I really enjoy GoMagic as a platform, so I posted some reviews back then that the GoMagic crew also published on their website as guest content: https://gomagic.org/go-magic-courses-reviewed-by-a-go-teacher/
I finally found some time to do the new courses that released since then and figured I’d share some more impressions
Its a bit long, but at least I hope my writeups inform you a bit better if those pieces of content will be helpful for you or not
Also quick disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the site, but the courses are premium content and cost money as they are relatively long. I do think the content is worth it though, especially for teaching practical concepts. There are some free courses that you should absolutely check out though!
Have fun reading!
Huang Longshi : Legend of Blood and Tears
Aimed at: 10k to 5d
It is another historical course focussing mostly on the games of a bygone era. It does not contain a lot of directed improvement for players, but the historical tidbits and context is still unique enough to warrant a look.
The course is relatively concise at around 3 hours and mostly focussed on the historical backdrop of Huang Longshi and a focusses more deeply on a few of his games. It is endlessly fascinating to watch this bygone period through the eyes of a go player who clearly invested a lot of time and love into understanding and researching those games (Thanks Vadim!), which makes these a wonderful excursion to a time with no handicap, set start positions, group tax and a complete disregard of corner territory. At the end you’ll get some more bonus contents with problems and games by Huang Longshi, so you can dive more into his time period after Vadim gave you a great push to understand more yourself.
The course was fun and Vadim is clearly in his element. It is a bit unfortunate that the historic courses naturally tend to focus less on the step by step improvement of the viewer, as the Quizzes and extra content is naturally focussed on more historical content that will not be on a fitting strength level for most go players. Even if lower level Kyu players will definitely enjoy the course, the difficulty of the quizzes and required understanding for more intricate sequences definitely is aimed towards high SDK/low Dan levels. I feel like an additional section focussing on a single shape that appeared often (like the sideways bump to defend or the big horse jump openings) might have given this course another educational angle to round out it’s fantastic historical retelling.
Very good course, even if I wouldnt count it among the strongest courses to show off the advantages of GoMagic as a platform. If you are interested in historical developments of the game of Go, you absolutely don’t want to miss it though.
Typical Mistakes 2.0
Aimed at: 15k to 5k
The continuation of the first Typical Mistakes video contains another treasure trove of hints and go concepts to grow from, as its so easy to see the positional mistakes mentioned in the course in your own game at that player strength.
The course contains about 3,5 worth of content and quizzes and is a mix of some VERY useful concepts, like when to tenuki, when to focus on sides, when to sacrifice stones and more. Its a good collection of some of the greatest road blocks people in the 15k-5k eventually hit, enhanced by a good selection of quizzes for each topic to show the effectiveness of the learned content.
To get some constructive criticism out of the way, the course is not aimed up to 1k. If you have reached 1k or even 3k, this course will not offer any concepts that you have not already understood and practiced extensively. I would recommend changing that The first lesson on ataris also seems a bit out of place, as its a much more beginner focussed topic than the rest (and would suit Typical Mistakes 1.0 better). Other than that though, its an absolutely fantastic course for the skill range 15k-5k, containing great content, entertainingly presented, with good quizzes.
The course is a mix of some VERY useful concepts, that you are guaranteed to get stronger from at a certain play level (15k - 5k) and a great way to show how this type of content with integrated quizzes makes learning even more complex topics much, much less strenuous and simply… more fun. Its a great course that I would highly recommend for go learners in that play strength and a great way to show off the platforms strengths.
Defensive Tesujis in a Nutshell
Aimed at: 15k to 5k
This course is focussing on the idea of playing slightly less optimal defensive moves that will save you a lot of headaches later. It is a brilliant idea for a go course and you’ll get much inspiration and appreciation for these defensive moves.
Content: The course is a shorter (and free of charge) piece with only around an hour worth of content. It starts off with a very well explained concept of “pulling back a bit, to gain security” which is a very nice concept to learn in the times of AI, and then expands on that core idea with some shapes and situations where sacrificing stones will give you a much stronger position.
Opinion: I have written more elaborate feedback about my criticism to GoMagic for this course, but I think its good to be aware that this course is not as well structured as the other GoMagic courses and you dont need to feel bad if you arent able to follow it easily. It starts off with a great introduction, that is also interesting for 15k players and then immediately goes into explanations that might be a bit challenging even for a 5k to fully understand. There is VERY good input here, but you might need to work harder to understand it. The new screencast format worked very well, with the exception of the jarring stone sounds, but I think Alexey is a great addition to the team if future courses are a bit more structured and really hope the team and Alexey are talking about adding two more videos to the course to give it a better structure. Definitely very interesting insights and a HIGHLY interesting topic that deserves a bit of an overhaul in the future to be more useful as a learning and teaching resource If you are a lower level kyu player, its fine to just soak up the first video and its idea and keep the other 2 videos for a few months later. You’ll gain a lot more from them then!
Basics of the 5-3 point
Aimed at: 15k to 5k
This course is pretty much a prime candidate for showing the usefulness of GoMagic as a platform for teaching content, with a perfect blend of explanations, quizzes and inspiration that works even for other content creators. It focusses on the meaning and variations of the 5-3 points and succeeds at doing what it aims to do: demystifying the 5-3 point and inspiring you so you get to use it yourself!
Content: The course has around 2 hours worth of content, starting with the very basics of what 5-3 means, what you should prepare for, what overall strategic ideas you can apply to it and then dives into the most common and most useful variations, including the mightily scary Taisha.
I think the biggest praise I can give this course is making me finally understand the basic rhythm of the Taisha. When you stare at a million variations, not knowing where to start/what to remember, it all blurs into the background of ones memory, but by allowing the viewer to think about each move individually, letting them guess each move and explaining the reasoning behind them, GoMagic has found a way to actually teach something that didnt want to stick to my brain in the past 6 years. The course offers a great progression, easy access to strategic ideas of 5-3, some very inspiring opening ideas from Pro Games and some more complex Joseki that all just “clicked”. It just makes sense and this course actually empowers you to play moves you might have never even considered before. Matthew is a great addition to the team, the quizzes were topical and very informative and the progression and difficulty curve was pretty much perfect. I could have done with a less exhaustive Terminator joke, but other than that, I hugely look forward to more content in the future!
Not sure what to say, other than: Very good course, great new content creator and you should absolutely check it out if you are curious about 5-3.