Since I have not posted something on Go for quite some time, perhaps I can share some things I have learnt from strong Go players and hope that it also helps others. And so this is what a strong Go player told me when I asked him what is the problem with my Go:
“You only try to solve local problems and not global problems.”
And it is like a kick in the brain for me. Indeed it is true. For example, when I send in an invading troop, I only look at making sure that that troop survives but in the process of doing so, my opponent gains better advantage elsewhere. I do not consider other possibilities. This is only one example and nowadays, with this awareness, whenever I make a move, I try to ask myself, am I only trying to solve a local problem and forget the global problem? By solving this local problem, am I creating a bigger global problem?
Another one that I like is this:
“This move means you choose to destroy 10 points and build zero.”
Normally, this is related to one’s lack of the big picture again and what is called the “jealousy” factor. By playing a move that just prevents your opponent from taking a bit of points and not creating any points for oneself, what the opponent will do is just play elsewhere and make more points elsewhere. It is very important to know where the blue ocean is. Competing in a red ocean environment leaves one with little profit.
Besides advice from stronger players, which is absolutely essential in one’s quest to become a stronger player, there are many other things that one can do and for me, besides playing with stronger players and benefit from their reviews, solving life and death problems (tsumego) and tesuji problems is again absolutely important.
If there is one series of books that I can attribute to a significant improvement in my playing strength, it is the Lee Changho Six volumes Tsumego and Six Volumes Tesuji problems. The increase in strength is amazing and I can feel that power, just like those chinese martial arts movies where one learns a new technique or stance or has some of their “chi” points opened. The feeling is amazing.
This set of books is good for anyone that is in the region of 3-4kyu and wishes to breakthrough to the dan ranks. They are very affordable (only RM7.00 per book) and should see one through at least 3dan.
On replaying pro games, I have replayed quite a lot of pro games but at this moment, I do not seem to see much benefit from them (but maybe subconsciously they helped a lot). Compared to playing with stronger players and get their help to comment games which I think is the BEST way to improve, replaying pro games can be time consuming and yields comparatively little results, although replaying pro games can be very enlightening and exposes possibilities. But I still think the time spent vs results ratio still favours playing games with stronger players and getting games commented.
But I do remember distinct improvements when I replayed a Shusaku game against Ota Yuzo, another time when I replayed a Gu Li game and also the first game in Jubango between Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru in 1939. These three I remember distinctly their effect on my game.
Studying joseki? No point for me since I forget them in about a week’s time. But I remember again learning a great lesson when studying the taisha in the lecture by Yang Yilun, on what joseki is all about. I then seem to realise that joseki embodies a lot of things in Go, the concept of miai, the principles of fighting, the principles of positional judgment, etc. But honestly, if you ask me about more variations of a one space low pincer against a komoku kakari, I surrender immediately. I really don’t know many josekis and I don’t seem to be able to remember the sequences somehow, even after trying to remember them repeatedly.