⛰️⛰️ The Mountains (Study Thread) ⛰️⛰️

In the novel First Kyu, the protagonist retreats into the mountains to study kifu.

I was browsing L19 today and I had the impression that the forum lacks a thread for detailed and serious discussion of topics like

  • how to improve (not why)
  • study experiences
  • analysis of positions and commentary on games
  • explanation and discussion of learning and teaching concepts

and so on.

Let me start the thread off by crosslinking to James Kerwin’s improvement advice and also to the study journals on L19, and to How do you personally study Go.

Here, for instance, is Uberdude’s study journal.

I was thinking to myself this morning that, as I’ve been gathering interesting historical snippets from Go journals, I’ve been brushing past an awful lot of game commentaries, often even by professionals. I’d like to go back over some and play them out onto my board, but of course its difficult to know where to start…


I used to comment a lot of games on GoKibitz, but I’ve found myself getting bored at addressing the perennial issues – an important cut wasn’t taken, endgame was played too early, a player put himself into a hane-on-two, etc.

I think if there were more games of, say, EGF 9k level and higher to review then I’d find it more interesting, but as it is the process is starting to grate on me a little. I think gennan found the same earlier this year as he largely disappeared.

Unfortunately GK doesn’t seem to have been able to hold a lot of SDKs recently, no doubt because our reviewers aren’t all that strong (3d–8k) and they find it more effectively to consult AI. I can’t fault that.


I remember that when I was in OSR, we were able to ask questions to Guo Juan, but I always felt that I had nothing worth saying.

I felt a bit embarassed for myself and / or OSR for me to ask some trivial 5k question about a certain joseki deviation or common shape when I thought that it could be perfectly well answered by one of the fairly abundant OGS mid-dans who were floating around.

However, for reasons that I could never fathom, those mid-dans – who I expected to be the ones to pose the questions that would interest her – had nothing to say. Possibly they felt the same way, in which case we were all farcical characters.

In any case, frustrated at the lack of questions Guo left and the opportunity was lost. If I had the chance again, I would ask the trivial questions, but I suspect that there would be people who would be annoyed at me “wasting professional time” in that case anyway.


I find it interesting that as he opened his journal in 2016, Uberdude – having recently become the British Champion – did what students are very often advised not to do, which is to aim for a certain rating or rank.

So my goals are:

  • at least play in if not win British Championship title match next year
  • get 2400 rating
  • get solid 5d KGS from non-blitz

The 2400 target is one we had with the BGA strong player training weekends with Guo Juan a while back.

I wonder whether he ever did reach 2400 and how reaching or not reaching it affected his outlook on the future of his Go study.

For at least two years, I think, my stated goal has been to reach EGF 2k so that I can play above the most common bar in British tournaments. Of course, it’s also a bit less imposing a target than the traditional shodan ;)

By the way, interesting point on the Kitani joseki in the game against Fatih.


  • Felt I dealt ok with his Kitani-style/trick s5

I didn’t think it was really considered a trick in that anyone would fall for it at the EGF dan level. I like to descend here sometimes, but because I appreciate the move for its own value, eg. the endgame follow ups.

Of course, I’m biased – the only teacher I ever paid money to study under was TwoCats, who was known as the only good player (OGS 6d or so) who regularly played this move (as he’s a great devotee of Kitani). So it rubbed off on me.

I am aware of the trick, though. One of the fondest moments of my Go career is when I did correctly spring it on a player much stronger than me (I think I was 8k and he was 1k, or something like that), shredding his position and inducing him to ask “Does it make you happy to pretend to be a kyu player?” :D

when he set his goals, he was already pretty close to 2400. I think it’s fine to set a goal which is realistic like 1D if you’re already 1K. On the other hand, students tend to set unrealistic goals like becoming 1 dan in one year when they are only 20K.


In my wanderings I came across this old European Championship game between Matthew Macfadyen 6d and Ronald Schlemper 7d from 1985 (when I was born!). The comments are Matthew’s based on a Mr Luo, a Chinese pro. Unsurprisingly Matthew makes some early overplay to start a fight, though Ronald doesn’t answer perfectly.

Hmm, I wasn’t aware that Macfadyen was known for this style.

What a salty comment just by being tricked.

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The obvious answer is “Does it make you happy to pretend to be a dan player (or close to)?”


Damn, that’s brutal ^^



Also something to study: this new joseki that’s cropping up in pro games a lot recently. I actually remember wondering why people didn’t play this descent instead of block back when I first came across this joseki so it seems there has been a re-evaluation

Nov 16, 2016

Interesting. The mainstream replacement for the block and double hane variation ended up being the bottish self-hane-on-two line. I dislike the new line, though, so I continue to play the double hane – we are allowed to have some idiosyncrasies. I especially enjoy playing the traditional line when I have the ladder, though I suppose many people do.

I prefer this clean sagari to the hypermodern variation.

Also, it’s amusing that IGS was apparently attaching copyright messages to their SGF exports, like

Copyright (c) PANDANET Inc. 2016

when kifu aren’t even copyrightable.

