Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Two concepts were presented to me today. One from the book pro-pro handicap go: "The handicap stones [in a 4 stone handicap game] are not effective for gaining territory with. Even more so than in a 5 stone handicap. You have to use the stones to help you fight".

It may seem obvious, but this is something I need to ponder and see if I can apply to my strategy.

Number two comes from browsing sensei's library on the subject of overplay. Personally I dislike overplay. I *try* to stay away from it, but I do overplay more often than I would like to admit. One situation is if I suspect overplay, I might be to eager to punish it and overplay my response to the overplay, which in turn makes my opponents move look like a stroke of genius ;) And of course being a weak player I don't know the proper plays in many situations and sometimes I play wild stones not rooted in the fundamentals.

Point is I always viewed overplay as destructive to yourself and others. I see players with little knowledge of any theory, little sense of shape, no sense of defense and no thoughts on what a "proper" move would be for the situation. They rush through the opening (some trying to trick with odd josekis while others just going for very simple lines of opening play, which is more admirable) just to start as many fights as possible and smother their opponent. Naturally a lot of strange play is seen with us double digit kyus. I used to think that after you have played a while, a certain amount of games, and you reach a certain point or rank were you realize your opponents aren't buying your overplays anymore. You realize they have better grasp of the fundamentals and you end up stuck at a point with little or no progress. Time to hit the books, in my opinion. But in a way that feels like starting over. I always thought I would try to play honte as I see it and try to develop my skill with proper play in mind. But let me qoute what I read that made me stop and rethink the matter:

"You don't learn much by playing underplays; you just lose a game by 10 points, and you aren't sure why. Playing overplays is instructive. When you get punished: you learn something. You'll never find the line between the two if you always play under it... And, if you overplay constantly, your overplays will get smaller and smaller as you learn, until you find yourself playing right on that fine line of "good play", or at least close to it" --Alex Weldon.

Very interesting idea. And coming from a 3dan who must know a thing or two about go this probably has much merit. I guess overplay should not be linked too closely to overly agressive play, or speculative invasions(tm). The "Charge of the light brigade" story from attack and defense has always been something I have thought of when thinking of overplays. One of my reasonings for why overplay is bad is because even though it might be punished, it will sometimes work. Psychologically the brain responds to this sort of random reward. This is how they model alot of online games. Give a small percentage chance of a very good item to drop, and we will continue doing the same thing over and over in hope of it happening again. Same thing with slot machines and other games of chance. Logically we know that we can't "win", since then the slot machines would lose money, and obviously they want to earn money on their investments.

But I will no longer be so arrogant and firm with this belief. I have to realize that the progress of a beginner to a stronger (albeit still weak amateur) player isn't as straightforward as when the fundamentals are more firmly grasped. With no experience of how go works when told what is correct, it is not unreasonable to ask the question "Why?". I would say that it is even a very good trait, considering future joseki study.

There.. That concludes my musings for today.. Soon off to the club! (if you are still reading at this point? my hat off to you)

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