Studying Journal

This thread will be where I collect game reviews and study notes to help track my (hopefully) improvement.

I’ve been wanting to start a study journal for awhile, and when I recently stumbled across Andrew Jackson’s video on Deliberate Practice, I realized that a study journal might be just the way to impose some discipline on my own go practice. Andrew notes that one of the keys to improvement is getting feedback, and simply playing often isn’t enough to accomplish that. Instead, in order to get better, it’s necessary to make a conscious effort to determine what worked and what didn’t. That’s my goal here.

Specifically, to get that feedback, I want to (1) Force myself to review every game I play and (2) Force myself to note what I’ve learned every time I watch a video/lecture/pro game. That way I know I’m not just going through the motions of throwing stones around.

In this thread, I plan to collect those reviews and study notes, but feel free to jump in with your own corrections/comments/suggestions to these notes.


Here is my first game review: This is a game I played tonight against an IGS 4d. As I noted in the game comments, I made a number of bad positional judgments, which forced me to start a fight in an effort to turn the game around. That was successful here, but I’ll need to cut down on those mistakes if I’m going to improve consistently.

For those wondering: I’m posting these games on GoKibitz partly because OGS’s sgf upload function doesn’t seem to like my files are partly because I like the way GoKibitz offers multiple people the opportunity to comment. I’ll put links to all of my games here, but probably will leave some of them marked non-public on GoKibitz to avoid flooding their feed with requests.


I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed the games you’ve posted on GoKibitz. I always envisioned it being part of a larger ecosystem of online tools for Go, so posting links from your study journal here is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.

Hello @studying!

This is my me-too post to @cloudbrows’ approval.
How nice to see you here on OGS!
You appear to be living up to your nickname.

It is a bit unfortunate that GoKibitz should not have the audience to give strong authoritative feedback to a mid-dan player such as yourself. I’m trying my best to show that you can get worthwhile comments out of your participation in the site in any case. :smile:

Also, that video is awesome! You can’t help but think that everything he says is so true.

No games to report today, but I did spend some time watching the latest game from HayleeL (it’s a great distraction while running at the gym), and the rules say I need to note things I learned from doing so. For those who aren’t familiar, HayleeL is a professional player who records herself playing on Tygem. While doing so, she talks through her thought process for her various moves in a way that I find very interesting. Her whole channel is here.

Takeaways from this game:

  • The lower left joseki is one that I’ve seen a few times, but I don’t know 5-3 josekis nearly as well as I should. I should probably spend some time on this at some point.
  • As often happens, the key to the game really came down to one of shape. The entire middle game was dictated by Haylee’s decision to try to give black’s bottom group bad shape. In future reviews, I should pay (even more) attention to places where my own shape is bad and try to figure out why.

Finally, thanks to @cloudbrows and @Animiral for the encouraging words (and helpful review comments)!

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Today I decided to go back to the Tygem server. The hyper-aggressive style of play that’s common on Tygem has always given me a lot of trouble, but I’m trying to view that as a sign that I should be playing there more often, not less. Punishing overplays and endgame are probably the two areas where I feel like I can improve my go the most right now, and Tygem gives me a chance to practice the first (and possibly the second).

Here’s the game review. There were, as expected, a number of overplays by White, and, as expected, I don’t think I addressed them as well as I should have. Nonetheless, I won, after properly punishing White’s final overplay. (Note that I’d like to think I’m stronger than Tygem 3d, but I’ve created a fresh account, and 3d is the highest rating you can pick initially.)

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By the way, I’m finally taking the time to watch the talk by Andrew Jackson that you posted and I’m finding it really worthwhile. He has a lot of good things to say and it’s relevant to more than just go. He has me thinking not just about my own practice regimen, but how I can make GoKibitz work better. I think it has potential not just as a way to get immediate feedback (I think the comments left on games by our dan players are outstanding), but as a tool for learning to analyze and synthesize, whatever our level.

