Repost: To become a master of Go is not easy, but to become an amateur 5D or 6D is not hard


This is a copy of the source, where a high dan player explains the importance of solving tsumego the right way.
It is not writen by my, but i like his idea. Enjoy reading.

I saw many friends in forum complaining they can’t make progress, I will share my self-learn experience about I from Tygem 2D to 8D.

Before talking the details, I have to point out several points about study quality and study will.

  1. study quality
    No matter do tsumego or have matchs, without quality it’s insignificant. We can see some internet player have played thousands games, but still stay at k-level or low dan, this because of study quality.
  1. You should know the right way
    If your study way it’s proper, you can avoid detours. We play Go since the late 1980s had have many detours, wasted lots times.

I remember I hold a Joseki dictionary and memorize the contents, I could repeat every variations from memory and self-satisfaction for it. After I improved some years later, I know it was a detour, wasted many years.

  1. strong-willed of study
    To be a Tygem 8D it’s not hard, but need pay a lot. If you use all off hours on the game, from Tygem 2D to 8D needs 3 years at most, if you don’t want sacrifice too many off hours, needs 5 years at most.

When you wake up, you are thinking go, even when you visit your friend’s home you also take a go book, when you are idel you hold a go book, do such then 3 years later you must be a 8D.

There are three main domains, 1) do tsumego, 2)have matches, 3) view kifu of masters.

About tsumego:

Tsumego is very very important for tygem 2D, two points should be emphasized

  1. quantity.
    When you meet a tsumego book, just buy it, even it is an easy book, you can keep it for your kids or your students. The classical tsumego books buy two pieces, one for everyday use, it should be dishevelled and fall to pieces, keep the other as a clean reference.
  1. quality.
    Don’t do it only once, you should view it repeatly, until you are clear every variations in your mind, but it not enough, clear slowly and clear in 10 seconds it’s different.

Two usual wrong ways when do tsumego:
a) Didn’t clear every variations in your mind, just decide by feel, it’s a critical mistake for your calculation.
b) Didn’t calculate the best choice of your opponent, this cased wishful thinking in real game.

I recommend a method for doing tsumego, maybe helps you

Before do tsumego, prepare pen and paper for recording your mistakes. Generally speaking, there are three mistake type:

a) You think you were right, but when you saw the answer you found you were wrong. Find the reason why you mistaked, this is an effective way for your improvment of thorough calculation.

b) you can’t calculate a result. Don’t see the answer until you solve it, if you cost too much time on it, that means your level it’s still far from the tsumego, abandon it.

c) you doubt the author of the tsumego was wrong. This is possible, you can consult with other players.

The above are principle of doing tsumego, let’s talk about essential points.

You must choose a proper book for you, don’t choose a very very hard book, if you only can resolve 10% to 20% problems, just abandon it. You should choose a book which you can resolve 60% to 80% problems, do it repeatly until you can easily resolve (clear every variations) more than 95% problems, then you should change a book.

I think the proper tsumego books for Tygem 2D are:
Lee ChangHo tsumego (volume 1 to 6)

Lee ChangHo tsumego

Lee ChangHo tesuji (volume 1 to 6)

Lee ChangHo tesuji

After you finish the 12 volumes, you are above Tygem 4D. Although the author was not Lee ChangHo, but the books are good, they contain almost every usual tsumegos and tesujis in real game.

Another book it’s good as well, Weiqi Tsumego 1000 Problems

it fit from beginner to amateur 3D.

And a set named Weiqi Tsumego Training ( (three volumes: junior, intermediate, senior), the senior volume it’s for amateur 6D and pro player, ignore it, the other two volumes containt about 2000 problems, few of it hard a bit. After my student finished the two volumes, he progressed from Tygem 5k to 4D.


If you finished all the books above(about 4500 tsumego problems in total), I think you can stay at Tygem 6D.

After finish GuanZiPu(, you can up to Tygem 7D.

Tygem 7D it’s a barrier, calculation and comprehensive power are needed. If you want jump to 8D, do Tianlongtu(I can’t find it on, in my opinion Guanzipu’s problems are one clue, but to solve Tianlongtu’s problems you need find several right clues and compose them together, maybe this is the difference between pro and amateur?

