The Crutch Effect of Correspondence and Analysis

This is a series of general inquires, more than a statement. I play many, in fact mostly, correspondence games. It is very convenient and keeps me playing consistently. At the same time, it also deprives me of experience in playing under the pressure of live-games. For me, playing live online against anonymous opponents can be oddly stressful. Its like a battle royal- my heart pounds and my hands sweat- its very exciting yet also can be nerve-wracking. Often times I simply do not have the will to enter into 45 minutes to an hour of intense combat, and so without correspondence games- which remove that pressure- I would be at risk of falling out of playing. Overcoming this resistance to the pressure of live-play is something I personally am working on- an exercise in willpower, as it were.

Does anybody share this experience?

Next, I also wonder about the effect that playing primarily correspondance games might have on one’s skill over time. With so much time, one might develop their ability to read and analyze situations quite well. Yet with so much time, one might develop mental habits which are not so useful in live play- which of course, is where the real fire of Go ignites.

I’m sure I am not the only one with thoughts on this matter.

Lastly, I would addend to the subject of the former paragraph a similar comment/criticism of the routine use of the analyze game function, which is certainly made seductive by the open time of corespondence games.

How does using the analyze game function contribute to and/or diminish a player’s ability to read? Tool or crutch?

These questions are often in my mind and so I imagine they must also be in the minds of the many fine Go-aspirants lounging in the shadows of OGS. To me, this smells of an interesting discussion. Perhaps the odor will permeate into your hearts and minds and induce you to conversation.

His Majesty dares you.

1 Like

You reap the power of learning with analysis when you are in a situation where you are not allowed to use it, like a title tournament. What I’ve done, is it gone to the Malkovich log to read out what I’m thinking.

I love live games. But I don’t want to risk my correspondence rating on a whim.

Look up an earlier thread of mine on this subject of live versus correspondence.

Analysis is no different from a spotter in the weight room. You will have a chance to lift more than you would on your own and you eventually get to that weight on your own.

1 Like

[quote=“His_Majesty_Lord_Spe, post:1, topic:2287”][…] analyze game function […] Tool or crutch?

@His_Majesty_Lord_Spe, methinks we must invent some new words, like perhaps “crool” or “tutch” :smiley:

I agree with @Professor_X here. Also, using the analysis function reminds me, in a way, of the many Tsumego I‘ve done … playing with patterns, learning to recognize patterns, etc.

But there may be a trap in analysis, namely that we tend to stick to what we know well, which can lead to us never trying something “out of the box” of our familiar problem solving habits. But then again, that same trap exists in just playing as well. So it may rather be a general problem and not one of analysis.

My subjective feeling is that the analysis function has helped me get somewhat stronger over time.

1 Like

I do.

Agree. Correspondence games make me lazy because I am not thinking during my opponents’ thinking time. Rather than considering all of his possible moves, I wait for him to move, then I start to think. Also there’s no time pressure in the correspondence game. And I can rest my mind for arbitrary durations. I don’t develop my ability to focus for the duration of a game.

Mostly crutch, I’d wager. If I use analyze at all, I mostly use the discipline of playing my move, THEN I use the analyze tool. When I was learning the game, I used analyze to help me select my move. But I realized eventually that I wasn’t training myself to read ahead.

Well, then.

His Majesty should not forget that he can refuse to play games of correspondence with analysis quite easily. Furthermore, tournaments are clear about their terms. If analysis is allowed then don’t join. I find conditional moves to be very, very useful so turning off analysis would drag games down to the speed of the 248 day game I just finished.It makes me wonder what outcome His Majesty hopes to achieve.


[quote=“saxmaam, post:4, topic:2287”]
Correspondence games make me lazy because I am not thinking during my opponents’ thinking time.[/quote]Well, that’s the positive thing for me … and I don’t think it makes me lazy, I’m rather happy that I can play my move when “it” comes to me and then shift my focus back to my work again.

But then I think I’m doing it differently …[quote]Rather than considering all of his possible moves, I wait for him to move, then I start to think.[/quote]I often do it this way:

  • Open “My Games”, gaze at it for 2-10 minutes, letting my eyes wander over the (currently 14) miniature boards where my or my opponents’ last moves are highlighted.

  • Check remaining time for all players.

  • Focus on green boards.

  • Think of funny or not so funny things that could happen there.

  • Suddenly an idea gets (or seems to get) clearer, I click that board.

  • Ponder over the board for a few minutes.

  • Analysis.

    • What could opponent do if I answer?
      • What if they answer?
      • What if they tenuki? (and where?)
    • What could they do if I tenuki? (and where?)
      • What if they answer?
      • What if they tenuki? (and where?)

Sometimes I go 30-40 moves deep, branching here and there, losing myself in the variations … and/but I get a “feeling” of the different ways the game could develop.

[quote]Also there’s no time pressure in the correspondence game. And I can rest my mind for arbitrary durations. I don’t develop my ability to focus for the duration of a game.[/quote]Well, I am lucky to be able to play a few Real Life games almost weekly, so I’m not worried about that.

Over the time, my brain will have processed thousands of possible variations, many of them containing reading errors, of course, and making the mistake of assuming that the opponent cannot play better bad moves than I do. But also just many really possible variations, thus feeding my brain with patterns which I learn to recognize in live games and where then I can react faster and better than I did before.

