Did anyone here start learning in their 40s, and how high have you gotten?

I understand that learning Go when you’re younger is optimal, but those of us who started in our 40s can’t really change that.

So I’m curious:

  1. Did any of you start to learn Go in your 40s?
  2. How high have you gotten in rank? (specify server/association for that rank)
  3. How long did it take you to reach that rank?
  4. And how focused have you been (or were you) on learning & improving?

I realize that most stories will be complicated (I stopped learning for 2 years, etc.), and anecdotal data isn’t real data, but I’m still curious!

Edit: I’m strictly looking for info about people who started in their 40s, not info on the factors of learning (time spent, how focused/obsessed you are), nor anything about how high it’s possible to get at any age. Just info on people who started in their 40s.


To start us out: I started learning 2 years ago (at the age of 44), stopped after about 4 months, started learning again last month, and am now at 13k on OGS at the age of 46. During the few months I’ve studied, I’ve been very focused on learning and improving.


I started at 37 (close enough to 40?), just celebrated my one year anniversary at the very end of October this year (now I’m 38), am 13K on OGS, and only played on the 9x9. I spent the first half of the year playing Correspondence games and the second half playing 10s/turn Blitz games. I dabbled in Tsumego (really not worth mentioning as a learning source) and spent 4 months playing study games with new players.

I invested a decent amount of time into learning Japanese and Chinese rules. I also learned New Zealand and Tromp Taylor, but they differ so little from Chinese it isn’t really worth mentioning. I’ve got a firm grasp on AGA as well. Most of my experience comes directly from playing games and playing heavily with variations (working on my “reading” skill) in the Correspondence games.

My time is limited and I really enjoy the quick nature of the 9x9. I’ve played a dozen or so of 13x13 blitz games and really enjoyed them. But 9x9 is where it’s at for me. Warfare is great and all, but I live for knife fights in telephone booths :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. ← Reference to the life and death nature of the 9x9 versus the grand strategy of the 19x19.


Thanks for the great reply! Not in your 40s, but close enough. :slight_smile:

I appreciate the info, and your passion for 9x9!


I learned the rues when I was about 17, played a bit against some friends and very weak AIs around 25. Guess I was around 15-20k at that time. I started to play again and more seriously (but with long interruptions) when I was about 40. I’m a ~6-7k correspondence player here (about 15 years later). OTB more likely around 10k.


There’s another thread about an age survey and people also shared stories about how they got into go. There seem to be some relevant responses in there.


Over 50 when I began to play “seriously”, encountered the game first around age of 7, then again a few times every 10–12 years but never really got the hang resp. found people to play with.

Now I’m 62 (and a half :grin:), I’m ~9k on OGS (correspondence only), my EGF rank (13k) is based on two tournaments in 2012 and 2013.

Never really studied seriously … read in quite a few books, though not continuously, as my brain threatens to explode :exploding_head: if I concentrate on one thing for too long :roll_eyes:


I started playing go in 2016, age 48.
Now I am 9k on Ogs and 12k on EGD.
My goal is to achieve SDK also on EGD.


Maybe I don’t count as I first learned go in the 90s but then had a 20 year gap until I was 41. I might have got to about 17k initially and then with about three years of deliberate effort to improve in my 40s am now 9k ogs and 11k BGA. I do feel I have hit something of a ceiling now though.


I started when I was 51, slightly outside your window.

Currently stuck at 12k OGS, but you couldn’t say I’m trying that hard. “Casual” rather than “focussed” has been my learning. It took about a year of playing correspondence, 100-150 games depending how you count, to plateau at “nearly SDK”.


Still can’t believe you’re so old :joy:


Awesome responses, thank you everyone! SDK seems pretty doable, from the responses here, if you’re fairly serious. I’ve even heard of people making 1d or higher, but it seems fairly rare for our age.


I’m only 31, but I managed to hit dan only because of constant and consistent studying over about 2 years.

The thing about people that get stuck is that they tend to not put in the time to learn new things in the opening and fighting, and tend to just play a lot of games or don’t commit to a study routine. They also tend to not do any real reviewing, which is the most important part of getting stronger.

