Not getting better


#1

I just saw a topic like this, but with someone who hasn’t been playing for very long. I’ve known how to play for 2 and a half years. I took a break for around a year and started playing again around 6 or 7 months ago. I’ve tried reading some books but nothing sticks with me. I’m able to solve life or death problems for higher single digit kyu players and sometimes even low dan problems with a few hints, yet in games I’m awful at knowing where to invade, knowing how to kill a group, and knowing how to stay alive. I’ve been staying from 11kyu-17kyu for months, and whenever I seem to get better and win like 10 games in a row, I start losing a lot again. It’s just this endless cycle.

(info on how I learned how to play: I read the manga Hikaru No Go when I was young and decided to learn to play a few years after. The only things I knew were how to capture and how to count points. I’ve pretty much only learned from my own experiences and reading parts of some go books)

If anyone has any advice for how I could get better (example: go book that’s easy to understand), that would be greatly appreciated.


Comments on the Multilingual Go Book Project
#2

If you’re looking for books, the River Mountain Go series and Shape Up! are very good. I’d also recommend Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go and Attack and Defense.

If you’re doing all the grind, feverishly, for several hours a day and you still can’t claw your way up, you need a psychological boost. Convince yourself that you’re x rank, that your opponents’ moves are all mistakes and that you’re going to show them sente. Make a new account with a badass name and play according to that badass new persona. Confidence. Sheer confidence.


#3

Dwyrin’s Back to Basics series.


#4

I found this book https://www.gobook.eu/ easy to understand (I’ve just started reading it). It has the added appeal that it’s available in my language, and it may be too simple for you (I’m a newbie) but I like the way the author progresses through the moves.

Most books are written for beginners but with their mind on masters and I’ve found it difficult to follow such a steep learning curve.


#5

I found this book https://www.gobook.eu/ easy to understand

I wasn’t aware of this book, it looks very nicely put together !!!


#6

I haven’t seen this one before. Nice find!

From a quick look through it, I cannot give my ringing endorsement to this book. It covers a wide range of topics and some of the material is certainly good.

But it was written by an amateur Go player and probably not thoroughly edited/vetted. This shows in its long-windedness and second-hand explanations.

If you do read it, please take what it says with a grain of salt. Skip the chapters on joseki and fuseki (opening patterns) as they are mostly last-century obsolete. This is why stronger players will tell you to learn from patterns, but not to learn patterns (by rote). :wink:


#8

I’ll keep that in mind (it’s not my only studying material), but sometimes a better student can explain more clearly than a teacher.

They get the struggles and haven’t forgotten yet the stupid questions of “huh?!” levels. :slight_smile:


#9

Apparently, the author has an OGS account: @JethOrensin

However, he does not seem to be active on this forum.


#10

Identify your weaknesses, and look for ways to specifically fix those weaknesses. If you can’t tell where you’re weak, get some game reviews from stronger players who can point out your weaknesses.

Then, look for ways to improve those specific aspects of your game. Messing up in the opening and getting way behind? Learn some basic opening theory. Find some SIMPLE joseki that you can use to get decent positions. Messing up the midgame? Direction of play and shape.

Looking at one of your recent losses, direction of play is probably the biggest thing you can work on. Identify “big” points and play those. Don’t be afraid to lose stones, once in a while. You have a tendency to try to rescue weak stones with no real means of doing so, and then lose more stones and give your opponent. You also tend to make small, aimless moves with no real threat or purpose. Following that, I’d say shape. Knowing tsumego won’t help if you’re getting into situations where there’s no winning solution. Playing good shape, and learning how to set yourself up to live, rather than trying to claw out two eyes from whatever you end up with, will go further for improving your play than more tsumego.

I’d recommend Shape Up!, The Direction of Play, and Dwyrin’s Back to Basics series, as well requesting reviews for your games on OGS. (For review requests, I’d recommend always doing self-review before hand, and mostly asking about games where you’re not really sure why you lost, or what you should’ve done to win. Losing a 20-stone group, and being told “don’t lose 20-stone groups” is less important than getting pointers about your blind spots.)


#11

I just took a look at this book and I cannot help but wonder exactly which part looks “nicely put together” to you. What irks me is its…

  • Bad structure - it is inexcusable to come up with anything that’s even slightly worse in terms of pacing and coherence than playgo.to/iwtg/en and this isn’t even close. The ‘book’ starts off with a 12-page exposé on… something. If someone wants to learn how to play Go, he has to skip this part because it’s all cumbersome preface. On (pdf-)page 13 we learn that “pieces are disks called stones” (emphasis removed) and that “unoccupied grid points which intersect with the position of a stone are called liberties”. Nevermind the fact that it’s wrong, it’s hard to even understand what the author is trying to tell us. The correct assessment would be “empty intersections adjacent to a stone are called liberties of said stone”, but for Go’s sake, KEEP IT SIMPLE. If you want to explain a term, you have to introduce it. “We call the points where two lines meet ‘intersections’. If a stone has empty intersections next to it [see diagram x], we call these intersections ‘liberties’ of that stone.” Done.
    Ko is introduced just a few pages after the capture rule is explained, elementary life and death is tackled in chapter 6 (pdf-page 149!)… it just doesn’t make any sense.

  • Badly copypasted diagrams that are way too crowded for beginners to make sense of; they’re often misleading or just plain wrong (e.g.: pdf-page 18’s “rare case of dual life” is in fact so rare that even this contrived example doesn’t qualify - perhaps due to aforementioned bad cropping; or pdf-page 20, middle - “White…ignores…and win[s] the ko fight” - No, no white doesn’t win that ko fight. It’s now another ko.).

Did I mention that it’s also a bad idea for the ‘author’ to claim copyright, considering he’s breaching copyright by using KGS graphics?

I’m sure a lot of time went into the making of that book, but I would not recommend this to anyone who’d like to learn the game.


#12

It is put together nicely in the sense that author makes it clear when to read carefully and when to browse. There are boxy explanations, well-placed glossaries. Overall, very easy to tackle.

Best thing about it is that it rushes through various concepts, so if you were missing some beginner mechanics, it can draw attention to those. Many such details about the game get skipped over during talks with better playes and take a long time to get to in other beginner books.

The author being an online player is another upside to the book because it makes his experience and approach to the game more similar to mine.

I don’t think it is that damaging to have his personal convoluted definitons of go terms in the book. There are many established resources to learn the terms from.

The author is not claiming to write the ultimate book to learn go. “The reason for it’s existence is that i have never found a book written with a beginner’s mindset”. I agree with this assessment by the author completely. All the go books are written from a godly place by people who have forgotten how to be a newbie. This project of beginners teaching other beginners via free books is a breath of fresh air.

If anyone knows of good alternatives, i’d be happy to take a look.


#13

I mentioned all of them in my post above, but I’ll link them this time: Aside from playgo.to as the most instructive interactive introduction, I consider River Mountain Go 1 and RMG2 to be the best free books for beginners. Shape Up! is great, but it’s not meant to be an introductory text.


#14

@smurph, I’m Brazilian but I can understand English despite having been to school. Most in my country can’t, however, so, if they want to learn about Go beyond the introductory level (The Interactive Way to Go and OGS’s tutorial are both available in our native language), the only option would probably be the translation of the Nihon Ki-in’s Go: The Most Fascinating Game in the World—which is hard to find: I’ve found a single offering for it, its two volumes costing around U$ 80.00 plus shipping at a used bookstore online.

What you referred to as an exposé is actually A Go Guide From a Beginner’s introduction, in which the author, Haris Kapolos, presents the reasons for his deciding to write the book, the first and foremost being that the situation in Greece, when it comes to resources about Go, is similar to my country’s. Given that, not only did he want to offer a book written in his own native language, but he also wanted to make it available in as many languages as possible—for free.

I am sure most people would agree that the idea is commendable. As for the execution, of course there will be imperfections: the author himself makes it clear that he is not a professional or a high-dan-level player—and he did the whole thing alone. But the book is a work in progress, and the whole point of the project is the ease to make changes as the need for them becomes evident.

I’m translating the book into Brazilian Portuguese and, since I’m one of them meddling kids, I’ve made a number of suggestions concerning the original text and the overall project and there hasn’t been a single instance when said ideas were met with disregard or a straightaway refusal to change things. So, the author is approachable.

(In fact, the only idea I presented so far that hasn’t been implemented was a minor one: using the convention, seen for instance in Janice Kim’s Learn to Play Go series, of using masculine and feminine pronouns to refer to Black and White respectively, but while Kapolos chose not to go with it in the English version, explaining to me why, he said that I was free to use that in the translation and make other changes that I deemed fit.)

I can’t offer suggestions about things like how the book could or should be otherwise structured or which subjects could or should be approached first and so on—I’ve been playing Go for little over two months and I’m currently ranked as 20k, so I don’t know better (and sutor, ne ultra crepidam)—but Kapolos would surely welcome, and thoroughly consider, any recommendations made by an advanced player such as yourself. Even if someone can’t, or would rather not, participate in any of the translations, feedback would be much appreciated.

Anyway, to conclude my deviation from the thread’s subject: I will pass along your suggestions to Kapolos. While my involvement with the project is as a translator, I’m personally grateful for anyone who helps improving the book—after all, if for nothing else, that would benefit Brazilian readers as well. So, thank you (and @Animiral) for the points you presented and, in advance, for anything further you might wish to contribute.


#15

@Animiral

But it was written by an amateur Go player and probably not thoroughly edited/vetted.