If you have done all tsumegos above(about 7000 problems), your calculation already ahead common amateurs, and not far from real amateur master, you can stay at 8D.

Of course, you should calculate tsumegos but not learn by heart.

About have matches:

Let’s talk about quality first, match it’s the contest of two players’ move efficiency, you should force you play the most efficient moves, this is the only way from 2D to 8D.

Choose every random 10 continuous steps from a game except the opening(first 10-20 steps) and closing(small endgames), we can see the efficiency of two players are different, the side has high efficiency will won the game.

One match has about 250 steps in all, 200 steps of them need compare efficiency (except opening and closing), so if a man want win he should collect tiny benefits from every moves of the game.

The rest it’s meaningless, and there is no content about view kifu of masters
I translate another advice by a self-learned Tygem 6D

  1. the foundation of weiqi it’s calculation, do tsumego it’s the best long-term way to improve.

Some beginner always think their opening it’s weak, they use too much time on learn opening. But when I was playing with them I never feel their opening it’s weak, because when stones touched they collapsed soon, opening theory doesn’t work for them.

Remember, calculation it’s the foundation of weiqi, it’s the most important. The so-called calculation it’s calculate two sides’ variations, you imagine variation’s stones on goban.

The best way to improve calculation it’s do tsumego and tesuji, even pro player often do them.

As for opening, I can say responsibly it’s meaningless for beginner, they know where is big points( it’s enough.

  1. about joseki
    Joseki it’s the best moves of local dealing, of course the “best” it’s always change, some josekis are changing every year.

The beginner don’t need memorize too many joseki, two or three of star point and three or four of 3-4 point are enough. In many situations your opponent don’t follow joseki, then you should deal with your own manner, and after game learn the proper joseki from book.

Joseki it’s strange, I know some amateur 5D never memorize josekis, so for amateur player to determine the victory is immiddle game.


Very nice find. There is also a page about how to study on sensei’s library
It’s pretty much the same. Some folks have slightly different methods but the core is the same. Tsumego.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I don’t think this is KFP’s article, but a repost of one on a (Chinese-speaking?) forum by an actual high-dan player.


Yup. I edited the post to clear things up.


very interesting post. thanks for sharing.

I’m a beginner-amateur (15k), and i believe checking a few alternative moves after each match gives fine lessons to one’s self. chatting a few sentences with the opponent is also priceless, it gives each player lots of new thoughts. sometimes, unknown prior.


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I think there is a lot of stupid sentences in this post, but the most important thing is: saying it is not hard to become 5-6d is offensive, so the post is already offensive and rude, and im not going to detail it how bad it is. You can become 5-6d any way, but you have to be talented, and you have to play seriously. The best way to improve is not tsumego. It is serious, motivated playing, in fact, if you dont want to be a pro.


Well, the post may hurt (it definitely hurts my ~11k ego ;-)), but that doesn’t make it “offensive”, IMHO.

Also, even if I may disagree about the thread title, that also doesn’t make it offensive. And there certainly is a huge bandwidth for interpreting “hard” and “easy”, depending on many factors like … age, the time available, etc.


I also don’t think it’s offensive nor inaccurate…


In my opinion, the one thing that is missing in most tsumego-praises is the importance of new ideas besides reading/calculation.

One can not read “all variations” except in extremely small tsumego. The computer cannot, a human cannot, it is an easy computation that one cannot. You always cut branches with some general arguments and judgments, you always analyse the problem first (Where could the eyes even be? Can I threaten to connect to the outside? Is there room enough for sacrifice or playing under the stones?).

If you have never ever considered sacrifice, you will simply cut that branch while reading “all variations”. If you have never seen a snapback, it will be unlikely that you read beyond the atari.

The OP is about going from 1dan to 5dan, but I am willing to bet that even at that level some new strategic ideas pop up in tsumego and one can profit from reading a couple of solutions to learn about them.

I sometimes suspect that people in Asia take it for granted that your teacher introduces you to all these ideas.

Apart from that, I think that it is very nice when good players share their experience and give advice.


