Getting frustrated about getting frustrated?

I know that I should expect to lose more than I win starting out, I know the proverb “Lose your first 50/100 games quickly,” I’ve been told multiple times that rank and rating aren’t the end-all-be-all. This post isn’t about that, but I guess some might call it a “by-product” of that (I’m not entirely sure myself).

Recently, there have been times where I find myself getting frustrated/ashamed about getting frustrated about rank. When I get frustrated after a series of losses, I’ll start asking myself “why are you getting so worked up over this?” But instead of helping to get out of that frustrated mentality, those thoughts end up furthering the frustration. Instead of “there will be plenty more matches to come, and plenty of opportunity to improve” I end up thinking “are you seriously that petty that you’re going to get angry over something like that?”

I’m posting this here both to see if this happens/has happened to anyone else, and also I guess to get advice on how to not fall into this spiral of being angry about getting angry. I love the game and I don’t want these periodic negative thoughts to end up defining my experience more than the positive ones. I’m afraid that if I don’t find some way to get out of the self-demeaning mindset, the game will stop being fun for me and I really don’t want that to happen.

(btw if I posted this in the wrong category, feel free to move it to the proper one.)


I think we all go through this emotion once in a while, especially at the beginning when we like to think how quickly we’re improving or whatever :wink:

It doesn’t work that way, and yes, it is unhelpful, and yes, there are THOUSANDS of games to come, all of them FAR more interesting than these first 100, I’d rather say, 500.

It takes freaking time to get to know this game, even in the most superficial 10k kind of way.

There’s not that much to tell. DO LOSE those first 100 games quickly. It will help you get a feeling for how a game runs, its phases, opening / middle /end, it’s typical fights - corner enclosuers, settling in enemy territory, attacking a huge dragon (many stones without eyes that get chased around)… making your own weak groups and wondering why the game is so difficult… etc. etc.

You will then also start to get a feeling of your strengths, weaknesses and playing style. And that may change a lot at the beginning, so never settle at “this is how I play” or “this is how strong I am”.

It just is a great, incredibly complicated (and yet so simple!) game that you have to take one step at a time. Surely I make that mistake again and again, thinking I can skip some steps. But you can’t. It is a lot of work getting from 25k to 10k, and even more - I assume - from 10k to 1k. Getting all frustrated is understandable, but you simply have to get over yourself and either go on playing another game, or just take a break or just do some tsumegos - in a bad streak (we all have them), it is better to just stop for a while and do some lessons, read a book, whatever. Not getting your head banged up.

Also: when you start to expand your understanding, often you will play WORSE for a while! That was really the toughest for me at the beginning. But the reason is, your style starts to change, you make different moves, but you’re not yet understanding them. So suddenly you are in unknown territory but without a guide or a map. This will never go away, as far as I can see. Just continue to experiment, read a book, get some help from stronger players, go to a club.

Hope this helps.


Happens to be all the time still after 3 years of effort at improving and reaching about 10k. I get annoyed at being annoyed about losing a game. It’s not like I’m particularly competitive as a person and it’s not about being beaten in a game. I think it’s more about knowing I’ve made mistakes and feeling cross about that. I can offer you no help!

I think it’s a question of being able to accept those feelings rather than trying to reject them. Saying to yourself “Well, I wish I wasn’t like this, but I am, and that’s okay.”. It’s not as if you’re an exception in getting frustrated over losing, it happens to plenty of people, myself included. Aim to improve your reactions, rather than immediately getting frustrated at them.

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My teacher advices me to focus on the new thing that you have been able to play on the board. Read out the ladder correctly? Used a snapback to take stones? These are an achievement and shows you have progressed, whether you have won or not. Also, my teacher tells that progress appears in better winrate, not the secured win the next game.
Also, my teacher advices not playing when you have lost the game and gotten frustrated. This only leads you to play vulgar moves out of emotions and hinders you from acquiring good moves.


I can’t offer advice as I’m still in this phase myself, but I wanted to post so you know that you are not alone in this feeling. This was something I was thinking about recently. I played go against friends a long time ago and one friend of mine got much better than me very quickly. I felt extremely frustrated in the same way that you describe in that I was unhappy that I was unable to hold my own against my friend anymore. I was also unhappy with the fact that I couldn’t put aside that frustration. I just started playing again now and honestly, just acknowledging this feeling in myself has been somewhat helpful in just trying to focus and learn what this game is about.

I think this is a common feeling no matter what you are learning. Vulnerability to being wrong and failing seems to be a key part of getting better at something.