I also had thoughts, a long time ago, about having a built-in way of keeping a study journal like this one, because I think the way you’re doing this is great. Given the amount of bugs and tech debt I’ve created for myself, though, that may not be in the immediate future.

Sorry to hijack your journal for my own thoughts. After Jackson’s video, if my son’s still asleep I’m going to try to play out some of your game on a board just to make myself dwell on it a little more deeply. Thanks for sharing it.

I spent some time this afternoon watching this BadukTV review of a recent game between Kim Jisuk and Park Jungwhan. I had seen similar explanations of the difference between the mini- and micro-Chinese openings, but it was nice to have a refresher on that. Even better was the discussion of some of the common micro-Chinese variations. The micro-Chinese isn’t something I have played very much, but perhaps it’s worth practicing with in the future, since it remains quite popular.

And, picking up on the theme from the previously mentioned HayleeL video, the decisive factor in the game seemed to be Black’s ability to ruin White’s shape in the middle. It seems impossible to overestimate the importance of good shape.

@cloudbrows - Glad you enjoyed the video, and I don’t consider it hijacking at all. It’s nice to know that others are getting something out of this thread.

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Weekends are nice because there is often a bit more time for go. Today’s game is from back on IGS. I was pretty pleased with it, as I felt like this game was a good demonstration of my current level of play. I was quite tired at the end, however, from pushing myself. In the end, I felt like I played a really solid endgame, and that that was enough to hold onto the lead. I should keep working on my that, probably, as it is still one of the more inconsistent parts of my game. Here is the game review.

I also ended up having a very influence-focused weekend in terms of go lectures. First, there was this review of an older game between Lee Changho and Cho Chikun. Cho actually played the sanrensei opening, which was fun to see. Then, in this game from HayleeL, she decided to open with 4 plays at the 8-5 point. I tend to play a fairly territory-oriented game, so it’s good to have some exposure to ways of playing differently.

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Just a quick note to flag this excellent review of a few variations from the Large Avalanche joseki. I hadn’t studied the outside turn very much, so it was nice to see such a clear explanation of its basics.

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Game 4

I was feeling tired tonight, but decided to play anyway, so I was worried this was going to be my first loss since starting this series. In the end, however, I was able to successfully exploit a series of bad shapes. This game isn’t all that interesting, except as an example of just how painful bad shape can be: Hopefully this is a sign that I’m taking my comments above about shape to heart!

I should note that I’m starting to feel some pressure when playing, knowing that I’m going to have to show all my mistakes here (semi-)publicly. I’ll need to watch out that this nervousness doesn’t prevent me from playing up to my potential.

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Game 5

I felt I didn’t play very well in this Tygem game, but still managed a pretty solid win. Here is the review: I need to work more on finding the best way to profit from an attack. This game and Game 1 both show good examples of how not to attack groups.

Other materials
I’ve decided that I should hold onto my comments about videos/lectures/etc. until I have a game to upload as well. That will both keep this thread more organized and encourage me to play more, I think. Helpfully, the lesson I took from this week’s materials was about perspective. It’s too easy to get caught up in chasing ranks and win/loss ratios. But, for example, in HayleeL’s recent game we can see that even professionals sometimes make really silly mistakes. Even in this other game from her that I also watched this week, you can see her miss a shortage of liberties that almost turned the game around. And, this reddit thread captures many other players’ struggles with similar issues. Hopefully if I can remember to keep the proper perspective, my fear of playing will subside and I can keep having fun playing.

Game 6
This game is a good example of how I struggle against the over-aggressive Tygem style of play. I won, but I was disappointed with my play, particularly with my attacking again. Here is my review:

Other materials
My takeaway from my recent video-watching has been the importance of reading. White’s reading mistake in the game above ended up being the difference. Similarly, in Haylee’s Game 87, a reading mistake on the top side ended up providing her path to victory, and in Game 88, the game turned on life-and-death reading for White’s central group. On that note, I had fun watching this video with 40 graded go problems from Andrew Jackson. I was pleased to have gotten them all correct (especially the one where the wrong answer is given in the video). I tend to agree with those who say that you can never study enough tsumego.

