New player (whoa)

Hi, I’m new to the game of go (struggling with the learning process) and looking for some guidance…

For awhile I’ve been casually fascinated with complex systems and emergent phenomena and when I first saw go I immediately felt that it encapsulated things I’d for years found interesting. It just clicked and I felt like I had an immediate appreciation for the game (this was around the time that AlphaGo was generating attention). I bought a board and some stones (YMI bamboo board with the double convex Yunzi stones) and tried to get my friends to jump into learning and playing with me. We managed a bit of 9x9, but my enthusiasm was basically mine alone and I ended up discouraged and/or distracted and the set ended up in my closet.

These days I have the motivation and the time to try again, so that’s what I’m working on. In the last few weeks I’ve worked up to 13x13 and eventually 19x19 (I find the nature of the 19x19 board really intriguing, but when I play I eventually feel lost). I’ve read through Volumes 1 and 2 of Learn to Play Go by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun and I’m currently working through In the Beginning by Ikuro Ishigure. I also watch a lot of the Youtube content that is available to learn from. I just don’t feel like on my own I’m able to utilize the information I’m processing. I did go to my first local go club meet up last week (and plan to go weekly) and also started playing online.

I was playing at IGS but heard that OGS was more beginner friendly so I’ve moved over here. I am going to try to play a 19x19 game a day (I have to psych myself up to play, I’ve yet to win a game so it’s hard to feel like I am able to win each time I play). I’m generally pretty motivated to teach myself about the things I’m interested in, but I feel like go is so challenging that I find myself doubting my own efforts…

So I’ve decided to reach out (which is not really in my nature) and see if anyone is interested in helping me progress with this game. I’m also open to advice that involves joining a certain OGS group and how to get the most out of it. I was also thinking that if you’re someone that is also motivated and just starting out that maybe we could together create some accountability to the learning process. I don’t know… any ideas are welcome. Thanks!


Welcome to the Go world and to the site, @birdsong ! The most direct advice I can give you (and most will agree) is to play, play and play. Lose many games as fast as possible. Don’t think too much about your moves at the beginning. This way you’ll very soon understand the game basic rudiments and dynamics. It’s a damn complex game, so don’t worry if you feel lost, we all do. Enjoy the road.

Second advice is, don’t throw the towel! Stay around, head over to the site chat page to hang out, post games you’ve played here on the forums for any of us to help you review it, ask questions, etc, etc. The community is here to help players of all levels to walk this wonderful path. :slight_smile:


I’ve started learning Go a few times now. I tend to cycle with it the way I’ve done with other things that are inherently complex and difficult. Play and study a while, then get frustrated and burned out and quit. Then come back and have another try. Each time I try to reflect on the mental and behavioral patterns that lead to my burn out and try something a little differently. As a friend pointed out, if I focus on progressing as quickly and efficiently as possible, then I may be sacrificing another goal which is to have as much fun as possible. And if you kill the fun, you kill the efficiency of learning, anyway, because frustration and burnout are about as far from both efficient learning and fun as you can get.

I’ve just started playing again. Feel free to send me a challenge and/or friend request. I can’t give any great guidance, but I can empathize and share the camaraderie of other learners, and share what is or is not working for me at the moment.


Welcome to the server and the world of go! I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time here.

Recently, another player on this site wrote a great beginner welcome/intro. I don’t think I can do a better job, so I’ll just link to it here:


Welcome to Go!

Well, it seems you’ve already studied Haengma with volume II of “Learn to Play Go”, but if you don’t quite feel like you’ve grasped it, there’s an interactive tutorial at The Interactive Way to Go, which I found really useful.

If you feel lost on a 19x19 board, my advice is don’t play it yet. There are disagreements about this idea, but when I was getting stronger, I did 9x9 until I felt confortable doing the 13x13 board, and did the 13x13 until I felt confortable on a 19x19. The reason I did this is because I feel the progression is as follows: 9x9 teaches basic tactics (many say it’s a knife fight in a phone booth), 13x13 is still incredibly territorial and tactical, but you have the beginnings of strategy (corner-side-center, big moves, and the like), whereas 19x19 is very strategy focus.

Also, I noticed you only have one ranked game on the server, and are thus ranked way above your level (This is one of the downsides of our current ranking system, and there are still arguments about this, although it’s more rare now), so you’re gonna have to lose a few more games to get to where you need to be (I recommend 9x9 or blitz so that these games go by quickly).