Indeed it does have this problem, but the target group is beginners and people who want to get to SDK. It is my hope that people will send me feedback so I can make the content more accurate or correct any proof-readable mistakes.

Skip the chapters on joseki and fuseki (opening patterns) as they are mostly last-century obsolete.

This is done by design … I could have gotten into the AlhpaGo patterns and plays, but those are currently being explored by professionals and, let us face it, a lot of the AI moves we simply do not fully understand.

So, I wanted to get to the basics, things that everyone - at any level - should grasp with relative ease :slight_smile:

This is why stronger players will tell you to learn from patterns, but not to learn patterns (by rote)

I am sorry if I conveyed such a thing, but I explicitly say around three times that joseki and fuseki are not to be memorised, but understood. If you learn things “as they are” you get weaker … if you understand why those particular moves where chosen and not others, you get stronger. Or, at least, that is what I think and worked for me.

That is why simply joseki take up pages to explain and I honestly cannot come up with more ways to explain those moves.

Thank you for giving my book a shot and please, if you find ANY mistakes or if you have any suggestions, please send them along, I can correct mistakes very fast and I do upload new versions of the book almost every month.

Have a nice day!


#16

@smurph

The ‘book’ starts off with a 12-page exposé on… something.

Excuse me, but you are counting in those 12 pages the index and pages “intentionally left blank” which is obviously not correct … out of the whole book (192 pages) only pages 1 and 2 in the beginning and 191 and 192 in the end are not strictly Go related. I really do not think that having a 2 pages introduction and explanation, as well as an 1 page outro and an “about the author” is really that bad form.

Every book I’ve ever read has those, so I didn’t think it was “bad form”. Besides, as you said, they can be easily skipped :slight_smile:

If a stone has empty intersections next to it [see diagram x]
Badly copypasted diagrams that are way too crowded for beginners to make sense of

Indeed there is no [see diagram x] in my book and this is by design .
I dislike the usual form where the text is crammed in one place of the book, all the diagrams are in the side and are referenced, forcing you to stop reading and try to look for (and through) diagrams and then try to return back to the point.

I, as a reader, would have liked a book where the diagram and its text are one and the same. That might look cluttered, but at least this way the reader knows what the diagram is all about. So, that is how I made the whole thing. I understand that it veers quite a lot from the traditional Go book standard, but I believe it is more easy to understand this way.

The diagrams do get better and more “zoomed out” after chapter one, btw :slight_smile: In the first chapter they are indeed a bit messy, mostly due to trying to zoom in on specific shapes and concepts that are being talked about.

elementary life and death is tackled in chapter 6 (pdf-page 149!)… it just doesn’t make any sense

But how could I talk about life and death without explaining shapes first ? And invasions and fighting and some basic tesuji ? If you have an alternative, I’d be very happy to implement it, but I think that, as a beginner myself, there are more basic things to learn, before dwelving into life and death.

“rare case of dual life” is in fact so rare that even this contrived example doesn’t qualify

If it is not dual life, please explain it to me and I will change the diagram :slight_smile:

“White…ignores…and win[s] the ko fight” - No, no white doesn’t win that ko fight. It’s now another ko.).

Well, White does fill the liberty and wins that Ko fight, does he not … should I have honestly told people in page 13 that “later on, Black can force another Ko fight and kill this group” ? At this point, presumably, the reader barely knows the rules and the next Ko, which I assume you are talking about, could have been missed by most DDK players.

Did I mention that it’s also a bad idea for the ‘author’ to claim copyright, considering he’s breaching copyright by using KGS graphics?

Ehm, sorry but before laying such heavy accusations have you considered that I might have emailed them before publishing the book and that I do credit the KGS free client for being used in all diagrams?

Given this opportunity I want to add I was very careful not to offend anyone with usage of outside materials that is why all the diagrams come from my personal games in DGS and the only images within the book are the photograph by Ailin Hsiao in page 5 (which is credited and I contacted her about it both before and after the book was made) and the image of Yasutoshi Yasuda from the public profile of the Nihon Kiin.

I am not a professional author, so if I made some mistake by taking an ISBN, please let me know.

Thank you for your feedback, I hope that some of my explanations for my choices where satisfactory. If you find any mistakes and you have any other suggestions, please contact me via the book’s website contact form or though OGS messages to exchange emails and we can discuss them.

Have a nice day :slight_smile:


#17

They get the struggles and haven’t forgotten yet the stupid questions of “huh?!” levels.

How can I forget ? I go “huh?!” every day and that is the magic of the game :smiley:

Incidentally, in the book, whenever you see a player making a huge mistake or a blunder, that players is usually me. Which is the underlying message: we can get better!

I am happy you are finding the book useful. If you spot any mistakes, please let me know.

Be well!


#18

Dear @JethOrensin,

I appreciate that you are actively looking for feedback. :slight_smile:

If there is one suggestion that I can make right away, especially since you are seeking contributors, it would be to change the license. In the first line, you write that you hold the copyright and that the book may not be reproduced or used in any manner without your approval. I would not give my own time to an educational effort with such a hostile attitude.

Why not put it under Creative Commons instead? That way, you reassure your future contributors that your collective work will always be available to everyone and under what terms (e.g. noncommercial).

I disagree vehemently with this. The old openings are not easier or more basic than more recent ones. Neither are the moves of AlphaGo generally hard to understand. I wonder which specific examples you have in mind here.

Maybe your point is that when you show a beginner a modern variation of the star point invasion on 3-3, they will not understand the implications of every move. Well, neither will it help them to explain the idea of the Kobayashi opening as conceived by professionals in the 80s and their counter-strategy from the 90s. Stick to general opening principles. If you need an example, choose a contemporary pattern of which we can say confidently that it is balanced, like Orthodox with a large enclosure.


#19

Yes, I understand all those caveats, and after all I’m not critiquing any other than the English version. Obviously the structural weakness doesn’t depend on language, though.

If I were to write an introductory book on Go, this is how I would structure it:

  1. List all topics I want to cover
  2. Prepare a second list with all related elements I can think of
  3. Work out -per element- which other elements are required in order to explain it = create a ‘precedence table’
  4. Translate precedence table into a logically coherent order of topics

Reply to J.O.'s post coming up.


#20

@Animiral

I would not give my own time to an educational effort with such a hostile attitude.

As I mentioned in another post above, I am not a professional writter, so for such typical stuff I just went along with the flow, found a typical disclaimer and just used it. Most of the books I read, have it or something similar, so I thought that this was something standard. Apparently I was wrong, so …

Why not put it under Creative Commons instead?

I will check it out and see what I can do, though taking that ISBN cost me a lot of time and some money.
In the end of the day I fully explain the purposes of the project in the webpage and the book is free to download, so I am a bit perplexed why this is an issue. In any case, I will look into it :slight_smile:

The old openings are not easier or more basic than more recent ones.

Well, the ones I used are as basic as it gets (e.g. the usual approach joseki of a 4-4 corner, the 3-3 invasion, the forth line approach to the 3-4 opening etc). I didn’t go for taisha, magic swords or avalanches.

Well, neither will it help them to explain the idea of the Kobayashi opening as conceived by professionals in the 80s and their counter-strategy from the 90s.

No argument there, but we have to keep in mind that most of those issues are so large that they have had dedicated books only for those subjects. Granted, I was unable to explain all the intricacies of the Kobayashi fuseki (not that I claim to understand all of them, but I didn’t even cover all the things that I do understand), but having first presented the “usual” approach joseki to the 3-4 opening, I was able to demonstrate what the main trap of the fuseki was about. That was my goal, after all. ( page 86 to page 92 or page 93 to 99 in the pdf pagecount )

Of course there were some solutions back then (I analysed one) and AlphaGo now has found even better refutations of the fuseki (Nick Sibicky made a video about it recently). The human solution is not “the best” but it was something concieved by humans and thus a bit easier for me to understand and a bit easier to explain. The AlphaGo solution is better, but it just much more complex. I do not fully understand all the subtle threats behind AlphaGo’s choices of moves, so I cannot explain to others “why this move and not that one” which, for me, is very important.

In the end of the day I think that in order to explain something, I had to be the first to understand it very well. If there was even one move that I couldn’t explain to myself, I thought that it would have been very bad manners for me to say “play this because the pros or AlphaGo say it is the correct move” without being able to offer some insight to the reader.

After all, the goal was not anything lofty in terms of gaining Go strength … it is a book for beginners that want to get into the game and DDKs that want to make the jump to high SDK, so I think that establishing some good habits (like studying a move, not just copying it) and insisting on the player having fun at this level, is more important than trying to brain-storm every subject. There are much better authors and players for that, with books dedicated on each particular issue. :slight_smile:


#21

You mentioned you read some books and I am wondering what books have you read, cause you only mentioned life and death problem as an example. my own experience is after reading a series of introductory books like listed below, i could get easily 5kyu level. I actually read those books, maybe not the exact same books, 20+ years ago and after 20+ years layoff, i started playing on OGS three months ago and was able to get to 3k and stayed there for quite some time, just based on my memory of the those books. I am re-reading them.

Those are basics written for beginners. For example, opening is about opening principle. An opening book about chinese opening does not help that much to kyu players, myself included, in my opinion, it is too complex, especially without understanding of those basic concepts.

I am reading In the beginning: the opening in the game of go.

Will read: opening theory made easy.
the elementary go series:
tesuji
attack and defense
38 basic joseki