19k plateau -- teaching game to help?

i get up to 18k then fall back down again to 19k. i can beat folks up to 14k sometimes, even without handicap. but i can’t even beat other 18ks regularly. getting a bit discouraged and could use some teaching.

I noticed that at this level, the best way to win is ignore fightings. Instead, tenuki and play at empty space is very efficient. Do not afraid of losing some stones. After you are comfortable with this, then start fighting, saving lonely stones, make live of lonely stones etc.


Also notice that many times new OGS players enters right near your rank, at 17k if I remember well.
So sometimes a 17-18k might be actually stronger than that (maybe he would be a 12-14k), and just joined with a 17k rank because he might not know his actual rank here.

Another advice I can give you is: do some tsumegos (at your level just 10-15 min/day are more than enough, there are plenty of phone apps or free online resources) and read some basic books (I suggest Otake’s “Opening theory made easy” since it’s very easy to understand and gives you some nice ideas to work on during your games).
I did like that, and gained 4-5 ranks in a few months, starting from a 17k plateau. :slight_smile:
Tsumegos are especially important, because once you start doing those regularly you get used to reading and understand shapes better.

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Well and my advice would be to maybe move to a bigger board. You seem to almost exclusively play 9x9.
You have played enough games to move up.

9x9 is great for practicing fighting which (from just a few games I checked so maybe I am wrong…) you do not seem to like that much (and thats perfectly ok, but a bigger board might suit you better). On 9x9 the rank differences are not that important. The whole game can be lost with one oversight or won with one lucky move… And that can be discuouraging. Give yourself enough time to think about your moves, do not go with your gut feeling and ALWAYS try to find a better move before you play one.

And my biggest and best and most awesomest advice would be: screw ranks. The minute you start caring too much about that number beside your name it stops being fun and you actually start playing worse. (in my experience at least…) It will go up in due time, just wait paitinetly and enjoy the game instead.

If you want a game, sure. I suck at 9x9 though :smiley:


@Adam3141 i don’t like fighting because i’m bad at it haha. so i figured, keep working on 9x9 until i can fight decently. i figure even on larger boards fighting skill is still important. any advice on learning how to fight better?

Well the thing is on bigger boards you do not have to fight that much. If you build a big enough moyo you can spend the rest of the game only defending. At least the whole game isn’t (usually) decided by one fight is what I am saying.

Again, I checked only a couple of games, but I wouldn’t say that you are bad at fighting, it is more like you usually just back up from the fight and only defend (even when your territory is smaller than opponents). To get better at fighting you would have to fight more… But that’s the thing I like about go - that you can find your own style, of course you need some fighting spirit, but if you are not that comfortable about fighting directly, do not force yourself into it too much, there are other paths to victory. Just lean on your opponents, build bigger, or practice living in small areas :smiley: I dunno…

But hey, I am no master myself, so these are just ideas, ok? :smiley:

Just to expand @Adam3141 points a little bit, because I think that’s incomplete. :wink:
Go IS ALL about fighting.
You don’t fight only if you and your opponent agree, placing stones one next to the other saying “OK, you take that, I take this”.
This is the only way a go game could be “peaceful”.

But of course in go only one player could win… so, such a peaceful game could arise only if one of the players micounts his territory: this way he is “agreeing to lose”, because he thinks he is ahead in points while he is behind, and plays peacefully anyway.
After a certain level though, players usually don’t “agree to lose”: once one understands he is behind in points or potential, he will start to fight. So, no matter what’s your style, you WILL HAVE to face fights, either you start them or not.

And here I would like to correct @Adam3141 a bit: when you build a big framework, thus gaining a lot of potential, you are actively looking for fights. Usually building a framework and defending it is a bad idea, and could only work up to a certain level. If your opponent is strong enough and understands you’re “greedy defending” the potential territory you have built, he will find a way to reduce your framework to nothing, and you will lose anyway.
Instead, when you build a framework, you don’t want to defend, but to expand it to a maximum extent. This way you are implicitly inviting your opponent to invade and fight “to your terms” (that is, in an area where you have more stones). And while your opponent could fight and live inside your framework, your objective would be to make him live small and miserable, while gaining advantage somewhere else.

But all this comes with experience, and at the moment you don’t need to worry too much about that.

If you really want to improve, my advice remains the same: tsumegos (so that you become able to read during a fight) and some easy readings/lessons (so that you understand WHEN it’s useful to start a fight, and when it’s not).

Well, sorry if I am being too disrespectfull, you are after all quite a bit stronger than me, but I strongly disagree with this statement :-D.
If one is not comfortable with fighting directly, building bigger and then defending against attacks is a viable strategy (that’s what I think at least). Pressuring your opponent and forcing him into defense while gaining strength and territory that is defendable later when your opponent starts attacking seems to be also quite popular style of play… And I do not consider this strategy to be fighting directly (maybe we just have different ideas about what fighting is… :smiley: )

Well sure, obviously. If it seemed I am implying that you can avoid fights alltogether I apologize, that’s of course not what I meant. I am just saying that I find it “wrong” to be “waiting untill I get good in fighting to move to a bigger board”, because in my opinion it is the bigger board where the emphasis is rather on a good strategy and overall thinking than just winning local fights. It is my believe that if a player is uncomfortable with direct fighting and invasions he should not force himself into such a style of play. There are aggressive fighters and there are more territorial players… Forcing oneself into style that is not comfortable for him will only make one enjoy the game less.

I agree with your post. :slight_smile:
For me, fighting is attacking and defending from an attack. :wink:
Of course, a fight does not need to “come to blood” (i.e. the capture of one group) to be considered a fight.
A fight could be a mutual cut, but also a running race toward the center.

In my previous comment I only wanted to point out that “framework building” players are usually those who welcome fight… at their terms.
Just think about the Chinese Opening: it’s all around inviting the opponent into early invading a specific corner in order to attack him and gain territory in the process.

So my point is that if you are uncomfortable with fighting, you should avoid the “moyo building style”: while building frameworks and defend the potential territory can work at lower levels, it will backfire once you rank up.

If you really want to avoid fighting you should try a more territorial style: place your stones in the most large areas and settle them quickly, so that they become safe and you don’t have to worry about them. Lee Chang Ho was a master in that.

The problem is that, in either style, you will have to fight eventually: if you build moyos, your opponent will invade and you need to kill him, or attack him to gain some other kind of advantage; if you play for territory, you eventually will have to invade your opponent biggest area, so you need to learn how to live without giving him too much.

If you build moyos and your opponent only tries to reduce them from the outside while you defend them, there’s definitely something wrong… either your opponent is miscounting, giving you enough points to win, or it’s you who is miscounting, defending your moyo even if your opponent has more. :slight_smile:
A good player will always know when it’s time to invade your moyo.


I am still terrible at 9x9. At (presently) 4k, I still lose to players in the 10k range who just fight better than me on the small board, though I would feel very comfortable against them at 19x19.

I’m not saying “don’t study fighting”, but I am saying you can get a lot stronger without beating your head against the 9x9 wall if it’s not working for you. There is more to Go than fighting with switchblades in telephone boxes.

Otake might be a bit advanced for what you are trying to learn, or he might not… for something even more basic but still very useful, have you read The Second Book of Go?

As for me, I am going to do some tsumego.

[edit: on the topic, I would happily play a correspondence teaching game with you - send me a challenge.]

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I have just noticed you are playing a 25x25 game. That’s certainly one way to escape the nines prison :smiley: