Go Therapy

There are times when I am upset about my progress. I begin to think, what is the point of playing. I struggle with pessimism. I strive to develop my inner optimist, but the transformation is taxing. At my low points I consider donating all of my Go materials to the thrift store. I know that life is about more than Go, however, it is so easy to be consumed by the desire to play/train more.

sigh I have tried so many times to get a local Go club up and running, but most times I sit with an empty seat across from me. I do enjoy introducing Go, but I wish that I could yeild a higher retention rate.

I do dream of being a professional player, but I have other dreams which are fulfilling and satisfying. I guess you could say that I never work too hard on Go, for I never truly thought I could become a professional. (Perhaps a self fulfilling prophecy)

Okay, context set, inner optimist Go! I enjoy the thrill of battle, and I revel in the awesome powers of those capable of defeating me. I will play Go until the day I die. I will ride this rollercoaster through all of the ups and downs. No matter who demands an explanation for wasting my time, I will fervently proclaim that this lifestyle is not a waste of time.

PS: I am told that sharing one’s troubles is an effective way to heal, and I certainly feel better having made this post. Please tell me if you are able to commiserate. Also, make sure we all end on a happy note.


What keeps me interested is the lessons that are learnt from go and how they come up in day to day life. This makes studying and learning the game more interesting whether or not you do it professionally. I’m one of the new AlphaGoers and actually it’s one of the only things I’ve kept up after impulse interest. I love that the more games I’ve played the more it’s made sense and I look forward to moving past the low level kyus and a confident player.


The problems you are descriping sound a lot like they came from a inbalance in you, from losing the pourpose in your life.

As a result your expectation seeming a little extrem.
The problem of extremism is that it can only see one side.

From the point of extremism you cant understand a world that is outside your point of you, extremism sees the world from (only) one perspective, because it is looking from inside out. From the outside you would notice there are many single minded perspectives …and they all think the same: they (and only they) have the right (and perfect) view.

Of course to becoming a pro you would need something like that, because its easier to keep focus.
But even a pro needs a live in balance.
But how can you notice that you need balance when you cant look from outside to identify the inbalance and more important a counterweigth?
You playing go, so you learned a lot of theory of balance.
Use it for your life.
Before its too late and you lose go forever: search for (at least) one second thing bisdes go, that you can burn for (or two thing you burn half for), and then try to keep them in balance.

Imagine how unfun a game of go would be if there would only be white stones. It would be easy, yes, and fun in the beginning, to lay the stones as you like, but there is no sense in it, no challenge. (I mean not one colored games, where you imagine the other color, just one color)

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Thank you for your reply JoinTheFly.

My home could use some impulse interest decluttering. Thank you for sharing your drive to study.

Applications of Go theory really help me get through tough decisions. If I cannot find a quick solution, then I imagine nouns as pre-existing structures on the board and verbs as potential variations. In this way I usually come up with strangle correlations, which are typically not helpful on their own. However, they give my brain a sort of jump start occasionally enabling me to view the problem from a different angle.

I appreciate your insights sTan,

Imbalance indeed! Yes, this is a theme that my family and friends have been working on with me. I often view extremes to gain understanding, yet you are correct that I spend too much time engulfed in my extreme ruminations.

I have been looking into creating new routines for this exact reason. I have been struggling to find new hobbies or life style changes. I keep atempting to create a new workout based on Avatar the Last Airbender, mimicing the different Tai Chi styles. Now that I am reflecting on your one color analogy, I am wondering if instead I should be finding a team sport to engage in.

Thank you again sTan.

The exasperation you sometimes feel as a go player is undoubtedly shared by players at every level. We tend to think that we can and should be able to overcome obstacles through the sheer exertion of our will, yet it often seems that the universe simply has other plans. We tend to accept the justness of that plan when it falls in our favour, not so much when it doesn’t.

Robert Browning famously wrote that “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” I would imagine that Lee Sedol and his peers (few as they might be) are attempting to hammer out some sort of plan to deal with AlphaGo. They may or may not reach that destination, but in any event, the journey promises to be rewarding for them. It would not surprise me to learn that Lee Sedol is now more energized than at any previous time in his career.

Each of us will achieve a particular level and advance no further. Short of giving up the game for good, we can’t say what that level is going to be or when we will finally reach it. For all anyone knows, the last thing Go Seigen saw before dying was a go sequence that effectively raised his understanding to twelve Dan! So hang on to that go equipment and embrace the possibilities!

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Go team Human!

Thank you fiddlehead for taking the time to add to our discussion.

On the topic of obstacles I would like to share a YouTube video. I have spent a considerable amount of time analyzing my struggles and I have decided that they originate from not doing the hard boring work. In more than just Go, I practice big picture thinking and strategy, while I ignore detailed thinking and tactics.

That Browning quote is resonating with my ambitions. I will do my best to recall it when I am struggling to grow.