Nothing wrong with getting frustrated about rank. People will tell you “your head’s in the wrong place” and maybe they’re right. But getting frustrated because your rank isn’t going up is just a sign that you care about getting better for one reason or another.

What you’ve described for the “series of losses” is tilt. And the solution to tilt isn’t usually to play more games – your game quality will suffer and you will only get more tilted. It’s usually to take a break, step back. Maybe you’re hungry. Maybe you’ve got something else that might be fun to do. Maybe you’re just stressed and taking it out on yourself for the game. If tsumego or looking at a pro game is relaxing to you, you can maybe do that.

The deal is you need to not do what you are doing to get yourself tilted and relax.


Getting frustrated about losing (which is at the basis of getting frustrated about getting frustrated) is something you should get out of your system by simply getting used to it. That is one of the main reasons for losing your first 100 games. There is nothing you can do about losing most games, since your opponent could be simply better at the game (and there’s always a better opponent, who will beat you more than 95% of the time, however strong you get).

What I find a lot more difficult, however, is not getting frustrated by the reason I’m losing a game. Specifically the ones I lose because of an obvious mistake in the late game after I had been ahead for the whole game, sometimes even by a mistake that I know (in the back of my mind) to be a mistake at the time of playing it.

This latter frustration is not because of losing, or because of being bad at go, but it is because of something which was entirely preventable, had you just calmed down and put a little more thought in your move.


I think there are some things you can do about it.

One thing is to look at your win-loss ratio and choose your next opponent accordingly.

Once you get past 25k barrier (which you so nearly are) then you will be able to go “Oh, I have lost more game than I have won now, I better find a beginner to play with”.

AND you will be able to go “Oh, I have won more games than I have lost, I better find someone better to get challenged again”

It is important to play up and down, for a number of reasons - this is only one of them.

The other thing that you can do when you are 25k at OGS is to look at your rank graph.

Yours is very encouraging: it’s heading straight up. I wish mine was like that…



It is naturally frustrating to lose. You are sincerely investing yourself in a new activity that you very much desire to excel at. A lot of time and effort is being expended towards improvement in this new endeavor. The very nature of improvement in this hobby requires that you not only gain experience, but that you also be critical of your performance. Part of that is analyzing how you think and why you do the things that you do. Most of what you learn will be in hindsight, where it is painfully clear where you went wrong and why. Even worse, is when you repeatedly fall victim to similar situations but cannot seem to determine why.

As you struggle to grow, feelings of vulnerability and disappointment will be constant companions. Over time you will become well acquainted with this evolutionary process, and these troubling feelings will no longer affect you as deeply. It will always be possible to fall prey to negative feelings that can arise from this sort of self-critical endeavor. But there is beauty there too, which you already know. So when times get tough, and they will… try to remember and focus upon the positive reasons that you play Go.

You are not your rank. It does not represent your potential as a person. It does not quantify who you are or what you are capable of in the future. It will ebb and flow over time and somehow you must find a way to come to terms with this. I have struggled deeply with this issue and my solution has been to only play ranked games every once and a while. When I am in a competitive mindset, am well rested, and only if my environment is free of distractions. I play ranked games every one to three months, for 20 to 50 matches.

A little while ago I was a 16K. I played several ranked games and dropped to an 11K, after a string of victories. I continued to play and I experienced a string of losses. I remember thinking the energy I felt was akin to gambling and trying to “win big”. I played a little bit more and got back to 13K. But I wanted to go back to 11K, so I pushed forward; though I was feeling pretty nerve wracked at this point. Moving forward I dropped to 15K, then all the way up to 12K, back to 14K, up to 13K, and when I dropped to 14K again, I called it quits. I’ve been a 14K for a little while now.

I get so miserable when I play ranked games, because I feel like I never know where I stand. I never know what rank I truly have and every time I start to feel confident about my rank, I’ll get a reality check from the universe. I honestly feel that my ranks jumps because my knowledge base is uneven. I’m good at some things but pretty lousy at others. When I encounter the opponents where my good qualities can shine, I do well. But when those qualities are child’s play to other opponents, I experience loss. I realize this is unhealthy and I realize the problem lies within me. So, much like an argument that is escalating past the point of no return, my answer to this problematic situation is simply to take myself out of it.

I remove myself and I return to playing with Go like a toy. I approach it with the mindset that I am here to have fun. I still review my games and I practice my reading with variations in Correspondence games. I teach new players to play and sometimes I read an article or three at Sensei’s Library. I hop on the forum and connect with other Go enthusiasts. I peruse Go inspired art and play casual games with my children.

There are so many different ways and reasons to enjoy Go. And when I feel especially lost, I connect with and experience as many of them as I can. Trying to remind myself why I am here and of what is really important; that Go is a cherished hobby that I pursue in order to have fun and to grow as person.


This ↑↑↑, this right here should become a personal mantra. When you notice your emotions beginning to change because this toxic mindset is in starting to set in, repeat the words in the quoted text to yourself. Because these are good words. And they reflect how you truly feel in your rational brain.

When this type of mental darkness begins to encroach, I have similar thoughts. Things like: “I must not allow Go to become another negative vector in a world obsessed with objectifying people as statistics. It cannot be treated like some tool that enables me to pass judgement on myself. It must not become some sort of masochistic exercise I engage in that damages my self image.

Some excerpts taken from an article in Psychology Today: Powerful Two-Step Process to Get Rid of Unwanted Anger.

As much as anger is the emotion that prepares your entire body for fight (vs. fear-inspired flight), you must find a way of discharging this non-productive “fighting energy” before you do anything else. You need to know that, to “do battle,” experiencing significant anger automatically activates every muscle group and organ in your body.

Broadly defined, all anger is a reaction to some perceived threat, so it naturally serves as the body’s evolutionary cue to ready itself for combat. Thus mobilized for immediate—and impulsive—action, any “stalling” reflectiveness would be a handicap. So anger affects your thinking quite as powerfully as it does your body.

Since anger readies your mind (not just your body) for battle, once the emotion overcomes you, you’ve lost the ability to objectively assess the situation. At this point, your thinking is no longer driven by your more evolved, rational neocortex (or “new brain”), but your much more primitive, survival-oriented, simple-minded midbrain (as in, “Me right, you wrong!” Or “Me good, you bad!”).

Because your thinking is now exaggerated or distorted, if you’re to retrieve any emotional equilibrium—so you can re-evaluate the situation from a more reasonable, adult perspective—you’ll need first to find some way of settling yourself down. Hopefully, you’ve already discovered a way to relax. But if you don’ t have a ready way of calming yourself, it’s essential that you learn one, then practice it diligently till you can use it to relax at will.

Any method you can successfully employ to cool yourself down and reduce your level of physiological arousal, will do just fine. The main thing is that rather than ventilating your frustrations (in this case demeaning yourself or ruminating about how your emotions are getting the best of you), you buy yourself some time and engage in a form of self-soothing that, indirectly, will significantly reduce the intensity of your anger.

Finally, here is some food for thought. Cho Chikun is one of my favorite Go players. I once read an article about him and was shocked about something he said in an interview. This was right when I started Go and was struggling the most with my rank. I now think of this often, as a warning of what Go and my desire for an ever high rank might become, if I allow it. Excerpts from Cho Chikun at Sensei’s:

Who is Cho?
Cho Chikun is sometimes referred as the 25th Honinbo , an honorific title given for winning the Honinbo title five times in a row. He currently holds the record as the Japanese professional with the most number of titles, career wins, and Honinbo titles at over 80, over 1,500, and 10 respectively. He is a force of great longevity in modern Japanese go, winning titles for over 35-years.

The Infamous Interview Quote
It’s difficult to say why Cho suddenly lost all his big titles, but it was during this seemingly uncontrollable, downward spiral that Cho made one of his most infamous remarks. After losing his most prized title, the 25th Meijin, to Yoda by 4-0 he was interviewed by a reporter who asked, “Why do you like go so much?” He replied: “I hate go”. He elaborated by saying his intense desire to win turned debilitating for him, esp. in two-day matches. The stress and tension are what led to his habit of ruffling his hair and constantly fidgeting.

I mean this with the utmost respect possible. You are too hard on yourself. You expect too much. Examine your attitude about your performance and the expectations you have for yourself, related to Go. Now apply them to a baby learning to walk or understand language. Are your expectations for the babies growth the same that you have for yourself? Expecting big performance gains from a baby is ridiculous, right? A babies brain is 90% more capable than your adult brain at learning new things. Learning for you is 90% harder than for a baby.

Another fact that you should keep in mind is that a negative mindset upsets you emotionally. This affects your ability to think clearly and to commit things to short term and long term memory. The more upset you get with yourself about the mistakes that you are making, the harder it becomes for you to succeed. Mistakes are progress. Failure is the potential to learn something new. Identifying weakness is equivalent to finding specialized knowledge about holes in your understanding. Identifying weaknesses is a blessing.

You need a paradigm shift. You should try very hard to change those negative thoughts to thoughts of understanding, patience, and kindness; all directed at yourself. Scientifically speaking, you will learn faster, and you will be happier too :blush:.


My two cents.

Go isn’t a mountain to climb. With climbing a mountain you can success or fail.

Go is like an infinite uphill trail. Sometimes you go up a little. Sometimes you stop and rest for a while. Sometimes you fall or slip and go down a little.
It’s very difficult to fall way down. It’s very difficult to run up.
And you NEVER can say “I failed that” or “I got it”.

So, my experience is that you just have to accept that: there’s no shame, there’s no prize. You just have to enjoy every single game.

Another tip: don’t you like to make mistakes? Do you feel upset when you recognize that you made a bad move or that you wasn’t able to manage a fight? Me too, as everybody else.
But artificial intelligences taught me this: there are no winning moves in Go. There are just bad moves and “not bad” moves. :slight_smile:
You can win a game only if your opponent makes more mistakes than you.
If you recognize them and take profit from them you are just playing “not bad” moves.
Look at how AI evaluates moves: the range is usually from -50% to +2%. Best moves in a game are usually like +0.5%. There are no +50% moves.
So everybody makes mistakes, many of them, in each single game. The outcome is about who made less mistakes than the other. This helped me a lot to avoid frustration.

Yes, I still make mistakes and sometimes I lose a game in a very stupid way. That ain’t fun. But we can laugh at it! :slight_smile:
Two days ago I was in Pisa (IT) playing in a live tournament. In my first game I was ahead. I lost that game because I didn’t notice an atari to an 8-stones-group of mine!!!
Isn’t that silly? :smile:
Well, it’s gone. The group is gone. A corner is gone because of that. The game is gone.
I could do nothing about it except to laugh at it.
Luckily, it’s just a game! :wink:


I love the game and I don’t want these periodic negative thoughts to end up defining my experience more than the positive ones.

I will tell you a small story that might help you :slight_smile:

When I was a kid, there weren’t many things to do during the winter in my rural village, so me and my older brother used to play a lot of chess. None of us never really “studied” chess, of course, but my brother, being almost 4 years older, always won.

We kept playing for years, almost a game per day on average and I always lost. For years.
And yet, I kept playing … of course I wanted to win as well, but I also found the game so fun and that is why I never gave up … I found the effort, the process, if you will, to be fun … thousands of games I lost in a row and I never thought of giving up, until one day, around five years after I started playing, I managed to win for once!

Oh, the joy! I remember jumping around the house and my father looking at me like I had gone crazy.
So, after I won I wanted to play more … and of course, I kept losing. It would take me another year until I could really get to the point of winning one out of three games against my brother and the game was still fun, but suddenly, my brother didn’t want to play anymore.

That day I realised that my brother didn’t really like chess. My brother liked winning at chess. We haven’t played one game of chess in 20 years. Sure, his competitive nature gave him an edge in other things in life, but when it comes to enjoying things in life like games, competitiveness can really suck the joy out of a lot of things .

What is the meaning of this tale, one might ask … for me it depicts a couple of things :
A) there is always a trade and there is always something to be gained and lost … the concept of fun and the concept of competition are hard to combine at the same time.
B) try to think “why am I playing a game” … not just Go, but ANY game … our character - the one we really have - is usually depicted in the way we play and we approach games
C) After B try to enjoy and do things your way and do not get frustrated when the edicts of other people do not seem to work on/for you. If it is the thrill of the “level up” that excites you or the beauty of the game or the fun of playing or the excitement of the unknown moves that the opponent might play or a combination of all these, all of them are valid reasons to enjoy the game and there is no reason for you to worry about it.

Once you’ve done that then a victory or a defeat, will be immaterial to you if you decide why and what you are playing for … if you play for fun or for the thrill, the result is not as important as the process of the game and if you play for rank, then just one defeat is also not as important as the chase of the overall picture … it ceases to matter, it will be just another step on the ladder you are climbing, thus the frustration vanishes … defeat is just another step on the way up and maybe an even greater step to getting better at any game, in comparison to winning :wink:


To be fair, it sounds like you were a poor winner. I wouldn’t want to play someone who acted like a soccer player whenever they won.

“whenever they won” … you mean the 1 time after years of trying? :face_with_monocle:



I would hope that his brother would be happy that someone he loved and cared about was happy. Losing wouldn’t matter in this context, because his brother had finally hit a milestone he had worked so very hard to achieve for such a vast period of time. Unless his brother was being rude, derogatory, spiteful, verbally malicious, or showing some other form of disrespect, all that is happening is a personal celebration.

When we cannot leap and shout for joy when we overcome big obstacles in life, especially for fear it might hurt the feelings of the super successful suffering a rare loss… well that doesn’t quite seem fair or reasonable to me.

@JetOrensin thank you for sharing these thoughts. I found them helpful and insightful. This made me smile :blush:.

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I guess we have different ideas about sportsmanship. In my family I have an (undeserved, the only thing I’m half-way decent at is go, and I’m only 4k at that) reputation for being good at games. Apparently that means that it’s some great achievement to beat me at anything, even if I either A, am new to it as well and/or if it B, has a high variance. So I’ve played Khet (a proprietary game which I opine fails to give human players a game of evolving situations like go or Arimaa, is thus not optimized for human play, and is thus not a greatly designed game) once with my Grandpa, at which point he refused to ever play again because he had a “winning record” against me. I tried to play poker once with my Mom and sister, but when I wasn’t trying to explain pot odds or EV or balancing a range &c., I was having to constantly remind them that variance is extremely high in a game like poker, especially the way we were playing (roughly 10 min. blinds, I think, but remember that they were new and playing slowly (I needed something fast)). One of the reasons I can’t stand handicap go (either giving or taking) is that when someone wins with handicap, they say “I won against [redacted]”, not, “He had to give me x free moves before I could win.” And so, when in the other position, I am very careful to control, to the best of my ability, my outward reaction to a win. I am far from perfect at it; you could definitely tell when I’m trying to suppress a grin, but the point is that I fight that until I have control of myself. It’s like getting angry. You might get angry. It might be obvious. But you don’t get violent because of it, not because you don’t want to, but because you make the conscious decision to not do what you want to do in that moment.

In my opinion, family and friends, unless competition is clearly stated, are playing for the fun of it. Likely having set out to share an activity with a loved one. In such an arena, the customs and concept of sportsmanship should be lax, if not unaccounted for entirely.


It sounds like you have a very specific set of experiences which have helped shape your current opinion on this subject. I respect your opinion and understand that you find such behavior distasteful or possibly hurtful. I personally feel that fun is the point of any hobbyist or gaming pursuits.

Competition, whether games, sports, or whatever, is wholly a different matter. Fun and competition don’t tend to make good bedfellows. Joy from winning definitely applies to competing. But fun itself tends to be thrown to the wayside, or flat out suffocated, under the weight of the sheer focus and discipline inherent to a competitors mindset.

Many cultures extol the virtues of suppressing emotion. Of disciplining yourself to fit a mold that “best suits” society. Children are conditioned to behave, emote, think, speak, and to unquestioningly follow the guiding hand of authority figures. Adults are encouraged to do the same, all with the aim of not upsetting the status quo. From cradle to grave, most souls willingly imprison their own individuality, and muzzle the parts of themselves others deem unacceptable or undesirable.

Pursuits of amusement are engaged in with the hope we find momentary distraction. Ever, we seek and chase a few fleeting moments of bliss and revelry. We make the time, purposefully, taking a break from the crushing monotony and tedium of everyday responsibilities. Before returning to the banal cycles that compose average days. When this sort of self-policing is applied to frivolous games, I think the person in question is missing the point entirely :blush:.

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@Samraku, just disregard. All coffee and no sleep makes Jack a sarcastic boy. I’m sorry.

I think sportsmanship should be more highly valued within a family because A, the children (when younger) need to learn it and B, I think one should (disregarding edge cases where the “family” in question does not fit the spirit of the concept), within reason, get along with their family more so than to other people, and sportsmanship is one part of “playing nice in the sandbox”, so to speak.

Accurate observations. My opinions on this have absolutely been influenced by my experiences. In general I would also agree with your second paragraph, though I’d qualify it with an “often”. I think competition is a key aspect of fun for many people (including me, though I also score moderately highly on the “community” aspect of social.

I very strongly disagree with agreeing for the sake of agreeing. I have strong opinions on some things, and while I don’t always express them, I at other times, probably too often, on the whole, do, and I also respect people who have opinions which A, are not just something everyone agrees with and thus says little to nothing about the speaker, B, are given a good argument for their claim (doesn’t have to be a formal proof or anything, doesn’t actually even need to convince me, just needs to establish that it’s a reasonable position), and C, unapologetically and unequivocally state said position and stand by it. I do not claim to meet this criteria, I am simply giving an example of what I tend to value, which is incompatible with me valuing conformity. I don’t believe you could have gleaned this from my above posts, so I’m not claiming that you are intentionally misrepresenting me. Sorry that I did not make this clear.