Seems about right, but since it requires some effort it means that most are doomed to fail.


1d is possible with some hard work. 5d, even with very hard work, most will fail.


I may disagree too :slight_smile: In the same way, that hard can be interpreted, that offensive may too. When you say that becoming 5 dan is no hard, it means that you can become too if you are not stupid or lazy. So since most of us are not 5 dan, for sure we are stupid, or just lazy.

Obviously, the title is just a a ”clickbait” to attract readers to the post. I just look around me. In my club, small but active one, I may be the lazy and too often stupid one, but the rest are smart and hard at study, only few shodans emerged after two decades. not hard for them? The next door club in a more active city, really really active, produced a lot of shodans, and some 2 or 3 dan, but only one 5 dan. He was alone as 5 dan in region for decades, till now, when a new young talent appeared in my city and reached 5 dan. And even at country level, after three decades we have just about over a dozen over 5 dan or stronger. And we had some really good promoters and activists who searched for talents. And more, from that dozen, most of them studied in east for a while. Oh, sure piece of cake to leave your country and study for half a year in a country where you know nobody.

So I for sure can understand why the tittle may be taken as offensive. But on the other hand we get offended too easy these days, so I understand those who want to be tough and do not take offense even in the deepest insults. Is just words, not stones :slight_smile:

Well there are about 80 5d players (both by rank and rating) in the EGF. That’s about 1.1% of all EGF-rated players. :slight_smile: If we add the currently 39 6d-ranked players, we arrive at ~120/7148 or 1.7% or roughly 1 in 60.

We conclude that it’s possible to become an amateur 5-6d for about 1 in 60 active players and “easy” for a fraction of those.

By the way, OP attained at best EGF 4d.

Edit: Reading more closely, it seems the guy OP references (the OOP, if you will) talks about TYGEM 5-6d. Obviously Tygem 5-6d is closer to 2d-4d EGF, lowering the bar to about 5-10% of active players.


I think it is quite rare to see someone actually try, but not make it to 2-4d EGF. And with try, i mean solving thousands of tsumego and putting in real work in games like the original post talked about.

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What most people tend to forget is that the rating scale doesn’t tell us anything about actual Go skill.

It only tells us something about relative performance. (Yes, it’s become the smurph gospel by now. :smiley: )

And when you phrase it in those terms (5-6d = top 2%), the crux becomes obvious: perhaps anyone could become amateur 5d. But not everyone.

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:wink: The best example of how statistics can be misleading is that… on average every person on earth have a ball and a tit.

If I go to the same database and do the same thing as you (for those I spoke about, players in my city) will result one 5 dan from five ranked players, so the percentage is 20 percent can became 5 dan. really easy.

But the truth is that one player was sifted from about 100 players who made it to EGD, so if we consider this, means one percent not 20 percent. But if we consider all players, including those who was unable to advance to a real tournament, then the percentage is much lower than one percent.

However, this is just statistic interpretation. I will accept 2 percent as a reasonable figure. Now, let go back to language interpretation. I mean interpretation of the not hard notion. It is not hard to climb on 2 percent? I mean in any domain, any competition.


Your region (I’m assuming Galați) only has 4 active players though, the highest rated is 1d. That is comfortably within the margin. :slight_smile:

yes,precisely what I said, and the fifth is the 5 dan mentioned,, but the database will show you his last club, not the club he grew in.

This not hard may depend on a lot of things, like IQ, amount of free time, and others. I would really like to see a statistic about ranks and IQs. I assume that for a 100 IQ is not hard, but rather impossible to became a 5 dan. I wonder how many shodans are with an 100 IQ.

But we can solve the problem of not hard at least partially. The guy says that this not hard goal can be achieved by dedicating all free time for 3 years, or only part o the free time for 5 years.

Now, I ask you, anyone who reads this thread, this question: is it not hard to dedicate all your free time to a thing for three years in a row? Not only Go, but anything else. I mean anything else that implies a moderate effort and will, even sitting in a chair and staring at a blank wall. So :

you just go to work, or school, do homework and chores and next day after day, do that thing, and only that thing, and nothing else for three years in a row.

How is this?

  • This is not hard
  • This is hard

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