Hello. i am magikarp786.

I have been stuck between 24-20 kyu for about 10 months now. I was wondering if someone could help me get to around 1kyu. I am planning on going on a trip to Japan in the summer and i want to be able to win some games if i go to a go salon. I am only 16 so i can’t really pay people so, yeah. Please reply.

p.s obviously i’m not going to reach 1 kyu by the summer. That’s my long term goal.

I’ve only taken a short look at your profile, but it seems you‘re playing way too many too strong opponents, and that without Handicap …

Some thoughts on this (and I know some players will disagree):

  • Playing peers is a good idea because then you’ll recognise their mistakes as ones that you also make.
  • Playing with Handicap against stronger players teaches you how to use those stones.

Also, if you’re in Japan, I’d think you should try to play as ~16k and look how it goes. AFAIK Real Life ranks in Japan are quite a bit weaker than their counterparts in the West, and OGS is especially tight.


I completely agree with @trohde. Learning Go is a journey that has no shortcuts. Enjoying the game with passion is what gets you going, not some abstract number like 1k.

Knowledge is like a tree and you cannot build it by putting together tons of planks with assistance of someone stronger. After tree is planted, the only thing you can do is to give it care and good conditions to grow. But you cannot rush it.

Losing or winning is not really important. Learning happens before and after the game. Before - it’s when you collect exciting ideas. Teacher can help you a little, but so can books, long walks in the park or discussing games with your peers. Then you try out those ideas in practice (on your level), or they die a horrible death of being forgotten, or worse misunderstood! Then the key part of learning happens, where you put those ideas in context in which they were useful (or where they were not) and no teacher can really help you with that part. Where teacher can be useful is in identifying some problems with your game understanding. But interestingly those problems aren’t really problems. They are just learning opportunities which inspire new ideas. And you don’t really need a teacher to get them, it’s easy to get game reviews around here and a simple act of replaying your own games should be enough. Do you do it, btw? If not, hundreds of ideas to try out where never born ^^

I hope you’ll find a teacher, but if you think that that is enough to learn, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. The long journey is waiting for you :wink:


Sweet. If you want to win games at a salon, be prepared to wreck some seniors. Go is not terribly popular among the young crowd. Depends on where you go, obviously. I went to a small, local dojo in Tokyo where the average age was about 60 and average strength about 10k OGS by rough estimate.

If you want to improve quickly, do 100-200 tsumego (easy-medium) a day. There was a fantastic program called GoGrinder which is no longer free I believe. Too bad, I had that with around 8000 tsumego… so sad.

There’s an app TsumegoPro you can use, as well as goproblems.com… and obviously on this site as well.

There are some beginners lessons on YT by Lance Kemper which I would recommend, you can just search for Shygost (sic). Since the learning points are repeated several times per video and basically all lessons are the same, it shouldn’t matter all that much if you watch them in order. There’s an archive of about 45 videos which should make for weeks worth of input - https://www.youtube.com/user/LGDArchive .

I can’t commit to be a steady teacher but you can just ask me for a game if you see me online.


Sure I will play you in a teaching game if you want :slight_smile:. teaching helps tremendously imo, but you have to follow it up by playing games :wink:. as trohde said, start playing some games against opponents your own strength, preferably humans.


This is so important, it’s worth building on. Losing many times to GnuGo only has limited use.

It’s not (entirely) about “playing some games against equal players so you can win and feel motivated and gain rank”. It’s about experiencing the kind of moves that lead to winning and how winning happens, so you can build on that experience.

I did a few runs of games while I was twenty-plus-kyu against GnuGo, but only when I had something specific in mind to try to improve. Then I would learn from it how good players will counter that something. Then I would have that experience to take back to equal players and actually learn how it works when … it works! It’s not actually a great growth strategy to lose all the time.

And especially it is not a great learning strategy to only play bots, especially GnuGo. They have some powerful but moderately constrained play styles. If that’s all you see, you will get suprises playing real people.

Last of all, now that you certainly know the basics, I think that in addition to a teacher here, Dwyrin’s “Back To Basics” series will help you a lot. Consume them starting from the beginning, and try his strategy in at least one real game before watching the next video. That is what helped me break through the 20k barrier.

Oh, and when you find the key to break through 13k, come back here and tell me, I might still be stuck here :smiley:



In my case, it ruined my emotional state (and playing ability) just in time for a tournament (yippee)

But in all seriousness, try playing people at your level (and play as many games as possible), it’ll do you some good.

I might be able to help with that… That and 15k were notable blockages for me.


Thanks everyone, I’ll take that on board. (Pun) That was bad. Anyway. I really appreciate it.


I have played the majority of my games against stronger players, and quite a number against bots. While I basically agree with what’s been said here, I think a qualifier or two is in order.

I would say to the original poster that playing mostly stronger opponents is a perfectly legitimate path to follow as long as you are being honest with yourself. If you are losing game after game and have no idea how they are slipping away, then it’s time for a change. On the other hand, if you feel that you come away from each game review a little bit wiser than before, then I see no reason to quit the path you’re on. Losing can get you down , of course, but ultimately it’s as demoralising as you allow it to be. You can lose a ton of games now or you can lose them later; or maybe you space them out more or less evenly. In the end it’s what you are learning or failing to learn from them that will matter.

You could make the case that studying professional games is overreaching. Much of what we see in those games is thoroughly confusing to us. Yet it’s highly recommended. We study them for what we do understand, which is considerable I should think. Again, it’s not so much about the path you choose as the degree of concentration/absorption you are able to bring to it. And obviously that won’t be the same for every player.

As for bot players and their limitations, I’m sure they do have them. Personally I find bots to be a very good learning tool, and the range of tactics they use is broader than I would have expected. But then, as advertisers like to say, your results may vary.


Personally I’m avoiding the study of pro games (unless someone has reviewed it already), as I tend to play in an overaggressive manner after doing so…

But yeah, playing stronger players has its benefits, but it also has its setbacks (e.g.: you might end up playing too safe and slow out of fear of the opponent or feel more compelled to respond to moves when you don’t have to) I think if you’re going to play strong players, you’re going to want them to review the game for you.

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There are four things that I advise:

  1. Play people of within three stones of your rank for most of your games, but also some stronger players. To stay motivated you want to be regularly employing your skills to beat other players. About 10 games a week is more than enough, but if you want to play more that then go ahead. If you lose a game, other than through a single bad misread, review it. There will be at least one and probably multiple places that you made a mistake such as failing to defend a weak group, responding badly to an aggressive move, or not fixing a severe cut. Find the mistakes and try not to make them in your future games.

  2. Watch games of dans and SDKs on OGS. These will teach you about how to make strong groups, where the biggest points are to play, fighting techniques, and supply you with lots of ideas that you can try against your own opponents. If you have any comments or questions about game, even “Isn’t Black dead in the top left?” ask them and post variations. Don’t expect anyone to respond, though :wink: Then when you learn a new move, try it in the next situation in which it can be employed.

  3. Read Sensei’s Library. It’s a Go wiki with lots and lots and lots of information built up over 20 years. It’s worth reading the entire thing in my opinion, but just making your way through https://senseis.xmp.net/?PagesForBeginners will be enough.

  4. Post your games on GoKibitz (gokibitz.com). There, stronger players will comment on your game and you can learn from their advice. I recommend adding your own comments and questions and that helps us kibitzers to help you. You can get the SGF file from the side menu of the game page; after you get the file, open it in Notepad and change the ranks if they’re incorrect (OGS usually has incorrect ranks in its SGFs.) That lets commentators make comments that pitch to your playing strength.

Some things I don’t necessarily recommend that might be a bit controversial are studying professional games, getting one-to-one reviews, and doing a lot of tsumego. Professional games can be too complex to help you learn at beginner level; GoKibitz reviews can be better than one-to-one reviews as you have unlimited time to digest the comments and discuss them, and – though https://tsumego.tasuki.org/books/cho-1-elementary.pdf would be excellent for you – you should not focus too much on tsumego when it would be better to know how to make a group that is strong in the first place.


I like your positive recommendations, @bugcat, but I don’t agree with your stance re: Tsumego. I’ve done several ten thousands of Tsumego (no kidding, but probably quite a few repeating ones, so maybe “several ten thousand minus a few thousand :wink: ), and I have a strong feeling that this has immensely fuelled my progress from 15k to where I’m now, ~7k.

But yeah, maybe not Tsumego for total beginners, instead begin doing them once you’re stronger than ~20k.


Tsumego teach about how shape affects life of your groups. They also, perhaps more importantly, force you to visualize variations. If you cannot visualize, you will never be able to read more than 1 move ahead, thus never exceed 20k.

I recommend this one for all beginners as well: https://cdn.online-go.com/shape_up.pdf (immediately comprehensible stuff starts at page 11).


The best solution is to have a teacher.I am professional coach of Go. Work experience – 25 year. Have a coach certificate of the highest category. Among the students: Maria Zakharchenko - professional of the 1st dan (diploma of the Korean Association) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariya_Zakharchenko
Write me plushch@meta.ua

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10 months should be arround 3-4kyu! (if you dont have teacher)

  • make sure you have learn all basic from this website: http://playgo.to/iwtg/en/
  • play against bot igowin 9x9 until you beat level 12kyu (there is rank system in igowin 9x9 pc). download igowin for windows pc: http://www.smart-games.com/igowin.html
  • do easy tsumego problem. (download tsumegopro app for smartphone) do the tsumego properly.

follow all steps. you will get 10k in 1 month.

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I watched some of your recent non-private games and if you don’t mind me being blunt, it doesn’t seem like you read the shape guide I linked.

Hundreds of games you play are wasted because you keep forcing your opponent to cut and kill you. I think it happens because you make “wishful thinking” moves. “Well this doesn’t work but if I move here and if he then moves there, I get a huge profit”. Yes, IF. But really, it never happens. And now you’re even more behind than before and you try to play even worse moves to catch up and it becomes a cycle.

Forget about wishful thinking. In order to improve at reading, you need to always expect the move that’s worst for you. The move that ruins your plan. That’s the move you want to read first.

You’re not going to be 1k in summer, no chance, but you can have decent games if you practice right. If you’re not going to read anything, at least watch helpful videos on YouTube like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAmlsfCqstU or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKBh8FGK9bU and really try to understand the message.

Don’t just watch, but study this material https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyJa0rNrbho . It will help you a lot.

Do this, do tsumego, and replay some pro games. And when you replay pro games, pay close attention to the distance between friendly/opponent’s stones and the direction (closer toward an opponent’s group or toward empty space).