Getting strong at reading

Hello guys, I just wanted to get your thoughts on the best way(s) to get strong at reading. I have heard that doing tsumego (where you try to read out until the end, and not just clicking through problems) is the best way to go. I think this is a great method, and doing a lot of tsumego this way has definitely helped me somewhat in my reading (although I am still at a very low level!). However, I have come across 2 difficulties.

  1. Tsumego, being life and death problems, usually involve a sort of “established position” on the board (at least the lower level ones that I actually have some chance of getting are like this) where your goal is to find the way to life or to find the way to kill the opponent. This involves usually a look at a lot of “vital points” in well established positions. I feel myself getting better at this. However, when I am playing an actual game, and when the position is not well established, and there are only 2 or 3 stones on each side about to fight, I find that I can no longer find the vital points. When there are too many possible moves, I get overwhelmed and am unable to look at the good candidate moves. What are your thoughts on this? Should I just keep doing tsumego (life and death) and eventually my reading will improve even for not well established positions? Or should I try to find a set of perhaps tesuji problems to do?

  2. When doing tsumego, I try to read out every (reasonable-ish) variation so that I can say I have “solved the problem”. This takes a very long time (as you can imagine) because I am looking at a lot of (opponent) moves which “fail outright” but it still takes me time to figure that out. As such, it takes me a long time to solve a tsumego problem. Of course, after doing many tsumego, I start to get a sense of perhaps where to start and where things will lead. I get a sense that some of the opponent’s candidate moves will not work, so I don’t spend a lot of time reading through those. But when I get this mentality, I find myself missing some crucial opponent responses in my reading (moves i thought wouldn’t work, but which do after further reading) and thereby fail to solve the tsumego. Any advice on how to find a reasonable balance between reading out all candidate moves (which takes a long time, and takes me a long time to solve even simple tsumego) and neglecting possible moves which could work out later? Should I be striving to solve 100% of the tsumego I attempt, and solving far fewer tsumego, or is like getting 20% of them wrong and just solving more tsumego a better approach?


Eventually you will get to the point where you can read out one variation very quickly you will only get this strong if you read out 100% of the problem each time. Once you find a solution that you think works keep on reading out variations that branch out from that first move. I would say that it is much more important to get five out of five right in the same time as you might get fifteen out of twenty right.


Thanks for the advice! :smile: