Forum for Dieter Verhofstadt

on ideas for improvement [#326]

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Dieter: on ideas for improvement (2006-03-01 16:32) [#1124]

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yoyoma: Dieter which of the 4 categories do you place yourself in? Since I'm asking I'll mention I put myself in #1.

Dieter: Yoyoma, I have been in all. I have been in nį 3 for most of my career - although I gradually improved - until I started reviewing my own games, at which point I experienced a spectacuar breakthrough (I was already doing all the other things, but rather purposeless). Since I have started practicing the guitar and devote the rest of my spare time to my band, and occasionally an article on SL #:-7, I try to be in category 1.

Adam Marquis: Would you say (Dieter or anyone) that it is better to review right away, or play and review in separate sessions? I feel that if I review right away, I notice only the big mistakes I noticed during the game, but remember them. If I review later, I think I forget some of my ideas during the game, but come up with some different ones (just because I'm in a different mindset).

Dieter: I think that it is best to review in a separate session. Let me speak for myself though: I have seldom enjoyed reviews with my opponent right after the game, because it is only too human to try and win the post mortem. It is tempting to convince your opponent, whereas you should be convinced yourself. I have much more enjoyed the analysis in isolation, a few hours after the game. I remembered my ideas but I was in a state of fairness towards myself.

With your teacher or another player, it is better to take distance from your ideas and open yourself to his or her remarks. The "Yes, but I ..." is defensive and counterproductive.

dnerra: I am surprised about this statement. After playing a serious tournament game against an opponent of similar strength, we almost always find points where my opponent can point out some move of mine he found odd, and rightly so, and vice-versa.

Dieter: Hmm. I just want to say that you better take a good thought before answering your opponent's/teacher's remark, allowing yourself to leave the mindset with which the move was played.


Bill: And then there are players who just hope and pray not to go downhill. <grin, I think>

Adam Marquis: I think I'll try this out. I'm around 5k right now, I'll let you know in a month or so how it is going for me. Thanks for the advice!

Malweth: Add me to the "Trying it out" phase... I have been noticing that I play less thoughtful games lately - I think this is because of the lack of new ideas and failure to apply reading ability beyond what comes naturally (Tesuji, normal moves, and pattern recognition).

Malweth: Although I think "Allocating the time" can be varied somewhat (depending on the person - as long as the important elements are there), this style of learning is effective. I can't give any accurate personal stats (that would require knowing my rank). I have definitely been getting stronger, though! One comment is that, IMO most people have trouble keeping to a set schedule. Personally I have a hard time playing games because of time reasons... however... completing a good review of your games is very important as is expanding your reading ability in whatever way you can. I'm not convinced that playing fast games versus slow games is that useful, though... and (also IMHO) tsumego that take 10-15 minutes may be a bit too hard (easy tsumego for me are under 10 sec each, hard ones take less than a minute or two). But what do I know :D... I'm just somewhere around 5k (I think ;)

friends21: DO NOT REVIEW GAMES WITH YOUR OPPONENTS. It is possible to find the basic and most obvious mistake just by going back and trial and error, but I found that most people don't bother changing it or find out what is making them play there move. What people see as errors are only obvious and one that lead to a group being capture or dead. There are MUCH bigger thing to be awared of, like making a move useful and correcting a shape. A person with a similar rank may only know as much as you do, thus it is likely that they will make the same mistake and not even seeing a bad play as a mistake.

Malweth: Although reviewing with someone of a higher rank is often to more benefit, reviewing your game with an equal ranked player (including your opponent) is more useful than reviewing alone. You are making the assumption that two players of equal rank have the same ideas and the same abilities. This is fallacy because rank is composed of many different variables and because different people have different ideas of how the game is played, even if at the same abilities.

Kryft: All my games on the internet have had a time setting of either 25/10 Canadian or 30 s Japanese. Would you classify those as too slow? I've improved at a steady pace from beginner to EGF 7 kyu in four and a half months, so it seems to have worked decently, but I suppose it's quite possible that I would have improved just as much if I'd played the games twice as fast. (You allocated 30 minutes for a fast game, which would be about half of what my KGS games usually last.) In addition to the internet games, I've played a few club games without a clock every week, so if one counted those as slow games and the KGS ones as fast games, the ratio of fast to slow games would be more or less what you proposed as ideal.

Dieter: If you are 7k after 4 1/2 months, then soon I'll be asking you how to improve. I have written this for those who are dissatisfied with their current level. Yours seems to improve too fast to even consider it. Your testimony of what you did to improve would be helpful to many, including myself.

Kryft: My path from 30 kyu to 7 kyu went roughly as follows. For the first two months, I played two fairly slow (1-20 + 25/10) games a day on KGS, except for perhaps two days a week when I went to a local go club; there I would play two or three untimed club games. After the first two months, at which point I was 10 kyu, my summer holiday from university ended, so I no longer had the time or energy for playing every day, but I still played at least a few games every week.

Every now and then I would ask a 5 kyu friend of mine to review one of my KGS games. I read several books: The second book of go, Attack and defense, Opening theory made easy, In the beginning, Lessons in the fundamentals of go and Fundamental principles of go. I don't recall exactly which book I read when, and in fact I read many of them in parallel or a few chapters at a time with breaks in between. I supplemented what I read in books with just about every article I could get my hands on here at Sensei's. I went through some problem books: Go problems for beginners vol. 2; perhaps half of vol. 3; Tesuji; a few chapters from Life and death; and the 500 or so first problems in 1001 life and death problems.

