Is it impossible to progress quickly with correspondence games?

I started to convince me that playing only correspondence games won’t help me to progress as I want. Uhm… well, there are a lot of reasons why I’m not progressing at the speed I envisaged, even if I spent a lot of time reading books, watching pro games on youtube, and so on. But let me concentrate a bit on the game speed for the moment. The choice to prefer only correspondence games was really a necessity for me because my job and surrounding environment didn’t allow me to find the right time for a 2-hours game with regularity. So the choice of DGS at that time was the only one that allowed me to continue playing with this passionating game just and only when I could. Today, for several reasons, the situation is quite different and I can find the time for a live game (at least 2-3 days per week), nevertheless, I continue playing 99% of the time correspondence games.

The reason why I think now this is a bad choice is that when you become SDK like me, the games start becoming more complex and, often, you have to take in mind a lot of possibilities, liberties, territory counting, alternative strategies, and ideas, but when I have to face 10 different games (or more) at the same time, I am simply unable to remember all those things for each game. So the result is that I play the move that I feel is the better after a quick review of the position without rebuilding all the connections in my head that bring me to that position.

I found myself to play the wrong move after I made a long and complex sequence just to arrive at that point and finally place the stone on the key point I planned, but sometimes I simply forget to do so and forget the history of the game and all my previous thoughts around it.

I realized that a normal game should be played from the beginning to the end having in front the same battlefield avoiding distraction and remaining concentrated so that your thoughts and strategies can remain synched until the end on the same scenario. I feel now that correspondence games are becoming an obstacle for the consolidation of new ideas, patterns, and joseky, and are even worst to learn managing the time pressure you can face in the byoyomi.

What do you think about it? Which is your experience? I’m sure that a lot of you can reach high ranks even playing only slow games, but maybe this doesn’t work for all.


It’s hard to evaluate what is better. You may have a better focus on a live game yes. Playing a bunch of correspondence is nice too, because you have less time pressure so you can take your time when a choice looks more difficult, You may have less stress because when a game is getting bad, another one is getting better.
One is not excluding the other, you can mix live and correspondence. And even some real life tournaments and some blitz.

Try everything and find out what works best for you. What works for others, doesn’t necessarily have to work for you. Most important however is to have fun.

Don’t focus too much on progressing. That might work paralysing and spoil your fun in playing go. It will come when you are ready for it. Patience.

And yes, there are periods that you won’t progress at all, and then suddenly you make a big jump.

Good luck!


My progress from Oct 2015 to Oct 2016 is from complete beginner to Glicko 3-4k. Though that’s retroactive glicko, back in the day it was equal to 5-6k, people were much tougher then, and we walked to school uphill both ways.

I played a little live (to try it) but 80%+ of the games were correspondence and I attribute most of my improvement to correspondence.

But I put massive amounts of effort into it. On average I finished 2-3 games a day, playing around 50 games simultaneously or more.

Now I can’t do that anymore, and what do you know, I don’t improve.

Correspondence isn’t the problem. Correspondence is fine. The answer is somewhere else.

One of the more likely answers is your environment and your job get so much in the way that you can’t put enough time and effort into it. For example, if the job sucks so much that you’re always tired, no matter what you play you won’t improve because your brain refuse to think hard. Because the job sucked out all the juices from it. If the job is stressful and intensive, of course, you don’t remember your game plans after that.

In that case the title “Is it impossible to progress quickly with a soul-sucking job?” would be more appropriate.

Or it’s some other factor. If your brain is filled with other real life problems like writing a thesis or preparing for interview, naturally it’s harder to try and focus on the game. Brain can’t switch on and off like that, all the problems are sitting there, at the back of the mind.

In short, quit your job and git gud.


If you’re like me, you’re in byo-yomi in middle game, and you basically just have to play the move that feels right in a live game :stuck_out_tongue: I’m trying to practice time management with blitz these days.

I don’t think any time system is perfect for studying/improving.

Blitz - Quick games, probably faster rating changes, improve or show issues with intuition/fast reading etc.

Live - More time to think (and in theory play better), play out whole game like in blitz, probably closer to most tournaments, still can possibly update rating quicker.