This was something that riled me a while ago when I read about the “controversial” practice of taking games from one database and placing them into another. They’re public domain – no law whatsoever forbids taking an SGF from, say, GoGoD and uploading it to, for instance, Waltheri.

I may try to post more of my games there as a SDK, I found the advice on Gokibitz pretty useful. I’m not playing that much currently though (and tends to win, which is cool but less interesting for review).

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You don’t have to comment on all the games posted on GK. You can just select the more interesting games to keep it more fun for yourself.

As for myself, I have the feeling that more and more people just drop off their games on GK without showing any indication of interest in feedback. They don’t ask questions, don’t respond to questions or comments and perhaps they won’t even return to GK for months.
If their interest is so low, any effort from my part feels like a waste of time.


Well, I’ve not been playing studying much, but I did go to the London Open which was fun. I only won 3 out of 7, but it was a very strong field this year and I got to play two 7ds (including Haylee) so that was a reasonable result. I ended in 11th place and was surprised to win the David Ward cup for top British (as in eligible for British Go Championship which is citizen or 5 years residence) player with so few wins.

I didn’t know such a Cup existed.

About citizen or 5 years residence, the best example of the 5 years rule is Shutai Zhang, a very strong Chinese player (I think a former insei even) who moved to London and eventually became British Champion '93–'96.

The London Open is a very popular tournament but is held in the London Go Centre, which is underground and can only contain about a hundred players as I recall, so registration needs to be made very early.

I don’t know how corona will have impacted registration this year, though I expect it to be held (in the usual December). I’ve never played it – hopefully next year.

In general, of course, it’s good to play tournaments if one has the time and money necessary. Online tournaments reduce the requirement of either, and their revival is one of the better things to develop from the past year.

By the way, Uberdude played against xhu at that London Open.

There’s some discussion of this move that Uberdude played against fellow 4d John Welch.


AlphaGo has caused a re-evaluation of that peep: if you’d asked a year ago I would have said yes it’s aji keshi and pros don’t do that (actually there are a small number of examples pre-2016), but now it’s a very popular pro move thanks to AlphaGo playing it vs Lee Sedol in game 2. If black later wants to tenuki from that group or do some fast-paced opening probing before adding a move, that peep can come in handy to make the group more resilient in future attacks and you might not be able to get it later

Interestingly, though, I pretty much never see this peep any more. I expect that it declined due to KataGo and LeelaZero becoming available around 2017, and those bots not playing this peep as much as it was expected they would, the occurrence in the referenced game perhaps being a bit of a fluke.

I do remember it being played a fair bit in the early hypermodern years, before about 2019. I’ve also seen the peep made from a full triangle, but in that case the “respectable aji keshi move” has become the push into the hoshi. These moves just don’t seem to fit my style.

In general, it’s been a long time since I would regularly play the tiger’s mouth. I tend to regard the full triangle as a more stable shape which achieves the same purpose – I usually like to play thick structures without a lot of bad aji.

My only loss was to Charles Hibbert by time in a position I was leading a lot and thought I still had 20-30 seconds left (I’d played the first 14 of the 15 in 5 minutes overtime stones in about 3.5 minutes) but it was only a couple of seconds as these two situations are hard to distinguish on the simple analog clocks. That was very annoying and I was tempted to quit the tournament but in the end went and bought a better clock and continued.

Apparently in the British Challengers’ 2017 you could just go out and buy your own game clock.

Analog clocks are very nice to look at so long as one is appreciating their aesthetic value and not trying to extract any information from them…

Then again, there are many people who dislike Ing clocks.

“The Ing timer is a device imported from the far east which bears a superficial resemblance to a chess clock, but its main function is that after the game is finished a subtle random element can be introduced to the results: each player has to press a button on the timer, and if it responds by going “beep” more than seventy-three times then that player has lost, regardless of the position on the board.” – Macfadyen, BGA #80 (1990)

A nice, clear digital chess clock would be my choice.

It also seems to me that analog clocks handicap players who can’t usually attend tournaments, since digital numbers are obviously the only display online. So an infrequent tournament player has to not only play the game but, at the same time, accustom himself to interpreting the clock.

I’ve seen quite a few cases where a player wrongly accuses another of sandbagging. Tbh I don’t like this anti-sandbagging atmosphere.

Fairbairn, 2017: Top human pros seem united in thinking they are something like four stones away from perfect play, which would mean AG must be a good three stones away - plenty of scope for error.

Pros today: usually losing to KataGo on three stones

I’ve heard the opinion that Shin Jinseo has become as strong as AlphaGo Lee, or perhaps AG really was only a stone (or two?) stronger than Sedol. But there’s no way that Summit AlphaGo was less than two stones stronger than Ke Jie, and if Ke was half a stone stronger than Lee by having already incorporated so much bot study…

I don’t think any professional would make a claim any more that they’re only a certain number of stones below perfect play.

I don’t think GoKibitz is very efficient tool for players who want to improve fast. Ppl just point out mistakes that they want to point out. That’s a bit random. Also not all comments are reliable…

I therefore think of it as a place for socializing. But it’s not efficient on that aspect as well when you can talk on discord or other more active places…