Aside from that, my advice is more or less the same as everyone else’s: play more games. There’s an old saying that “the first step to becoming stronger is to lose your first 50 games as fast as possible” (which, as a beginner, I thought it said first 1000 games, which makes sense if you’re trying to become an SDK), because the first 50-100 games are what cements your understanding of the game, and what allows you to recognize certain situations and respond quickly.

There is one more piece of advice though: don’t worry about reading. As a beginner, you’re probably going to try to predict the opponents move and work from there. I tried to do that as a beginner and it never worked out. When you are capable of looking several moves ahead, it’ll come naturally (I think), so don’t try to force it at these beginning stages.


I’m touched - thanks! :slight_smile:


Thanks for all of the quick replies everyone (I didn’t know if it would be better to reply to each post or make one that addressed each, I decided on the latter) :blush:

It’s amazing how “play, play, and play more” is so helpful to hear. That is something I’ve known to be important but I still felt I first needed to know which foot to put forward before getting to it. I also need to make sure to keep the fun of it in mind… I can get distracted and disheartened with the hope of progress and I too have to watch out for burnout. Thanks!

I’m looking forward to when my rank settles and I know where I’m at (more incentive to play, play, play…) it is a little rough to start ~12k though.

I can see how the different board sizes are complimentary to each other, I’ll keep that in mind rather than trying to rush to 19x19 (and at the same time not getting too stressed out about feeling lost when I do play there).

I’ll definitely check out the Dwyrin’s Back to Basics series. I think developing a “decision-tree of priorities” will help that lost feeling I seem to find so often.

For what it’s worth today I found Dsaun’s shape lecture ( and while it’s too advanced for me I’m finding it to be substantial material to think about and work through in the future.

Anyway, thanks again everyone!

1 Like

I would recommend contacting the site adminstrators and having them reset your rank to 25 kyu - that will simplify things a lot for you

1 Like

That makes sense, I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

I highly doubt they will do this, and honestly I’d be surprised if birdsong even got a reply.

One of the main reasons we switched to Glicko-2 is that our mods were getting swamped with requests to adjust their rank. The ranking system is VERY proficient at getting you to an appropriate rank very quickly providing you actually play ranked games (I read earlier in this thread that only 1 ranked game has been played, lose 2-3 more ranked games and you will very likely be 20+ kyu)

EDIT: I just looked at your profile, that one loss has already taken you from 13k? to 18k? so there is certainly no need to contact a site admin, the system is working exactly as intended.


Hey mean! I would have totally replied, but you are correct that we can no longer adjust ranks, the system is self-contained or what’s the word.
I always recommend not to worry about the rank, it will solve itself in a few games, but if you really need to crush it down, you can for example challenge a robot (master mantis, possibly even with handicap) several times and resign after 3-4 moves… Should do the trick


Point taken, I’m sure you would <3 poor choice of words from me at that point.

1 Like

Thanks for chiming in. I’ll just play on and let it settle out…


I mean, if you’re planning on following the advise of losing your first 50 games as fast as possible, then I can guarantee your rank will be nicely tanked by that point (and I’d be surprised if you could lose 50 straight games without a win once you get down to the lower end)

Also @birdsong, once you are comfortable with the rules - know what atari is and why you need two eyes - I am always happy to play a few games and discuss them after.

Feel free to send me a correspondence challenge if you want - or a friend request if you prefer live matches (to see when I am online).

1 Like

whoops! sorry for giving out of date advice! :slight_smile:


I’m happy to do a teaching game also.

There is a possibly-helpful thread about how people got started. I described in some detail what worked for me to at least get into DDK - some of it might work for you:



Hi and Welcome to the world of Go.
The people here are friendly in that they will chat and answer your questions in the forum. We were all beginners once.

It is good that you are reading some books, but it is not necessary to read too many. Books will be useful to show you how to keep your stones alive and where to play at the start of the game.

Don’t feel intimidated when playing / don’t know where to play. After reading the books, just try things and see how they work out. If you lose the game, just start another. Even when you have played for many years, you will still be winning 50%, losing 50% of games as we all do.

Just enjoy the journey. You will probably keep playing as long as there is something else that you want to try. Or like me, just to pass the time :slight_smile: