fs: If a similar page already exists, please move this discussion (and not to the bad habits pages please ^^)
taiji: Time and time again I've heard that a player's emotions or state of mind is revealed over the Go board. Some even go so far as to say you can tell what kind of person someone is by how they play. I'm searching for a reasoning behind this idea.
What finally made me want to find out more about this is a certain person who I played with a few times over a board. Over a series of perhaps thirty games played over the course of a year or so, I won and lost about equally. However out of our most recent games I started to win almost every game, and I knew that I had improved.
However, a few games back, there was one particular game in which I lost, perhaps the fifth last game we played. I had made a sort of mistake, and lost about thirty points on the top. However, it is my philosophy to play the board and not the opponent, so before resigning I took a good look at the board and to my eyes I saw a way to make a much closer game. In essence, although he had captured a large group on the top, I had a large framework on the bottom and right. I made a splitting move within my framework to build a moyo on both sides. I lost the game, but it was close.
After the game, he told me that when I lost the group on the top, I should have resigned. He told me that any good player would have realised the mistake and simply resigned. He also told me that you can tell the state of mind a person is in when they play. He went on, to describe how he and I are merely amateurs, and that we can't see beyond a certain number of moves, and that to fight the way I did made it seem like we were playing for money and not for the fun of the game. That a stronger player would find distaste in my moves and decide not to play me if I continued to play like that. Things like that.
In the next game we played, I won. I had a dragon which he attempted to kill, and during the game it looked like it was going to die. However I saw a very thin chance for it to survive. Although I did not try to capitalize on his mistakes, I myself was not really sure if it was going to live. Nevertheless, he failed to kill the dragon and I won by perhaps thirty points. After the game, he again gave me "the lecture", this time going so far as to say that I was in a desperate state of mind, or that I was a greedy player, or something like that. He almost repeated what he said before, but this time it was longer, bordering on a morality lesson. I took him seriously, but wondered if it was really true. Before I discuss the last (say) three games we played, let me explain my take on this.
As I said before, I am a strong believer in "play the board, not the opponent". For this reason I do not really care about who I am playing. I am not saying that I do not care about other people, only that I try to avoid certain apprehensions people have about playing "rivals" or "stronger players". Furthermore, if a large group dies, I do not believe I should resign simply because it was killed. The score is more important. Besides, in terms of furikawari, why is it not possible that it was a trade? I do agree that changing my plan in the middle of a game is usually a bad idea, however sometimes you need a certain amount of flexibility. Finally, the truth is that I am not a professional (yet!), and I often cannot read out the true life or death status of any particular group. However I try to be as impartial as I can about deciding such matters and read as deeply as I can at the appropriate times. If there is a window, you can jump through it. If you honestly believe in the window and your opponent does not, I do not believe it is bad manners to jump through it.
So in the third last game we played, and this was the shocking thing, he did to me the same thing he accused me of doing. For over 100 moves I was clearly ahead by perhaps forty points. On and on he fought, until around move 200 I allowed him to make a ko because I believed that a ko would not help him. I was right, but a misread of how to make the ko allowed him to turn the game in his favour. I did resign then, because I did not see a way to win. Did I get the lecture? Yes, but this time he lectured me about how I should have more focus and stamina.
Needless to say I won the last (say) two games. In both games he made huge mistakes in the opening and middlegame but he kept playing. In both he fought on and on until the end, where I won in the counting stage of the game. After the last game I decided I didn't want to play him any more. Partly because he fought on and on, but mostly because of the lecturing.
So can you tell what kind of person is when they play a game with you? My conclusion is "only when they talk too much while playing". But i'd like to hear what you think.
Alex Weldon: Don't take this guy too seriously. Clearly, he's a jerk. Actually, I would apply much stronger terminology to him than that, but this is a family website.
I wouldn't say it's surprising that he did the same thing he scolded you for; it's far ruder to tell your opponent "you should have resigned" than it is to play on in a losing position (in my opinion), so it's to be expected that he would be rude in other ways, as well.
Anyway, you can certainly tell a lot about a person by their go etiquette - the guy probably leaves crummy tips in restaurants, and tailgates when driving, too - but I don't think that was the original intention of the idea that you can tell someone's state of mind by the way they play. I think you can tell something about their state of mind or personality just from the moves themselves, regardless of any discussion of the game.
Take myself as an example. I'm a very variable person, and so I'm a very variable player. In my calmest, most reflective moods, I'll play a lot of honte, concentrate on shape, try to leave aji in my opponent's position, and aim at a small win without engaging in complicated fights. If I'm depressed, I'll see my opponent's territories as larger, and my own positions as weaker than they really are, and invade frameworks prematurely in an attempt to shake up the game when it isn't really necessary. If I'm feeling full of myself because of some recent accomplishment, I will take the opponent's first underplay as a sign that he is weaker than me, and start trying to get away with overplays to show off. If I'm angry or upset, I start playing TheCaptain style, cutting everywhere and trying to kill everything that doesn't have two definite eyes.