Is it supposed to be fun in the beginning?


I’m new to OGS not to go. I first started about 8 years ago, been off and on since (see my original post if you want the story).

I’m not looking to be a professional but I take your meaning. It’s why I asked the question. Before I decide to get serious with Go I wanted to know what I was in for and what to expect. Now I know. I’m not upset about it but I don’t have the thousands of hours a year that I’m hearing is required and making it a social thing isn’t an option for me (for multiple reasons – and if I wanted social gaming I’d go back to playing Magic).

At this point it’s clear (and I truly do appreciate you helping me), Go is not the game for me. I’m a little sad about it but life is filled with little disappointments, one just has to suck it up and move on.

Again, thanks for the help.


From what I can tell, most people that devote countless hours to Go never get to amateur dan. Even with tsumego and study, most people seem to plateau somewhere in the upper DDK/SDK ranks. If your enjoyment of playing the game is contingent on reaching a shodan level of play, don’t bother. Plus, if you don’t enjoy playing the game for its own merits, and reaching a dan level of play is the only thing that’d make Go worthwhile, you’ll burn out far before you make it there. Even if you’ve got the natural talent that could make it a reality, .


You’re probably right that Go is not the game for you, because sure it’s fun at the beginning and at each kyu.

As Vsotvep said, it’s the “this is hard but I’m enjoying it” kind of fun. Mountain climbing, marathons … that sort of thing are fun like this.

The fun is usually not in the winning (at least for me). In fact, the most fun games I can recall are where I lost in a close match. Because the fun is in the battle of wits and in the discovery of new amazing things that emerge on the board. Sure, it’s fun when an opponent “falls for” a brilliant strategy or trap, but actually it’s just as fun seeing them counter it and having to think of something new.

I actually agree with you - the games where I win are often where there’s a sense of disappointment, like getting to the end of a good book but knowing there isn’t another in the series. “Oh, is that all?”.

At that point, you go looking for a better opponent :slight_smile:

I find it odd that people think they should be able to reach amateur dan. To have that as a make or break goal. It’s like saying “I’m not going to play table tennis because it takes thousands of hours to get into the Olympics”.

Amateur dans are the best amateur go players in the world. That’s a very strange goal to have as “I won’t enjoy this till I get there”.

When you play table tennis, is it the game or the victory that is fun? Will you only have fun when you get to the Olympics?

As with any sport or game, there is absolutely no guarantee that you can get to that level at all. You might not have the physical or mental equipment necessary.

It does seem true that if you aren’t enjoying it by 20k, then it’s not the game for you. I was ecstatic when I first hit 19k… it was a tough goal, and I made it!



I need to correct two things (sorry for the text wall):

  1. The amateur dan goal.
  2. Why I don’t enjoy the game.

The amateur dan mention is clearly a misunderstanding on my part. So let me explain how I was using it and where I was coming from. Let’s pick a sport I’m familiar with… golf. When I was using “amateur dan” I was thinking of “scratch golfers” in the United States. A scratch golfer is an amateur that has an official handicap of zero. There are relatively few golfers with a zero handicap and it requires an enormous amount of work to get that good at golf. But these golfers are not the best players in the world though (not even close). If they live in Florida, California or a few mid-western states they aren’t even the best players in the state (since there would be a good chance that an actual PGA professional golfer is living in the state or one of the better “teaching pros”–golf ranking is complicated). Further the difference between 1 handicap and a 0 is tiny. These golfers are basically equal skill (you’d need to get to at least a 5 handicap before there would be a clear difference between a 5 and 0 handicap golfers). Aspiring to be a 0 handicap golfer is in no way, shape or form analogous to a professional golfer (since Olympic athletes are now professionals) and it was never seen (at least when I was playing golf) as some pie-in-the-sky, only-the-chosen-few aspirations. Being a scratch golfer is about intelligent, diligent practice (i.e. always work on your weak points–this usually requires you to take lessons to accurately identify those weak points) and playing as much golf as you can. This can be done spending a few hundred hours a year on golf , not a few thousand (if you want to be a professional–i.e. get paid to play golf–then you’re talking about a thousand hours a year–it’s also your full-time job then too).

That’s what I meant by stating my goal was to be an amateur dan. I was thinking of it like becoming a scratch golfer. Takes work, takes dedication, takes time but it doesn’t consume your life (I’ve known multiple scratch golfers who work 100 hour/week jobs). From what I’m gathering I was thinking about it wrong. That’s my bad. Sorry for the confusion.

I don’t enjoy it because I feel stupid and lost while I’m playing. I didn’t state this earlier because it wasn’t clear in my head why I didn’t enjoy playing Go. This thread made me think about it since I clearly haven’t been able to just walk away.


I don’t know, it seems everyone feels stupid at the beginning and intermittently after that. But sometimes I get a sense that I’m beginning to “see” go, to understand the language of go, the forms that are native to it, etc. That’s a good feeling and I get it from time to time even though I’m a lowly DDK that’s currently bouncing between 20-18 kyu. I wouldn’t expect that the stupid feeling would depart in the first few months of playing. It is, as others have mentioned, more like learning a musical instrument in that respect. Really badly sucking at guitar or piano can be miserable in the beginning, but then you start getting a little better from having put some time in. And not loads of time, but regular time. I think skills like these take some initial investment, but then they are enjoyable even if you’re not at the level of playing gigs for beer or better.


Well, I’ve been playing for a long time (and with long breaks, too) and honestly I don’t know if it’s ever been as fun as swimming in a lake on a hot summer’s day. Still, I play Go very frequently and the last time I went swimming was years ago. It’s an odd kind of fun.

But yea, most people on this planet wouldn’t even touch the game. You’re already in the minority of those who’ve tried. Ain’t no shame in giving up a hobby that never was and that would never give you anything in return.

No one chooses Go. Go chooses you.


This topic seems pretty well wrapped up and has a lot of interesting perspectives, but I think I can add a fresh angle from sport psychology. As I’ve noted before in this forum, competitors in sports and games generally have an extrinsic motivation (EM; winning, awards, etc,) or intrinsic motivation (IM; self-generated satisfaction). If you are young, well equipped by nature, and have the time, you will probably go further with EM. If you are old, less well equipped, and have little time, you probably need IM to sustain an interest in go.

The OP’s opening descriptive (“fascinating”) is also my favorite word when talking about go, and it suggests IM. However, I think it is clear that the OP is primarily extrinsically motivated and probably doesn’t have the time needed to become as strong as he would like, so I agree with his self-assessment.

I see the association with “fun” as alien to my viewpoint. I find go enjoyable, but not really fun. The distinction? Reading Waiting for Godot or One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich can be enjoyable but they are surely not fun (though Lucky’s speech is rather funny). Go is too hard to be fun, but it’s endlessly stimulating to my thinking and curiosity, which is enjoyable. On the other hand, I did feel that distance running was fun, though seriously painful, back in the day, but that was perhaps because of the EM of camaraderie with the team and even with opponents. It also gives an IM due to the visceral feeling of increasing strength as once improves, though paradoxically it becomes increasingly painful as one gets stronger. I imagine this may happen in go too—didn’t Cho Chikun once say he hated go?

I had a rare opportunity a few weeks ago to play at the Arlington (VA) AGA club (they had about 12 boards that night!). Played a decent game against a 9k, but finally got cut to pieces due to a joseki mistake much earlier in the game, Then I got embarrassingly smashed by a 5k. This was losing in style—and it was exhilarating because it was so delightful to see all those new faces playing go.

There are so many ways to enjoy go if one really finds the game fascinating in itself: studying books; watching teaching videos, or live game video commentaries, or streamers; playing different board sizes or speeds; doing tsumego; or watching games on OGS. I may lack competitive spirit in my old age, but I don’t mind marinating in mediocrity as long as I enjoy it—and after all, it’s only a game.


Great clarity.

I think that this can be quite readily helped!

Solution: teaching game with the right-for-you teacher. Different people work better for different people.

I’d be happy to give it a shot, as would many others. You don’t have to feel lost and stupid: especially at the TPK/DDK level there is quite a good pathway to improve and to look systematically at the game and feel like you know where you are going.

Even at the SDK/DDK boundary (where I am currently stuck) I can see what the path is. I’m not lost, I’m just too lazy to do the workout to start up that trail yet :smiley:

But at 20k the trail is comparatively smooth and gentle. Some do fall by the wayside, but you don’t need thousands or even hundreds of hours to progress.



Don’t give up! It sounds like we are very similar people, in very similar situations. Here’s what helps me:

Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to progress. Nobody is demanding a certain amount of improvement in a certain amount of time.

Don’t play against people much stronger than yourself, even in teaching games. It might seem like a good idea, since they know a lot about the game, but it can also be disheartening because you’ll get crushed. What you need is a teacher who is just a little bit better than yourself, who remembers clearly what keys made the difference in progressing past their prior (and your current) level.

Focus on fundamental tactics (live and dead shapes of 5 spaces or fewer, saving stones in atari, etc) and pat yourself on the back for spotting opportunities to use them in real games.

Find a friend about the same level as you who is a good sport. Communicate openly during games and share your observations, reasoning and queries.

Play mini games by yourself with simple tsumego. Don’t be content just to find the solution. Set up the puzzle stones on a real board and play out different moves and scenarios until you feel like you understand it inside and out.

If you fancy a game, send me an invite for correspondence. I can’t guarantee you’ll learn anything, but I’m pretty sure we would have fun =)


Agreed. I’m done with Go. Tried again tonight. Tilted hard by the end.


Oh right, you’re the one who played against Itzki…

Yeah, I kinda told him off for mercilessly killing everything, since it was lose-lose and neither of you gain from the encounter.

I thought that name was familiar.