I must say, however, that I feel that more important to my progress than what I do is the thought behind doing it. Regardless of who I'm playing and what the situation is, I don't want to play a move until I've justified it to myself. That is, I want to be aware of what I'm trying to accomplish with my next move, such as 'neutralize black's influence', 'secure the corner territory' or 'invade black's moyo', and convince myself that that goal is more important than other goals I might want to pursue. When I feel I know what the idea behind my next move should be, I check whether the candidates offered by my intuition actually implement that idea ('Would this actually strengthen the group and not just make it heavy?') and compare them in terms of sente, aji, shape, points, etc. to decide which is the best. Of course I don't always go through these steps in this order, that is, have a strategic goal first and then try to find a move that matches it. Often it is rather the other way around: my intuition immediately comes up with a couple of moves, which I then analyze. The point is that in any case when I have played a stone, I know which options I considered and why I chose the way I did.

The reason I feel that being aware of the reasoning behind my moves is important to my improvement is that mistakes and losses then allow me to see the flaws in my reasoning. When I identify the flaws that seem to hold me back the most, I try to eliminate them by reading related texts, solving problems, asking questions, watching games or just playing. For example, I remember when I was 15 kyu that I suddenly felt I was losing games because I had no idea whatsoever about middle game strategy, so I read Attack and defense. After I was finished with the book and had played a few games, the middle game was no longer the bottleneck, so I focused on something else. Recently I've felt that I can't improve my game further unless I start keeping score during my games, so that's what I've tried to do.

I seem to play best, improve fastest and have the most fun when I concentrate on finding good moves and improving my understanding of whatever seems most urgent to me at the time, the way I've described in the paragraphs above. If I consciously try to win or somehow prove myself, my play deteriorates, my development stagnates and I generally don't have much fun. ;)

Coyote: Dieter, I've used your suggestions to work out a study schedule for myself. I will probably not play as many games as planned, but it is my goal. Also, I know I'm doing more L&D then you suggested, but I have a lot of time that only can be used for L&D and reviewing, plus I like them.

Anyway, feedback appreciated: My schedule?


Domitian - With all due respect, playing over professional games quickly, without trying to understand too much, is lazy. One must concentrate on practicing making proper moves, and professional games are the best source for proper moves. Sitting down with a professional game score, one should play a few moves into the fuseki and then-- taking the role of the winner-- make the opponentís next move and try to guess the winnerís response, make the opponentís next move, guess again, and so on, to the end of the game. One compares their move guesses with the moves actually made by the winner in the professional game. Much can be learned weighing the relative merits of oneís move selection against that of the professional. This takes time and effort. That said, professional moves are usually not that mysterious. Surprisingly, professional moves are often easy to understand once revealed on the board. As has been said, the art of Go is making ordinary moves. Go Seigen, for example, played very simply. Rarely does a brilliant, if incomprehensible, move appear on the board. IMO making the effort to play over professional games in this considered manner is practically as important to improving as playing oneís own games.

Malweth: Although any study of go can help, I disagree that one should spend an extraordinary amount of time on a single pro game. The points you're talking about should occur only for the more advanced student. From 30k to at least 5k playing out pro games on a real board or memorizing using "hunt & guess" software is the only method to gather a good idea of moves. Ideally the games should not be the all-out fighting types, but if a fight breaks out (like inside a moyo) the game can also be useful. If you're weighing your own response versus that of the pro's you need to be a bit closer in ability to that of the pro.

If a 10k (as a good mid-point example) were to think of the move he would play in the same situation there is little or no relation to the move the pro played. It can be useful if there is at least one obvious reason (like the biggest point on the board), but this is also the sort of thing that can be gleaned intuitively. If the move is less obvious, such as most defensive moves, the 10k player does not have the reading ability to reason out why that move is better.

The other trap here is when you get the correct answer. If you chose the same move the pro did, you may believe that your reasoning is correct. The next time you play the same type of move, you could be dead wrong. It's bad to think of shape when reading wins out and intuitive learning is a shape based process.

Dieter: adding lost comments (2006-08-09 18:39) [#2061]

have fun

jfc: in the introduction is play for fun a euphemism for play inattentively or some other less rigorous standard? I always play for fun but I also take my fun seriously. For me fun is making the best effort that I can make.

I take exception with the introduction's implication that making a strong effort to improve is incompatible with having fun. Perhaps This is just a misinterpretation in the way I read the introduction...

anecdote: a friend of mine started playing Go again after years (2 decades?) of not having played. He tried really hard to improve and win his first 9 stone handicap against me but for months didn't seem to make any progress. He finally gave up on trying so hard and instead focused on enjoying himself at the club. Not long after this he made great strides in his level of play -- we've gone from playing 9 stone games to playing 1-3 stone handicap games.

I suggest that for amateur players the most important aspect of playing Go is to have fun. Improving at Go is important only as far as it improves our enjoyment of the game. I have seen far too many players leave a tournament dejected because they had not improved to the level they had set up for themselves (I know I can play at the 2-kyu level, I just had bad luck this weekend). Learn how to savor your games. Enjoy them to the utmost, both your wins and your losses.

some other topic

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