How Do You Personally Study Go

How Do You Personally Study Go?
I’m curious how others personally study Go, versus offering general advice on how one should go about studying Go. What does your personal evolution look like, or what are the practices you have found to be the most helpful and why? What is the formula that you follow? What has worked and what hasn’t? Inquiring minds want to know :hugs:.

How My Study Practices With Go Have Evolved
I am not sure if how I study Go would work as well for the 19x19, but it sure works for me on the 9x9. I get asked this question sometimes and so I’ve written a bit about how I personally study Go. It should be noted that I play 9x9 Go 99% of the time.

When I first started Go I experimented with different time settings quite a bit. After a while I noticed that I felt I grew the most from playing Correspondence. But I suspect this came from the fact that I would practice with variations on each move, often trying to predict 20 moves up to game completion.

I learned so much about the game and patterns from this practice. I began using the Conditional Moves feature to regularly as well, trying to see how many moves I could predict from my opponent accurately. I had numerous games going on and this began to feel like a full time job.

So I began playing 10 seconds/move Blitz matches. Slowly I dialed back the Correspondence and focused more and more on the Blitz matches. I ditched the normal Correspondence games and began only playing Fast Correspondence Tournament games (3 Days max time, 12hr move increments). The quality of my opponents greatly improved.

I felt I was able to get more out of my Correspondence with fewer games being played. I did this for about 4 months, striking a 70% Blitz/30% Correspondence ratio for my game playing. Around this time I began to feel strongly that each type of game was teaching me something different.

Correspondence allowed me to learn to improve my reading skills, while Blitz allowed me to develop and exercise my intuition. I learned the vast majority of what I know about Go by treating Correspondence games like a form of solitaire; where my opponents moves gave me new ways to look at the game, identify weaknesses in my Go skill sets, practice and develop better pattern recognition, and my ability to identify and predict what the “next best move” was.

Blitz gave me the ability to put what I was learning to the test against live opponents. There was no time to really sit and deliberate my options. I learned to respond quickly, listening to my gut, and had to rely on what I was learning in my Correspondence games. What worked slowly became solidified and battle tested, while the stuff that didn’t was eventually abandoned because it never seemed to work in real time matches.

Back and forth they went, the knowledge and experience of each strengthening each other, furthering my overall understanding of Go. Eventually my time began to become really strained, and I had little choice but to play mostly Blitz matches. Without Correspondence, I felt I was slowly getting worse. It was a key component in what I felt was a winning learning strategy. After a month of no Correspondence games I began taking on new players as students.

Through teaching I have made some great friends. More importantly, I learned how to teach in a way that was beneficial to both student and teacher. I figured out how to play games that felt fully dedicated to studying Go between us. These study games were a whole new aspect of learning Go. They feel different than the Tournament Correspondence games and they definitely have something different to offer me. Something that I enjoy just as much as the Tournament Correspondence matches that I played for so long.

Almost 8 months into my Go Journey and 2,000-ish games later, I have six students I’m playing study games with, I still play Blitz regularly, and I run a tournament group for Fast Correspondence games. I feel like I have everything that I need to learn Go effectively, and to feel comfortable doing so. Feeling content and at ease is something I have struggled very much to find with Go. But I have finally found a formula that works for me. I’m happier with Go than I have ever been and I find my Go life very rewarding.


I just play and try to learn from my mistakes. Though I did have to youtube a tutorial to see how to avoid ladders.

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Since I am book oriented, I learned go and originally studied it from books, the most helpful being Iwamoto’s Go for Beginners. Today I mostly watch videos. I’ve seen all of Haylee’s, most Dwyrin’s over the last five years, and some of Sibicky’s. I also go through fits of tsumego-solving (usually 20 a day for a couple months, after which I burn out or real life intervenes). I have also done a little joseki study in databases. I play mostly IRL on weekends, which I use to try out ideas or take risks since it is just for fun. About half my IRL games are 9x9 due to time constraints.


I do not actually study, i just keep playing for the fun of it, and watch go content from youtube as entertainment.

  • play games against AI
  • review games against AI
  • watch other players
  • do a few daily Tsumego
  • read a few books from time to time
  • look up stuff online eg sensei’s library

I probably need to go along to a club and get a tuition and play more humans but I just don’t have the structured time to treat those with the required seriousness at the moment.

My games are not very serious either as it’s mostly leisure time to play. But I think I am improving and would say Tsumego is the most important contribution. Though playing seriously would probably be the most significant alternatively.


Early on I watched a lot of videos, particularly by Nick Sibicky, Dwyrin, and Michael Redmond.

I’ve always steered away from blitz because I feel it makes me more careless in my reading. Instead, I prefer 10-15 minute main time with 30 second byo-yomi. Incidentally I established that personal rule when playing chess, long before I learned about Go.

I’ve only ever read a couple books, but the ones I did helped a ton. I highly recommend “Attack and Defence” by Ishida Akira, for example.

I took a few lessons with professionals, and was told that I need to work on my Joseki knowledge, so I’ve been building a set of joseki flashcards and studying that regularly, in addition to daily tsumego problems in the Tsumego Pro app. This is my primary mode of study now, though I have just signed up for the American Yunguseng Dojang, which is an online Go academy.

Like the rest of us, I still have a long way to go, and I expect my go study process to keep evolving as my game and needs change. It’s cool to see what approaches everyone else have been taking!


Agreed, daily tsumego is a huge part of a healthy study routine!




I try to learn something new from every game I play or watch, and I do a decent amount of tsumego. It’s been slow but consistent improvement with just those two things.

Re: tsumego difficulty. I got stuck spinning my wheels doing too many easy problems for a while. I think it depends on what you find motivating, and what your weaknesses are. You’ve got to step up the difficulty after a while. The sweet spot for me is <5m per problem to solve 80% of the set, then I will repeat it and probably look at the answers to the ones I’m still stuck on.


My personal studies

I think I tried a bit of everything, even what is not always advised.

As beginner, reading books was very helpful, not to say that I was able to apply in my games their content directly but more because it gave me the dreams and hope to build and understand something. In fact my games had really nothing to do with these.

Little by little I did more understand, and at that time, the comments from stronger players were the most useful.

At around 10k rereading lessons in the fundamentals show me how pointless was my ideas in the game. I realized for example how abusive my tenukis, how far away my extensions…

At 8k still reading a lot. Learned some Shusaku games, studied Ishida josekis, …
Then I got a jewel in my hands Tesuji (J. Davies) the first book I put every dia. on a board and searched on my own. I grew a taste for reading go stones. One of my “student” was coming from chess and his tactical spirit motivate me too. With going to every tournament possible around, I raised to 3-2k around.

My last attempt of studying seriously was like 15 years ago when flying to China. I took a private teacher (which mainly provided me tsumego and obliged me to search them) for a few months, and I joined the children in the promotion tournaments. I had the opportunity to play many games with 5d+ on even (losing them) and the children too.
I qualified as 3d, which seems still to be my IRL level.

I surely forgot a lot in this retrospective. I played some games with pros, I can’t say if I made progress from that, it’s hard to say, but they surely kept me fascinated and in a search of beautiful moves.
And most important, nothing will replace the experience you get by… playing!