For some introduction see:
As go players, we might all have at least one thing in common: we want to get better… we strive for a deeper understanding of the game… we want to play the best move.
So, you all heard this a thousand +1 times: the best way in order to get better is tsumego practise. There are some of you who may kind of dislike this reminder, and dislike to do tsumego in general, some will fully have acepted this allready, and will do tsumego regularly… and there is a third category: the undecided, somhow torn.
I have to admit that i was part of the third catergory… until i asked myself (again) truely: „Why am i playing go, and what, if anything, am i trying to achieve with it?“
I have no simple, „one sentence answer“ to this question, but the following text is, maybe, partly, a kind of atempt to answer it.
But why was i undecided? Torn between what? I think the truth is that i was torn between my love for go and my self-doubts that i ever will become a strong player. I was looking at all these hard tsumego, and i really often thought: „Yeah, go is really a cool thing, but i will never reach a state of mind, where i`m able to solve these tsumego“.
And still i think they are not easy for me, it will take me a lot of training to solve such problems within a more or less normal time. I think i`m really not talented when it comes to go, i have to push my self very hard to improve. But i think that`s one of the reasons why i play go…
In the last days i often thought of Demosthenes, he was a orator of ancient Athens. My mother used to told me about him from time to time, espacially in those situations where i had to face a bigger challenge. As you might know, Demosthenes is said to was a stutterer, and to overcome his weaknesses, he was making it even harder for himself to talk: putting pebbles in his mouth while he was training his speeches. When it comes to go, i feel like Demosthenes: having kind of a handicap, but at the same time having the merciful fate to have the will and chance to overcome that.
And maybe, i`m as handicaped like most of everybody else… i think a lot of people just playing go, because they like it, not because they think they have a big talent for it. But maybe, some people whoe are realising that they have not really any great talent
… maybe they stop before trying to become a dan player … but that is just „maybe“. From the first day when i started to learn how to play go, i was in doubt if i ever will become „good at it“. So… „good at go“ … first i saw everybody who could win against me as being „good at go“ even a 16 Kyu from the go club, who just learned the rules 2 weaks before i started… was in my eyes „somebody who is good at go“. As we all know, even when reaching a amatuer „dan“ grade, one should not really think that one is now „good at go“ … i think even 1p`s (professional 1dan) or even modest 9p`s, don`t really think they are just „good at go“. There is allways a way to improve allways somebody who is better… like for nearly all amateurs all pros will remain forever „better at go“.
And that is on of the wonderful things when it comes to go: „You will find no end in go“
(And by the way, some of you might have the potential to reach some kind of very high, nearly pro strength level one day! Why not?! Benjamin Teuber from Germany for example was beating once Alexandre Dinerchtein… in a even game! So a 6dan amateur could beat a pro… it`s not impossible.)
So, that being said, there is only a relative way of being able to say „i`m good at go“ … maybe what matters is not the actual state, but the progress one makes, one has made,… how i was at go… and how i am now: „I´m better at go now, than i was before“ That is what i`m striving for. Another thing one can read or hear a lot when people are talking about this „how to get stronger“ topic is: „the stronger you are, the more you can enjoy go“…. i feel that this is very true. I was enjoying Go allready when i was 18 kyu… but it`s true, it`s becoming more and more fascinating, the stronger i become.
So, back to the question: „Why am i playing go, and what, if anything, am i trying to achieve with it?“ There are soo many things why i play go…
- Simple because i enjoy it whenever i play a game
- i can enhance my concentration ability
- i can fight against inner bad habits like: hotheadedness, sluggishness, slackness, even hesitancy and insufficient kiai
- it`s kind of a meditation
- generally: development of inner qualities (whatever that means :-D)
So and while i`m allready in love with go for some years now, i of course want this „the stronger you are, the more you can enjoy go“, of course i want to enjoy go even more! 😀
So how to get stronger? And big question: will i ever reach this magical land called „dan“?! Of course i could now tell you that i don`t care if i will become a dan player one day… that i would be happy if i stay, for example at 4 kyu forever, maybe reaching 1 kyu with 50 years 😀 … but that is not true… i think one can not lie about that: we almost all sooner or later want to become dan players. Not tomorrow, but soon, as soon as possible… or am i not right? 🙂
But i think there will allways be this strive… if i am 1 dan, i strive for 2 dan, than 3 dan … allways trying to improve… and i think: the day i will stop striving, i stop playing go. So, i strive… you strive, we all strive… and you maybe ask yourself now: is this just another text that tries to – again – convince me to do more and more intense tsumego study? The answer is: yes. Maybe solving L&D and tesuji problems is not the only way to get better, i’m sure one could reach a high level just by reviewing own games and studying pro games, but anyway, i did made this decission: for me tsumego study will be always essential. Sometimes in real life, or on the internet one comes across somebody who saying something like „oh, i hate tsumego, i only do it seldom and without much pleasure“ thats ok, nobody has to do it. But i think: sooner or later really complicated L&D situations (or the possibility to find a game deciding tesuji) will appear in your games… and when there is a L&D situation in your game, are you than saying: „i hate L&D problems, but i love go!?“ that does not make much sense for me. And when you do a lot of tsumego, you can somehow control your progress better.
Aactually i recently learned in a „Yunguseng Dojang“ lesson that Cho Chikun once said: playing Go is like solving one big L&D problem“
I think if you not like the actual process of solving a problem, why you like to play go then? Because the stones are looking just sooo beatiful? Anyway, i decided to fully focus on Tsumego (mainly L&D & Tesuji) recently, and i think this will go on for the next few years, maybe for the rest of my go playing life, i fell like this is, for me, the only way to go: learning to read as acurate and deep as possible.
Because of writing this in english i don’t feel that it is easy to really express myself… and this article is not very well structured 😀
What do i mean by „focus on L&D“ ? While i did Tsumego before as well what is different now?
I think the attitude and the self confidence changed. When i see a hard problem now, i think: i will be able to do this one day, maybe soon, i will keep studying and it is possible that i finally will be able to even solve the hard or even hardest problems. Because i realized that go is of such importance for me, that i will take it serious, and study it serious. And this thing with „being talented“ or not… it just does not matter (if you not striving for a professional career). For some people tsumego are a bit harder, for some more easy… anyway, almost everybody can learn to solve tsumego…. but it costs effort, and i was the first time in my go life really ready to make this effort.… no more being torn and doubtfull. I will study tsumego and again tsumego, and than tsumego, and after that: tsumego.
And by the way: i like it, it`s fun 😉 So… i realized that i will have to seriously „fight“ to become stronger, and that i will fight this „war“ with pleassure: for it is the war of overcomming oneself.