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 .
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.