So if you study theory and do reading problems before a game, and play with a long timer so you can take the time to read and judge, and then fully review the game afterwards, you’ll get stronger. I know a guy in his 60s that hit dan recently (but claims he isn’t a real dan).


I do not think that age has anything to do with it. I study a great deal about the human brain, the science of learning, how aging affects our capacity to learn, and degenerative diseases like Alzheimers, Dementia, and Parkinsons. I can wholeheartedly tell you that the human brain is not limited as we get older.

Poor lifestyle choices, dwindling physical and mental exercise, and a lack of detoxification as numerous elements and chemicals reach critical levels from around age 50 and onwards, all contribute to the appearance of cognitive troubles as people get older. Changes in those areas can lead to a complete removal or dramatic improvements in a persons health and mental performance. Those who never make mistakes related to their health rarely suffer such drawbacks to begin with.

From what I have read and heard spoken in Go communities, just about nobody makes it to Dan level without focused study, deliberate practice, and a determined effort to bridge the gap between SDK and Dan. No matter a persons age, if you do not invest the time, then you will likely never cross the line. There are always a few edge cases, but for just about everyone else, that’s the only way in.

Age may not be just a number when it comes to physical athleticism. However, new science is showing that in the mental world, the gap between the young and old is far smaller than ever previously thought :wink:


I don’t disagree with you about the factors that hold older players back (mostly time and focus, in my experience) … but none of that negates what I said. Getting higher than 1d is fairly rare for people who started in their 40s (as compared to people who started in their 20s or younger).

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Out of curiosity, may I ask how you’ve come to this conclusion? To my knowledge there is no existing body of data or study that correlates the age of when a player started Go and the highest rank obtained in their lifetime.


Started in my late 40s. Too lazy too learn the game, bored by all the complications, annoyed by the explanations way above my head, frustrated by not finding a strategy and not fond of games that go on for too long. Ended up playing only very fast and short games against the computer, like short breaks in between whatever else I am doing. I see it as no more than tic-tac-toe, just to have a short pause.

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No hard data, besides surveys. Mostly anecdotal. But I’ve asked the question here and on the Go subreddit, and talked to a bunch of Go players. There are very few dans who started learning in their 40s, and zero pros. Compare that to the number of dans and pros who started learning when they were kids, teens, or in their 20s. Pros tend to peak in the 20s and early 30s as well — not just for Go, but chess — according to studies.

There are lots of possible factors, not just brain capabilities. Like I said, time spent and focus on the learning are probably two of the biggest. But I’d be willing to put money on this conclusion if we were to gather some real data.

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With this being your conclusion. I wonder how many people even start Go at 40+. I bet that number is extremely small compared to the kids, teens, and 20’s groupings. If data gets compared, the data should be adjusted to take this facet into consideration.

I wholeheartedly agree that time invested by 40+ is going to be dramatically smaller. Full time jobs, families, and life responsibilities are generally brutal across the board :expressionless:


I encountered first time go at university when I was 23. In Italy go is almost unknown, even now. Apart the basic rules and some deep diving in complicated matches w/o any knowledge of the very basic strategies, I started studying a couple of book (no rank) but after that stopped for almost 20 years (you know: family, kids, work, …) But I realized that go is the most profound game I ever met (that time I was a collector of strange board games). When I was around 45 I started again studying basic books (4-5 titles from Ishi Press for beginners) and reached 8k on DGS quite easily in 1 year. Then, I stopped again until now (I’m now 53) and I’ve just re-started studying on more advanced books. I’m still walking back along the ladder to recovery from my 17k when I restarted in October. I’m now around 11k in DGS. I don’t know where I can arrive, but a thing is sure… studying and having a “constant” tension to improving itself and learning attitude are crucial factors to progress. I stopped around 45 when I reached 8k because I understood that w/o a complete knowledge of josekis you cannot progress more than 7-9k. So decided to start studying josekies in a systematic way… but… suddenly the pleasure of playing jamming between books and match on DGS has been overwhelmed by an annoying attempt to memorize josekies. Here I am again. Who knows what will happen if and when I will reach again 8k. OGS offer an on-the-fly joseki dictionary so cool that you can learn joseki slowly consulting it when needed during the game.

Interesting to see that here there are a lot of 40-ies (and more) go lovers.