I am a beginner, and I have been playing on a 9X9 board for a month. I was thinking about going over to a bigger board. I am wondering about you all out there. How long did take you to move to a 13X13 board, or alternatively a 19X19 board? When do you think people should make the switch?
The main thing is you. What do you find fun and interesting?
Next is your opponents. If you can get someone to play you teaching games with 9 stones on a 19x19 board, that would be great!
I have always played on a 19x19. In the beginning my opponents had to put up with my silly play. For instance, I used to like to march across the board, knight's move by knight's move. ;-) Maybe I should have been playing on smaller boards. That's not so silly on a 9x9.
One advantage of small boards is that it can be easier to verify whether a play is good or bad. For instance, as you may be aware, on a 5x5 Black can claim the whole board, killing any stone White plays. Even as a beginner you should be able to verify that fact. If you play on large boards with people who are not much stronger than you, you can pick up bad habits because neither of you has developed good judgement about those boards and it is harder to tell whether a play is good or bad.
If you've been playing for a month, you should have upgraded about 25 days ago. At least.
The only purposes served by beginners starting on the 9x9 are a) to familiarise yourself with the rules, and b) to avoid getting bored with the length of the game while you're still deciding whether Go is for you or not.
I disagree with Andrew. I'm 5k on KGS and still like playing 9x9 from time to time.
As long as you have fun playing 9x9 you can play it. There is no "you should upgrade". When you think about going over to a bigger board you can simply do it.
If you are feeling the temptation to play on a bigger board, then do so. As you move to larger board sizes the game only becomes more beautiful. Don't think that you are going to ruin your skills by moving up a size - that just won't happen.
I don't think the previous answers are that useful. It's entirely up to you when you want to move to 19x19, because you'll find that it's a totally different game. Even though the rules are the same, the strategies are totally different. You might learn life and death from 9x9 but life and death on 19x19 is affected by other parts of the board. There is practically no ko-fight (or a very short fight) on 9x9, how on earth are you going to find ko threats? For me I started off playing 19x19 directly and only play 9x9 or 13x13 for fun. If you want to know real GO, play 19x19, but if you're happy with a small board 9x9 or 13x13 there is no need to play 19x19.
My idea is that people that discover Go by themselve will rather start on 19x19, while people that get in touch via others will be introduced to the game via 9x9.
The only advice I would give to beginners is to continue 9x9 forever, even after starting to explore the 19x19 board. It looks difficult, the space is so cramped - but how different is this from invasions?
Personally I've discovered the cycle: started off with 19x19, only later discovered 9x9, and relatively recently promoted 9x9 as a full size game, deserving its own attention. I think that 9x9 is underestimated, discarded too easily as "for beginners only, a phase to leave behind as soon as possible". Although I am against war and everything around it, I use this image: 9x9 is the hand fighting, block-to-block skirmishing, like 19x19 is the full scale war. More precisely: 9x9 is like a brief but intense encounter between two warriors, like a point in tennis: a few lightning fast strokes, down goes the victim.
Oh dear. It appears that most people have misunderstood what I said.
I never suggested that beginners should give up 9x9 entirely after the first few days. I play 9x9 myself from time to time, and I've been playing for 30 years.
But the original question was "when should you start playing 13x13 or larger?". And I still believe that once you've mastered the basics (liberrties, territory, the ko rule, two eyes) it's time to move on. Even if you don't feel comfortable at first. If you don't push yourself you'll never get anywhere.
ilan: Personally, I think 9x9 is much too hard for beginners, and that 7x7 is much better. I played a lot of 7x7 until I was 10K. I think I understood it fairly well, even though 9x9 was a big mystery (and still is).
The debate that arises from this question evolves about the abstracted opposition of two ideas:
One thing I have understood, playing Go and playing the guitar, is: once you are passionate, you wish you had followed a perfect path of improvement but if you hald walked that perfect path from the beginning, perhaps you'd never become passionate.
For a beginner, it might be that he is so passionate that not even the most boring scheme will put him off. Patiently, he walks his way through his tsumego, confining his calculations to 5x5, 7x7, 9x9, only increasing the board size when he masters one, or occasionally playing that 19x19 to keep the sense of what the game feels like. When moving to 19x19 he refrains from fancy moves, sticks to basic technique and learns from the analysis of games when that basic technique is overruled (keeping the tsumego going, of course!).
Truth is, most beginners have yet to acquire the everlasting passion. They need to read joseki books, read pro game commentaries, discuss "Go Seigen's style", play full board games with opening, middle game and endgame, to experience (or not) why this game is so mindblowing. They cannot rely on us telling them the full picture will reveal itself when the time is right.
I believe Bill's comments are often along the lines of "allow yourself to become passionate" while myself and others often take the passion for granted and advocate the ideal rigid scheme that we would have liked to follow ourselves (often differing wildly).
Dieter, your remarks remind me of a cartoon I saw years ago. The maestro is sitting at a music stand beside a small boy holding a trumpet. The boy has a rueful expression on his face. The maestro is saying, "First come the scales. Then comes the soul."