Friday, September 16, 2005

Teaching and being taught.

The go community is great. From the go teaching ladder to the beginners room on kgs, the willingness to teach others about go is very impressive. But something odd has happened to me and my friends on a couple of occasions. Some people get angry. Some people fight back. Worst of all, some people take the review very personally.

We have to respect that people of different cultures react to direct speech differently. This coupled with language barriers and we have a situation where you should think once or twice before speaking. Now. Some teachers are very blunt. So blunt that some may perceive them as rude. Of course the weaker player has done his best, and it can hurt his or her pride to hear this critisism. Don't let it get to you, you don't have to like the teacher to like the knowledge that is passed on to you.

When you teach, try to be mindful of how you put things. This sounds like common sense. But when being taught, remember why you are being taught. None of the comments are about you.. they are about the stones that are on the board infront of you. when you look at them, remove yourself from them and focus on why a move is bad, and how to avoid it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Know your enemy.

I suspect alot of people get rooted in one style of play. Aggressive fighting. Pure territory focus. Big moyos. I want to change it up a little.

I started this entry by saying know your enemy, but that is more an afterthought than my real point in this entry. People play go for different reasons. Some think it looks pretty. What we created between us on the board is peaceful and interesting. Some people are competetive and enjoy winning. Even better when it is an interesting and non-repetetive intellectual challenge, right? It is challenging. It is profound. And it is going to be interesting for the rest of our lives.

Whatever your inspiration for playing, a common denominator is the desire to get better, or stronger as we like to put it in the go world. Some people are lucky enough to just enjoy the game, not caring about winning or losing. These people don't wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat, waking from a nightmare of misplaying a joseki in a crucial tournament. These lucky people... are not reading this blog (if anybody are). But for the rest of us who want to get strong. Dreaming of one day calling ourselves a dan level player. And I have realized that if I want to get better now, I have to try to be more versatile when I play. I have falling into the habit of playing big moyos. While many will argue this is a good style of play, I will say right now I am not good enough to stick with one style. I think my progress will be stagnant if I don't learn how to play territorial go, practise lots of invasions, do lots of fighting and play moyo games. Being able to adapt your strategy is a strenght, this much is obvious. But it is easy to adapt within the sphere of your own comfort zone. Try mixing up your openings a little. 3 star? Fine. Do you know what the purpose of the 3 star really is? Good! Move on to chinese. Bored with playing chinese since everybody else is too? Move to kobayashi. I think it was Kato Masao who spent a month playing one opening until he felt he mastered it totally, and then moved on to the next one. This is actually a great idea, but when you play any opening you should try to USE it correctly. check it out. Find something you like and develop. If you worry about messing up your rank (I understand totally if you do) you can play free games, or open a second account for experimentation.

Some stronger players will probably argue that more important than opening study, or changing your style around, is studying the fundamentals. Do problems and study life and death. Of course. I can't stress enough the importance of fundamentals. But I think alot of double digit kyus play "the same game" over and over again. I know I want to try to go out and do this. Change my style. Add refinement and facets to my technique. To break the single digit kyu barrier ;) And I know it might be tough. Swallowing your pride and losing can be frustrating and difficult. Your confidence may waver, but don't let it. Your rank does not define who you are as a person. I think sometimes maybe you need to take one step back before taking two steps forward. Maybe.