For what it’s worth, I have a similar feeling. I often can identify a point where I would have been able to easily defeat myself. When playing against LZ, I feel that I really have no way to win because my only win condition is identifying some blunder on the part of my opponent, and LZ does not really blunder in a way that I can detect.
I think you all are forgetting that that’s what this game is. With perfect play (and accurate komi), the game should always be a tie… which means that any victory you ever have, is because your opponent made more mistakes than you. There’s nothing you can do in Go to force a win.
My own experience of improving quickly as a kyu and of barriers at certain levels may serve you to alter your strength.
In the game of go, errors are the most important. Games are lost due to your own errors and won due to errors of your opponent. Before any move, ask yourself if it is a mistake, or if a better, more effective move exists, which itself is no mistake. Evaluation of a move is done by consideration of its meanings, global context, and fitting tactical variations (i.e. opponent’s responses). After a loss, analyze your game to find (the most important) errors. They may be of psychological nature. Remember your mistakes and avoid them in following games. Be patient in applying this learning process. A discussion with other players, especially with dans will be helpful.
The second important thing is life and death . A miscalculation of a group’s status has a direct effect on a game’s outcome. Before any move check the status of all groups and their strengths and weaknesses. Distinguish important groups and those that might be sacrificed. Closely related is the theme of cutting and connecting. This is to be seen in a global context as well as locally. Locally you have to find good shape: Shape that is resilient enough for connection and loose enough to be maximally efficient; shape that defends and also serves for attack. Your reading ability concerning life and death is a good indicator of your strength. You can improve by studying many Tsume-go problems. Choose problems that can be solved easily. You should read books, for whose problems you spend about half a minute to three minutes, rather than ten minutes to half an hour each. Do not choose problems that are too easy to learn from. Try to solve about 90% of all problems by reading, before understanding the given solutions.
Go is a game of harmony and war. Every state or action has its adverse state or action. E.g. an attack of the opponent’s groups often weakens your own groups. If you take territory, you share it with the opponent’s thickness. Increase of strength is roughly proportional to spent time. Spend as much as you enjoy, however, never forget the fundamentals: Errors and life and death!
There are no easy answers to this. There have been many times along my Go journey where I feel like I’ve hit a skill plateau. I keep playing the same games in the same ways, and getting similar results - i.e. I win or lose using the same tricks.
And then I watch a bunch of higher level games, or finally figure out how to apply some strategy used by AI bots, and suddenly - I’m playing a slightly different game that’s exciting in a different way. And so it goes until the next plateau.
Here are the 2 main things I’m working on right now:
Spotting opportunities for Big Moves in the opening: I’ve had this opinion for a while now, and I keep seeing real-life examples of it all the time - when 2 players of different skill levels play a non-handicap game, the game is usually won or lost within the first 50-70 moves. In other words, the less experienced player will make some tactical error in the opening, and spend the rest of that game ice-skating uphill.
These opportunities usually become visible when one zooms out from the fight for individual corners / frameworks, and grasps the tactical possibilities that arise from whole-board play. Usually there is an opportunity for one side or the other to grab a really broad framework (putting the other at a disadvantage) or - alternately - a chance to disrupt that potential framework by invading or approaching. Because the opening is such a busy time, and chances to tenuki may be few - it’s really important to watch for these because those opportunities can evaporate very quickly.
Trying to have each stone serve more than one purpose at a time: this is something I’ve read from Cho Chikun - apparently it was something he really watched for. Basically, the idea is - the more efficiently you can play, the more you will be ahead, and “efficiency” can take many forms. As such, if you can make two seemingly suicidal peep moves add up to an invasion with a few connecting stones - then you’ve got something. If you can secure a cutting point AND make it easier to extend your group AND take away your opponent’s key point, then all the better.
I’m sure there are lots of other things I could and should be studying (confession: reading tsumego problems just gives me a headache most of the time, and I find it really hard to do!) but those are the things I’ve chosen that work for me.