1. What is my favorite go player, the one on which games i focus most of my studys on?
2. What is my own playing style? Do i really yet have one? If not, what style would i play if i could? Is my style, or the one i want to develop, related to my personality?
It is obvious that these questions can be seen as pretty much connected. I think many amateur go players, at some point, pick a professional player which games they study, and to some extend, which style they are trying to adopt. While this is so, the decission which professional player one picks can be made because of much different reasons:
- rational, analytic, reasoning- focussiong on read knowledge or direct analysis … like if one choses a specefic style because it maybe enhances ones own potential… like for example, i like to play very territory oriented and therefore chose Cho Chikun because i know that his style matches well with my own… or the other way round, i tend to play much too risky and agressive, and pick somebody like Lee Changho to cure my bad habbits or to totally change my own perspective/style.
- emotional reasoning, focussing on outside factors.… For example like if you think somebody is a very nice person, or somehow you just feel sympathy. I think this point should not bee devaluated, because go is a hobby for most of us, and one should allways do what feels right… if you like to replay O Meiens games because he has a great kind of humor… why not?!
- emotional reasoning, focussing on game realted factors – but yet indirect. This is the way, i mostly admire professional players at the moment and in the past, i read something about their style, or their way of seeing the game and admire that. For example you read that somebody plays a „Taiji Style“ like Wu Songsheng and you are so amazed by that, that you pick him as your favorite player.
- emotional reasoning, focussing of game realted factors – direct! Not because you read something, heard something, but because you really understand their moves and prefer this style over all the ones of other players you know – in that case it is just pure love 🙂 I would like to reach this state more and more, were i can only focus directly on the kifu, and being able to say: that is a great style, that was a brilliant strategy.
I was allways very much fasicinated by the matter of go history, in particular
by the livestorys of all the great masters and the storys of their famous games – no matter at which time they lift, from Fan Xiping and Shi Ding’an to Lee Sedol & Gu Li.
From the first days of my go journey i was amazed most by the various narratives about different players style.
I think that was because- for me – one of the most fascinatimg charakteristics of the game is it`s freedom… certainly at a professional level, but maybe to some extend allready at amateur play, you really can develop a more or less unique and effective style. Of course even 18kyu players can decide „i will always play 5-5 point in the fuseki“ … but that`s why i said effective … like when if you can really growth with your style and climb to higher levels of understanding with it. (maybe that could be the case with the 18 kyu that plays 5-5 all the time as well?! 🙂 )
A very good example of a great and fascinating describtion of a style is the following:
Takagawa’s style revolved around thick plays that enabled a constant flow of exchanges around the board. He attempted to embody the motto: „Flowing water does not fight what lies ahead.“ As such, he preferred peaceful exchanges and to avoid head-on confrontations. He utilized his thickness by creating a long, drawn out game where he could steadily squeeze his opponent’s groups for small advantages. Often, this would result in a crop of center territory emerging in the late game. Additionally, his thickness would limit an opponent from beginning too many fights (i.e. his thickness would become an advantage in the fight), and would allow Takagawa the flexibility to make exchanges instead of battling head-on. His means for building thickness would be in his early joseki choices and playing of honte moves.
He adopted the ideas of the shin-fuseki — particularly in his 4-4 point openings — and was open to emerging josekies. He was a noted admirer of Honinbo Shuei and would try to emulate Shuei into certain aspects of his play. Takagawa possessed strong & accurate positional judgement — which was a primary result of continual counting during the game. He was known to count at certain time intervals to always update his positional analysis and efficiently use his game-time. This was because, as he explained, he wasn’t a Go genius capable of evaluating positions by intuition or feeling alone. Ishida Yoshio even went so far as to say, „Takagawa in his best games calculated just how the fatigue factor was affecting his opponent and paced himself for the final spurt that gave him the win.“
Regarding Takagawa’s personal assessment, he said: „My go manifests itself in some ways in my liking for Shuei. Basically, it is rational go. It emphasises balance based on counting. I hang on closely in the opening, middle game and endgame and try to sustain thickness and keep on counting to the very end.“
Anyway, a kifu is, or at least can be seen as, a very personal thing… the moves are like thoughts written down in a book, and the moves often can tell a story, the way you tell your story on the goban: that is your style.
Admittedly – quickly after i read this text about Go Seigen … A Fan’s Introduction to Go Seigen … i was picking Go Seigen as my favorite player… but only in a emotional very much indirect way… i could not yet understand his games… or any pro games… and that has only changed slightly up to know. And outside factors, like that what i read about his personallity and his devotion towards meditation were reasons as well, why i choosed Go Seigen as kind of my true „master“. 🙂
I still like what i know about his style from reading, and i try to understand his games better each time i replay them. Some say „Go Seigen is too hard to understand, if you try to play like Go Seigen without a very deep reading ability like he has, you will not get much out of the study of his games“. But i think, that should not be a problem, if you remember to only play moves which variations you read out to a certain degree. And for the study of his games: maybe this is a very wondefull thing to have in a kifu – a loooot of moves about which you are first have no idea what their meaning is… like mystery. You can spend much time thinking about this msytery and deepen your reading, widening your perspective. But i don`t want to go much in this dicussion about the question if it is good or not for amateurs to try to play like Go Seigen. But maybe just one thought about that: if your main goal is archieving a specefic rank -fast-, for example 2. dan within two years , you should maybe only make decission based on rational, analytic, reasons but if you want to mainly enjoy go and „chase your dreams“ you should do what your heart tells you… that is my point of view.
