The subtle technique to improving at Go: Doubt

I never see it mentioned or talked about how important it is to doubt everything you know about go in order to improve at it.

This is more of a heads up. Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate player, an advanced player, a top amateur, an active 9d professional (+1), you should have at least a tiny seed of doubt in your mind at all times if you’re seeking to improve.

If you don’t doubt your skills, you don’t doubt your mistakes either. And with how things are, it seems that a strong player never has no doubts in this game. So when you encounter someone who’s adamant about some opinionated things in this game - exercise caution.


Invariably, the majority of my biggest blunders come when I “know” the right answer, and don’t bother reading it out :sweat_smile: seems legit


Been watching dwyrin? His lack of doubt and overconfidence is a common criticism.


Who needs doubt when you can sandbag!


Who needs to sandbag, when you have a [d] next to your name :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

(I might have less doubt if I could read like this:

:slight_smile: )

I don’t think it works like this. Too much doubt is as bad as not enough.


Isn’t all of Go about finding the balance?


There are only two ingredients to improving at Go and they form a feedback loop: Pattern recognition and raw reading ability (i.e. ability to visualize sequences accurately). The more patterns you’ve seen, the better your candidate moves, the fewer variations you have to read, the further you can read, the more useful the patterns you get to see, etc.

Everything else is a crutch. Joseki? Crutch. Life and death shapes? Crutch. Proverbs? The crutch among crutches.


I think you do have to add another here, which is position assessment, which not the same as pattern recognition, is it? Reading is only good for not dieing, if your position assessment is no good.


This is not incompatible with the notion of doubt.

Doubting means being ready to accept that the patterns we learned are not correct, to learn new patterns, to break bad habits.


Isn’t knowing about Life and Death shapes a showcase example of pattern recognition?


Mental control, discipline, decision making and keeping calm under pressure is very important too, particularly at higher levels.

Also counting, similar to positional judgement.


Haven’t watched his videos in a long time. But I agree that there are many go influencers in the English speaking internet that are unjustifiably confident in their own views and opinions. This has become an immediate red sign for me.

This is true. But I think habitualising self doubt is more difficult than tuning down an existing one, because if you’re already doing it then you’re conscious of it, so it needs no reminder. So I’m addressing the other end of the spectrum instead.

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I dunno. I met players who have great difficulties to take a decision and who consequently go through tremendous time problems in their games. It’s a bit more personal matter as any universal solution.

The lack of doubt is linked to the way we are educated to go. The books are more written like a bible, do this do that, don’t you see this or that, but i don’t really regret it myself as i think that’s what i needed at first to progress and pass elementary steps quickly. It was too hard to have a critical point of view. Even now i keep very cautious when i go off the tracks because It’s where i feel the most that i could go wrong. You know these kind of extraordinary moves you’re so proud but finally cost you 5 points with an ama player and twenty with a pro…


Our chief weapons are pattern recognition and reading ability…

… and position assessment, mental control and counting :wink:


Having good communication with good go partners helps a lot too.

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I appreciate the humour, but from where I’m sitting, ‘positional assessment’ looks a lot like recognizing a large pattern. ;D

I wouldn’t know what to do with ‘mental control’ because I’m not sure what that means. Focus in the sense of “ability to mute sensory inputs that would otherwise distract from the game”? I’m not convinced, considering I’ve read reports from people who visited Go schools and played and got crushed by the ostensibly or overtly distracted kids over there. To the extent that ‘focus’ (if that’s what Uberdude is referring to) merely means “spend a higher % of your time on employing PR&R”, I am hardly impressed by the assertion that “doing more of the necessary leads to better results”.

Counting? That’s another crutch. Provided your count was sufficiently accurate, it lets you a) avoid complex reading (which you’d need in order to see if, say, an invasion pans out in your favor) in exchange for extra time and a worse position or b) play moves that you cannot evaluate, hoping to get lucky.

But feel free to elucidate those terms if my interpretation is somehow inaccurate.

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large patterns can play a role in positional judgement but that doesn’t resume it. Estimating that this way will lead to victory rather than that way is not just patterns (or deformed pattern btw)

Instances of Dunning-Kruger effect? I know that would generally apply to people of lower ability, but I would argue that only pros should be considered high performers, while players that need 3 or more handicap against pros are not really high performers.

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I wouldn’t necessarily say that it only applies to the weaker players. I have a lot of competitive experience in other games, as well as playing in the 99.9th percentile brackets, and I can attest that there are many people “at the top” who are just as narrow minded as what people typically think of as being a weaker player thing. I guess there are people of all types at all skill levels. But I would say that it’s definitely wrong to assume that if a player is strong, or even the strongest, that they’re allowed to exert absolute certainty in everything. Such players may be the strongest, but from my experience they eventually start falling behind other players and get stuck skill-wise. In the case of the more established and constant games such as go and chess, perhaps you can’t even become the strongest with such a mindset.