Observing ongoing games

I often spent time watching games by the higher ranked players to learn from their play. Often, before I challenge another player, I watch a game to “get myself in the proper mind set.” But, I wonder…do people often watch games played by lower-ranked players? Will a higher ranked player observe games by 18K and 20K players, and if so, why?


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For the thrill of unexpected of course! :smiley:


If watching better players makes you better, does watching worse ones make you worse?! :smiley:

Actually, yes. It’s well known among go teachers that playing their students makes their own game weaker.


In my chess playing days I heard the same thing, though this was not advanced for occasional games or a master playing multiple simultaneous games against students. I think it can get you into bad habits, and I know that even in musicianship (I play electric bass) if you limit yourself to simple rhythms and riffs, you can lose your edge over time. So I believe that BHydden made a true statement.
But will observation have the same effect as actual playing?

For a time, we of the OGS chat did “20k-watching”. I’d post a link of a couple of players about 20k, then we’d flood in en masse to freak them out (as OGS shows the amount of spectators). Then we’d make all sorts of dramatic comments.

It was all done in the spirit of fun and respect, ofc, and we’d leave helpful comments and variations.


The players can’t see what you’re saying, can they, when you comment during the game?

no not until after the game is finished


I don’t recall every seeing either observers or comments after a game. I’ll have to check that out. It’s correct, during the game that information is not apparent (which is why I don’t recall seeing it), but I don’t recall seeing it after the conclusion either.


I love watching games, and I watch a lot at certain times of the year, when there is no work to do, or weeknights, when I am too tired to play. I prefer commentaries to accompany games among the higher ranks, as there is too much I don’t understand. I watch games of people around my rank to get an idea of what I’m up against. And I watch high-DDK 9x9 games because the games are short, DDKs seem to play them the most, and 9x9 fascinates me (though I’m really very poor at it, playing on Go Quest and IRL). There is a consensus, I think—certainly in my local go group—that it is easier to see mistakes when watching a game than when playing a game. So watching games at or below one’s level increases one’s awareness of things to avoid. Also, watching games by weaker players (in moderation, of course) can be motivational, because you see quite a few mistakes and realize, “Wow, I really am making progress.”

I think it is widely understood that playing against weaker opponents—whether in chess, other games, or sports—will over time weaken one’s performance. The primary reason is the lack of challenge, which causes one to get in the habit of putting out less effort (I believe the sport psychology literature supports this). I don’t believe that observing has the same effect, at least in moderation, as the dynamics are quite different.

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