I wish to say “Alright, goodbye”, but after I took a look at your games, I feel you should blame yourself and not the game for being done with Go. First of all it seems you’re frustrated that you keep losing, but from the 12 games you just played, 10 of them were with players at least three stones above your rank (which I guess is 22k, based on what is was before tilting). You shouldn’t expect to win without handicap from any of them to begin with, so why get frustrated over it? If you wanted to win, you should use a handicap, or find players of your own strength. If you don’t, it’s entirely your fault for not enjoying it because of defeat.

Until the games that are titled “Just burning the desire to play this game out of me” you played pretty decently, actually. But then you played four games using the same silly tactic of feeding your stones to your opponent, incidentally ruining a game against an opponent where you actually had a chance, and resigning another that you were actually winning.

It’s just plain unreasonable.


The thing is it’s obvious that the OP is totally lost and although he knows the rules, he doesn’t know how to play.

He’s also said as much himself: he feels lost.

The problem is he also feels like he can solve it himself by banging his head against it instead of getting help.

Quitting now is like quitting golf before even being shown how to hold the stick…

There are some absolute basics that are easy to teach that would transform those games and actually it would be fun.


The game can be fun, but that’s totally subjective. If you wish, you can enjoy watching paint dry - that’s totally up to you. The Game of Go is fascinating, deep experience. It’s stunning how such simple ruleset can create such a complex mental exercise. And the game is only going to get tougher as you keep improving, so if you’d like to quit, this is the best moment.

Stop playing before you sacrifice too much effort, as otherwise the investments will keep pulling you back in. You’ll start enjoying the pain and even the slightest improvements will keep getting you back to the board. You’ll keep unravelling the game, layer, by layer, by layer, by layer, by layer, by layer, by layer… Without a point, without a meaning (you are free to project your own). You’ll just keep going deeper trying to solve a puzzle that never meant to have a solution.

Wait, are you still here? It may be that you have lost yourself to Go already. Well, in such case, good luck!


Other resources


Agreed. Go is an excellent game. Further, I agree it’s on me. My apologies if that wasn’t clear.


Still, there is this conflict in your… emotions (?) regarding the game, fascination and disgust.
If you have any chance seek out real-life teachers, ideally not standing too high above you in rank. This could make all the difference. Have my best wishes for this or for finding another game with at least the same kind of fascination for you.


Real talk, babe. In order to not feel lost, you need what I call Go-vision.

What is Go-vision? It’s you recognizing what belongs to what, from macro to micro. You start with recognizing the empty space. If you can successfully recognize empty space, you’re basically teen kyu. Then you see which stones can form groups, or more accurately, you comprehend what makes “a group”. You see potential cutting points, “shape moves” (connecting moves of varying degrees of efficiency and nuance).

But before that, you just see grains of sand on the beach. Go is like painting in that a skilled player can effortlessly paint a picture of the future goban. It is unlike painting in that someone without painting skill can still appreciate the painting of a skilled artist.

To acquire Go-vision, you need to watch a lot of games, preferably of skilled players. Once you can see the local formations, you can understand tsumego. Now proceed to investigate the strategic aspect of the game. Safety of a group, direction of play,… or advanced lessons in local tactics, improving shape…


There’s also capture go… :slight_smile:


I just want to address an aspects of this convo:


You write about misery and frustration through loosing a lot, and another post was about raging and tilting because of that. I can relate to that, in that i found myself looking down the road, too. But just think about that premise that you have to win in order to enjoy the game, and that your value as a person is somehow defined or attacked by loosing or the representation of your current rank. THIS IS WRONG. This is what is stopping you, regardless of rank, to enjoy the game.

Change your premise. Your premise is now to enjoy every game, to observe how it unfolds in a dialogue with your sparring partner and develops in unique and variing ways every time. You can learn something from every game. You cannot win every game.

“50% chance of winning, 50% chance of loosing, 100% of learning something new.”

Get a label printer, post that infront of your screen.

Unless you are playing at a high rated tournament the pure outcome of your current game
is nearly irrelevant in this picture.

For further dealing with loosing or ladder anxiety i recommend this links from the StarCraft 2 Scene:

and the #110 from Day9 on yt:


Well, I fear that this is a very big problem for a beginner at Go.
I play Go since about two years ago, on OGS I’m 9k now, IRL I feel more like I’m 12/13k, and I still have that feeling.

I look at Dwyrin videos on Youtube and see how his mind is clear while playing against SDK players. I try to learn something, but still I pass the most time of a game asking myself: am I doing right? Where will this move bring me? And most of the time my opponent plays moves that I didn’t expect…

But I think that also Dwyrin and also best players in the world can feel that when playing.
I’ve seen very few professional games, but there were a lot of grimaces meaning something like “Why did he play there? What is he thinking about? Am I in danger? What should I respond? I feel very uncomfortable!”

So I think you must have a taste for being disoriented and uncomfortable if you want to keep playing Go. :slight_smile:

Also I found very very useful at the beginning to play on smaller boards (I stayed on 9x9 many months) and playing against a software (on my phone) where I could undo and redo a move as many times as I liked.
It was just a training, but it let me understand the basics much better than just simply playing and losing agaist people.