But that’s just my personal experience, feeling, and thought, and you all know how hard it is to watch oneself :wink:

1 Like

Hey, Trohde. I have no doubt that you are learning from your use of analysis/correspondence. You are, after all, ranked higher than I am.

I would say that correspondence/analysis develops some skills and fails to develop others. Only playing live games would have a complementary set of pros and cons.

1 Like

At the present time it is Our Royal Preference to make good and regular use of the analysis tool, as much because we are finding great fun in exploring the variations as for practical purpose. With sights set to the future and development into higher levels of skill, however, there may come a time when His Majesty’s Lips must be weaned from The Royal Teat, so to speak.

In considering all the ways one can be taught to play Go, I have wondered about instruction in mental order of operations- processes of mental analysis that encourge good play- and so I appreciate this elaboration of your process.

I am glad this is your experience, as it is the eventuality I (We) hope for.

Total agreement there with you, @saxmaam :smile: we need to learn on all frontiers, whole board and detail, what to play now and what then, strategy and tactics … and I know I will never fathom it.

FYI: If you like you folks can have a look at some of my running and past correspondence games — trusting that you won’t login with another acct and peek in case we’re playing with another :heart: —where I often note the visions hallucinations thoughts I have during my analysis.
(This has two benefits: 1) Outsourcing my memory :floppy_disk: and 2) entertainment for other users :black_joker: ;-))

I’d also want to put clearer comments in the move nodes, too, but I lack the time for it.

Perhaps we may say that one who uses the analysis function in moderation and only to ensure excellent play possesses “The Crool Tutch”

1 Like

I would love to play only live games, but unfortunately I am rarely in a situation where I can go 30-45 minutes without interruption, so correspondence it is!

The rare times I do play live, I really do experience the anxiety you spoke of, but—not when I play IRL games with a real person face to face. For some reason then, the pressure is not so high. Maybe it’s seeing that my opponent is a real, normal person just like me who i can smile and shake hands with that takes away the pressure. Whatever it is, playing in real life is ten times funner than online and anyone who can must try it!

As for analysis tool, I found it very useful when I first started learning, but now I have it disabled in most my games to force me to use my brain. I have noticed an improvement in my live games since I started this.

As an aside, I don’t understand why people think their rank will differ for correspondence or live… yes you have more/less time to think… but so does the opponent. And anyway, when i’m playing correspondence I don’t usually take more than a few minutes to think about a move anyway, its just whenever I have time to play it! I don’t think anyone playing correspondence is really taking entire days to think about moves… so the skill should be the same as, say, a two hour game maybe, where you take 5 minutes on many of the moves.

Anyway, play people IRL if you ever get the chance!

1 Like

I also have had attacks of OGA (Online Go Anxiety), and like you describe I also don’t experience a similar anxiety when playing IRL. But I also notice that my OGA doesn’t exist if I “know” the other person, if even only from a few words in a chat or forum. Also almost non-existent for me in correspondence games.

Greetings, Tom

I don’t play correspondence games, only live games.

To get over the anxiety, I have 2 suggestions. Firstly, you can play unranked games if you worry about compromising your correspondence rank. Secondly, just forget about rank altogether. What’s the worst that can happen ? …you lose the game. So what, we all lose 50% and win 50% when ranks become stable anyway. Some people who are concerned with improving can learn from their defeats; you will never learn anything from a game which you won.

Of course the devs could help by having 2 ranks, one for live games and one for correspondence games. This has been suggested before. I don’t know where we are with that.

Bottom line is that live games are tense. If you don’t like that then maybe it is not for you. But you can reduce the tension by not caring so much about what happens. It is just a game.


@His_Majesty_Lord_Spe :

I feel the same - a live game starts with some stress. But after some moves I can estimate my opponents skills. Are we on an equal level or is he/she much stronger than me? In an equal game I will relax and can enjoy the game. Even if I lose I feel good because we met on eye-level. And a hard fight on the board is always fun. But if the opponent is much stronger than oneself the game will turn into hell. It’s like a predator is playing with its prey - I don’t like that :wink:

In a live game you have to deal with lots of information and make decisions within seconds: what could be the next moves, where are the weak groups, where are the strong ones, what next move will be the best? But in a correspondence game you can consider and reconsider a certain move again and again. You have so much time… Maybe a correspondence game makes one less decisive? I also realised that in a live game I’m much more concentrated and have a better and more extensive overview. So I prefer live games.

Using the analyze game function during a game ist like using water wings to learn swim or training wheels on a bike - a big help for the first attempts but if someone wants to be on is own he has to abandon these aids quickly. A review after the game is always a good idea - nevertheless someone has lost or won.

Just my thoughts…

I don’t have enough time for 200 moves per week let alone 200 moves per day.

There are people who play 2000 moves per day. That many games sounds like a crutch to me.

I find your water wings and training wheels analogy to be offensive.

Correspondence games are hard. Just because you have analysis on doesn’t mean you know how to use it or your opponent can’t use it better.

At this point, analysis is just a quick review to get my bearings because, like many correspondence players, I have a bunch of irons in the fire.

Correspondence is deeper and much more ethereal than your average 25 to 40 minute match. You’re more likely to fight for seki then to trick somebody into a ladder.

1 Like