January 16, 2015

The Learning Process

Go is a journey, not a destination (lifted almost verbatim from Hikaru no Go :P ). I find that my journey presents a definite pattern with regards to my learning process.

1. Studying:
At the beginning of my learning cycle I rarely play (usually a bad idea) and become obsessed with studying. It feels like I am making huge strides as I solve problems and research strategies. Spirits are high.

2. Despair:
Once I leave the studying phase and begin playing games I quickly learn that the concepts/techniques I studied are difficult to apply in real game situations. Self-loathing sets in and I usually stop playing all together. You can see when this phase sets in because I turn on vacation mode on my OGS account.

3. Burgeoning confidence:
Eventually, I get over myself and start playing games again. After about a dozen frustrating losses I manage to get a handle on the concepts I am trying to integrate into my game. My rank usually improves 1-2 stones over the next, approximately, 20 games.

4. Frustration:
As I reach the limit of my improvement for this particular cycle I become frustrated that I am no longer winning as much. Perfectly natural, but still irritating.

After Frustration, I come, full circle, back to the studying phase. 

I have found it useful to recognize these stages. Particularly the Despair phase. When I see I am coming up on that stage I try to play more games in order to get through it as quickly as possible. I am not always successful, but I get a little better each time.

Really, that's the goal with go. You just need to become a little better every day. Recognizing and understanding your learning process can help you fine tune your approach to learning the game. 

Keep at it! Try to figure out what works best for you. It isn't easy, but few things worthwhile ever are. :)

January 4, 2015

Play a lot of games

It's easy to get sucked in to studying go, but rarely playing. I have this problem a lot. I enjoy the feeling of progress I get from studying, but I tend to ignore playing actual games. So, when I finally get around to playing competitively it turns out that I haven't advanced as much as I thought.

Studying is great, but you need to apply those lessons in competitive situations. In order to get myself playing more games I have joined a league. At the very least, I have to play everyone in my class (E2) over the course of January. I find that I am eager to play extra games, to make sure I am sharp for a competitive league game.

The moral of the story is, play a lot of games. The real world experience of competitive games is an integral part of getting stronger at go.