As for his style, i like that he plays fast paced style, the speed he takes in the opening, ending with having some well placed stones all over the board… light in the beginning, efficient and powerfull later. Another thing i love is that he very often ignored the opponent to play where he wants… this maybe is one of the reasons why you see much trades in his games.
Here is something about Go Seigens style found at SL:
Devotee of Shusaku 1-3-5 until 5-dan, then switched to fast-paced style, trying to settle corners with a single move. Co-founder of Shinfuseki. Amorphous style, often making trades based on intuitive assessment of the position.“
Recently i read „The style of Go Seigen“ (a great book!) and i was pretty much assured by that, that it was the right decission, to pick Go Seigen as kinf of role model… even while with rational, analytic, reasoning i would maybe have to chose a more easy to understand pro player, who teaches you, while replaying his or her games, for example, a lot of basic „good form“, „balanced“ or „elegant“ moves like Otake Hideo.
Quick to see things, best player for sharpness of perception; stability increasing with experience (1976). Fond of good shape and abhors vulgar style. His style has been called the „Otake Aesthetic“. Superb at fast play. Most games prefers komoku, but occasionally tries sanrensei.“
As for the place of the second most favorite professional player after Go Seigen i`m very very torn between a lot of different players… recently, for example i was „falling in love“ with Seo Pong-su … yes, sometimes i think maybe i don`t care much about the beauty of good shape or for elegant moves… i just like games with a lot of big fighting, thrilling and risky to play… … here is what SL says about his style:
But at this point you can feel my immaturity as a go player… compared to that if i now again think of the ellegance, for example they say Otake Hideo has, i feel very much torn again, and would think: „maybe that is much better than this „vulgar“ Korean fighitng style… elegant beautiful „Japanese“ go! “ But these kind of thoughts are curious… too much hearsay and useless speculations.
When i play my games, i am pretty often a agressive type of player, i dream of the big kill, of killing a big dragon, even if playing less risky, less agressive would maybe garant me a easy win from time to time, i found my self often in a tunnel vision, having only the goal of killing a big group … don`t ask me why … that`s why i feel attracted by players like Seo Pong-su, Kato Masao, Miyazawa Goro (quote: „Violent style leading to wild fighting makes him popular with go fans.“) , or Rui Nawei. In real life i would not describe myself as being a agressive type of person, but i like to take the initiative, to go ahead with something. I don`t know how the preference for ultra agressive games realtes with my personality… i will have to further think about that.
But let`s take a deep breath now…
I have reached a very good point to come to good conclusion… my understanding of professional players style should not be any longer based on hearsay knowledge … not any longer mainly on reading about them… for example i think i replayed only 3 (!) games by Seo Pong-su up to now, and only in a brief manner on the computer, and maybe i only replayed 2 or 3 games in total ever of Otake Hideo… so how can i really „fall in love“ with Seo Pong-su?! I was just admiring the „stroy telling“ about him… mostly indirect understanding, not much direct! Ok, i read one commented game by him, but i think to really have a opinion about a professional players style… one should study some more kifu of his or her, and not only briefly. Of course that takes time, but in my case, with 29 years old i`m still jung, so i can take the time to do that.
So, my conclusion here: i`m pretty much a emotional charakter, so i think i will never really decide on which pros i like most, purely, out of rational reasons, but i would like to shift from the indirect, mediated, to the direct understanding more and more!
So that means, i will try to focus less on reading texts about professional players or go history and more on replaying and studying their games.
And maybe in the end, when i will have replayed some more games of, for example, Cho Chikun, i will become a peacefull fan of a peacefull territorial style? Mhmm, what about Moyos… mhmm… Shusaku? Or… Dosaku… and i replayed pretty much of Sakata Eio games in the past… and this thing with making shinogi and bringing weak groups to live… ts ts… i would love to play like this… or wait… what was „Taiji Style“ again? … 🙂 🙂
This is a game i was replaying very often, allready years ago, back then i tryed to memorize this game completly, i think i managed the first 110 moves or something like that… still can remember some of it.
It is Sakata Eio vs. Go Seigen, please enjoy this wonderfull game by master Wu 😉
Go Seigen was turning 100 years old on 12.6.2014 … happy birthday Sensei!
Competition and faith are my life-long vocations. Like water and fire, I depend on both. When I couldn’t outrank the others, it was time for me to leave. There are two things in my life: truth and go.”