptual framework and your intuitive play. Eventually your level of play should shoot over your original level if the learning process is successful.
Even more important than learning new tricks is unlearning bad habits. A teacher may be the only effective way of achieving this.