Correspondence - can play multiple games at once to make up for slow rating changes, in theory way more time to think, but in practice probably not as much (I think it’s better not to think about the game all day, but leave and come back and read again), in theory opponents could play stronger given the extra time but probably mistakes are made in all time settings :slight_smile:

The time traveller.


I feel stuck at 10/9k. I only play correspondence. I don’t think these facts are related though. I think the problem is that I don’t review my games properly and have become lazy in play.

Getting to 10k seems to be manageable with a broad understanding of various principles and the ability to apply them in the, say, 80% of more or less obvious cases. But getting further feels like it needs more disciplined application to the other 20% of the time.

I’m not sure I’m explaining my thought properly but I was wondering if you might fancy a correspondence study buddy game?


Hum I dunno at all what you play in your game, but I tend to give your analysis for a step at 6k around. Did you try some body building? It could be more fitting.
(I meant to develop reading/shapes/tesuji via a new interest in problems)

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Ok well 10k and 6k is about the same at OGS +/-, right? :wink:

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Rank is just a number :slight_smile:


In some way yes because there are differences in what are the strong and weak points between players. But I tend to find some common things to improve, according to a level (and a step).
Or maybe you mean if you don’t care to improve that much, which is ok of course.

Yes sure… never made this kind of study buddy game, neither a teaching game with a player much stronger than me. I should give it a try.


Well, again. Tesuji, life and death, and other problems books are always on my bedside table. But it seems that - taking apart the required continuity (that I’m often lacking) - I cannot fix anymore like in the past what I learn or I cannot see/recognize during my games clearly the positions I studied. Probably I put too much meat on the fire (or too much concepts new for me in parallel). Or simply, I don’t take my time to rethink the whole situation when it is my turn in a correspondence game.

In the past my motto in playing go was: “you should always think that at each turn you have the chance to make the best move on the board! It is there, you must only discover where it is”. Now this feeling is fading out.

Probably this has the same effect to play 2-3 live (non-blitz) games per day. I don’t know. You probably were addicted by Go that time. I also remember when I discovered Go (around 1995). It was like that but w/o internet. Only games with weak players like me and it was a magic discovery every day including what I learnt in the rare books I was able to find in Italy and France about Go.

Probably @Atorrante is right, enthusiasm is a big buster.


I don’t know. “Quickly” and “correspondence” is already contradicting, I think. Unless by quickly, you’re talking years rather than months.

I did play correspondence in the past, but it turned out as dayly chore to play a move in the dozens of games I had running. Very often I just blasted through it and spent less thought than in a regular live game.

And I hated it that totally uninteresting games would drag on for half a year.

So at some point I just stopped playing correspondence.

I think it’s a pity that OGS games is mostly correspondence. I think OGS would be more attractive when more people would play live.


I found that, for both chess and go, I could progress with correspondence only so long as I was able and willing to really apply myself to every move in every game. If I’m putting thought into all of my moves, studying and learning joseki, saving variations, and keeping notes, then I improve through correspondence. (You can switch cat to “Malkovitch” mode in order to keep notes that your opponent can’t see until the game is over.)

For Go, that involves remaining focused on a game for months and keeping good habits: not making moves when I’m tired, or without investigating all of the possibilities, or assessing their impact on the board state. I can’t do that for particularly long periods of time. Eventually, I lose some interest, and some focus, and stop putting in the effort for my games. Then it’s time to stop playing correspondence Go: I’m not putting in what I need to get what I want out of it so I should seek other avenues until I’m ready to do so again.

This is true for Go in general, and life more broadly. If I’m not willing to work at something, I shouldn’t expect to improve. If I’m not psychologically in a state where I’m ready to work at a task, I should recognize that and either try to find a way to progress from a healthy mental state or let my mind relax and focus on something else for a few hours/days/weeks until I’m actually ready to apply myself again.

I’ve studied and left Go twice now. Each time, it’s held my interest for a year or two before I’ve burned out. Right now I’m back for a third round and excited to play again, and can see what I need to do in order to improve.


You are playing just too many correspondence games. Since I followed exactly your idea when I started again in Aug 2016 (DGS, slow games, thinking each move for some time and forming a strategy and reading books and watching Sibicky and Dwyrin ) my experience has been that as long as I stuck to the ladder and played the games allowed by it ( four challenges out to players 1 to 3 kyu stronger than me ) that was the optimal amount of games which I could follow and keep my attention and have a long term strategy without forgetting things from day to day.

I usually lost most of those games, but playing better players and seeing what they thought and how they reacted, along with watching new videos and reading books, was my most productive and fun era, as evidenced by my DGS rank chart. The amount of games I won was low (just 91 in all that time), but the experience, knowledge and ranked I gained was high. That meteoric rise was slowed when I stopped studying around April of 2017 due to starting the book project and I haven’t really bounced back since, but I retained most of my strength, until I started playing a lot of games at the same time here in OGS. That is the point when things went downhill for me.

I am finding this experience very tiring and not that fun, because I am suffering from the same symptoms you described. Just like you, I used to have an overarching strategy in my games of finding the best move or keeping the direction of play, but now I forget the games, people play in a lot of different paces and that puts me off, plans that I made for this or that game are getting confused in my mind or totally forgotten and I am seriously pondering of dropping out of the “tournament through the ages” and just keeping 2-3 games here in OGS which are unranked and played with friends I made in this server, while moving my focus back on DGS and having 3-4 quality games there which I will lose and learn, but will have my total focus.

I plan on doing that around November, when I plan of returning to actually studying again in a steady pace and continue the journey of raising my knowledge on Go :slight_smile:

So, as you said, everyone is different so that style is probably not for everyone (just like solving a lot of tsumego daily is totally not my style), but I believe that it does have the potential to work. I just think that the trick is
a) keeping the number of games low and
b) always challenging players that are stronger than you and focusing on playing your best and having fun, without really caring about ranks, winning or losing.

Personally I’d suggest trying those two things, along with keeping up with watching videos and/or studying and if it does not pan out for you, then maybe you should explore an alternative style of gaining Go knowledge. :slight_smile:


I am about your rank and actually never plan “long and complex sequences” in my games.
Probably I am under the influence of Dwyrin’s basics, but what I think is very good in correspondence is exactly that you break the chain of thoughts and check the board every time with open mind, without feeling forced to follow what you were thinking few moves earlier.

Many times in live tournaments I have seen players take a short break, leave their place for a couple minutes and then come back and check their situation with fresh mind.

So I think this is a pro for correspondence rather than a con. You get better at tenuki. :grin:

Hope to see you in some live tournament. :it:

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Stronger but maybe not too much stronger, I know everyone’s different but it can be demoralising (for me) if you get smashed by a Dan player every now and then. I mean it’s fine to see what you still need to learn/progress on but I wouldn’t play every game like that :slight_smile:


My 2 cents:

I believe DDK should not play correspondence for improvement (ok for fun), since is is very inefficient way to improve at that stage.
Later, for SDKs, maybe 10% of the games can be ok, but more is again inefficient.
(At least I stoped playing them, after I realized I spend to much time for each game (comulative). And attention shifting takes time. )

I think this is a bit of the problem of ogs, since this is not clear to newcomers. And I think everybody would progress faster, if the correspondence would not be a mainstream choice for DDKs.

Play live 9x9, if you dont have much time. Otherwise live 19x19.


This was just my habit on DGS: never get more than 5 concurrent games and challenge only player 1 stone stronger than me. It worked out quite well until I moved on OGS and I forgot this “golden rule”.

I hope the same.

This is exactly the point. If I have 15-20 games in parallel, I can be in the situation that I have to move in - let’s say - 10 of them on the same day. In the end, the time spent in playing the requested moves is roughly the same time spent to play a 1-hour live game (that can become 2 including opponent time). The difference is that in the first case you’re requested a continuous positional judgment switch, while in the second case you can concentrate on a single game not incurring in this additional effort.


OGS games are mostly live. As far I could count correspondence is only 10-15% of OGS. Maybe it’s 20% but hardly a majority. Very hardly.

But what a pity, people are allowed to enjoy go with the time settings they like /s