You should look at the board and play wherever you want to. This is the way to get stronger.“
But today i want to try to explore a bit, what this really means, and maybe what this does not mean. First of all, it seems so simple and one could question if this quote makes any sense at all, because we think that we allways play where we want to. I mean, finally every go player chooses a point and makes his or her move, it is not possible not to play where we want, because we, as go players,decide in the end on which intersection of the goban we place our stone. So simple, isn`t it?!
But why then Takemiya Masaki says such a thing „we should play wherever we want to“? think most of you allready know, or maybe at least feel, where against Takemiya is aiming at – our inhibitions, doubts, fears and our obedience. We read a lot of go-theory related things, saw a lot of go lectures, studied joseki, good shape and so on… and all this (of course very usefull and valuable) knowledge is somehow in us, and maybe we understood all the concepts and shapes so in-depth that we can play our own move based on that knowledge… maybe… but maybe we – sometimes – only follow our „inner textbook“, we play moves, because our inner textbook (which means in this case dead knowledge which is more repetition than true understanding) says we should play like this. It is like you learn one sentence in a foreign language, for example: „good morning, have a nice day“ but you only know that this whole sentence is meaning that, you don`t know which word in the foreign language is standing for which word in your own. Same with our go, when we play without being in a constant state of learning, a process of trying to penetrate all levels of the game, we play „dead go“. Go is, not only, but very often, about reading ahead, reading out sequences… and very often, there are so many variations and possibilities… maybe a professional go player, and especially one of the more „creative“ playing kind, like Takemiya, sees 20 possible „good“ moves… or 30? 50? … in a situation where we, with what we think are our „textbook-goggles“, only see for example 3 possible moves and so we spent our time thinking about these 3 moves. Maybe we deep in our heart somehow know that there are much more possibilities in a current situation, but sometimes we don`t want to accept that… we don`t want to see the other possibilities. But please don`t get me wrong, i`m not against studying go theory or textbooks, not at all 😉
What is better: to win a game because we played save, conventional and normal or to loose it, because we tried something out and in the end, learned something?
I go for the second option (mostly). But what does this mean in practice? Should we start playing bizarre moves? Trick plays? Play moves in a joseki sequence from which we know that they are 100% not joseki… and that just because we want to follow Takemiyas idea here? I think the quote is not about that. I think it is more about creativity, but in the context of the attempt to apply go theory. For example: let`s imagine a situation where you play a corner approach and after your opponent answers, you see 2 possible moves, i mean 2 places where you know „if i play here this is joseki“… the first move leads to a joseki you know, the second one is a joseki move as well but it leads to a joseki you do not know very well up to know. So which do you choose? Maybe the second joseki, the one you don`t know, is much more usefull in this particular whole board situation, so it would be a hell of a adventure to try to play it… maybe your opponent knows this joseki and can punnish your mistake, but maybe he or she does not know it either… so it could be much more interesting and instructive to explore the move which is new for you. To make a long story short: i think we should try to play each move with a fresh mind, not ignoring or playing kind of „against“ the inner textbook, but trying to get our own ideas because we understand not because we repeat the textbook-moves …
Maybe you think: i never play like this, i allways play wherever i want to. That`s fine then! In my case, i don`t do it all the time, from time to time i don`t play where i want to because i fear that it could be a terrible mistake, so i play the more save move, often regretting it later.
This should motivate you to play without regrets, and that is not about winning more games, it is about learning more in your games… and actually even (maybe) loosing more games in short, maybe winning more… in the long term.
For example here are two different fusekis, both played by professionals… after white 4 black has a lot of different possibilities, the gogod database shows 13 (!), to play…
So why not, for example playing a 2 space approach with black 1? I don`t say it is better, but as kyu player, we very often play these kind of normal & standard moves like in the black & white diagram. If you feel a strong desire to play a one space approach, no one is forcing you not to do so… i just say, if you think something like „oh why not try something new, why not play a 2 space approach“ and suddenly there appears the little „kyu-player-textbook-devil“ in your mind whispering: „play the move you know… just play like you allways play, you wan`t to win or not? So don`t risk anything“ don`t listen to him, play your move.
Ah, and one more little (big) thing: of course it only make sense „to play wherever you want“ if you review your game after you play it and find out if your move was a good move… and if not, it will not be – hopefully – your move again in the next game 😉
Image source and a interesting text „Takemiya about teaching“ https://www.usgo.org/news/2013/08/takemiya-on-teaching/