Game 7
I decided to play a second game today, and switched back over to IGS for this one. Sadly, there’s very little to see here. Black’s invasion was cut off and he resigned, all before move 100. Even then, I still made a number of mistakes during the fight. Here’s the short review:

Game 8
After some inspiration from a few more of Haylee’s videos, I felt up for a third game today. I wanted to play on IGS again, but couldn’t find an opponent, so I hopped back over to Tygem. This game went better than some of my previous Tygem games, but mostly thanks to some slow moves from my opponent, rather than any major brilliance on my part. Here’s my review:

Other materials
Here are 2 shorter games from Haylee: Game 83 and Game 82. What continues to impress me is the way that she seems able to use thickness and influence so well. In Game 82, her opponent’s fear of a large central moyo led to a careless tenuki that ended up killing a group. In Game 83, there were two 5-3 points and a 5-4 point in the opening, which continue to be influence-oriented moves that scare me. Guess I need to keep studying.

Game 9
Another Tygem game that I won, but should have lost. I wasn’t concentrating as much as I should have, and played a number of hurried moves that later review shows were mistakes. Actually, the number of mistakes I found in my review here is somewhat embarrassing. For those who want to see the ugliness, the review is here:

One of the goals of this series was to try to get myself to focus more on the game, instead of playing on instinct. This is a good example showing that I need to keep working on that.

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Game 10
I’m on the road this weekend for a short vacation, but did play another Tygem game. However, trying to do reviews and uploads on an iPad has proven rather difficult, and I already managed to lose an entire copy of my original review. For now, a rough copy of the game record is here: I was White, and the eventual game result was W+33.5. (Black struggled on for another 60 moves or so after the game record ends.) I will try to come back and clean this kifu up later, but didn’t want to lose it again.

The short version of the review is this: When I finished the game, I was prepared to describe it as another failure of attacking skill, as the game was quite close until Black’s mistake at 203. But, when reviewing, I found it was actually a successful attack and I simply misread a way to kill Black’s group on the left. There were more misreads after that as well, and in the end, it seems that more tsumego is probably what’s called for here. To try to combine both attacking and tsumego, I’m reading The Basic Dictionary of Tesuji, Volume I, which focuses on tesuji for attacking.

Edit: The clean, reviewed game record is here: I’ve deleted the old record.


Game 11
Back to IGS for this game against an IGS 5d, which has proven to be the most challenging of my games to self-review. I ended up with some bad shapes in a series of spots, and a very weak group that led to some tense moments, but once things resolved, I was comfortably ahead. Here is my review, but comments are particularly appreciated:

As a side note, I’m starting to wonder whether IGS rankings have gotten significantly weaker lately. When I started this project, I thought 4d was somewhat optimistic of a ranking on IGS (I had never been higher than IGS 3d), but so far I seem to be doing quite well. I’m trying not to obsess about rank, but I’m still curious to see where I end up settling on both IGS and Tygem.

Game 12
I played another game on Tygem today, but this one isn’t terribly interesting. I got an early kill, and expected White to resign. When he decided to play on, I played very conservatively (read “badly”), since all I had to do was hold a large lead. Fortunately, the conservative play was enough for a 18.5 point win. Here’s the review:

Looking at this journal, I realize haven’t been doing nearly as much review of materials outside of playing as in the past. I probably should start spending some time there again so that I don’t lose good habits.

Game 13
I decided to play a second game today, which was probably a mistake. The result was quite sloppy, and I almost managed to squander a large early lead. However, after a reading mistake by Black, I was able to create a seki in his only large territory, resulting in a big margin of victory. For those interested in the sloppiness, here is the review: